Create space in tunes

Create space in tunes

Learning to have good control of the fiddle bow will allow you to create space in tunes, either between phrases or between individual notes. The spaces can help with phrasing, or allow a run of notes to be broken up a bit.

Vertical movement of the bow

We started off this evening by working some more on harnessing the vertical movement of the bow. We each held our bow out in front of us, supporting the tip with our left hand. We tried out the action of the first finger pressing into the stick of the bow, using the thumb to counter this movement.  We alternated this with relaxing the hand, then tried doing the same thing while moving the bow through a short bow stroke (still with the bow in front of us, without the fiddle). We then tried this out on the fiddle, playing single bowed open Ds to start with. We broke into pairs, so that we could give each other feedback on the bow movement, and whether the stick was compressing down onto the back of the hairs at the start of the bow stroke. Then we tried the same thing out playing alternate Ds and Es on single bows. We worked on keeping the hand really relaxed as soon as we had created the pulse at the start of the note. As we play the note, we’re aiming to take a little of the weight of the bow in our hand (by pushing lightly on the top of the stick with the pinkie). his allows the bow to naturally ‘bounce’ out of the note. Depending on how much of the weight we take, the bow can bounce a little or enough to come clear of the string for a brief moment. When the bow comes clear of the string, it creates a very short space between the end of the note and the start of the next note.

Bowing patterns

We learnt the reel Paddy’s Trip to Scotland. We worked on creating a basic ‘default’ bowing pattern which will eventually happen naturally without having to think about it. We’re aiming to start each bar with a down bow, as this will naturally give a pulse on the beat in each bar. Once this pattern is established in our playing, we can vary it whenever we chose to, to create an emphasis in different places in the bar. in this tune, we’ll be putting the emphasis onto the offbeat on the B part, using a ‘3 up 1 down’ bowing pattern for several of the phrases.

We finished the evening by playing together in a circle, focusing on listening to the players on either side of us