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Feb 28, 2024 - 6:10:06 PM
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14 posts since 2/28/2024

Ok, so I’ve been playing 8-9 months and I have come a long way so far. I was told I sounded as if I had been playing a lot longer than that, but Idk
I want to know what’s the best way for one develop their own style? I know what sounds I want as well as a few I don’t want.. does it happen naturally?
Another thing, I can improvise a little bit and automatically my fingers do a lot of trills and little tricks, but I find they repeat a lot! Should I just try to copy off recordings I like to get more sounds into my fingers that I want? And maybe not learn off a break in a style I do not want?

Feb 28, 2024 - 6:59:46 PM
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55 posts since 6/28/2008

I believe John Hartford said: Music is based on repetition; Style is based on limitation.
Be yourself, style will follow.

Feb 28, 2024 - 7:31:17 PM
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doryman

USA

583 posts since 2/10/2020

Someone here wrote this a while back, I can't remember who, but I saved it because it was funny, witty, and spot on for me!

"Everyone tries to sound good when they play the fiddle, but I have a different approach, I try not to sound bad. It's a fear based approach to fiddle. Over many years now of listening to recordings of myself, I've catalogued several hundred things that were so bad I've vowed never to do them again. My current style of playing is based on whatever is left over."

Feb 29, 2024 - 5:07:11 AM
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RobBob

USA

2982 posts since 6/26/2007

Another thing Hartford said was your bowing is like your penmanship. You are you and while you can copy other players, you will always sound like you. Work on tone, timing, and intonation and play each tune as magnificently as you can. Do your best to do it justice and your style will emerge. Don't be surprised when you hear you fiddling recorded as it is like hearing yourself sing for the first time on a recording, so revealing of something deep within.

Feb 29, 2024 - 7:28:45 AM

Erockin

USA

878 posts since 9/3/2022

Style evolves...style also changes...I think of all of those who came after Tony Rice for example. Many have learned and some emulate him but, he's the only one with Tony's style. I dream of having a style at 1 1/2 yr in but at this point, I'm trying my hardest to play tunes correctly. Meaning, what ever version I am going after, I realize how important it is for me to copy at least the correct notes before I go off making it my own. My problem is...Well, I guess it's not a problem but, I have too many favorite fiddlers at this point that I want sound like them all at once. Hopefully I'll have a style I'm happy with!

Feb 29, 2024 - 7:58:55 AM
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Old Scratch

Canada

1246 posts since 6/22/2016

Some wag on fiddle-l once said, "If you keep making your mistakes long enough, they become your style."

Feb 29, 2024 - 8:00:50 AM
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228 posts since 11/26/2013

Developing a style that is all your own takes years. When I first started, people said I sounded a lot like Kenny Baker, with touches of Highwoods SB and Jay Unger. Guess who I listened to, a LOT, back then? Kenny Baker, Highwoods and Jay. THese days I listen and play a lot of Scottish tunes and that style has crept into my playing. But always I sound like... me. I listen to recordings of myself from back then and now and while the style changes a bit, it still sounds like me, with all my fiddle foibles and nuances.

Feb 29, 2024 - 8:32:51 AM
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RB-1

Netherlands

157 posts since 9/28/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Erockin

Style evolves...style also changes...I think of all of those who came after Tony Rice for example. Many have learned and some emulate him but, he's the only one with Tony's style. I dream of having a style at 1 1/2 yr in but at this point, I'm trying my hardest to play tunes correctly. Meaning, what ever version I am going after, I realize how important it is for me to copy at least the correct notes before I go off making it my own. My problem is...Well, I guess it's not a problem but, I have too many favorite fiddlers at this point that I want sound like them all at once. Hopefully I'll have a style I'm happy with!


Well, there's your answer.

As long as you're after the 'correct' notes, you're not working on 'your style'. Not exactly of course, but there's some truth in it.

My teacher (yes, meanwhile, after some 3 years on my own, I've had 4 lessons yes) told me: 'you already know what to play, I'll be there, helping you making it all sound good'.

My strategy is listening carefully, then playing what I'm hearing in my head.

That's how my own styles on mandolin, banjo and Dobro emerged.

Some 50 years after starting on banjo, I've finaly taken up the fiddle too and I'm hoping you're having just as much fun as I do....

Feb 29, 2024 - 8:44:01 AM
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14 posts since 2/28/2024

Yes I can hear in my head what I’d like to do, but somehow when I’m playing my mind just can’t seem to think of those things! If it’s a slow song I kind of can.
If I’m only listening and not playing I can imagine all sorts of little things that could be added to the music, but not really WHILE I’m trying to play.

Feb 29, 2024 - 9:04:02 AM
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Strabo

USA

20 posts since 8/30/2021

Audiating the music (hearing the music in your head) is the essential first step.

And yes, I do find that the wonderful things that I hear in my head do not automatically show up when I play the tune. To me, that’s just an indication that I need more practice, more repetition to develop the music asI want it.

And I find that the tune develops its style if I keep playing it for a while. That may not be very interesting for casual , but that’s how tunes develop for me.

Feb 29, 2024 - 9:28:22 AM
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6466 posts since 8/7/2009

Contrarian opinion...

You already have your own style. You started out with it / can't be avoided. And as much as that might change through the years - you are never going to sound like anyone else but you. All of your attempts to sound like someone else are only attempts to not sound like yourself - avoiding your style - and it will probably fail. But relax, some of what comes natural to you will sound better when its coming from you.

Why don't others recognize your playing style? For the same reason you don't recognize it. Right now - it may not have the same musical appeal that it will have later, if you keep on polishing on what comes natural to you - while you are learning tunes. When you like it, others probably will too. That's you.

Enjoy the journey.

Feb 29, 2024 - 1:00:08 PM
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2565 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by tonyelder

Contrarian opinion...
All of your attempts to sound like someone else are only attempts to not sound like yourself - avoiding your style - and it will probably fail.


 

Counter-contrarian...

I don't think so, if trying to sound like someone else means improving your technique in the process. I have tried to make this point before, which is that learning new technique from a player you admire is a good thing. It's good for me because my imagination isn't up to producing a fully formed way of playing that completely represents me. Just melodically for instance, if I don't do some work to learn other's version of a tune I just reinforce my more or less linear version of how a melody goes, how bowing goes, etc.

Learning another's melody lines enhances my skills. Same with other aspects of style. The only players who risk losing their own style of playing are perhaps ones who only copy one player and intentionally try to play only that one way forever. I suggest picking up techniques that you find interesting, and as time goes on what you have internalized will be your style. But don't sweat it. Get better and have fun. Let go of notions of the idea of uniqueness. It can't be learned and it's not really important.

Feb 29, 2024 - 1:36:47 PM

2437 posts since 12/11/2008

HappyTune -- Steal, steal, steal! From every genre that might have ever floated your boat. Meantime, make use of whatever "imperfections" might show up as you relentlessly play the instrument. Let your ears be the judge as to which imperfections might actually be aesthetically pleasing.

Feb 29, 2024 - 1:40:46 PM
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1403 posts since 3/1/2020

The desire to sound unique is understandable, however at the early stages of playing, focusing on this is counterproductive. Learning technique and tone production is key at this stage. One cannot express anything meaningful without the context to express it.

Sounding unique isn’t necessarily the goal in making music, anyway. Music is about communicating something, so if you lose sight of this and focus too much inwardly, you become less of a musician, not more.

All great players arrive at greatness by learning and imbibing deeply from the river of experience and knowledge that precedes them.

I think listening to other players can be helpful early on to understand more about what the instrument can do. Even more importantly, paying attention to the phrasing and style of the music and the context in which it was intended can give vital information.

Players of the violin spend the majority of their time playing music that they didn’t compose themselves, so their focus should not necessarily be on themselves as players but on giving a convincing rendering of the music.

When a player is just trying to be different for the sake of sounding unlike others, the result is much more unpalatable than one who emulates others who have had good ideas. You can take a passage from Shakespeare and read it in a way that sounds completely unlike any performance by a seasoned RSC actor. It will be different, but it’ll lose all meaning and beauty. Melodies, just like texts, contain certain structures, some explicit, some implicit. If you forget those in favor of your ego, you lose the music.

Feb 29, 2024 - 4:28:31 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

1246 posts since 6/22/2016

"You can take a passage from Shakespeare and read it in a way that sounds completely unlike any performance by a seasoned RSC actor. It will be different, but it’ll lose all meaning and beauty. "

As someone who has put considerable time and effort into reading, studying, and watching Shakespeare's plays, I could not disagree more. Just for the record.

Feb 29, 2024 - 5:32:37 PM

3320 posts since 10/22/2007

All this sage advice has not touched on one of the most important part of your journey. I don't care what kind of "stylist" one thinks one is, if you can't play well with others, one is but a bell with no clapper. Don't wait until you're "good." One gets good by playing with others, asap.

Feb 29, 2024 - 6:04:18 PM
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wilford

USA

506 posts since 6/26/2007

I tried to play with a group of folks the other day and their timing was so bad I had to give up in the first tune, using the excuse that I forgot my shoulder rest. All really nice folks, too. I simply couldn’t play out of time. I guess the style I developed years ago I couldn’t break. Lol

Feb 29, 2024 - 6:04:34 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

1246 posts since 6/22/2016

(Btw, re: my last post. When I say, "As someone", etc., I'm not trying to assert some kind of authority, just to indicate that I have some background in the subject and have given some thought to the matter at hand. In case anyone cares ... !)

Feb 29, 2024 - 7:51:36 PM

14 posts since 2/28/2024

So basically I should keep doing the way I was already doing…and my problems will solve themselves. ?Hm
Oh yes farmerjones, I have played with others I know it does wonders! Has helped a lot so far

Mar 1, 2024 - 6:25:37 AM

228 posts since 11/26/2013

For me, I think every tune has some little trick or phrase that has something to teach you. I learned a lot from playing old time and Celtic tunes, those little phrases and tricks. As a result, when I am soloing during a bluegrass tune I now have this whole library of phrases and tricks to draw upon. Plus whatever I come up with on my own. Thats the beginning of having a style all your own.

Mar 1, 2024 - 6:49:42 AM

6466 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
quote:
Originally posted by tonyelder

Contrarian opinion...
All of your attempts to sound like someone else are only attempts to not sound like yourself - avoiding your style - and it will probably fail.


 

Counter-contrarian...

I don't think so, if trying to sound like someone else means improving your technique in the process. I have tried to make this point before, which is that learning new technique from a player you admire is a good thing. It's good for me because my imagination isn't up to producing a fully formed way of playing that completely represents me. Just melodically for instance, if I don't do some work to learn other's version of a tune I just reinforce my more or less linear version of how a melody goes, how bowing goes, etc.

Learning another's melody lines enhances my skills. Same with other aspects of style. The only players who risk losing their own style of playing are perhaps ones who only copy one player and intentionally try to play only that one way forever. I suggest picking up techniques that you find interesting, and as time goes on what you have internalized will be your style. But don't sweat it. Get better and have fun. Let go of notions of the idea of uniqueness. It can't be learned and it's not really important.


laugh  Truly, I don't see where - what you are saying is "contrary" to what I said. Different words maybe, but the idea is the same. 

No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to sound just like anyone else - period. Just not possible. But I can listen to my favorite version of a tune, try to learn it as best as I can, and come away with my approximation of what I hear played with my current skill - colored with everything thing else under the sun that makes up who I am - all the other tunes I have ever learned on any instrument, or including the tunes / songs I grew up with listening on the radio - or whatever.

Playing in my own style will always be the best I can do, even when I am trying to play someone else's version of at tune. To be dis-satisfied with myself because I can't play a tune "exactly" like someone else is an attempt to deny my own style - or maybe it would be better said as - it is an attempt to discredit or under appreciate the way I play the tune (my style). 

Songs and tunes...  I am constantly improvising, or revising a tune to accommodate my inability to play them exactly like a recording. I compromise and make it work as best as I can. And I have found that a lot of the time - it works. Sometimes I like what I do even better. EVERYONE does it. I can't think of a single song or tune that anyone has ever played or recorded that sounds exactly like someone else's version. Why even try? Truth be told... I doubt VERY seriously that many recording artist ever play their own song exactly the same way twice. In fact, I'm sure that most of them don't ever want to play it the same way - AGAIN. 

My point is - yes, we can learn skills from other folks (and we should) but it will still be our adaptation of what we hear - own style. I think it is more important to work on being musical with how we play what we play. Don't worry so much about how well we sound like someone else. 

If there is a difference between what we are saying - then I would point to this:

You said" "But don't sweat it. Get better and have fun. Let go of notions of the idea of uniqueness. It can't be learned and it's not really important."

And I say: "Let go of the notions that you will learn how to play tunes "exactly" like the recordings. That's not important. You're going to play that tune in your own unique style - no matter how hard you try to avoid it. But don't sweat it. Get better and have fun."

Having your own style - to me - doesn't mean you have arrived at a place where no further development is necessary. I can tell by the way some folks laugh - who that person is without seeing them. That doesn't mean, that they can't change their style of laughter. And they probably did copy someone else's laughter, or study how to laugh a certain way. It just is... mainly because of what was.

And even if those things are considered "different" - in my opinion the message is still the same. "uniqueness ...can't be learned" - it just happens.

Mar 1, 2024 - 7:38:14 AM

14 posts since 2/28/2024

I love all these answers! :) very appreciated

Mar 1, 2024 - 9:47:01 AM
Players Union Member

boxbow

USA

2783 posts since 2/3/2011

I think I'm lucky to play at all. Style? I once overheard someone say of my fiddling that I had a unique style of bowing. I don't believe it was entirely complimentary. I remember that I was having a happy day of fiddling. There is something to the idea that style is what's left over after you've tried and failed at everything else.

I'm not going to worry about style. I just got my recently acquired and slightly used fiddle back from the loving attentions of my luthier and I have my hands full. It's way more fiddle than I'm used to and I'm a bit overwhelmed. I believe style will come on it's own while I'm busy trying to play. So far, so good. I'll look back in a few years and see that I grew as a fiddler.

Mar 3, 2024 - 3:10:33 AM

Peghead

USA

1701 posts since 1/21/2009

quote:
Originally posted by doryman

Someone here wrote this a while back, I can't remember who, but I saved it because it was funny, witty, and spot on for me!

"Everyone tries to sound good when they play the fiddle, but I have a different approach, I try not to sound bad. It's a fear based approach to fiddle. Over many years now of listening to recordings of myself, I've catalogued several hundred things that were so bad I've vowed never to do them again. My current style of playing is based on whatever is left over."


That was me, I'm still adding to the list!

Edited by - Peghead on 03/03/2024 03:11:47

Mar 3, 2024 - 6:32:57 AM
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3320 posts since 10/22/2007

Knowing no two fiddlers can sound the same (fiddlers fingerprint)
Aim at sounding like one or two of your favorite fiddlers, knowing you won't get there.
I just learn and play the tunes I like. I can't remember some tune just because someone else commands me to do it.

Mar 3, 2024 - 7:10:30 AM

doryman

USA

583 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Peghead
quote:
Originally posted by doryman

Someone here wrote this a while back, I can't remember who, but I saved it because it was funny, witty, and spot on for me!

"Everyone tries to sound good when they play the fiddle, but I have a different approach, I try not to sound bad. It's a fear based approach to fiddle. Over many years now of listening to recordings of myself, I've catalogued several hundred things that were so bad I've vowed never to do them again. My current style of playing is based on whatever is left over."


That was me, I'm still adding to the list!


That was a brilliant post!

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