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Everything posted by lzaikoski

  1. There's really no need for fiddlers to practice etudes and the like. After all, an etude is just a simplified tune designed to focus on a particular area of technique. For fiddlers, no single piece is very long (nothing like a orchestra score) so there's no need for simplification. If I want to focus on rolls, I'll play "Morrison's Jig" which features them heavily. If I want to practice bowed-triplets, I'll play "Crossing The Minch" or the first couple bars of the "Silver Spear". Without getting into modes, most fiddle tunes are major scales in D, G, A with a few in C, F or Bb so there's no need for a lot of scale work. Once you know those keys, you're good to go for hundred and thousands of tunes. Few "celtic" tunes go higher than 1st position, some Scottish ones do. Classical technique, bow-holds, posture, and such is absolutely of value to fiddling. There's nothing in the classical technique arsenal that can't find it's place in fiddling. Strict adherence to printed notes is typically a problem for classicals-turned-fiddlers. BTW, Andrew, I find your comments a tad on the condescending side. In my experience, if a couple of girls with no fiddle experience won a fiddle contest there weren't any *good* fiddlers there. Personally, I've yet to hear classical players who "dabble" in fiddling sound like anything other than someone playing "out of their element." Just because there are lots of sloppy fiddlers making music doesn't mean that the good ones aren't REALLY good. Listen to the playing of Natalie MacMaster, Kevin Burke, Eileen Ivers, or Liz Carroll (sp?)....
  2. Quote: You are right about playing by ear, it's something I used to do a lot more of,and it is holding me back learning the tunes. I can sight read fairly well, but I have not concentrated hard enough on learning the tunes to the point where I can play them without the music. Here's another site that good for playing along with: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/r2music/folk/sessions/ It includes good renditions of the tunes by real Trad. bands, sheet music, and fun animations, too. Breaking away from the sheet music is the biggest hurdle for someone with a substantial classical background. Most classical scores are pretty huge to be committing them to memory ... however, most Celtic tunes are 16 only bars. Once you have a fair number of session tunes that you can play without sheet music, you can start working on getting the feel right. Bowing patterns are a good way to start, but understanding the underlying rhythmic pattern of a jig or a reel is going to be better in the long term.
  3. Quote: Thanks Toc, I'll look for that name. I have recently found a trad session at a pub, but the trouble is that I work afternoons and the session only happens on Monday evenings. Sometimes I get to it, sometimes I don't, and I don't know most of the tunes they play, and it seems nobody has the music for them or, in many cases, even the titles. If you CAN get the tune titles from the players, here are the best resources for getting sheet music for trad. tunes. JC's Tune Finder: http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/music/abc/findtune.html And, TheSession.org http://www.thesession.org/ Posture is important in fiddling only to the extent that you aren't hurting yourself. I know plenty of fiddlers who play with a collapsed left wrist and they're still able to play cleanly and with great speed and feeling. Personally, I hold my fiddle in a fairly typical classical style (though I often 'choke up' on my bow and hold it higher up the stick than down by the frog). There is, AFAIK, only one feature of classical training that can interfere with your progression as a fiddler; insistence on playing strictly "by the dots". Most classical players can pick up a piece of sheet music and play it exactly as it was intended to be played ... BUT, that isn't the case with fiddle music. To REALLY learn a fiddle tune, you have to involve the ear. It's perfectly acceptible to learn tunes from sheet music, provided you eventually put the music away and play by heart and by ear. Nothing sucks the life out of trad music that slavishly following the written notes; you lose all of the lilt, swing, or *feel*. Listening, listening, listening is the easiest and best way to begin recognizing the vast number of trad. tunes that are out there (it's more than 30,000 on the 'Net ... probably more in the tradition that never get transcribed and more are added all the time). There are numerous internet celtic radio programs and a number of programs on the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/folk_promo.shtml which can help. Try learning a tune you like completely by ear ... try asking one of the fiddlers you admire at your session to slowly show you how it goes. Try offering to buy them a pint.
  4. What sort of music do you wish to play? If you have any interest in fiddle music (especially Irish, Scottish, or Shetland) I'd recommend that you avoid any course of instruction which reduces your ability to learn by ear. Those traditions are very aural, and most of us who do play "fiddle" would be thrilled to really good at learning by ear!
  5. Quote: One of the best ways for classical violinists to start "fiddling", is by attending Irish or Celtic Sessions (jam sessions where people sit around a circle or a table, drink Guinness and play Irish music together). Here, here! A session is the best way to immerse yourself in fiddling (especially if you find yourself liking "Celtic"). There are tons of websites with the traditional tunes; my two favorites are The Session ( http://www.thesession.org ) and JC's Tune Finder ( http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/music/abc/findtune.html ). Both have tons of tunes in abc, sheetmusic, and MIDI formats to learn from; and The Session is also a discussion group about ... SESSIONS -- and Trad. music in general! Learn some tunes (coming from a Classical background should make it easy for you to learn from the "dots") and then LISTEN to the experienced players to learn how they're supposed to sound. Most Classical violinsts who turn to fiddling tend to sound somewhat formal and "stilted" at first, but the lilt (that sound that makes it recognizable as Irish or Scottish) comes with practice. Good tone is important, of course, but don't bother with vibrato or upper positions, play everything in 1st. LISTEN! LISTEN! LISTEN! Hearing The Music is the best way to learn it and learning by ear gets to be important. (I wish I could do it as easily as I want to!!) There's also tons of websites with lots of Trad music to listen to for free: CelticRadio.Net, BBC Radio Folk Music Shows (like: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/folk.shtml?folkclub ) and MP3.com Celtic charts are great. Some popular session tunes (at least in less advanced sessions) are (in no particular order): The Kesh Jig, The Boys of Bluehill, The Rakes of Kildare, John Ryan's Polka (heard in the belowdecks scene in Titanic), The Blarney Pilgrim (same scene), Dennis Murphy's Polka, Staten Island Hornpipe, Harvest Home, Banish Misfortune, Wind That Shakes The Barley. (there are probably tons more I just can't think of right now) Almost everyone who plays Trad knows these ... you might be considered a "beginner" if you ONLY know these ... but that's fine. Len
  6. By learning by ear I mean getting to know a tune so I can whistle it or hum it and then transfering that to my fiddle, and then playing along with a CD. What I've been doing lately is using abc files and I've set up my PC with both abcmus (for playing) and either ABCWin or abc2ps (for dots) and slowing the tunes down to a pace at which I can read music and still hit notes about right and then gradually speed up (in 10 bmp steps) to session speed. I can't read music at speed unless I'm just looking to be reminded of where I'm going for a tune that I don't know fully by memory. Though I prefer to memorize, got any tips for improving music reading speed? I'd be able to play more tunes at the session I attend if I could just read fast enough until I got a chance to memorize....
  7. I usually learn the "where to put my fingers" part from the dots, but the "sound" (especially rhythm/accents) of a tune by ear. I have a hard time getting a tune right when I try and learn strictly by ear ... I end up with something that sounds right and then when I find sheet music, I usually find out that I've started a note or two too high or too low and end up in the wrong key!
  8. What makes some tunes easier to learn than others? I find that some tunes are remarkably easy to commit to memory, and other not so much. For example I started playing the Swallowtail jig, Tripping Up The Stairs and Blarney Pilgrim after playing them through once or twice, yet the Trip To Sligo or Merrily Kissed the Quaker (which doesn't seem any "harder" when I look at them) still isn't sticking in my memory after playing it many times (with the dots). Len
  9. Just out of curiosity, why do you care whether you're on an upload or a downbow? So long as you're hitting the accents, does it really matter? Len
  10. Based on RyGuy's comments, I asked my wife to buy me one for Christmas. She got me a 4-string (black) and I absolutely love it! It's not much heavier than my acoustic and has great response and is very easy to play. It stays in tune, the pegs turn easily (considering they're wood pegs set in a resin/plastic frame). The workmanship is nice, too, although the 'built-in' chin rest doesn't fit very tightly into the sockets and sometimes drops out. It sounds very nice and authentic when run through an amp, clean. And, with a guitar effects processor it sounds like just about any type of electric-guitar sound I can imagine!
  11. I've got a question about playing along with a metronome. I own one, but I almost never use it. I do understand time signatures: If I'm playing a jig (in 6/8) there's six beats per measure and the eighth notes get one beat. Now comes the metronome part: when you play the jig, should each note (beat) come on a tick or should the tick be at the normal accent place <tick>daah-dah-dah <tick>daah-dah-dah..., or at the start of each measure <tick>daah-dah-dah daah-dah-dah <tick>...?
  12. In reply to: So, can I just get someone to clarify, the 3 notes of the triplet, or whatever you call it, are done in the same (up) bow usually, rather than 3 different bow directions? The treble (bowed triplet) is bowed in up-down-up, or down-up-down ... not all in one up or down like classical music's flying staccato. According to another thread, here, you shouldn't use your arm (?) to achieve the effect but my book on Irish fiddling suggests doing exactly that! Cape Bretoner's do call it a cut, too ... but a cut in IrTrad is a grace note that separates a 'slur' of two notes of the same value.
  13. Unless you want to get a lot of nasty looks, DON'T harmonize at an Irish session -- lead instruments never harmonize in Irish music, they all play the same melody! What tunes are 'common' is different all over. You might want to just ask the folks in the session you want to join what they usually play and learn as many of them as you can. You'll be able to find almost any tune here: http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/music/abc/findtune.html <-- That's JC's Tune Finder and you don't even need to know how to read abc because it does it for you!! Learning by ear IS hard. I can usually pick up the basics of a tune, if it isn't played too fast, but I have to be able to whistle almost all of it to get it right. Even then, I usually get started on the wrong note (usually one note high or low to start) and find myself playing in a different key. Sometimes, I learn the 'melody' and then just ask someone what key they're playing it in.
  14. I think one of the problems with bowing near the frog (though that would work for the purpose of increasing dynamic and rhythmic control) is that you end up with a lot more bow to move when you suddenly drop into a section of a lot of string crossing and it takes more effort to whip all that bow back and forth! Classical players would probably shift up to a higher position to avoid the string crossing, but fiddlers do it all the time for the sound.
  15. I find that the faster I play (especially a string crossing reel) the farther my hand wants to come up the stick. It speeds up the figure-8 or circular rocking motion you need, gets me closer to the balance point, and allows me to direct more pressure into the center of the bow for better control over the dynamics so I can maintain a reel-rhythm. I shift down to a classical hold when I want better control over my tone than rhythm, and when playing longer notes than a reel or jig requires.
  16. An Irish cut is an "easy" ornament, you're simply separating two slurred notes of the same value with a higher note. In general, you should just use your third finger and tap it quickly against the string to break up the 'slur' of the same notes. The harder you bring the finger down, the more percussive the cut will sound; moving into the realm of rhythmic devices as opposed to tone-generation. If you're not breaking up two notes of the same value, the same ornament is usually called a grace note. Still, it's almost always the third finger that does the 'gracing'. To play lots of notes quickly, you're either going to have to practice coordination between fingering and bowing (up and down, just a little bit of bow per note) or by using what Natalie MacMaster calls updriven bow -- playing distinct notes in one direction (up) but pausing between each note. I think this is a little like what the classical-types call flying staccato....
  17. Try practicing your bowing on a few fiddle tunes; very few have excessively complex fingering patterns and almost no shifting, but fiddlers generally need a nimble bow arm to master quick string changes and to get the rhythmic 'bounce' or 'swing' of the varying types of tunes ... some 'ornaments' are purely bow-related, too. Watch great fiddlers like Natalie MacMaster or Eileen Ivers and you'll see that they have excellent bow control.
  18. As I was watching the 'Concert for America' last night, I was surprised to see so many of the violinists and violists on stage were using shoulder rests on their fiddles! For a moment I felt sorry for them, knowing that they will never be able to accomplish much with that terrible impediment to their playing. Then, I realized "Hey, these folks are in a national symphony, playing for THE PRESIDENT OF THE US of A, on national TV for MILLIONS of Americans and probably millions of others around the world, too. Perhaps it isn't such a horrible thing, after all." Len
  19. To extend falstaff's question, I would like to 'dress up' the pegs on my fiddle and have always thought that little malachite balls would nicely complement the fact that I play primarily Irish music (malachite comes in such beautiful shades of green). Malachite beads are pretty cheap in the craft stores, but what would be the best way to attach them? Is simply drilling a small set hole and using glue good enough? Or, should I consider "pinning" them to the end of the peg with a little brass/gold nail? Len
  20. Who do you see here in Harrisburg? I've had a lot of good luck with 'The Country String Shop' out in Campbelltown; the guy's competant, friendly, and not too expensive, either.... Len
  21. Hey! I've been here for years, now, and I don't have ANY stars, yet!
  22. Actually, there's a fair number of Irish fiddlers, here! lunchblaze: I've been playing for about 3 years but still consider myself a beginner. I use a classical bridge (a flat one makes string crossings quicker but you play more "accidental" double-stops, which might be fine for bluegrass and old-time but generally doesn't sound too good in Irish fiddle) although I've been interested in lowering the action a bit; right now it's spot-on for 'standard' tolerances. Sometimes I use a cheap Resonans shoulder-rest, but usually not. I use med. gauge Helicores (love 'em) and a fair amount of the el-cheapo rosin that came with my Sherl&Roth student fiddle. Rivendellfiddler: As far as playing in tune, scales and arpeggios are about it. It's only practice-practice-practice that works (if anyone ever comes up with a better solution, I'll jump on it in a second!). The same goes with rolls and triplets, if you don't practice them (a lot!) they don't ever tighten up. You should be able to do triplets starting either up or down (but I usually do them down-up-down, too). A great tune for practicing triplets is Crossing the Minch and a good one for rolls is Morrison's Jig. Len
  23. Wow! 300 tunes??!? I've been playing (mostly) Irish fiddle for a little over 3 years, now, and I don't even KNOW 300 tunes ... let alone be able to compose any! Can you post some abc for some of your tunes? Len
  24. That's a pretty sweet tune, Simon! I admit that I don't know thousands of Irish tunes but I don't think it sounds either too contrived or too derivative -- I can hear a slight echo of Lark in the Morning in the B section but it sounds great to me. When I record it, you'll get full credit as the author! Len
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