Friday, October 9, 2015
How to Learn Fiddle for Free
Let’s talk about how to play fiddle by ear. To play fiddle by ear one of the important things to know is the key that you are playing in. I am no virtuoso but I know enough to have a very enjoyable playing experience with a band.
The best keys to play are G, C, D, E, F,and A, major because you can use open strings.The violin strings are tuned G D A E. The keys of G and C are easiest because all the strings can be played open. The key of A and E you would want to play on the A and E strings and use fingering on the lower strings.
When I play in flat and minor keys I am not as proficient but find the notes by ear and make fewer changes and hold the notes longer. This is just general information to give you an idea of how to approach the fiddle by ear.
Many worship songs use long slow notes with fewer changes. Playing fiddle is a light quick touch and is best in the keys of G, C, D. for beginners.
How to Play fiddle
What you do with the bow is as important as fingering the notes. Don’t over tighten the bow as it will create bounce and cause squeaks. Never touch the hair of the bow or the rosin because oil from your skin will cause squealing. And always take the tension off the bow when not in use to prevent the bow from warping. It costs around $50 to rehair a bow and that is the cost of good beginner bow, So unless you are an accomplished player with an expensive bow you will be served just as well by the purchase of a new bow. When you buy a used violin, the condition of the bow is just as important as the fiddle.
Learn to Play Fiddle
Some of the bow techniques I use are a long stroke then a short up and back and then a long stroke. This gives a nice country bluegrass sound. To play fast I use short strokes and quick finger work and use open strings. You don’t have to press hard but keep a light touch with just enough pressure so that you don’t squeal. Another bow technique I use is what I call “rocking the bow.” I play the lower strings open and then rock to a higher string where I will change the note. When combining the different bow techniques it makes for fun fiddle playing by ear.
Vibrato is achieved by quick back and forth movement of the wrist on your fingering hand. Accomplished players do this well, I am working on it.
If you are looking for a quality starter kit check this one out.
I highly recommend the Bunnel G2 starter kit if you can afford it. I own the Bunnel G1 and it is excellent considering the price. You can get an inexpensive Chinese lacquered violin that is good to see if you have the knack to learn. But if you want an oiled, violin with European design in an affordable starter kit this is the ticket.
How to amplify your violin in an affordable recommended way
I have a Kremona violin pickup that costs about $80 with Amazon.
It is easy to install and will not hurt or alter your violin.
Kremona has a pickup with a volume control but it is not highly recommended.
I have found that it is best to go through a direct box when plugging into a sound system. I have found a Direct box with a volume control that works for me. It costs under $30 at Amazon.
When I use this combination I get a clean sound without any buzz. There is good volume and you will want to tone it down.
This will also allow you to play through amplifiers and add effects, such as echo, chorus, and reverb.
Please check the links that are in the picture of the product if you are interested.
My favorite fiddle styles
It has highly developed melody variations and jazz style backup from the other instruments. A little slower than old-time and bluegrass. An example would be Bob Wills. This is probably the closest to the style that I play and why I put it first.
This style originated from the popular swing music. It often brought on the powerful improvisational jazz soloists, like Jean-Luc Ponty and Joe Venuti.
A style originated by the “Acadians” a group of French settlers from Nova Scotia that moved to southern Louisiana because of harassment by the British. I love this music as it is accompanied by squeeze box and Yahoos that only Cajuns can do. They stayed isolated till the beginning of the twentieth century.
Bill Monroe brought out this musical style in the late 1930’s. He added improvisation and showmanship. This style is for the audience to listen to.
This style of fiddling comes from the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States.It uses model sounds and techniques.
This style was pre-bluegrass string band. It had country dance rhythms. It included music from vaudeville, minstrel shows, and British Isles folk traditions. Some of the early 78 rpm country recordings and old fiddle songs were in the old-timey style.
Appalachian tunes and listening tunes unsuitable for dancing were also a part of the old-timey fiddle style.
In this style, the accentuations and melody are on an equal basis. Several scales and modes are used in Irish fiddle.
The Ionian mode (major scale), Dorian (a scale starting and ending on the second note of the major scale), Mixolydian ( a scale beginning and ending on the fifth note of the major scale), and Aeolian (natural minor scale) are equally common.
What to look for when buying a fiddle.
When buying your first fiddle you probably don’t want to spend a lot of money to find out if you will take to it.The Chinese make very inexpensive fiddles that quality violin makers call VSO’s. (violin-shaped objects). They are varnished as compared to oiled. Varnish is heavy and limits the sound from the vibrating tone woods.
If you are wanting to try your hand at fiddle to see if you can learn, a Chinese fiddle for about $100 is a good way to go.
Amazon offers some very affordable choices.
I don’t know about the $36 model. The one I started on was about $100. When I upgraded I was able to sell it for what I had bought it for.
Make sure the bow is straight and has plenty of hair. The price of a rehaired bow is about the same as an inexpensive but usable new bow.
The best tonewoods and most commonly used are high altitude sitca spruce for the top.
The high altitude or cold climate produces a tight narrow wood grain and makes the best sound. The backs and sides are made of curly maple. This is a beautiful wood with a grain that looks like curls. The more curls the better the wood for the violin.
I would appreciate any comments concerning this piece and am open to ideas and if I am incorrect about anything I would be happy to learn myself.
If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them. I will be promoting an excellent music company and showing affordable and quality instruments for beginners. I plan on adding video tutorials and product information so please stay tuned. All for you to discover your musical self.
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