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Fiddle Lovers Online


Nov 3, 2022 - 12:40:32 AM
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Jimbeaux

Germany

425 posts since 5/24/2016

For me, that is...

I've been thinking about these double stop threads and why people might find them hard, because I don't agree at all!

I'm absolutely not trying to brag, because I'm guessing that you all who find double stops hard are probably better than me at playing single notes!

So when I started my fiddle journey, I started immediately with using drone strings. Tommy Jarrell was my favorite fiddler then and now it's John Salyer, so most of the tunes I play require drones, double stops and occasional swooping movements onto other strings to have them ringing in the background.

I always thought intonation is much easier when you have a reference tone, and that's what a drone string does. When it comes to double stops (which I think of as two strings stopped with fingers rather than an open string), it's only slightly more difficult. I usually have one finger that is more sure of itself than the other. That finger becomes my reference and the other finger slides in place to tune itself to the other string.

Lately I've been working on playing tunes on one string at a time. I actually find it harder, especially if I'm playing by myself. If I have some accompaniment, it becomes much easier. It's also helping me to focus more on the melody and lighten my touch on the drone, which can be distracting if it's too heavy.

Basically what I'm saying is that if double stops are your default way of playing, they aren't hard, they're just normal. Of course there are some double stops that I hardly ever use that I DO find VERY difficult, but that's to be expected.

Anyway, what are your favorite tunes to practice double stops?
Mine: Lost Girl, Fortune, Billy in the Lowground, West Virginia Highway

Also, one of my favorite ways to practice double stops is to back up a singer or myself singing with double stops. Here's a great of Sammy Lind doing that: https://youtu.be/NNSGhK7dhMY

Edited by - Jimbeaux on 11/03/2022 00:44:32

Nov 3, 2022 - 4:43:57 AM
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14137 posts since 9/23/2009

Interesting thoughts. I kind of agree...I mean...just a non-fretted instrument, you know...it's totally up to your ear in every split second how on pitch you are, and to me anyway, slightly off can sound pretty bad...lol...the faster your fingers can rapidly adjust the better it's gonna sound. Really, playing fast kinda covers some of the pitchiness sometimes, it seems to me.

I love drones and cross tunings with drones...when the drone and the melody note are ringing out together it's the sweetest sound in the whole world, in my opinion. But the single notes on their own can sound pitchy, as you indicated...it's sort of like dealing with the color wheel's effect on painting...the colors in a painting all affect each other...so... a red flower might need adjustment in a green background, etc. Same with the single notes threading in and out of drones, bow rocking, and slides and double stops too.

But there are some tunes...lol...I mean, they are double stop heavy and each finger configuration changes by a hair, depending on where on that neck you are playing...then if you just play a few double stops together the pitchiness can just go wacky out of control and make a mess of the tune. Here lately I've gotten back to my interest in some of these tunes...Gardenia Waltz, Golden Fiddle Waltz...I mean...they are finger busters and then if you dare slip slightly, microscopically it seems, you've just got an almost beautiful tune turning into a mess of an ear ache...lol. And to me...that's just hard. Double stops are hard. I mean, if you just hit the D configuration here and there in a tune...like finger one in first stop position on E string and finger 3 in third stop position on A string...slide it up and/or back down...that kinda thing thrown into an otherwise droney or single note tune plowing along nicely...that's not too hard and usually the split second adjustments are easy to handle. But it's when you get into chronic double stops...lol...so to speak...things can get really rough.

Don't know if it's true or not, but I once heard a tale about one of the big famous violinists (don't rembmer who it was because I just don't follow hardly any musicians), anyway, he was holding master classes at some university somewhere and had, of course, the elite violin students to work with...anyway the story was that he would first tune their instruments, knocking a string or two very slightly off pitch, handing the instrument back and telling them to play whatever it was they were supposed to be playing. To him, that was good practice...get those split seconds operating...get your ear and fingers ready for whatever they need to do in record breaking time. Don't know if it's a true story or not, but it makes sense to me that it would be a good practice...because it's not just finger geography...it's ear plus fingers making those fast and crucial decisions without anybody's ears getting hurt in the process...lol.

Nov 3, 2022 - 6:53:27 AM
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RichJ

USA

799 posts since 8/6/2013

Thing is on a non-fretted instrument like the fiddle, one can subtly, maybe even without realizing it, make slight finger adjustments to compensate for a slightly off-tuned string. I guess this all depends on how well trained your ear/finger coordination is. Do classically trained violinists have fingers so well trained they always slam down on the fingerboard the same precise way all the time? Seems that would really result in a mess if their instrument wasn't tuned exactly right. I for one think it would be an advantage to slightly correct for an off-tuned string, or more likely a misplaced finger. Maybe that's why I seem to have developed a sloppy habit of sliding into a lot a notes when I'm playing a tune. Aww but heck, I thought that sounded good. lol

Edited by - RichJ on 11/03/2022 06:54:27

Nov 3, 2022 - 6:53:44 AM
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Old Scratch

Canada

1091 posts since 6/22/2016

Reminds me of an interview with Ray Brown, Oscar Peterson's bass player for many years. He was laughing about how one time, just before some concert in front of thousands of people, he went into the piano and taped down a number of the hammers so they wouldn't sound, and how Oscar got even with him at the next such concert by putting his bass out of tune just before they collectively hit the stage. The level of musicianship these guys were at is mind-boggling, that that sort of sabotage would be no more than an amusing challenge ... !

Nov 3, 2022 - 8:32:09 AM
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14137 posts since 9/23/2009

Ouch. Back when I was in a little amateur, extremely amateur, Bluegrass "band" around here, several years ago now for two or three years or so...some of the fiddle tunes I talked them into letting me do were done cross-tuned...after that they'd wanna go into some BG tune that I had to be back in standard for...it was always noisy, they didn't give much time between tunes and I really had to scramble and try my best to hear how well I got tuned back to standard...there were some nasty surprises at times and I really had to hustle as best as I could to try to sound...just...not terrible...lol. Made me pretty happy to just sound not terrible.

Nov 3, 2022 - 3:38:21 PM

6091 posts since 9/26/2008
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Do classically trained violinists have fingers so well trained they always slam down on the fingerboard the same precise way all the time?

Yes and no. I've heard it said they use vibrato to compensate some, but the high level player is going to be pretty darn precise.

Nov 3, 2022 - 6:56:21 PM

2874 posts since 10/22/2007
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I guess it could depend on what type of stuff you play? I hardly ever know the key or the song. Thank goodness there's only so many melodies. It seems to me knowing the 1-4-5 in all the common keys helps me find the tune faster. What's more, it's crazy, but there's double stops all over the place. I mean I knew them before I knew what a chord inversion or rootless chord was. I just approached them favorably. I made them my friends.

Nov 3, 2022 - 8:38:32 PM
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680 posts since 7/30/2021

re: "Thing is on a non-fretted instrument like the fiddle, one can subtly, maybe even without realizing it, make slight finger adjustments to compensate for a slightly off-tuned string. I guess this all depends on how well trained your ear/finger coordination is. Do classically trained violinists have fingers so well trained they always slam down on the fingerboard the same precise way all the time? Seems that would really result in a mess if their instrument wasn't tuned exactly right."

Well I can rarely answer questions here, but I can answer this one, as somebody who played classical for many years in groups! I think it's more of an "ear to finger" thing...for example if you are tuned flat, or tuned sharp, I will be able to match your intonation. After a measure or two, I will have shifted my fingers a tad and I will be able to play in tune with you...but my open strings will keep sounding out-of-tune with you, so I might have to use a finger to play GDA or E instead of letting the open string ring out . Not ideal, but have done it...
and I know that if I am going out of tune, for example D string going flat, I can compensate for this. But in normal playing conditions, this doesn't  happen much if you tune before playing! (Going out of tune while playing tends to happen more outdoors, like at wedding or jam!).

Nov 4, 2022 - 5:13:37 AM

RichJ

USA

799 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by NCnotes

... so I might have to use a finger to play GDA or E instead of letting the open string ring out . Not ideal, but have done it...
and I know that if I am going out of tune, for example D string going flat, I can compensate for this. But in normal playing conditions, this doesn't  happen much if you tune before playing! (Going out of tune while playing tends to happen more outdoors, like at wedding or jam!).


Thanks for that explanation NC, but dang if I can see how you might finger compensate for a slightly sharp G string unless you had one of those fancy fiddles with an extra C string. BTW, sure agree with you on how outdoor sunlight/temp/humidity can cause a poor old fiddle to make all sorts  of contortions that might throw it out of tune.  

Nov 4, 2022 - 6:28:16 AM

680 posts since 7/30/2021

Sharp G string would be a tough one! Got to play with fingers 1 and 2 and 3 a little low, then live with the open G!
No way to compensate for the open G...just grit my teeth!
(to compensate for other strings, can get away with using the fourth finger, placing it a hair low or high depending).

Anyway this has usually happened in humid weather outdoors, or with some old church piano that hasn't been tuned in years or with a flat flute player...but thankfully, not that often!!

Nov 4, 2022 - 12:48:54 PM
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83 posts since 12/26/2021

Depends on where you start from, I guess. I learned violin in elementary school and Jr. High orchestra. Everything was single string, the adjacent strings were like the third rail on the subway. In the orchestra we had a hoedown medley that started out with AE, AE, DA, DA, GD, GD, DA. What? Play TWO strings? At the same time? Totally new concept!

Nov 4, 2022 - 6:54:19 PM

2398 posts since 8/23/2008

I always thought intonation is much easier when you have a reference tone.............

Classical players train their ears so they have the 'reference tone' in their head. 

And when they practice double stops they play them in scales. Different than OT playing but much harder than single notes. 

Nov 4, 2022 - 8:48:32 PM

680 posts since 7/30/2021

Yep, graduate of Trott's "Melodious Double Stops"...
so while doublestop intonation is usually not hard for me, I find the rhythm/groove/creative use of doublestops in OT to be very hard!! Reading doublestops off of a sheet of music is very different from hearing/feeling how to use them in a tune.

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