Fiddle vs violin strategies


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    I’m not able to find anything “yet”, but am still working my way through the forums…

    what are some techniques to keep in mind in order to get the “fiddle” sound with any piece of music?
    For example, any old major scale. What could you do to keep it still a major scale, but make it sound “fiddle-y”

    I’ve had 3 years of Suzuki, but my minutes and Gavottes don’t lend themselves to the fiddle sound.

    what is the theory behind making music fiddle-y?



    Great question!  I don’t know if there’s any theory involved…but…well to my mind, my self-taught, amateur mind of little fiddling experience and zero violin experience…if we’re talking Old Time fiddling, one of the secrets might be in the bowing.  The bowing must be managed in a rhythmic way.  If you’ve heard clawhammer banjo, you could easily compare Old Time bowing to the bum diddies and rhythmic goings on in the banjo.  You could also, or I do anyway for whatever that’s worth, but you could compare rocking the bow to drop thumb on the clawhammer banjo.

    John has a really nice lesson here for bow rocking if you look for the lesson on Candy Girl.  I worked through that lesson…I rarely if ever have played Candy Girl and never felt I got that good at it, but I did walk away from that lesson with a new appreciation and comfort level with bow rocking…Candy Girl is ALL bow rocking.  But in most tunes you’d play, you’d probably only use it here and there…great lesson for getting a feel for it and comfortable with it though, not to mention Candy Girl is a really nice old tune to know too.

    Also you could look for lessons involving the shuffle…I can’t think right now which lessons those would be featured on a lot…but I know there are many here.  Once you get the shuffle…also called Nashville Shuffle these days…once you get that good, you can explore other old time things with your bow and start to develop a sense of confidence with it.  I’m working on that…getting there but room for lots of improvement, always.

    Then once you get a few bowing tricks under your belt…then next thing you might wanna get into would be sorta sliding into the notes, hammering on, sliding up or down into the notes, kinda matching up your bowing with your noting, and the real excitment really gets going.

    It ain’t rocket science, at least I don’t think so…but it gets very exciting once you start getting the hang of it and know where you are wanting to go with it.  That’s just my view of Old Time fiddling…having just a decade or so of experience, mainly self-taught…I have made use of these lessons quite a bit, but usually don’t play the tune I learn from, just take the techniques I need and go from there.

    If you want some other styles of fiddling, I don’t knwo about that but lots of people on here do.  The lessons cover Celtic, Candian, all kinds of stuff…I have no experience with any of those because Old Time pretty much takes up all my thought capacity…lol.  Anyway…an attempt to begin a continuation of your discussion.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by cricketcricket.

    Hey Cricket,

    So, basically bowing is what I should focus on for awhile. I’ve seen various demonstrations of different shuffles…figure 8 (?) and such. I’m thinking probably grab any old scale and try to utilize the different bowing patterns. One of my questions when seeing someone demonstrate a bowing technique is how to incorporate that particular pattern into a song.

    I will say sliding into the notes is my go to lol. Mainly because the note is “somewhere around *here*”. Of course I never land precisely ON the note, and wind up having to slide into it somehow. It sounds good, then I’m like, “Oh, I meant to do that” LOL! Bowing? Haven’t reached it yet.

    I’ll be checking out Candy Girl. Thanks!

    Steve SraderSteve Srader

    If you follow johns lessons properly the tune will sound like his , So each tune is different /Country / Bluegrass and so on the sound your seeking will come as you learn to copy Johns many styles !



    It might be fun, always has been for me, to practice the N. Shuffles…if you like scales that’d be ok…I never do scales so i dont’ know…but I just used to practice putting the shuffles into tunes.  Like, just go really slow on some tune…what would be a good one?  Something kinda easy-going and that you can slow down on…East Virginia Blues or something…my favorite in the beginning was always a tune called Waterbound, which is different than what I see being called Waterbound all over youtube…but any slow kinda thing…I used to slow ’em way, way down…just practice putting the notes into the shuffle pattern, which of course is Long short-short, Long short-short, changing directions so it’s like Down-updown Up-downup, etc.  And just go so slow you can just put some simple tune into that shuffle…I would sit for a long time with just one tune, fitting it into a shuffle really super slow and trying ways to make it sound different as I went along.  That was just my way.

    At one point or other you can see how to get out of the shuffle and try other things.  Like ending phrases with bow rocking on a longer stroke instead of shuffling.  Or doing a sort of inside-out shuffle, where you do the short, short before the long…some people call it the Jingle Bells shuffle because it has the same rhythm as when you say “Jingle Bells.”

    There got to be a lot of talk about downbowing vs upbowing for a while…and still is I guess.  The Roundpeak people, Tommy Jarrell being the most famous I guess, were, not according to themselves but according to people who were able to analyze and parse out his bowing and other Roundpeak fiddlers’ bowing.  They called it downbowing, and it got really popular in Old Time circles for a long time.  Downbowing means you start phrases going downward and end upward so you’re ready to start off downward again…anything in between has most of the important stuff on a downbow too.

    But there are upbowers in other areas…I guess West Virginia and a lot of Eastern KY, who do things different…not exactly opposite of downbowers, but still in a definitve way but more emphasis on the upbows.  I don’t think it ever got as popular as downbowing…downbowing seems more natural to most people, I believe.

    Anyhow, in my thinking, the Nashville Shuffle, long short short long short short, is what I think of as the “Mother of all bowing,” you could say.  It takes up 8 beats to go through one whole cycle where you start with a long downbow and finally end with a short upbow…so it’s downbowing I guess…but anyway, it sets up a rhythmic pattern, but gets monotonous pretty quick in a tune, normally.  So…if you get to the point where you fill in the other 8 beat spaces with something else true to that rhythm but not N. Shuffle…then you go back andforth between that sort of thing and N. Shuffle…to me…that’s kinda the fun stuff of bowing.  Of course there are fumbles, especially with me, because I just sorta do it on the fly without knowing what I’m gonna do…which, well, can make you fumbly…although the more years I get into it the less fumbly I get to be with it.  Sometimes I even realize that I’ve developed a habit of bowing something and i always do it that way…then, for me, it’s time to change it around some…lol…I get bored easily, I guess.

    But whatever you do with 8 beats that gets your bow oriented so that you can jump into another N. Shuffle again and be true to the rhythmic feel of it…somebody has parsed that out and named it this lick or that lick, this shuffle or that shuffle…etc.  So you can go through and find the names of every existing shuffle and learn them and try to learn to put them in, or you can get really good with N. Shuffle and then learn to jump out for a few beats, 8, 16, or whatever just seems to fit, and jump back in while staying true to your rhythm…and then you’ll be doing all those other licks and shuffles but you won’t know what people have named them.  That’s my amateur opinion, how I see it.  I’m sure you’ll find many to disagree…lol.

    Well but anyway, yeah, the notes aren’t anything exact anyway, so at least in Old Time fiddling you get to take full advantage of that.  No frets to tie you to one specific tone or another…it’s up for grabs…it’s really fun stuff!!!!


    Seems like I’ve had these discussion a lot lately…emails and message boards and such…never in person of course, because I don’t know any fiddlers or musicians too much around me…especially none that would find the conversation interesting.  So…here’s a youtube I finally made after several online written discussions with folks…it’s so hard to try to discuss without a fiddle in your hand…and what I found out making a couple of videos was it’s hard even with a fiddle in your hand…lol.  Well at least for me it is…I’m not that much of a fiddler, although I love playing.  Plus, I’ve got a real camera shy problem and just about cannot function on camera…lol…really get tongue tied and fumbly and just all mixed up and can’t function…so the videos aren’t good, aren’t done well, just very homespun and my own amateur thinking, but what my fiddling journey has consisted of to this point…about 11 years in, give or take some extra weeks or months dotted throughout the decades, but only 11 straight years in a row.  Nota good video, but an attempt to say it with a fiddle in my hand.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by cricketcricket.

    Ohhhh I want to watch your video all the through!! I have to practice discipline though and go to bed—otherwise the site may crash

    so, you’re Peggy and have a Chromebook. Me, too! I also have a Chromebook. Really enjoy it.

    So, the shufffle you’re doing. That’s the one I want to learn. That’s the Nashville Shuffle? I’m going to find your Waterbound and learn it. I enjoyed the little but I heard you play.

    But I must retire (NE Fl here) before the site crashes lol

    sweet dreams!!



    Sleeping sure gets in the way of all the fun stuff, doesn’t it…lol?   Well yeah I’m Peggy, Groundhog Peggy, Cricket, or just Groundhog to my friends.  Anyway, recently I learned to put links at the top of the screen in places on youtube videos, so I overdid it on that one and put a buncha links on there.  I do have a link to a lot of things.  Anyway, there’s some lessons here where John uses and teaches some Nashville Shuffle too…I just can’t remember which ones they are right now…lol…maybe somebody else will remember and chime in  or else I’ll remember and get back.

    I don’t know why, but something interesting always seems to come up whenever I’m thinking I should really get to bed.  Thus, I never get enough sleep…lol.  Need to discipline myself with better habits.

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