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fiddle bow hold

Andy7 04 May 19 - 05:13 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 04 May 19 - 06:20 PM
GUEST,Geordie boy 04 May 19 - 06:22 PM
The Sandman 04 May 19 - 07:53 PM
GUEST,Captain Swing 04 May 19 - 08:10 PM
Doug Chadwick 05 May 19 - 04:06 AM
Bonzo3legs 05 May 19 - 05:15 AM
Hamish 05 May 19 - 06:39 AM
GUEST,Grishka 05 May 19 - 06:55 AM
meself 05 May 19 - 11:42 AM
Andy7 05 May 19 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,Grishka 05 May 19 - 04:47 PM
GUEST,Guest 06 May 19 - 05:12 AM
Hamish 06 May 19 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,Andy7 06 May 19 - 11:21 AM
Johnny J 06 May 19 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,Surreyfiddler 07 May 19 - 07:38 AM
GUEST,Mark Bluemel 07 May 19 - 09:28 AM
GUEST,Grishka 07 May 19 - 11:11 AM
GUEST,Jerry 07 May 19 - 11:31 AM
Jack Campin 07 May 19 - 12:06 PM
GUEST,ripov 07 May 19 - 07:04 PM
Stringsinger 08 May 19 - 12:19 PM
GUEST,Captain Swing 08 May 19 - 12:49 PM
StephenH 08 May 19 - 01:01 PM
Doug Chadwick 08 May 19 - 01:54 PM
Stringsinger 09 May 19 - 01:27 PM
Jack Campin 09 May 19 - 05:45 PM
Hamish 11 May 19 - 06:36 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 11 May 19 - 10:01 AM
meself 11 May 19 - 10:03 AM
Doug Chadwick 12 May 19 - 05:22 AM
Doug Chadwick 12 May 19 - 05:50 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 12 May 19 - 06:18 AM
meself 12 May 19 - 09:47 AM
Andy7 12 May 19 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,Some bloke 12 May 19 - 01:34 PM
Doug Chadwick 12 May 19 - 01:43 PM
Doug Chadwick 12 May 19 - 01:57 PM
Stringsinger 12 May 19 - 04:32 PM
meself 12 May 19 - 05:29 PM
Andy7 12 May 19 - 06:38 PM
GUEST,Some bloke 13 May 19 - 07:10 AM
Doug Chadwick 13 May 19 - 07:22 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 13 May 19 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 13 May 19 - 12:33 PM
Jeri 13 May 19 - 10:11 PM
Stringsinger 14 May 19 - 01:17 PM
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Subject: fiddle bow hold
From: Andy7
Date: 04 May 19 - 05:13 PM

When I learned classical violin as a youngster, I was taught to hold the bow with the thumb and fingers wrapped around the frog.

But experienced folk fiddlers almost always seem to hold the bow further up the stick, with their thumb and fingers nowhere near the frog.

Is there some real advantage to this different kind of bow hold, when playing folk tunes? Or is it just tradition?

I'm definitely not planning to try changing my own 'classical' way of holding the bow, after all these years, even when I'm playing those same folk tunes! I'm just asking out of curiosity.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 04 May 19 - 06:20 PM

Andy 7 ....

In the 1950's....public education USA...I was taught the same hold for a cello bow.

Sincexrely,
Gargoyle

Why do they call the little "pearl-eye" a frog?


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Geordie boy
Date: 04 May 19 - 06:22 PM

Aly Bain, Tom McConville etc all use the classical hold. I don't think the "folk hold" has any advantages and probably some disadvantages


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 May 19 - 07:53 PM

The classical hold has the advantage that more stick means more welly more dynamics useful for all sorts of tunes particularly airs


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Captain Swing
Date: 04 May 19 - 08:10 PM

Yes, definitely stick with the classical hold. Also, many folk fiddlers fail to use the raised elbow technique properly and this can cause difficulty in reaching lower string notes. I know this because I was 'converted' to the classical hold 3 years ago and it has made a tremendous difference to my playing.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 05 May 19 - 04:06 AM

I had never picked up a fiddle until I got one for my 50th birthday. I took weekly lessons from a classical teacher for about a year and then picked up the rest at a monthly fiddle club and various sessions. 15 years on and I was back having lessons trying to iron out all the faults I had picked up over the years. I have experimented with lots of different bow holds and fiddle positions. I have to admit that the classical techniques always come out on top.

DC


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 05 May 19 - 05:15 AM

Just so long as the bow is not held "that way" as many seem to hold a knife!!!!!


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Hamish
Date: 05 May 19 - 06:39 AM

Thanks for asking, Andy7! I have been wondering the same as a non-fiddler. I saw somebody recently in a folk setting who seemed to hold it about a quarter of the way up.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 05 May 19 - 06:55 AM

String instruments and bows of the type normally used nowadays are designed for the variety of techniques normally taught by teachers of classical music. Any other techniques will result in bad sound and loss of control. To play pre-19th-century classical music or folk music of various styles, you can adapt your bowing without leaving the domain of approved technique. (Some special considerations apply to double basses, which are not the topic here.)

Before the early 1800s, instruments, bows and strings were built and handled quite differently. (All those "Strads" still in use nowadays have been thoroughly refurbished!) Some folk traditions stuck to old techniques while using newer instruments; some updated later, when they became aware of the discrepancy. If you insist on "reenacting" a particular tradition, feel free to do so, but do not expect a result closer to the spirit of the music.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: meself
Date: 05 May 19 - 11:42 AM

I've seen and heard lots of top-notch fiddlers who did not use the Classical bow-hold, much less the Classical instrument-hold. I've also heard all the arguments about why they shouldn't be doing what they're doing the way they're doing it.

Just sayin', as the kids say.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Andy7
Date: 05 May 19 - 12:47 PM

Thanks for all the interesting replies.

No one has yet contributed a reason why the 'folk hold' might be an advantage over the 'classical hold' (with a modern instrument). I guess it's probably just tradition, then, that causes so many folk fiddlers to play that way.

I agree, there are many fine folk fiddle players that do use the 'folk hold'. So it seems that, while the 'classical hold' does have a number of advantages, the 'folk hold' is no bar to becoming an expert fiddler!


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 05 May 19 - 04:47 PM

Top-notch fiddlers, presumably including Andy himself, would not ask my advice, and I would not tell them what they should do or not.

We are talking about not-yet-top-notches who must make decisions. They should know that there are many musicians who fall short of their possibilities because they learned sub-optimal techniques.

When I listen to musicians playing folk music I sometimes think "If they had a more folkish way of articulation they would do better" but I never think "If they had a less orthodox technique they would do better".


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 06 May 19 - 05:12 AM

Holding the bow 1/4 of the way along effectively shortens the length of the bow. As many traditional players only use a small portion of the bow, it makes the bow slightly less cumbersome when playing fast jigs and reels.

All well and good if you don't want to play really long notes, with really long slow bow movements.

Classical technique has been honed over 100s of years and seems to work, with practice, for all manner of tunes.

I have several bows (including a cheap, Chinese carbon-fibre bow which gives me a lovely grungy sound, and a kid's 3/4 length bow) but I always hold the bow at the frog.

Decide what's best for you but there are no short-cuts. I think most musicians have had to correct bad technique when they've stopped making progress.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Hamish
Date: 06 May 19 - 10:43 AM

Ah, now, "meself": that's another question that I have had somewhere between my conscious and subconscious brains: wht do some fiddlers hold the fiddle tight under their chin (like I /think/ classical violinists do) and some hold them against their collar-bone or even their chest? (I'm wondering if, by holding it lower down their bodies, they can see what they're doing more easily and/or hold their mobile phones )


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Andy7
Date: 06 May 19 - 11:21 AM

Holding the violin against the chest rather than under the chin does of course make it easier to sing.

Something that orchestral violinists are seldom called on to do!


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Johnny J
Date: 06 May 19 - 11:35 AM

If someone is a true " folk fiddler" then he or she may well hold the bow in an unorthodox manner.

However, most traditional fiddlers who have received any form of tuition will likely still opt for the classical hold.

There are many excellent players who like to do it their own way but even they wouldn't necessarily recommend this for everyone. It would probably be a case of "Don't do as I do but do what I tell you..." :-))

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhNyshKXTTY

:-))


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Surreyfiddler
Date: 07 May 19 - 07:38 AM

It seems to me that 'performers' seem to go mostly for the classical hold which gives most access to the strings thus enhancing their delivery. For session players this is not always possible when you are shoved into a narrow space on a bench among a lot of fiddles and melodeons and it's necessary to lose 6ins of the bow or risk causing injury to others, or better still buy one of those short Baroque bows which serves the same purpose.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Mark Bluemel
Date: 07 May 19 - 09:28 AM

I have a vague memory of hearing or reading that some aspects of the folk hold for both fiddle and bow were related to the ease of things like double-stops and drones.

However I've been mistaken before.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 07 May 19 - 11:11 AM

Mark, there are older types of bow that favour triple- and quadruple-stops. Obviously they require different playing techniques. Modern bows are perfect for double-stops; triple-stops are available only by "cheating", but not by any "folk hold".

Why then do such "folk holds" exist? I know of only two reasons:
  1. they have been passed as traditions dating back to times when those old bows were in use;
  2. they seem to be easier at first glance, but are not really.
BTW, fingerboards and bridges were different before the 1800s as well: less curved and thus further facilitating multi-stops.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 07 May 19 - 11:31 AM

Quite - some old time fiddlers sand down the bridge to reduce the curve, which makes double stops easier and triple stops possible. As for the bow, surely it’s just easier to play fast jigs and reels with control by holding the bow away from the frog, but you sacrifice some of the subtlety that the classical hold otherwise allows.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 May 19 - 12:06 PM

I thought everybody did it this way?

Rufus Guinchard


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,ripov
Date: 07 May 19 - 07:04 PM

Jack, you may like "Music of Scotland: Lord Aboyne's Welcome" on Youtube - The link is too long - which demonstrates presumed baroque and earlier performance styles, which I believe traditional playing is based on. Or see Blumenstock, Podger, Silverstein, or Tur Bonet playing Biber; and just listen in awe.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Stringsinger
Date: 08 May 19 - 12:19 PM

When I observed Johnny Carignan play, it seemed that he did not keep his little finger on the stick and maybe did some other unorthodox anti-classical moves.

I know that many classical violinists came to observe how he displayed a dazzling technique that might be considered all wrong in classical hand held positions.

I know some players who play well holding the end of the fiddle on their chest
which must affect their bow hold.

I wonder if holding the stick away from the frog offers a lighter more dancing touch then the traditional position at the frog?

Can you get a real lilt with the classical bow hold?


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Captain Swing
Date: 08 May 19 - 12:49 PM

Stringsinger: "Can you get a real lilt with the classical bow hold?"

As mentioned earlier, listen to Tom McConville or Aly Bain or any member of Blazin' Fiddles.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: StephenH
Date: 08 May 19 - 01:01 PM

Doesn't address bow hold per se, but I thought this was an interesting
read on Paganini's technique:

https://www.thestrad.com/playing/the-secret-behind-paganinis-amazing-technique/5453.article


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 08 May 19 - 01:54 PM

I wonder if holding the stick away from the frog offers a lighter more dancing touch then the traditional position at the frog?

Can you get a real lilt with the classical bow hold?


I was at a session last night where one of the fiddlers holds his bow about a hand's width above the frog. He is a very good fiddler, playing in several ceilidh bands over the years, and certainly achieves a real lilt. He was classically trained at school but then gave up for 10 years or more. When he started playing folk fiddle, he followed what the others seemed to be doing and adopted the unorthodox hold. He wasn't sure if there was any technical advantage but thought that it gave the lighter, more dancing touch suggested above. He now finds the orthodox hold gives a more stilted result.

DC


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Stringsinger
Date: 09 May 19 - 01:27 PM

Paganini had outsized hands, abnormal growth in his fingers.

DC that's what I wondered about. The Irish Sligo fiddler seem to have a dancing flair.
Did Micheal Coleman use a classical bow hand? Morrison? Killeran?

Just asking.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 May 19 - 05:45 PM

There are two paintings of Niel Gow holding a fiddle that I know of. The one by Henry Raeburn shows him on his own, with the grip just a bit above the frog. The one by David Allan, with his brother Donald on the cello, doesn't look possible.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Hamish
Date: 11 May 19 - 06:36 AM

Ahah! I saw The Melrose Quartet last night and both Nancy Kerry and Jess Arrowsmith hold the bow a long way up from the frog. I should have asked them why, but, alas...


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 11 May 19 - 10:01 AM

My violin teacher would have killed me for holding a bow in any way other than the way expected for my exams. It wasn't long before I appreciated the control this gives, although it was a learning curve.

There are many differences between fiddle playing and playing a violin. In many ways, a fiddle player is sitting in the Formula 1 car in the garage going "Brum Brum." Although this doesn't take away the nice music you can get playing a fiddle. You just never exploit the range of the instrument.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: meself
Date: 11 May 19 - 10:03 AM

The fiddle is, to my mind, a very awkward instrument, and you can injure yourself with it - yes, even Classical players are known to do this. I've heard all the arguments about the physics of the bow, but I refrain from dogma concerning how it or the fiddle should be held and manipulated. A player has to find what works for them.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 12 May 19 - 05:22 AM

There are many differences between fiddle playing and playing a violin. In many ways, a fiddle player is sitting in the Formula 1 car in the garage going "Brum Brum." Although this doesn't take away the nice music you can get playing a fiddle. You just never exploit the range of the instrument.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 12 May 19 - 05:50 AM

Oops!
Hit the submit button by accident.

There are many differences between fiddle playing and playing a violin. In many ways, a fiddle player is sitting in the Formula 1 car in the garage going "Brum Brum." Although this doesn't take away the nice music you can get playing a fiddle. You just never exploit the range of the instrument.

My instrument is far from being a Formula 1 car. It's more of a Kia or Hyundai imported from the Far East. They are not the fastest cars in the world but more than meet my driving skills and needs.

A violin player who only plays classical music, sticking strictly to what is written on the score and not daring to experiment with unorthodox techniques, is like a driver who only uses main roads and motorways. They will never know the fun of going off-road.

One of the joys of fiddle playing is picking up tunes by ear at an open session. You have to listen to what the others are playing, choose the bowing that suits you and go with the flow. Even if you are only just learning the tune, you can blend your skeletal version in with those incorporating double stops, slides and other twiddly bits.

DC


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 12 May 19 - 06:18 AM

Yes Doug, we all play at different levels and to be fair, although I was at one time a violinist of journeyman standards, played once in the national youth orchestra on second violin, I haven't played since damaging my wrist in 1983, although I don't know of many classical players who, as you infer, stick strictly to a score or whatever you said about unorthodox techniques.

Perhaps you should listen to your instrument in a different field some time, perhaps one where expression is an art. If you genuinely think a soloist sounds like the next soloist, it explains your lack of interest in an instrument you actually play. If it's all the same, explain why, just glancing as I type at my albums in a book case, I can see over twenty different Gloria (Vivaldi) and don't even begin to mention (granted, cello) different Bach's cello suite, even by the same musician, (three by Janos Starker alone, all different, yet all using the same dots.)

No. My point stands. if your little finger isn't over the tensioning nut, you can never exploit the most wonderful instrument there is to its full potential. Sorry, but it's down there with laying the neck of the instrument along your palm.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: meself
Date: 12 May 19 - 09:47 AM

"Sorry, but it's down there with laying the neck of the instrument along your palm." Which is what almost all of the fiddlers I most admire do - and they haven't damaged their wrists. We're talking fiddling. I play the fiddle, but do not feel any great moral obligation to listen to, let alone take up, Classical violining. Personally, I don't give a damn if I "never exploit the most wonderful instrument there is to its full potential". We all make our choices about what we will do with our time and our lives. Sorry.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Andy7
Date: 12 May 19 - 01:13 PM

Here's an interesting fact about the violin/fiddle, which only occurred to me recently.

Unlike any other commonly-played instrument, it consists of 2 separate parts (violin and bow) which can move freely, in any direction, in 3-dimensional space.

Which greatly increases the variety of ways in which it can be played!


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 12 May 19 - 01:34 PM

All purely correct.

However, I was addressing the playing of violin, which in order to achieve the most latitude in expression, it has been developed over the years in such a way that the classical handling techniques aren't arbitrary but I can speak as a young rebel playing fiddle in folk clubs followed by violin elsewhere that I soon found that holding it like my folk heroes would be way too limiting for many classical pieces, especially solos.

By the way, I never asked if anyone gave a damn, my only laugh out loud moment was reading the absurd notion that classical playing is somehow paint by numbers and that a score tells you how to play.

I merely added to the actual debate by pointing out that holding it differently to a violin does indeed limit your potential. Whether you are a professional or a bloke banging out jigs and reels in a.circle with mates and think you can't improve and are content with that. It isn't a a view, it's a fact that is drilled into every violinist and experience underlines it, how ever much I or anyone else tried to think otherwise, and I did for a while.

Cards on table, I only play guitar now and not very well at that. I wish I could still play a violin and as I'm purely playing folk these days, perhaps I'd call it a fiddle. I do play in a folk duo with a violinist who plays in orchestras and is in demand as a conductor, but like me, loves to play folk too. Although I note he isn't living the folkie dream, he holds it correctly. I just dream of still being able.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 12 May 19 - 01:43 PM

if your little finger isn't over the tensioning nut, you can never exploit the most wonderful instrument there is to its full potential.

Keeping you left hand up at the dusty end of the finger board is no guarantee of producing a beautiful sound. An average player will still sound average. There are good and bad fiddlers and all shades in between, as there are with classical players. The best best fiddlers make their instruments sing and are way up there alongside the virtuoso classical violinists

Where did you get the idea that I don't appreciate the qualities of different soloists?

If you read my post of 05 May 19 - 04:06 AM, you will see that I am taking lessons to improve my playing (classical, as it happens), so where is the lack of interest?

It was you who started the generalising about fiddlers sitting in cars going "brum brum". Describing their music as "nice" smacks of snobbery.

DC


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 12 May 19 - 01:57 PM

...... the most wonderful instrument there is ......

I would take the guitar played by Segovia over the violin played by anyone you choose.

DC


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Stringsinger
Date: 12 May 19 - 04:32 PM

Check out Johnny Carignan's bow hold. He's one of the finest if not the finest fiddler in the world. He can duplicate Morrison, Coleman or any of them in his technique.He is no longer with us but he fiddled for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and others of
questionable notability. He couldn't make a financial go of it so earned his keep
by driving a cab in Montreal.

His CD is an artistic high water mark in fiddling.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: meself
Date: 12 May 19 - 05:29 PM

Carignan seemed to use a Classical bowhold - generally, anyway. Some of the other Quebec fiddlers felt his playing was too 'Classical', or so I'm told.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Andy7
Date: 12 May 19 - 06:38 PM

"I would take the guitar played by Segovia over the violin played by anyone you choose."

This just shows, that musical preferences are very much a matter of personal taste.

I love the guitar; in fact, I play my guitar much more often than I do my violin. But for me, nothing that my guitar can do will ever match the exquisite singing voice of my violin, when played at its most beautiful.

But that's just my opinion. Which is worth no more, and no less, than anyone else's opinion!


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 13 May 19 - 07:10 AM

Here you go Doug;

"A violin player who only plays classical music, sticking strictly to what is written on the score and not daring to experiment with unorthodox techniques, is like a driver who only uses main roads and motorways. They will never know the fun of going off-road."

I might be thick, and I'm sure I am, but saying classical means strictly following something that doesn't give any direction other than tempo range and assuming we daren't experiment is rather silly in retrospect eh?

I may have come over as saying fiddle players sit in a formula 1 car going Brum Brum but I said they sit in a formula 1 car going Brum Brum compared with what a violin has to offer. Many at the top of their tree in fiddle playing such as the late Swarb or Phil Beer could / can hold it properly if required but as impressive as their folk style is, it isn't technically challenging so it is easy to assume holding bows correctly isn't important. It isn't natural skill by the way that holds things back because as with anything else, the more you practice the more natural skill you seem to get. But holding it correctly can and will widen your scope of any form of music.

I agree that the style we associate with folk can be achieved with lazy posture but the fact remains that to play to full potential, a few hundred years of evolution has gone into perfecting posture and hold to get the most out of this wonderful instrument.

Me? I like what Tom McConville said when accused of playing too fast. "Because I fucking can."

Quite.


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 13 May 19 - 07:22 AM

...... as impressive as their folk style is, it isn't technically challenging ......

Spherical objects!

DC


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 13 May 19 - 10:44 AM

That's the spirit. ?


Keep banging the rocks together


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 13 May 19 - 12:33 PM

Hah! In. another thread, I am lamenting the stone age website that hosts Mudcat. On the post above, I tried to do a smiley with sunglasses on and it comes out as a question mark. Freudian to say the least....


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Jeri
Date: 13 May 19 - 10:11 PM

Keep banging the rocks together. (insert winky-face emoji for those who can't otherwise identify snark)


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Subject: RE: fiddle bow hold
From: Stringsinger
Date: 14 May 19 - 01:17 PM

If you observe Johnny's bow hold, you'll see he doesn't keep his pinky on the stick.

He was being observed by well-known classical violinists who marveled at what he did
using unorthodox techniques associated more with fiddling than classical violin.

He wasn't a scratchy player which might have motivated certain players to "accuse" him of having a classical technique.


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