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Eloise Garland

A Fiddly Composition!

September 28, 2010 at 4:35 PM

 My love of folk music over the years has never gone away even though I don't play it as much now. Ever since I was young, I have loved listening to folk just simply because it is fun! Although I hardly play folk or 'fiddle' music these days, I am still in love with the over-all sound and feel of it.

I'm in my second year of my GCSE's (last compulsory year of high-school) and studying music, which of course, is my favourite subject! Throughout the whole of last year I have learnt an awful lot about not just composing, but writing music. 

So, today, as usual, I got my violin out in the music lesson and started playing around in order to develop my most recent composition which I hope to be an exam entry piece. And as I was playing, I had a funny urge to not stick to all the usual rules in music any more and just have fun! My piece, which I am writing to overlay a scene from BBC's 'Pride and Prejudice,'  took a rather unexpected folky turn! 

It was probably after a further 10 minutes of non-stop fiddling when I heard a rather strange hooting noise from behind me. But what was it? To my amazement, my teacher had only gone and got the accordion out! We played along together, occasionally shouting out a few whoops and hopping on one leg, and by God, it was fun! Everybody else had fun too, sometimes playing something on their own instruments or dancing around the room. 

On the bus home, I pulled out my good old manuscript and looked at the blank page. It had never crossed my mind at how seemingly complicated a folk piece could be to write down. But the truth is, it isn't! Folk music doesn't even need to be written on paper, it is improvisation. And even if it is written, it is only the skeleton of the piece - the person playing just fills in the rest! 

So why don't you have a go if you haven't tried recently? It might just become a new addiction! 

From Charlie Gibbs
Posted on September 29, 2010 at 6:21 PM

Q: How do you stop a violinist from playing?

A: Take away his sheet music.


Q: How do you stop a fiddler from playing?

A: Put sheet music in front of him.


It's meant as a joke, but actually there's a lot of truth to it.  Although new to violin, I've played bluegrass mandolin for a number of years.  Even informal jams have a basic structure: someone picks a tune, then we go around the circle with each player in turn "taking a break" (which for some reason is the standard bluegrass term for playing a solo) while the others play rhythm.  An experienced player can improvise a solo from nothing more than the basic chord structure.  It's a heck of a lot of fun, and an ability worth cultivating.

From Eloise Garland
Posted on September 29, 2010 at 9:07 PM

 Charlie, I think that sounds great!

What I love about playing the violin is it has so much potential to do so many things. Fiddling is something I have always loved right from the start, but at the same time, I love pieces such as 'Schindler's List Theme' (something I am working on at the moment), and a lot of other styles of music too! 

I think learning to fiddle is something every violinist should learn, and learning to play orchestral/'classical' pieces is something every fiddler should also learn. It opens up so many more opportunities! 

Thanks for your post! 

From Trevor Jennings
Posted on September 30, 2010 at 12:00 PM

 In our English folk music session in Bristol two nights ago an accordionist played one of the 18th century English folk  tunes from Pride and Prejudice.  Unfortunately, neither he nor anyone else present  knew its name (which is about par for the course at most sessions!).  I wonder if a tune listing for the series is available from the BBC.  

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