Starting to Improvise on the Fiddle
November 20, 2020 at 12:13 PM #86760
I have seen a number of forum entries discussing how to start to improvise on the fiddle. I am coming from a guitar based jazz/blues background. The focus of my study has been on building improvisation skills. When I began to work with fiddle, my first concern was to try to transfer the work I had already done on guitar across to the fiddle. To that end, I have begun to develop a set of exercises for the fiddle.
I thought that others here might find the work that I am doing helpful in expanding their own improvisational skills.
Here is the first set of exercises that I have written out. I have written them in the key of ‘C’. However, I practice them in the primary ‘fiddle’ keys (G, D, A as well as E and C).
Hope this is of some help,
BillNovember 22, 2020 at 8:51 AM #86779fiddlewoodParticipant
Mix that with a few enclosure patterns, linear arpeggios, double stops, etc., and you’ve got my morning warm-up pretty much covered.
I use this stuff more for building dexterity & muscle memory. I’ve found a more lick/position/pattern-based approach works better for me for on-the-spot improvisation.
November 22, 2020 at 10:03 AM #86781
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by fiddlewood.
I agree that there is a universe of variations and alternatives to this simple set of arpeggios, but I think if an individual is trying to find a starting point to learn to improvise, understanding the harmonized scale and developing an ability to find a major (minor) arpeggio on any of the diatonic scale chords will give him/her a strong starting point.
If you take a simple ii V I jazz cadence (Dm, G7, Cmaj7) or a basic jazz standard like ‘Autumn Leaves’ and play the diatonic 7th arpeggios against the chord changes, you will find that you have a functional, simple basis for building a convincing improvisation for the tune. In fact, just playing the arpeggios will work.
Learning to improvise is a complex, lifelong undertaking, but if we keep our expectations in check and start simple, every step of the process can be enjoyable and rewarding.
BillNovember 22, 2020 at 10:04 PM #86785fiddlewoodParticipant
As I wrote, I go through these things pretty much daily (and I do use them over chords fairly often).
Different approaches work best for different people was all I meant to share.
As a side note: Lately I’ve been enjoying running scales, etc. between 3rds, 5ths, & 7ths (modes?)…it really woke up my ears.November 23, 2020 at 11:32 PM #86796kakadukateParticipant
Thanks for posting your scale exercises, Bill. I’m a beginner and have joined the local ukulele club and try and play along with my fiddle. But they only show the chords in their song books, so your sheet is helpful to see the arpeggios that can be linked to each chord – It gives me a better understanding of what I can play when I see those chords.
Cheers, KateNovember 24, 2020 at 12:26 AM #86797
I am glad you found this useful. I, also, am very new to improvising on the fiddle so, despite my background with guitar, I am definitely still stumbling around trying to find my way on the violin.
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