March 14, 2019 at 8:28 PM #70132
Hi, I am very new to fiddle and apologize for asking a basic question. I’d like to know if there are strict rules for bowing. I assume that normally one would up-bow on pick-up notes and down-bow on the strong beats. Is that right? I’ve noticed that some of the song tabs have bow markings, but many do not. Does this mean that there is a standard set of rules that apply, so marking isn’t necessary? Or, does it mean that there are multiple right (and wrong) ways to bow the piece? Thanks in advance for your patience with my beginner question.March 14, 2019 at 9:31 PM #70133Steve SraderParticipant
On Johns lessons , the bowing signs or symbols my vary depending on when he created the lesson , If you watch his videos on measure by measure lessons , he will say and show weather its up bow or down bow , or if it does not matter so much , Plus you can visually watch his bowing patterns , The symbols are not necessarily by the book on his lessons and can be confusing , if your a by the book person your probably going to be confused , So don’t get caught up in right and wrong of the symbols so much , but what he’s teaching on the lesson your trying to learn , If He says down arrow means down on the lesson then on that lesson it does mean down , and he says up arrow means up then on that lesson it means up , So for the sake of what’s right or wrong make it easy on yourself and follow his lead !
March 14, 2019 at 10:13 PM #70136cricketParticipant
- This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by Steve Srader.
It probably depends on lots of stuff…but, it’s my understanding thus far in my fiddling days, that some people say there are strict rules to bowing, and other people say no way to that idea. So then, each fiddler gets to figure all that out by his or her own self. I think lots of bowing instruction is suggestion, based on the easiest way to get from one point to another without fumbling and stumbling. You’re right that the natural tendency for most is to down bow on strong beats whenever possible, or at least sound like you’re downbowing on strong beats if it isnt possible. It might be good at first to take bowing suggestions to heart, but later on you might find yourself wandering into your own bowing directions. I think most of us would find a lot of common bowing direction throughout parts of tunes, but might diversify in other parts. Sorry if I’m not making much sense…really sleepy tonight. I might be writing in my sleep…lol. But taking suggestions from someone who plays really well (especially John) and also is an experienced teacher of music is a very good idea for starters. I think once you’ve played for a while, you just begin to see how bowing works. I think it might be more of a natural instinct we just acquire from experience than rocket science.March 15, 2019 at 1:06 AM #70146rodgerParticipant
So much of the sound & heart & feel of a tune depends on the bowings…. slurs where you play more than one note without changing direction, which notes you change direction on to get the effect/sound you want, speed of the bow, how much pressure is used on the bow, as well as how close to the bridge or fingerboard you play. So, to copy the feel of a tune that someone has played you should use the same bowing they used. Otherwise you will make you’re own distinct sound, and that isn’t wrong…it’s simply a different sound, and who likes what best is individual preference. You are right that pickup notes traditionally sound best with up bows….March 15, 2019 at 2:41 AM #70147John (BGD)Keymaster
Typically, bow direction doesn’t matter on airs and waltzes.
For other types of tunes, bowing creates a particular defining sound. Old time tunes typically have a particular pulse that is bow-dependent, and bluegrass reels will generally use a Nashville Shuffle.
A good place to start is Fire on the Mountain, Old Joe Clark, and Groundhog.March 15, 2019 at 1:49 PM #70167
Thanks, John. That is very helpful. I’ve watched your video’s and tried to follow your bowing on Old Joe Clark. I’ll work on your other two suggestions.March 15, 2019 at 1:52 PM #70168
Thank you Rodger. Good info. Yikes! Bow pressure – that’s a whole other challenge that as of yet is way beyond me. I’m aware of it, thought, so I’ll be patient and continue to try to get the sound and mood right.March 15, 2019 at 1:55 PM #70170
Thanks, Cricket. I have a feeling that you are able to play the fiddle in your sleep too. Good advice to trust my instincts. Is it my imagination, or are instincts stronger some days that others? There are days that I pick up the fiddle and it almost plays itself, other days not so much. Maybe consistent instinct will be the reward of steady practice for a few years. Thanks again.March 15, 2019 at 1:57 PM #70171
Thanks, Steve. That makes me feel better. I thought I was just not understanding the bow markings. It helps to know that the symbols vary on some of the lessons. Good plan to just watch the videos over and over to see the master’s touch.March 15, 2019 at 9:19 PM #70181cricketParticipant
Yes…our fiddling instincts are really working good on some days…then, just when we’re like…”Oh I got it by golly!” that’s when the next day comes and our fiddling instincts seemed to have gotten up in the night and taken the fast train out of town. I guess slowly if we stick with it, we eventually get it…lol Let’s all hope we do, anyway. Stick with it…that’s probably the best advice! Bowing does seem very confusing…I remember when I first started I was aware of differences in bowing by different fiddlers, and the way it changed the music, but I had so many questions about it I couldn’t even enumerate or identify the questions enough to ask anybody. It was all a big jumbly mess inside my head. But…here and there, things are slowly making more sense all the time. I guess the biggest lesson is just the lesson of patience, probably even moreso than with other instruments. But well worth it.
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