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Bowing direction
Frog or tip??
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leftyuk
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August 22, 2015 - 1:19 pm
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firstly, I hope I am posting in the right place... Please let me know if not! :))

I am a beginner and have trolled youtube for instruction vids and tunes to learn, with mixed results (fiddlerman is new to me so exempt from this) and have found very few who include bow direction.

I am finding myself utterly stuck on certain phrases on how to approach the bowing.

For example, there is a tune called Alexanders Hornpipe in D with string crossings I am struggling with, and I am clueless where to begin the bow stroke and then how to bow the melody. 

I know I am bowing it differently every damn time, and I have the same problem with other tunes too.

So, is there a rule of thumb to start a phrase from the frog, or tip, or mid bow? 

I understand bow efficiency is important, watching a competant player bowing is hypnotic poetry, I fear my sawing hacking panic attacks are little short of bow abuse! Lolol

I am also discovering that everything I thought was so obviously 'wrong' with my violin and bow has thus far turned out to be simply my incompetance and impatience. Ha! 

Anyway, any suggestions on working out bow direction would be very gratefully recieved!

And the wind takes your hesitation, and the sun burns your fear, and the rain on your face, make the tears disappear..

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AnnyJ
Ga
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August 22, 2015 - 3:46 pm
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That is a great question. I'm a  beginner myself, and from what I found out so far the bow division thing will come with experience. Most beginner books will tell you where to start on the bow and how much to approximately use for each piece though.

If you're trying to find out about whether you should use a down (frog to tip) or up bow (tip to frog) that's usually indicated with a symbol, at least the  beginner pieces. The only rule of thumb I've learned on that so far, is that the dominant beat usually gets the down bow. 

Are you learning on your own?

I'm keen to find out what the more advanced people on here have to say. smile

It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself. Johann S.Bach

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
August 22, 2015 - 9:23 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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leftyuk - Scan in some examples that you want help with and I'll give you my opinion. I'm sure others will give theirs as well.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Uzi
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August 23, 2015 - 1:26 pm
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Hello @leftyuk  I'm far from being an expert on playing celtic music -- or any other music for that matter, but here are some things that might help. 

First, one of the most respected Irish fiddlers, Kevin Burke said:  There are bowing rules for Irish music, but I don't know what they are. 

You asked if there was a rule of thumb for where on the bow to play.  The answer to this question is yes -- the middle of the bow is where you'll find yourself most of the time.  Because there are so many rapid string crossings, being near the fulcrum point of the bow is a distinct advantage. 

To learn to play trad Irish music, really learn to understand the rhythms of Irish music.  There are many different types of rhythms and they each have very distinct accent patterns, including  double jigs (6/8), hornpipes and reels (4/4), slip jigs (9/8) and single jigs (12/8), not to mention polkas, aires, barn dances, slides, hop jigs, marches and a number of others.  Keep in mind, that almost all Irish music is written for dancing and not for the sots at the bar sipping a pint. As such, the beat is of paramount importance. Once you have the beat, the bowing will happen more or less naturally. 

This might help with a couple of other tips:

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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leftyuk
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August 23, 2015 - 4:45 pm
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Big thanx to all for the helps and hints! I found the dots for Alexanders hornpipe, bowing the first four bars flummoxes me, if I could bow this consistantly, I believe I will be able to play it much better and ultimately at a pace it deserves! 

I am trying to be eclectic in the tunes I learn, and I try to choose tunes that are practical in that they are hopefully doable for my standard, but also still difficult (for me) or that introduce new challenges in techniques/bowing/notation/keys/position etc. I am thinking this will help the learning curve. From bolero to waltzing matilda.... I'm on it! Badly... But I'm all over it like a rash! Lololol

Interestingly, I have no serious preference for any particular genre, although bluegrass, cape breton and celtic do appear lots in my youtube history! Lol

Ok, I press the add file button and nothing happens, I have a pic with the dots but can't upload it. ??? Am using ipad if that might be the prob. The add file button is greyed out, I press it and it goes bold, and thats it as far as I can see.... Any thoughts? 

Meanwhile here is url to dots...

http://www.oldmusicproject.com.....anders.gif

And the wind takes your hesitation, and the sun burns your fear, and the rain on your face, make the tears disappear..

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Uzi
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August 23, 2015 - 6:08 pm
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OK.  I kind of see your problem -- I think.  As far as the bowing goes the pickup notes start (generally) on an up bow so that you start the first measure on a down bow. It's 4/4 time so it's pretty much down, up, down up all the way though, using the middle of the bow.

I don't think it's the bowing that's actually your problem, but the notation and the rhythm.  Dotted hornpipe's are notated this way, but it is not an accurate depiction of the rhythm.  Hornpipe's are played with what is called a "swing" rhythm.  That is that some notes are played for longer than their notated value and some notes are played shorter than their notated value. This dotted notation is there to give players and "idea" of the rhythm, but it's not the "actual "rhythm and will always sound a little "off" if played the way it is written.  

A dotted 1/8th note (3/16) plus a 16th note (1/6) is a 3 to 1 ratio.  The actual swing of a hornpipe is closer to 2 and a tiny bit to 1. The actual playing of "dotted" hornpipes is much closer to the way they would be played if written in 12/8 time with quarter notes and eight notes which gives a 2 to 1 ratio.  If someone did that and called it a hornpipe though, the notation police would come and arrest them at once -- but it's closer to the correct way of playing it. 

Often they are just written as eighth notes and it's assumed that they player knows to swing the beat. That's the thing about playing ethnic music, it often doesn't lend itself exactly to traditional notation. 

Your best bet is to just listen to a lot of hornpipes and tap your foot and/or clap your hands to the rhythm until you can feel it.  You'll notice that you're not clapping a regular rhythm like a metronome.  It's more like french fry, french fry, french fry, or tune it, tune it, tune it... Then play the tune to that rhythm, realizing that the notation isn't literal. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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1stimestar
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August 23, 2015 - 8:23 pm
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   The dotted notes are half again as long.  So the first note would be 3 beats and the second note would be one.  Since the first two notes are pick up notes, you would start on the upbow.  I play mostly Celtic music.  

 

Opportunity is often missed because it wears suspenders and looks like hard work.

 

Alaska, the Madness; Bloggity Stories of the North Country

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
August 23, 2015 - 9:57 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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The easiest way to play this rhythm is by hooking the bow. Up, up, down, down, up, up, down, down...... Economy of the bow, as some call it, is difficult when the dotted note is alway down or always up bow. To make down up down up work you have to move the bow much quicker on the 16th note and it's difficult to do that without a great technique. The other alternative is to play the correct rhythm but a shorter eighth note, more rest between the notes.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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BillyG
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August 24, 2015 - 1:07 am
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@leftyuk - yup - it can be a bit disconcerting at times, especially when you listen to polished performers !   What I find useful is to re-score the piece into a program like MuseScore ( I believe it is multi-platform - not sure about iPad though ) - and (depending on the original score - if it is "assumed" that a pair of 8th notes is "swung") re-score it closer to what it would sound as played - e.g.

swung8ths.JPGImage Enlarger

 The other beauty of using an app such as that is the ability to vary the playback tempo, and to isolate sections and repeat them over and over until you get some kindof automatic bowing to the rhythm "working" ( taking all the other advice into mind of course! ) 

  From your sheer persistence alone, I would guess you're probably already well aware of these tools - but I though I'd post it anyway as this particular rhythm (to be more precise, a swung-eight-par followed by a triplet) recently drove me up the wall...   LOL

Have fun !

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I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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leftyuk
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August 24, 2015 - 8:16 am
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I knew coming here would be good!! 

Going through the advice will keep me occupied for a while! Lol

Sometimes it's the little things that can turn the lights on, that once pointed out to you, you go 'oh yeah, why the hell didn't I think of that!!??' 

As my reading skills are almost none existant, finding midi files and looping parts and phrases at various speeds has been very helpful to me. 

Now, time to chalk my cue and start sawing! :))

And the wind takes your hesitation, and the sun burns your fear, and the rain on your face, make the tears disappear..

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coolpinkone
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August 24, 2015 - 5:00 pm
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@leftyuk 

"I few my sawing hacking panic attack are short of bow abuse.."

Oh ha ha ha.. I love how you describe things....

GREAT Question and lots of good replies....I always learn a bit  or a bunch when I come to FM.com.

Good luck with bowing 

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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