|> I agree that they are pretty "out there" talent-wise, but that should
|> by no means be a stopping point. About 90% of what makes the music
|> good is a SKILL, and the result of hours of practice. What (to me)
I would add to this, and say that skill makes practicing more
effective, rather than separating the two. A person who practices 6
hours a day will get better than a person with much more skill who
|> make a trad musician geat is their love of the music, which in turn
|> causes them to practice and play almost incessantly. Most
|> professional musicians (classical) that I know practice about 5 hours
|> or more a day, and here lies the point- To really be inventive with a
|> tune, I believe that you need to play it seven bizillion times, and
|> every now and then you will try something new, and every now and then
|> it sounds good. Eventually, you build up your own arrangements of
|> tunes and they get REALLY good.
I agree with this completely. It makes me feel better to hear this,
since I have been struggling with trying to emulate the clarity of
people like Liz Carroll, Kevin Burke, and just about anybody who is
as well known. I've found it amazingly frustrating, and have come
down to chalking it up as "experience".
|> A lot of the tricks that His Johnnyness does on the fiddle sound
|> pretty unattainable, but they aren't his private property- just
|> things that he is VERY good at. For me, I was wowed by anyone who
|> used 16th note runs instead of triplets in a strathspey, but after
|> starting with easy ones, I can get some more complex ones now. Speed
|> is all very relative- once you know a tune cold slow, you can speed
|> it up almost at will, to the limit of the speed of your hands. I must
|> say that after all these years, I can play "The Merry Blacksmith" and
|> "Scatter the Mud" quite quickly if I have a hankering.
Very true. But I often start missing notes if I do this too often...
|> One of the neatest feelings I get from playing a tune is
|> learning from an album, being able to first duplicate the setting
|> exactly, and then to go beyond it.
|> Techniquewise- one of Johnny Cunningham's signature techniques
|> is a sort of bow bounce. You may have seen it used somewhere before-
|> the bow is bounced off of the strings rapifly to create the extremely
|> rapid stacatto cuts. This is also used in old-timey tunes, I seem to
|> recall an old video or film of a guy playing the William Tell
|> Overture using this technique. This sort of stuff is easy to "cheat"
I know this, having played the William tell a couple times, before I
picked up fiddle. The style is called "ricochet", and the idea is to
drop the bow on the stings (from a minimal distance above the string)
with a little pressure from the right hand, so that you get a
controlled bounce. This same idea is also used in playing broken
chords with three or more notes. You 'bite' the bottom note of the
chord, and drag your bow over the other two or three strings, so that
it bounces once on each of them. When you play the top note, you
reverse the bow (play up-bow) and use the bow's bouncing inertia (I
can't think of any better name for it) to keep it bouncing. This is
really not very difficult, but requires a flexible bow-hold. For
examples of this you can listen to the cadenza of the Mendelssohn
Violin concerto, or perhaps the Ciaconna (Chaconne) in Bach's second
Partita, or even the playing of Brendan Mulvihill in "Tommy Coens
Reel" on _My_Love_is_in_America_ (from the BC fiddle festival). It's
a lot of fun to do, and doesn't require much energy or practice.
I found that after practicing this for a while, I was bouncing
my pencil or pen on anything within reach.
I had to give it up, when my classmates started threatening my life...
There is another method that is fairly well known in classical music
called "sautille" (saw-tee-yay). This is good for fast runs of notes,
and can be seen in a lot of eastern-european and gypsy fiddle (some
great stuff here). Basically, as you are playing theses runs, you
rotate the bow, so it is perpendicular to the strings (I usually play
with it leaning forward about 30 degrees from this point. This
provides a little more control, and less bounce). Then you tighten
your grip on the bow a little (you need a loose hand) and watch the
bow start skipping. This gives a little better articulation than you
would get by just playing the notes without this bounce. This is very
good for any series of fast notes one might want to play, and it helps
keep the notes separate. The effect should not be a visible bounce,
but rather the notes you are playing should just become clearer...
(It's kind of hard to translate this over the net).
There's one other technique that I have never seen any Irish fiddler
do (mainly because it's very difficult). It is called "staccato" (the
true classical staccato). The effect is that one can play runs of
notes VERY fast, if they don't bother changing bow between them.
Instead, you play a series of very fast stops and starts in one bow.
This takes a lot of practice, but is very impressive once it is
learned. A good example (I have never seen it played in Irish,
old-time, or bluegrass) can be found in the "Hora Staccato" by
Grigoras Dinicu. The effect is quite stunning, and could be used in
Irish music very effectively, if anyone ever took the time to try to
|> Can't wait for Milwaukeefest to see His Johnnyness again. Early
|> reports from here is that he and brother Phil are coming, Craobh Rua
|> will be back in town, and Cherish The Ladies are probable as well.
|> Further bulletins as events warrant.
Hope I can make it this year again!