Playing polkas with bounce

Playing polkas with a bounce

Tonight we learnt Bill Sullivan’s Polka, and spent the evening working on techniques for playing polkas with a ‘bouncy’ rhythm. We were using our first finger to push down into the notes, allowing the bow to bounce just clear of the string in between notes in the tune.

Playing polkas with bounce on the fiddle
Photo ©Ros Gasson

We also played around with a chord version of the B part of the tune – it can be played as a variation on the tune, or as an accompaniment along with the tune. We tried experimenting with different rhythms.

We worked on technique for playing chords within the tune in the A part. We were playing an open A along with parts of the tune that were played on the D string. We tried out playing the tune on the D string while keeping the bow just clear of the A string, but very close to it. By pushing down on the stick of the bow with the first finger, the bow hairs  are compressed so they also touch the A string. This can be done without changing the angle of the bow on the strings at all, and allows a lot of control over which of the notes in the tune the chords are played on.

We played through several tunes at the end of the class – Road to Banff, Leaving Brittany, The Eagle’s Whistle, and finished off playing through Lay Dee at Dee.