First impressions…

It’s raining. After a hot dry week the rain is sooooo welcome! And the motorbike brought me home without getting wet :-)

Riding the bike is very like playing the fiddle. Just as you don’t ride a bike by steering the handlebars, you don’t play the fiddle by [merely] drawing the bow across the strings. In both cases you use your whole body. It is a question of balance and rhythm – and that is as much a function of your toes as your arms.

The celtic music folk festival at Majors Creek near Braidwood – a name that combines textile with timber – really delineated those fiddle players who were folkies from those who were classicaly trained violinists playing folk music. It is a question of feel. One violinist – a very fine musician – had a lovely tone, but seemed to be making hard work of the tunes. I suggested that this person walk while playing. Walk? Where? Anywhere! – even on the spot if you need to read the music dots! The music needs to flow from the way the whole body moves and feels the music.

Jigs – dancey pieces with six beats to the bar (or sometimes nine or twelve) – the best way to play those is to play the first two notes of the bar with a down-bow, and the next one up-bow – two down, one up and continue like this throughout the tune – this will guarantee (depending on decorations etc) that you will have a slightly stronger sound on the first beat in every bar – and the whole tune will have a dancey feel to it.

Reels – God they can sound boring if you keep it all even stresses – I treat them like polkas – yeah really! play the notes in pairs – two for each direction of the bow, and play them with a jaunty bounce – a kind of dah de dah de dah, rather than a dededede – and straight away they will have more life in them.

It was a great weekend – perfect weather, great sessions, and great Guinness!

Highlights were bands like “Mothers of Intention”, “Toe sucking Cowgirls” – nice harmonies in both – good arrangements in the first one. The fiddle workshop with Jane Brownlee was a real highlight, and the session later on Saturday night was awesome!

cheers
Jerry (with the 8-string hardingfele/hardangar fiddle)

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