How to control the fiddle bow

How to control the fiddle bow when playing tunes

How to control the fiddle bow

Tonight we spent some time working on our bow holds, and how to control the fiddle bow when playing chords, or adding dynamics to a tune.

We started the evening by learning the jig Braeroy Road (which is also known as Barney from Killarney). It’s a jig that works well played at a slow and mellow speed. Once we’d learnt the notes, we looked at some of the ornamentation we could add into the tune. We can add simple grace notes (played with either the 2nd or 3rd finger) on the long A and E at the beginning of the tune. There’s also enough time to play a roll on either of those notes if you prefer. You can read more information on playing rolls in this previous post on bowing patterns and grace notes.

How to control the fiddle bow when playing tunes
Photo ©Ros Gasson 2012

Chords

We also looked at some chords we could play in the A part of the tune. By using single bow strokes when we’re playing chords, we can add a rhythmic accompaniment to parts of the tune with chords. Using the techniques we looked at in the class last week, it’s possible to have fine control over whether you play a chord or not on each individual note.

Bow hold

We looked again at our bow holds. By using the thumb as a pivot, pushing down on the stick of the bow with the first finger will add pressure to a bow stroke. We tried out using this to increase the volume in a note, and to add a bit of a  ‘scrunch’ to the quality of the note’s sound. It can also be used to create chords (see last week’s post for details). We also tried out using a little pressure on the pinkie to take a little of the bow’s weight off the string. Doing this will reduce the volume of a note. With a little practice, we can develop the ability to create quite a range of sounds using these 2 methods when playing tunes on the fiddle. The 2nd and 3rd fingers will stay in position, helping to control any lateral movement of the bow, and preventing it from sliding off at an angle across the fiddle strings.

We finished the evening by playing through the 3 tunes we have learnt so far this term.