Bow control when playing the fiddle
We spent this evening looking at ways we can learn more about bow control. We started off by learning a new march – Corriechoillies Welcome to the Northern Meeting.
First of all, we looked at gaining more control of our bows when crossing strings. We played the opening phrase of Soldier’s Joy, using a ‘1 down 3 up’ bowing pattern:
Initially we played the run of notes while trying to keep the bow quite close to both strings. Then we added in tapping a foot on each down bow (these fall on the beat in the tune). After this, we played the first 4 quavers as single notes, and added a chord onto both the F# notes in the second 4 quavers (using an open A for the chord). Doing this regularly will help improve bow control when moving from one string to another, as you start to get a feel for when the bow will hit the new string.
If the bow is very close to both strings when we play without chords, it only takes a small shift in the angle of the bow to create the chord when we repeat the notes. This small movement comes from the wrist, not the upper arm or shoulder.
We moved on to playing bow strokes on an open A string. Initially we were playing long notes, and tapping our feet as well. Then we played shorter notes, with a gap between each note, focusing on starting and stopping the note cleanly.
After this we played up and down a D scale. To start with, we played with alternate bows on each note:
We worked on playing the notes crisply and cleanly, using the ‘bounce’ in the bow on each bow stroke.
Then we slurred the notes together in pairs:
Finally we played using a 1 down 2 up pattern:
To make this work, it’s important to make the down bow long and fast, then play the following 3 quavers using a slower bow speed. This makes the note played on the down bow louder than the other 3 notes. We were tapping our feet on the down bow (which is also on the beat).
We also tried out playing Terribus followed by Corriechoillies. These two marches could be played along with Captain Campbell’s farewell to Redcastle, for dancing a Gay Gordons.