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Try to mimic the bow use of others

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Sep 30, 2020 - 2:08:48 PM
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8761 posts since 3/19/2009

For a while now I've been interested in trying to get a 'feel' of how it is to bow the way that other people do .Think Michael Cleveland and his bow hold, or Alan Jabbour and his bow/arm style..I see people using a death grip and others using a 'dainty' hold. Still other seem to have No control over their bow.. but all STILL SOUND GOOD (not yelling)...Some use the entire arm and seem to play from their shoulder..while others have a stiff wrist and play from the elbow.. It has been fun trying to play in these various ways..... I'm pretty much a 'dainty wrist' action player myself.. I don't fault anyone else's way of playing.. but sometimes I can't help but to be amazed ... I've also tried to mimic the 'energy' of Tommy Jerrell.. that was interesting........

Sep 30, 2020 - 2:38:51 PM

11335 posts since 9/23/2009

when i was a small child, if i didnt understand somebody, i would mimic their posture and facial expressions and even impersonate their voice...my family was entertained by it, but mainly i did it to see through the other persons eyes...teachers, people working somewhere or whoever. i kinda forgot about how i employed this self devised technique back before the age of ten...little bitty technique...but i just now remembered...wondering if it exposes a musical"world view," so ro speak. in the same way...bow your fiddle like that person, see music and life through their bow???????? just thinking aloud here,,,would yell, but i aint got enough fingers for it.

Sep 30, 2020 - 2:48:16 PM
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8761 posts since 3/19/2009

Yes, Peggy... Also today I was recalling the time I was trying to relate holding a bow to someone.. Once the bow is ON the string, it really doesn't weigh much,, maybe an ounce or two..so a death grip just isn't necessary,, and, Gravity wants the bow to fall, so the thumb's job is to prevent that, and all youz godda do is to keep pushing up against gravity..To get a sound, you just push down with your index finger/whole-hand, and counter with the thumb.. Simplelaugh.. (simple, right?).. My own bowing is subject to correction as I have found....It is an infinitely interesting topic.. As I say,"If I didn't know anything, I'd know nothing at all"...Folks.. This is meant to be a  case of casual 'musing'.. I'm NO authority as you All know..

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 09/30/2020 14:50:09

Sep 30, 2020 - 3:17:44 PM
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8761 posts since 3/19/2009

WHat amazes me most is that somehow, someway, some of the best O T sounds come from people with unorthodox bow holds and arm usages... gotta love that..

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 09/30/2020 15:28:44

Sep 30, 2020 - 4:57:14 PM
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11335 posts since 9/23/2009

yeah. that fact pretty much give the "anything goes" license for bow holds.

Oct 1, 2020 - 5:32:22 AM
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Players Union Member

carlb

USA

2262 posts since 2/2/2008

As a left handed person, who plays right handed, I've found certain bow strokes difficult to do, e.g. continuous concentric circles. After working on it, off and on, for five years, I gave up. Essentially, what I do is try to play the notes that are in my head and move my arm, to the best of my ability, to play those notes.

I did have one experience where I just couldn't get the phrase I wanted to play. I cheated and went to the Phillips Collection which had the tune. His transcription of the phrase was exactly what I wanted to play. However, the preceding phrase had me starting the next one on an up bow and to execute the phrase, for me, I needed to start on a down bow. Solved my problem.

Oct 1, 2020 - 8:07:48 AM
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RichJ

USA

358 posts since 8/6/2013

The fact there are so many ways to holding and moving a fiddle bow to make music tells me there IS NO special way to get a good sound. I've heard stories on FHO about folks who spend years trying to sound exactly like someone only to find they only developed a unique style of their own. The latter should be the goal of every fiddler. Incidentally, I saw a vid of Tommy Jarrel and Fred Cockerham playing together the other day. Tommy's bow was all over the place, doing what every beginner is told not to do. Bowing tricks like Nashville and Georgia shuffles are nice to have in the bag. I spent months learning both, but to tell the truth, I rarely, consciously use either though I find myself slipping in and out of both on occasion on certain tunes. If I were to evaluate my fiddle playing today, after fooling around with it for 8 years, I'd say it's borderline fair. But, I also know I'm best when relaxed and playing for my own enjoyment, not trying to imitate anyone.

Oct 1, 2020 - 9:00:15 AM
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4861 posts since 9/26/2008

I assume Lee is just suggesting this as a thought experiment / way to get outside one's rut if there is one.

I too am amazed at how technique varies from one fiddler to the next, even those who are considered professional. Bows that travel in an arc through space, bows that move both across the strings while at the same time moving up and down the strings. Bow holds off all manner... Imitation is one way to get somewhere - it seems to be the way Dave Bragger teaches, only he wants you to imitate his bowing.

Oct 1, 2020 - 10:06:04 AM

8761 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

I assume Lee is just suggesting this as a thought experiment / way to get outside one's rut if there is one.

I too am amazed at how technique varies from one fiddler to the next, even those who are considered professional. Bows that travel in an arc through space, bows that move both across the strings while at the same time moving up and down the strings. Bow holds off all manner... Imitation is one way to get somewhere - it seems to be the way Dave Bragger teaches, only he wants you to imitate his bowing.


Not so much to get outside of my own rut... " I'm pretty much stuck there''...I'm thinking if I mimic some fiddlers  my sound may improve and if I mimic others my sound may get worse.. My own bowing is good at the wrist, but I think I make too short of strokes...need to lengthen them an inch or so...Others seem to make  strokes too long  for quick OT tunes...  I do find that people who play with a stiff elbow/wrist TEND  to not sound good..to me... but some do still pull it off and do ok.. It is a mystery..There is no rule..

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 10/01/2020 10:08:24

Oct 2, 2020 - 12:17:12 PM

8761 posts since 3/19/2009

Recently, I did a little 'reverse engineering' in that I noticed a fiddler's sound was more scratchy than mine and their bow was going sideways on the strings.. I think it was because bow was not only being held too tightly but there also wasn't good string pressure..and the bow was being played near the tip...I tried to tighten my grip and play near MY bow tip and got about the same results as did that fiddler.......Again, I know that everyone is doing the best they can.. I'm just analyzing to help me learn...

Oct 2, 2020 - 2:49:47 PM

bsed

USA

4098 posts since 6/23/2007

You don't really have to mimic fiddlers bowing to make yourself better. But there IS (I AM YELLING) much to be gained from watching how good fiddlers play.

Take a guy like Brad Leftwich. (You know him, don't you Lee? Yes I believe you do).-----I'm just giving you sh!t

You don't have to copy or adhere to the specific bowings he teaches. Just watch him play and ask yourself how he generates a sound you really like. OK, some of it is his bowing choices. But there's also other mechanics. How much pressure he uses, how slow or fast he plays, how smooth his sound is, how can he sing and play that well....

Ya don't have to mimic, because you might never get there. But emulate them. I think you'll get more immediate results.

Edited by - bsed on 10/02/2020 14:52:22

Oct 2, 2020 - 11:39:58 PM

1304 posts since 7/26/2015

Check out Big Howdy's bowing on this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZm0yvJ53ks&t=119s
quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

For a while now I've been interested in trying to get a 'feel' of how it is to bow the way that other people do .Think Michael Cleveland and his bow hold, or Alan Jabbour and his bow/arm style..I see people using a death grip and others using a 'dainty' hold. Still other seem to have No control over their bow.. but all STILL SOUND GOOD (not yelling)...Some use the entire arm and seem to play from their shoulder..while others have a stiff wrist and play from the elbow.. It has been fun trying to play in these various ways..... I'm pretty much a 'dainty wrist' action player myself.. I don't fault anyone else's way of playing.. but sometimes I can't help but to be amazed ... I've also tried to mimic the 'energy' of Tommy Jerrell.. that was interesting........


Oct 3, 2020 - 4:44:15 AM

8761 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by soppinthegravy
Check out Big Howdy's bowing on this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZm0yvJ53ks&t=119s
quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

For a while now I've been interested in trying to get a 'feel' of how it is to bow the way that other people do .Think Michael Cleveland and his bow hold, or Alan Jabbour and his bow/arm style..I see people using a death grip and others using a 'dainty' hold. Still other seem to have No control over their bow.. but all STILL SOUND GOOD (not yelling)...Some use the entire arm and seem to play from their shoulder..while others have a stiff wrist and play from the elbow.. It has been fun trying to play in these various ways..... I'm pretty much a 'dainty wrist' action player myself.. I don't fault anyone else's way of playing.. but sometimes I can't help but to be amazed ... I've also tried to mimic the 'energy' of Tommy Jerrell.. that was interesting........


 


GREAT.. Dancing while fiddling... another WHOLE topic!!!!!

Oct 3, 2020 - 7:48:16 AM

gapbob

USA

713 posts since 4/20/2008

I used to go to the dances, take a break from a dance here and there and sit by the band and just watch the bows a-flying.

Oct 3, 2020 - 8:29:14 AM

2072 posts since 10/22/2007

Must be another lefty playing righty thing, all that speedy bowing wears me out. I don't know how Micheal Cleveland does it. Truth, i don't know how any speedy wiz does it. That's why i got into John Hartford. He kinda just lopes along. I play guitar righty too. It doesn't take much to get me choppin half time. My 3 finger banjer roll sounds fast until a righty starts in. Just one of them things, i guess.

Oct 4, 2020 - 4:48:08 PM
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1304 posts since 7/26/2015

That's Mack Magaha. I got to meet his wife. She said the dancing wasn't something he came up with to entertain a crowd, but something he did naturally. "It was just in him."
quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver
quote:
Originally posted by soppinthegravy
Check out Big Howdy's bowing on this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZm0yvJ53ks&t=119s
quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

For a while now I've been interested in trying to get a 'feel' of how it is to bow the way that other people do .Think Michael Cleveland and his bow hold, or Alan Jabbour and his bow/arm style..I see people using a death grip and others using a 'dainty' hold. Still other seem to have No control over their bow.. but all STILL SOUND GOOD (not yelling)...Some use the entire arm and seem to play from their shoulder..while others have a stiff wrist and play from the elbow.. It has been fun trying to play in these various ways..... I'm pretty much a 'dainty wrist' action player myself.. I don't fault anyone else's way of playing.. but sometimes I can't help but to be amazed ... I've also tried to mimic the 'energy' of Tommy Jerrell.. that was interesting........


 


GREAT.. Dancing while fiddling... another WHOLE topic!!!!!


Oct 7, 2020 - 10:23:05 AM

571 posts since 8/10/2017

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

Once the bow is ON the string, it really doesn't weigh much,, maybe an ounce or two..so a death grip just isn't necessary,, and, Gravity wants the bow to fall, so the thumb's job is to prevent that, and all youz godda do is to keep pushing up against gravity..To get a sound, you just push down with your index finger/whole-hand, and counter with the thumb.. Simplelaugh.. (simple, right?)..

 


My teacher also says that. And I still cannot do it, but I think I am getting closer to it microscopically.

Oct 7, 2020 - 10:25:34 AM

571 posts since 8/10/2017

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

Must be another lefty playing righty thing, all that speedy bowing wears me out. I don't know how Micheal Cleveland does it. Truth, i don't know how any speedy wiz does it. That's why i got into John Hartford. He kinda just lopes along. I play guitar righty too. It doesn't take much to get me choppin half time. My 3 finger banjer roll sounds fast until a righty starts in. Just one of them things, i guess.


I sometimes wonder if speedy bowing is impossible for someone like me with such great gobs of wap-wap fat flapping on my upper arms.

Oct 7, 2020 - 10:38:24 AM
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DougD

USA

9798 posts since 12/2/2007

I think good fiddlers have come in all shapes and sizes.

Oct 7, 2020 - 3:12:19 PM

1304 posts since 7/26/2015

I wonder if some of the difficulty in holding the fiddle and bow comes from the literal size and shape difference in the bodies of players and failure to compensate for this. For example, one friend observed that I have to bend my neck more than the average person to put my chin in contact with the fiddle, because my neck is longer than average. The opposite was true for my short-necked friend. Perhaps this logic also applies to my difficulty using a standard bow hold. I don't know.
quote:
Originally posted by DougD

I think good fiddlers have come in all shapes and sizes.


Edited by - soppinthegravy on 10/07/2020 15:12:48

Oct 8, 2020 - 2:47:16 PM

8761 posts since 3/19/2009

Recently I tried to mimic a fiddler who had a finger-tip hold on their bow.. I noticed that because of the way the bow was being held, it was virtually impossible to use a finger to push down on the bow to get good string contact.. then I looked at the bow ON the strings.. There was no sign of the bow moving closer to the bow Hair when in the middle of the bow, so there was obviously not good solid contact.. The fiddler was playing the tune ok with the left hand, but the poor string contact combined with a tight fingertip grip, made the bow move laterally.. I tried to mimic that.. and had the same result..BTW, my observations are just THAT...Observations about bow usage... and are not meant to be criticisms of people..

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 10/08/2020 14:58:39

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