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Fiddle Lessons: Bowing: Speed Vs. Pressure

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here's another really interesting can of
worms to play around with, with your bow.
The speed versus the pressure of the bow.
Let's try playing a down bow and an up bow
the entire bow with a lot of speed and no
So it's gonna look like this.
And we're gonna play on the D string.
Let's play it on the D string.
Okay, so a lot of speed.
No pressure.
Just that much.
Do that a couple more times.
we get this kind of airy sound that's very
kind of singing sound.
It actually makes the violin kind of jump
a little bit.
Okay, let's try not so much speed, lot of
Okay, so we're gonna.
That doesn't sound so great.
Let's try bringing the bow a little closer
to the bridge and see what happens.
Same thing.
Lot of pressure, not much speed.
Well that's much better.
And it's a very strong, very bright sound.
So if we're doing that we're gonna need to
play closer to the bridge.
Okay let's try a lot of speed and a lot of
And let's, because it worked so well close
to the bridge.
Let's try it there.
So, okay.
A lot of speed, a lot of pressure.
Well, that is completely,
that is your festival tone there.
That's, that's when you're at the parking
lot and it's late at night and
there's banjos out there and you have to
be heard.
You're trying to, you're trying to be
heard above those banjos.
[SOUND] That's, even pressure, is very
important there.
That kind of thing.
So, that's very useful.
Now, what we've got.
Slow speed and light pressure, that's our
last option.
So let's try that.
Now that's actually rather beautiful and
that might, you might use that in a waltz
or some kind of ballad or
if you're just feeling a little sad about
What Kenny Baker, the great bluegrass
fiddle player used to call putting
yourself into a slow thinking mood.
We could try that far away from the
I just played it there.
Close to the bridge, what's it sound like?
Very ghostly, gets a ghostly sound.
Now, these are all techniques that
are gonna give you all different kinds of
tones on your instrument.
And because music is very much like life
you're gonna be in all kinds of
You're going to be expressing all kinds of
different emotions.
You're gonna wanna be able to get
comfortable with all this.
High speed, high pressure, low speed, low
pressure, high speed,
low pressure, low speed, high pressure.
Close to the bridge, far away from the
So when you're practicing your scales or
your slow fiddle tunes, melodies try it,
Okay, what is it,
okay like slow speed, low pressure.
We're gonna do.
Fast speed, low pressure.
Okay slow
speed at high pressure, remember we're
going to have to get closer to the bridge.
And then fast speed, high pressure.
Angry sound.
So when we talk about bluegrass fiddle
there is definitely a bow sound for, for
And it's kinda taken over this, gone
through different styles.
And you'll see the different players use
different speeds of bow,
habitually different pressures.
Kenny Baker, who was great at the medium
pressure longbow,
fast bow sound, he would play this
we get this beautiful flowing sound many
of current
contemporary bluegrass fiddle players and
this was started by people like Bobby
Hicks and
Vassar use a lot of pressure and a slow
that gives a very definite sort of, kind
of masculine sort of
bluegrassy kind of sound that's it's very
And it sounds like you can hear the back
of the violin vibrating and
when you're going for that.
You're constantly sort of playing in
[SOUND] You're always on the edge.
[SOUND] Of going overboard, you know.
[SOUND] So that is actually sort of fun,
just finding that spot where.
you're just in and out of that horrendous
fiddle sound.
Playing with that you sort of have to go
over the edge to find where the edge is
So we're going to do that and.
[SOUND] When you're playing your tunes,
when you're playing things like Boiling
Cabbage Down.
Try increasing the pressure,
getting closer the bridge until you hit
the wall.
And then back off.
You're kinda looking for
that sound where you're actually sort of
hearing the in,
the back of the instrument kinda ring out.
Let's play the D string.
Open D.
We're going to play it light.
So that's, that's kind of a nice sound.
Very nice sound.
Sorta hearing mostly the string and some
of the top.
Let's play a lot of pressure now, slow
You're kind of feeling
almost the back of the instrument starting
to resonate now.
And that's, that's kind of what we're
going for.
You play through that string.
[NOISE] Now the trick is to of course not
produce that sound.
[NOISE] So, you want to make sure that
your speed,
even though this might be slow, is smooth.
You know, you want to make that smooth.
that's where we come back to those slow
bows, long bows.
And the metronome.
Setting, slow.
Four beats to a bow.
Here we go.
Two, three, four.
One, two, three.
So that's what we're working on.