Fiddle chords / double stops: How many fingers, which strings?

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Steve Srader Steve Srader 2 months ago.

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  • #61786
    Great Scott
    Great Scott
    Moderator

    Hi John,  I have seen a number of videos that tell you to play, for example,  the E string depressed on a note while at the same time playing the open A string.  Same for the D and G strings — depressing the note on the D string while playing an open G string.  This makes sense and sounds nice with most notes.  Well, I was wondering if it is ever reversed, where you would play a note on the A string and play an open E string at the same time.  OR playing a note on the G string while playing an open D string simultaneously?  I have tried doing the latter and it is very tricky to do (for me, at least).

    And, how many notes are usually played when playing a chord  / double stop — two, three?  Is three a rarity?

    Thanks for shedding some light on this for me.

    #61793
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Of course I’m only Cricket…and don’t know much, but since the strings are all tuned to perfect fifths from each other, you can make double stops on any two, all sorts of shapes of finger stopping.  Usually double stop means two notes only…if it’s three or more, it’s technically a chord.  People can do that on the fiddle, but it’s not the usual thing and it’s very hard to do.  Maybe you already know this stuff and I’m not getting close to the question…

    #61830

    Angela
    Participant

    I’m only Angela, but I can give some info.

    Fiddle players play both all the time. Some people distinguish between a double stop (when you actually have fingers down on two strings—like 1 on the a string and 2 on the e string to form a g double stop) and drone (when you have a finger down on one string and play an open string next to it—like when you play Angelina Baker with fingers on the a string and play the d string open at the same time).

    It can be a little harder to finger the lower string while “droning” on the higher string, because you have to make sure your fingers aren’t hitting the higher string.  It’s hardest when you’re fingering on g and playing open d because you have to really check your hand position.  A good exercise would be to play the g and d strings together and walk up the g scale on the g string —it’s hard but great practice.

    One of the cool bluegrass sounds comes from playing the 4th finger on the lower string along with the open next higher string.  So 4th finger on the a string is an e note and play it while playing the open e string.

    John’s Bile Them Cabbage lesson is a good one to practice with.

    #61831
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Well…I’m still only Cricket, but good points, Angela, about drones vs double stops.  Bile them cabbage down is a good one for that!

    #61853
    Great Scott
    Great Scott
    Moderator

    An I am only Great Scott!  🙂

    WOW!!  What can I say except THANK YOU Angels, for offering to help widdle ol’ me.  Cricket, thank you for your input.  Helped me get my head (around it — figuratively speaking, of course).  🙂

    Angela, that was a great explanation and helped me understand the process.  It helped so much in fact that I realize that learning the fiddle ain’t gonna be easy for me, so I am going to learn another instrument instead.  I am going to buy me a Penny Whistle and learn to play that.  I figure that blowing air and spit into a tube will be a lot easier that learning the fiddle.

    #61854

    Angela
    Participant

    Well…you could always just blow air and spit into your fiddle and see what happens.

    It’s not easy….but it can be done if you take it one step at a time.  Bile em Cabbage is a great first lesson.

    The main thing to remember about fingering the fiddle…at no time should your fingers leave your hands.  Keep your head on straight and your eye on the ball….

    #61856
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Scott, I can’t help noticing there is something odd about your head and your eyeballs. Great Scott, it’s just weird.  Boil the cabbage down is a great tune many people start out with.  I remember when I first tried to play a fiddle I played East Virginia Blues and Waterbound…first two songs.  They both have very few notes on the A string and drone on the E string…a lot like Boiling the Cabbage…I still love to play those songs to this day.  But if you wanna play classical stuff, you might wanna find a class.  Grandson took a beginning classical violin class last year and I was amazed at what they learned in there in one year.  He can play some easy versions of classical stuff already.  If you do choose to resort to spitting into that fiddle, make sure you are chawing t-backy at the time so it should match up with the violin finish.

    #61903
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    Below are some double stops I used to practice. I committed them to memory and got quite proficient at them. Just a little exercise to occupy my mind from time to time. The tab is for fiddle but it’s labeled for mandolin.

    https://www.frederickwarner.com/uploads/2/2/7/8/2278011/690709_orig.jpg

    #61947
    Great Scott
    Great Scott
    Moderator

    Thanks again, Angels, for offering your assistance to me.  I guess I get a little frustrated with trying to learn the fiddle because I know what it is supposed to sound like; but my frustration comes from my inability to make it sound the way it is supposed to sound.  That’s why I was going to try to learn double stops.  I thought they would add a bit of variety and challenge me; and maybe maintain my interest.

    Angela, I have actually sung into the sound hole (F hole) of my fiddle and it sounds like I am singing into a microphone.  Really scary!.. especially for those who can hear me!.  Don’t know if I want to clog it up with spit; but if that’s what it takes to make me sound good …

    Cricket, I am in the process of trying to locate a private violin tutor; but, like missionaries, around these parts they are very scarce (all been eaten!).  The only one I could find with ANY musical aptitude was a native man who has a degree in Jungle drum tuning.  But I still hunger and search for that elusive private tutor.  I need a one-on-one program.  Kids learn so fast.  Us older ones, not so.  And I am well past my prime.  I am now in the early stages of decomposition.

    #61948
    Great Scott
    Great Scott
    Moderator

    Fred, many thanks for the double stop sheet music.  I will give them a try.  I have a very low cut bridge on my fiddle so you would think that playing double stops for me would be easier.

    #61973

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Great responses, everyone, and thanks GS for bringing it up. To add to what Angela said:

    As Great Scott mentioned, the drones are most common and easiest to perform. This is when the melody is played on the higher string and the lower string is played open. Droning on a higher string is not as common, but it does happen.

    The more difficult task is adding a high harmony, tracking the melody like a tenor singer would do. This requires playing melody on a lower string and harmony on a higher string, and is especially tough for those of us with “fat” fingers. It takes a lot of practice to play a note on the A string while leaving the E string open and clear!

    In these cases, I have to move my finger so that it also partially covers the D string. This is a little unnatural, but I have to do that in order not to be touching the E string, which I want to play open.

    #61986
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    interesting !

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