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Thread: Fiddle and Violin

  1. #1
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    Fiddle and Violin

    Just a thread for anyone who plays classical or klezmer or jazz or any other music on the violin, or folk, Blue Grass or Old Time or any other music on the fiddle.


    Would love to read about your experiences playing this fabulous instrument.



    Viola players are welcome too - kissing cousins.
    Last edited by Ella Beck; Oct-10-2018 at 21:04.
    Carrying a torch for Classical Music...

  2. #2
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    When I returned to my violin six years ago, I first of all learned baroque violin with my teacher who is a baroque specialist. He urged me constantly to get a baroque bow, and at last I did, after he ordered a consignment of snakewood baroque bows from China. I used this bow to play baroque music, but could never quite achieve the 'spoonshaped' note that Fiddle Guru requested. According to baroque strings players, a note that does not change its intensity as it progresses before tailing off is a 'dead' note.

    I also found the shape of the baroque bow made it harder to lift the bow - less wieldy - something to do with bow hold, no doubt. Of course, chords were easier to achieve.

    I am now back with a tourte bow, but I did notice two helpful features of the baroque bow - it was shorter and lighter than my full sized tourte bow, and its shape made it much more stable on the strings & less liable to react to my nervousness in the dreaded 'bow shake' if/when performing in public.

    Last year I met someone who had a carbon fibre bow - I now have a cheap one, and it's half-size, which is all I need for folk fiddle, and it's beautifully wieldy.

    Before that, I had two fibre glass three-quarter bows, which I also preferred to my more expensive brazilwood full length bow.

    Very interested if any violin player is reading to see what sort of bow you use and like.
    Carrying a torch for Classical Music...

  3. #3
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    One thing that has always eluded me is proper vibrato. Every time I thought I'd 'got it', as a teenager, the crusty violin teacher would tell me I hadn't. In the end I was crushed and gave up.

    Since I took up the fiddle again, I've been trying, and have watched numerous videos on how to achieve it. But it remains 'just an exercise'.

    I can get some resonance into my notes my moving my fingertips, but it's from side to side instead of the pukka to-and-fro.

    However, I'm lucky in that both the types of music that I enjoy playing - folk fiddle and baroque violin - are sparing of vibrato.

    That said, I'm still game for any 'magic method' which will see me succeed after all these years.
    Last edited by Ella Beck; Oct-10-2018 at 21:06.
    Carrying a torch for Classical Music...

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    Now that I've decided to go in for the exam, I was worried that the examiner might penalise me for having a half-size bow, but at the same time, I prefer to use that one, particularly for playing the early music piece and the mazurka, where lightness of bowing and lots of retakes are in order.

    However, Fiddle Guru reassured me yesterday at the lesson - he knows somebody who is a music examiner for this board, and apparently they're not allowed to penalise you for the equipment you have unless it affects the sound for the worse, which I don't think would be the case. He also pointed out that the baroque bow which some of his pupils have used in exams is the same size as my half-size tourte bow or maybe even a little smaller.
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  5. #5
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    I have decided to go back to my three-quarter size bow, as it does produce a fuller sound, and I think it looks better - I need to have as many things in my favour for when I go in for my exam.
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  6. #6
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    Aagh - bow shake is back again after a stressful lesson with my violin teacher.

    Maybe this video will be of help. I may have to go back to my shorter bow to control it, if it persists.

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  7. #7
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    I did the exam on Saturday. I did a good practice beforehand and all the pieces were sounding great. But in the actual exam I went badly wrong on one of the pieces and played wrong notes in the scales and arpeggios too - simply because I was desperately nervous. It was as if my brain had no control over my fingers and | was just standing aside watching myself go wrong and powerless to stop it.

    It is possible that I have 'scraped through', but I might also have failed.

    I think that I cannot face taking a music exam again.
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  8. #8
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    Thank goodness - I heard tonight that I passed. It was just an average pass, but I feel so relieved.

    I am going to hold to my resolution of never taking a music exam ever again, though!

    It really doesn't seem worthwhile to practise hard for three months, only to spend a week feeling terrified out of your wits, and then in the exam room play everything badly because your brain is too nervous to connect with your fingers. The next night, you can't sleep, and you spend the next ten days on tenterhooks.

    Nope - that's it!
    Last edited by Ella Beck; Apr-16-2019 at 21:43.
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  9. #9
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    That is good news Ella, at least you past, I think they know people are going to be a bit nervous, though it is frustrating when you have done the piece well so many times. It is such hard work. Which grade is it you passed?

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    Quote Originally Posted by elderpiano View Post
    That is good news Ella, at least you past, I think they know people are going to be a bit nervous, though it is frustrating when you have done the piece well so many times. It is such hard work. Which grade is it you passed?
    Only a low one.Grade 4.

    I was nervous when I took Grade 3 too but I managed to hold it together and got a distinction. Although I didn't put any pressure on myself, I thought I should have managed better this time.

    I was very relieved that I actually passed, but part of me was disappointed that I played the pieces so much worse than usual.

    But there's no point in going on any further. It's just purgatory for me, and what use is a lowly piece of paper anyway at my age?
    No, far better to find a nice pub to play some session tunes in.
    Last edited by Ella Beck; Apr-17-2019 at 23:51.
    Carrying a torch for Classical Music...

  11. #11
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    I'm sure you found Grade 4 more technically challenging than 3, which is a great achievement to be able to do. Well done ! It is a pity age gets in the way for the drive to go further, I totally understand that it is stressful and why put yourself through all the worry. With me, I am very conflicted on that issue as doing grades actually gives me something to aim at, but at the same time I find concentration and commitment seems to wain after a while, but I still want to keep up with what I have learned. An hour practice totally is enough in one go for my brain, But I don't think it is nearly enough for me, I try to sneak in a bit more time for practice.
    I think in the end, I agree with you, it is just lovely to be able to play an instrument for the pleasure of it, and not get bogged down with exam work at our age. .
    Last edited by elderpiano; Apr-18-2019 at 13:01.

  12. #12
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    Thank you, elderpiano, for your thoughtful reply.

    Yes, Grade 4 was more challenging. Some of the scales were horrendous! I did find that because of all the 'training' I put in on them, my playing of other non-exam music was enhanced, so that was a bonus. Most of the scales were ones that you would never use in folk music, but a couple of them - G minor and C minor - were very useful too. G minor is found a lot in Playford and other traditional English tunes, and C minor is the key used for some remarkably beautiful Scottish airs.

    Here's one of them, which is on my current practice list.

    'Sir Charles Forbes of Newe and Edinglassie', by William Marshall, a famed 'golden-age' Scottish fiddle-composer.


    It's played by Iain Fraser, whose summer school I attended in 2017 and 2018. A great fiddler and a very nice man.

    Enjoy!

    Last edited by Ella Beck; Apr-18-2019 at 11:59.
    Carrying a torch for Classical Music...

  13. #13
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    This book is to be recommended for learning Scottish fiddle tunes.

    Traditional Scottish Fiddling - Christine Martin, Scotlands Music 2002.

    Carrying a torch for Classical Music...

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