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Fiddle Lessons: Phrasing

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[MUSIC]
So,
how about phrasing when we're kicking off
a tune or playing a solo.
Phrasing, when we talk about phrasing,
we're also talking about bowing, right?
Because, the bow is really like our mouth,
when we're playing the fiddle.
It, it shapes all of the notes.
And it's, like breathing.
It's like singing.
Unlike when we're playing the fiddle
tunes, when we're like a drum.
[MUSIC]
Playing those.
Sayings we in bluegrass our role is
expanded to where we're playing.
[MUSIC]
You know, those nice long notes.
So, how would we phrase, you know, any
kick off or solo?
There, there's so many choices.
There and there, but there are ways of
thinking about how to make this work
and ways to arrive at some really good
choices about how to you know,
play this really musically.
So, let's take a tune like for
instance Nine Pound Hammer which probably
is gonna get played a lot.
It's a real popular tune in jams and
everything.
If we think about the song.
Again we, we're going back to the melody,
you know.
What is melody?
[MUSIC]
We're doing it in G.
Are we doing it in G?
[MUSIC]
Yes, we're doing it in G.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Using my utility voice.
[MUSIC]
Right, so, it's got these short phrases.
[MUSIC]
A little pause.
[MUSIC]
And it's kind of,
it doesn't really come in super strong, it
kinda sneaks in.
Its also kind of a bluesy tune.
It's about swinging a big hammer on steel,
laying train tracks, stuff like that.
So, it really feels kind of bluesy, kind
of a lot of hard work involved.
So, how are we going to combine that?
How are we going to, like, get a kickoff
going that really is.
It really makes sense in the context of,
of you know, you wanna to start strong.
It's not a strong melody start.
[MUSIC]
That's not, it doesn't really hit.
We could use the good old bluegrass.
[MUSIC]
And
that'll give us a little bit more
strength.
[MUSIC]
I think it's good to start with a melody.
We could go up.
[MUSIC]
That would work.
What else could work?
Let's try something, let's try this.
Let's go, two, three.
[MUSIC]
So, what did I just do?
I tried to make a really strong first note
and.
One of the ways you can make a strong
first note, is to make an octave or
some kind of good double stop, now I chose
the.
[MUSIC]
The G octave because it's super strong,
real solid, and it also gives you a kind
of good foundation,
it's not too high this song is a little
bit casual too, it's kind of like this.
[MUSIC]
A little so if we go up.
[MUSIC]
It's a little operatic or something.
So, if we stay.
[MUSIC]
It gives us a big solid sound.
And then, a great way of phrasing these
kind of solos is to.
Play very clearly the first phrase.
[MUSIC]
And then, as the answer.
Play a little bit more fiddlely.
So, then we'd go.
[MUSIC]
Some kind of fiddlely phrase ends.
And then.
[MUSIC]
And then we go back to.
[MUSIC]
And then.
[MUSIC]
So we get both,
we get the fiddly part, and we get the
phrasey part.
Going back and forth between those is a
nice.
Feeling of drama and you know, the
listener's going like oh,
what's he gonna do?
Is he gonna do, he's gonna go simple,
is he gonna go complicated, what's gonna
happen?
And that's, that's a good tactic.
That can be used in, so many different
kinds of tunes.
Because we have that same phrasing
structure in, so
many songs I'm thinking about.
Little Maggie, for instance.
[MUSIC]
Now there's a utility voice.
[MUSIC]
Yeah, understand, yeah.
So, if we did that in A, let's try to make
it A.
So that's got a very strong beginning.
[MUSIC]
Yeah, understand little maggie.
[MUSIC]
Right, it's really strong.
We could, we could do a different, a
couple different things.
We can do the same thing we did on.
That other one, if we could go.
[MUSIC]
Right?
We've got the open strings there.
[MUSIC]
And it's kind of a mixellating,
kind of a modal sounding tune anyway, so
we want a lot of open strings.
[MUSIC]
And
we want some of those really strange,
hard, kind of seconds in there.
Just keep that A kinda ringing through.
And again,
simple to busy.
And then.
[MUSIC]
Right,
we do it a little higher maybe, maybe a
little bit.
So, look for that, she's drinking away her
troubles, and then, and
courting another man.
We could do, we could go crazy, we can
even go up to third position.
[MUSIC]
Something like that for that.
So it might sound like this.
One, two, one, two, three.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Little bit more about phrasing.
I think something about the character of,
of blue grass fiddling and
especially nowadays we're seeing in the
playing of,
of the best blue grass fiddle players a
very.
Brilliant, sort of, very present, kind of,
sound, in, in both the, in both the and
just the phrasing that would call alert.
You know, it's the, the best term that I
know to describe this feeling of
this sort of very awake kind of aware
[NOISE].
And you could.
[MUSIC]
You know there's a kind of a forwardness
to the.
[MUSIC]
And
this kind of [NOISE] very on top of the
note.
[MUSIC]
And a very, articulated bow [NOISE].
All sort of kind translating the sound of
alertness and awareness and.
Super you know, whereas you might have
gotten earlier
players in this kind of, almost kind of
relaxed quality.
[MUSIC]
So it just makes sense to kind of be aware
of that, that sort of approach,
because sometimes it's really great to be
very on top of the beat, be really aware.
And of course, always being aware of
whether or not you're in tune and
whether you're in time with the rest of
the band.
And.
Just whether or not to be aggressive like
that.
You know, if you're playing a solo or if
the, or if there's something about the,
the song that's being played that's like
forward.
Maybe a little bit aggressive in the
lyrics.
Or whether or not it's a situation where
you might wanna
pull back and be a little bit more
relaxed.
Something like the difference between.
[MUSIC]
And.
Something like that
[MUSIC]
You know both of them have their place.
You'll see a lot more of the the
aggressive,
[MUSIC]
You know?
But there's also a place for
[MUSIC]
That smoother style also.
I, I think it's just good to be aware of
the two spirits,
you know, the two approaches.
[MUSIC]