Playing with rhythms in reels


March and reel rhythms

Tonight we worked on rhythms in marches and reel. We started the class by going over the 2/4 march Campbell’s Farewell to Redcastle, and reminded ourselves where some of the grace notes were. We also got our feet tapping on the beat, and emphasised all the notes on the beat, keeping a steady tempo.

Tone and tuning

We tried playing long bows on an open A string, paying attention to getting our bows perpendicular to the fiddle strings to help with tone. Then we played different notes and chords from the A arpeggio (A, C#, E and A), listening to our tuning while we were playing, and working on our tone at the same time. After that, we tried walking around the room while we were playing long notes from the arpeggio. While we did this, we were listening to other people around us, and working on playing in tune with one another.

Onbeats and offbeats

Then we moved on to playing the notes  E A C# E A E C# A in reel rhythm, tapping our feet while we emphasised the notes on the beat. Some of the class then played a chord beneath this, playing a low A and E, in an offbeat rhythm. We tried varying the run of notes over the top, and changed to emphasising the offbeats along with the chords.

Learn to play with rhythms on the fiddle in the String Circle class
Photo ©Ros Gasson

We learnt the reel Roxburgh Castle (the music is on the tunes page), and played around with different rhythms, emphasising beats or offbeats in the second part.

We also tried playing Campbell’s Farewell to Redcastle with the reel after it. We finished off the evening by playing a set of tunes together: Captain Campbell, a strathspey, followed by 2 reels – Brenda Stubbert, and Jenny Dang the Weaver.