I think your best bet in finding the records on Morning Star with
the Kentucky fiddle bands would be just to call Shanachie directly
and talk with either Dan Collins or Richard Nevins himself. I know
that they are under the aegis of some other company right now, but
I think the old Shanachie number still holds. I don't have it off
the top of my head, but any of the tapes or records name the town
in NJ where they are, and you can call information...Sorry not to
be more exact.
As far as the holding of the fiddle for Irish music, the only
thing I can say is that it takes a consciously relaxed grip.
I went to a classical teacher who worked with children just
starting out--she also helps adults unravel their muscular
tension, and position the hand, esp. the left in such a way
that it feels like a continuous and smooth movement. Before
that, it was killing me, I had a bunion on the joint below
my index finger, that throbbed painfully. And I pressed with
my fingers so hard that my whole hand was cold, no circulation.
We spent 3 months on little exercises, isolating tiny muscles,
and talking, talking about mental trips that went along with
my playing. I quit playing tunes for that time, in fact, I
For my bowing hand, I spent weeks picking up a pencil a
certain way, until my fingers became more active in controlling
the bow. We also explored planes of the different strings,
quietening the elbow.
Since then, my grip has modified, more to the traditional
standards. And I've found that a tight bow, with use of about
a 9 inch length in its middle-upper end, using slight
wrist (&finger) pressure to get a bounce, will help me get the Clare
sound. I know that many espouse the use of the whole bow.
But I don't want to sound like Gavin or Mulvihill or
Connelly. All of whom use big sweeping bows. Not that it's
out of the question with me, just not all the time.
It's a journey, though, isn't it? It's taken me this amount
of time playing in the tradition to gain the self confidence
to even think of myself as a player--all is interconnected-
body, mind, emotions, spirit.
I can yak away about all this, but I think in the end you
must carve out your own way, and you pass through endless
stages. At least life isn't boring when you're always
changing and growing with your music.
Bye for now,