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Fiddle Lessons: Vowels and Consonants

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All right,
we're playing these beautiful melodies
We're playing all kinds of solos.
We're playing blue grass melodies.
So how do we make these things into
something special.
You know, theres the the fiddle is so
capable of doing really great phrasing.
You know, we're not, we don't really care
about the classical thing.
We don't want to make it all you know.
We don't want that.
But we do want the feeling of singing the,
the song.
Like if we did something like Tennessee
Let's see, what should we do?
Let's see, let's do it in D.
The Tennessee Waltz in D.
We could take it as a fiddle tune.
Which is a perfectly great way to do it,
you know?
And you'd hear that a lot, and it really
takes you back to a very traditional place
with the fiddle, and something that the
fiddle does very well.
But we're doing bluegrass here and, and we
have a lot of potential to really
sort of bring the fiddle out as a, really
vocal, expressive vocal thing.
And that means that maybe a way to get
a little bit higher level of phrasing the
tune is to think about.
Again the words, and maybe a good way to
think about it, is to,
is to use the ideas of vowels and
Now obviously, the fiddle is not set up to
I mean, you can't make the words on the
fiddle, really.
But you can actually, think about the
consonants, for sure.
How are we gonna begin those notes?
If we sing Tennessee Waltz, going into
utility voice mode.
that is very utility, but, you know, we
have to lose our.
Inhibitions in order to work more deeply
in to the music here.
So I don't seem to have much problem with
that so far.
But we hear those.
We have those,
those Ds in there that kind of like.
And then we, we have a combination soft
words and hard words.
one of the beautiful things about this
song is that it, it,
the hard edged words are in really
important places in the phrase.
And then it kind of smooths out.
So we have at the beginning where
the phrase needs to move forward, we have
these hard consonants.
So we're going to translate that to the
These are pinch bow, right?
And them of course.
We happened to meet, right, because it's
about the darling who gets stolen away by
that nasterly dastardly Tennessee waltzer.
And so we can actually.
If we play that first part of the phrase a
little bit harder.
That's very nice, the way that becomes
smooth at the end of the phrase.
And then it sets us up for coming back in.
So we're really kind of leaning on that,
and that sort of drives the tune forward
in a nice way.
That still gives you that kind of feeling
of movement, fiddle, and rhythm.
So and you can play that anywhere.
What if we played it in F?
What would we ,and also thinking about,
like, where we're gonna play those notes
and putting it in, a key like F is really
interesting because
then we have open strings, weird
combination of open strings.
Do we want the open strings or not?
Some places are great,
some places are kind of.
That might not work so well.
Maybe we're, we wanna do it in like second
How would that sound?
[SOUND] So we find the F.
On the D string with our first finger.
And then maybe we.
And if we play the same phrase twice the
That might be a little boring.
We can actually.
Compress that second one.
got that nice high note, we could stretch
that out.
And then make that a little bit more.
Tight there.
Now that kind of sounds kind of weird
So maybe we'll jump back down during that
natural phrase break
And ,we got a nice.
We could go back up.
And get our nice fat A.
then we got a big strong finger to play
that long note on.
We can do.
Our newly acquired vibrato techniques.
now are we just gonna hold that note out
or are we just gonna go.
Because we can.
Because we don't, never have to breathe.
And we can just play note after note after
note without ever stopping.
No, let's not do that.
Let's choose to think about the natural
points where somebody singing this might
wanna stop to breath.
Because then, the song starts to make
sense, in the case of,
just, what do the words mean?
there's three, ideas in there, there's
three like separate.
Packets of information, so when we think
about how those words go together,
that might help us to think about where
the breaks are,
where we actually stop playing the note.
To the Tennessee Waltz, separate idea.
When an old friend I happen to meet.
Snake in the grass, snake in the grass.
That might be a little much,
but you get what I'm saying.
There's all kinds of interesting ways to
the phrasing of how we're gonna play these
melodies, these very simple melodies.
That, can give it so much interest and
weight, you know,
and, of course, we don't have to do it the
same way every time.
But, playing around with the key, playing
with the phrasing, figuring out where to
stop the bow,
what long notes need to be [SOUND]
And which long notes we want to put on
strong fingers.
It's a great jigsaw puzzle.
And it's one that is gonna keep us
interested in playing the fiddle for
the rest our lives, hopefully.