Improving tone on the fiddle
Tonight we worked on our tone on the fiddle. We started off by learning the B part of the Eagle’s Whistle. The music is on the website tunes page. We tried out playing the A part of the tune with accented up beats (played on an up bow), to give the tune more ‘lift’, and added some chords into the A part.
We checked over our bow holds, ensuring our bowing arm was relaxed, and slightly rotated anticlockwise. This allows us to keep a fluid wrist action throughout each bow stroke. We played long bow strokes allowing the wrist to ‘lead’ the switch from a down bow to an up bow. We worked in pairs, checking that we were keeping our bows perpendicular to the fiddle strings throughout the bow stroke.
In pairs, we worked on keeping our bow perpendicular to the fiddle’s strings. We then tried out using pressure on the bow to increase volume and ‘scrunch’, and also taking pressure off the bow, to give gentle more mellow tone.
After this we had a go at playing chords. It’s important to have fine control over the angle of the bow to be able to play chords at will. One way to increase accuracy when chords are played (or not played!) is by using pressure with the first finger on the stick of the bow to push the bow hairs down onto the string that we’re using to create the chord. This will work if the angle that we’re using the bow keeps the bow hairs very close to that 2nd string before we want to play the chord. Creating chords in this way doesn’t rely on shifting the angle of the bow at the moment when we want to play the chord. The extra pressure with the first finger is enough to bring the 2nd string into play.
We tried out playing a second string as a long drone below part of a tune. We also tried out playing a more percussive chord note on the beat, allowing the string to ‘ring out’ after the bow had hit it.
At the end of the evening we played through Callum’s Road, folowed by Brenda Stubbert’s Reel, The Barrowburn Reel, and the High Road to Linton.
We talked about joining up with the Portobello Fun Fiddle group on Monday 6th May. They’ll be meeting on Porty Prom at 2pm to play some tunes together, to celebrate their 10 years of fiddle classes. For those who are interested in going along, I’ve added the tune they’ve written for the occasion on the tunes page. I’ll also add a recording once I’ve learnt it!