Fiddling blog

October 2, 2010 at 05:09 PM ·

I'm thinking of starting a fiddling blog. Fiddle styles, as an addition to the wide-ranging classical style of playing. Irish, Scottish, bluegrass, snazz etc - is anyone interested? I have many years of playing behind me.  Video clips, explanations, etc....

Replies (24)

October 2, 2010 at 08:29 PM ·

Hi Jim, I think a fiddling blog is a great idea. I'm sure that there are more than a few fiddlers like myself  that follow

October 2, 2010 at 11:22 PM ·

Bluegrass, please.

October 3, 2010 at 02:07 AM ·

"First tip................

Get rid of that shoulder rest or any kind of shoulder support........then you will understand what fiddling is about..........Really its not any different to learning how to play violin by the traditional classical method, just spend more time playing the fiddle tunes , and  they are short and repetative so one can have many toones under the belt."

Thank you for your advice, Henry. Now that you've got got yourself comfortable, can you please show us all, visually, how we should achieve this, with particular focus on specific left-hand fiddling techniques and their associated bowing patterns in the different genres. We look forward to your contribution.

October 3, 2010 at 09:23 AM ·

OK, just a reminder of my original post - any requests relating to fiddle styles and technique are welcome. Feel free to send me a message if you don't want to reply on this thread.


October 3, 2010 at 11:25 AM ·


I'd encourage you to go for it. There's a real lack, on YouTube etc, of reliable tips from people who know what they're doing.

Why not open a channel like Todd Ehle's professorv channel on classical technique, with a focus on fiddling, and back it up with explanation & discussion on the blog.

For example, systematic approaches to developing (and using!) ornaments: cuts, rolls, turns, triplets, slides, double-stops etc.

October 3, 2010 at 12:55 PM ·

I for one would be very interested (as long as nobody tattles on me to my teacher; hehe).  I don't play with a shoulder rest, so that part is easy.  OK, what's step 2?


Hope this takes off ...

October 3, 2010 at 01:17 PM ·

I for one would be very interested (as long as nobody tattles on me to my teacher; hehe).  I don't play with a shoulder rest, so that part is easy.  OK, what's step 2?

OK, your teacher needn't know ;)

Forget about the shoulder rest business, it's not important in this context - you either use one, or you don't - it has no bearing on the content I can make available. Step 2? Well, I'm trying to find out the popularity of "all things fiddle" here, eg particular styles of interest, ie Irish trad, bluegrass, that type of thing - also, bowing patterns, ornamentation, anything at all that interests you, just say. I intend to make a start soon after a little bit of info gathering from the community. 


October 3, 2010 at 02:45 PM ·

Jim -- sounds great!  I'd sure check it out.  Still using dial-up Internet, so videos are a challenge, but short demos would definitely be worth waiting through the "bufferering" time!  I've got a cousin who plays mandolin, and she's about a mile-and-a-half ahead of me on bluegrass technique.  It would be great to pick up enough information from you to start catching up with her.  She and I are the last ones left in a family with a long history of bluegrass players.

October 3, 2010 at 04:44 PM ·

I'm interested in ornamentation

October 3, 2010 at 04:54 PM ·

When I said my cousin and I are "...the last ones left in a family with a long history of Bluegrass players", I meant that we were the last ones playing.  Apologies to any relatives who may have seen my post and thought I was trying to prematurely "off" them!  :)

October 3, 2010 at 07:50 PM ·

I would be very interested in the video clips. The idea of a youtube channel modeled after professorv would be great, he has some fiddle stuff on there too. It would be beneficial to many.

October 3, 2010 at 08:23 PM ·

I'd love this. My favorite styles are Scottish and Irish fiddling.

October 4, 2010 at 05:45 AM ·

OK, looking like Scots / irish styles with associated ornamentation is popular...

October 4, 2010 at 09:34 AM ·

Scots would be great! Judging by your accent, that's something you should know something about?

October 4, 2010 at 11:32 AM ·

Oh yes please! This is the reason I started taking violin lessons.. cos I figured I should have some of the basics (like where the notes are!) before breaking out the fiddle music.

Yup, into Irish trad and scots mostly!

October 4, 2010 at 12:12 PM ·


Yes, I'm Scottish :)

October 4, 2010 at 02:00 PM · Hey, I don't see why not. There appears to be some sort of quorum, and most of the folks here seem to be a cheery, open bunch. I'm not the only writer here who frequently makes reference to my development as a player of fiddle musics. You could also look into fiddle hangout or the newer fiddleworld, where all the members are focussed on playing fiddle music, too.

October 4, 2010 at 04:17 PM ·

What benefit does getting rid of the shoulder rest provide? Not everybody has the same distance between shoulder and chin, some have round shoulders. Before I can consider that advice of value, I need to know what it is adding to my fiddling.

I have a shorter neck, and quite a bit of muscle (well, not as much 'muscle' as it used to be...) making a slope from behind my ear part way down the shoulder. Without a shoulder rest, the violin is pretty unstable. I would need a good reason to give that up.

October 4, 2010 at 08:39 PM ·

I suspect that the earlier shoulder rest comment made by Henry Butcher was just a barb thrown in my direction. Regardless of whether you use one or not, this will have absolutely no bearing on the type of music you play, as a violinist, or a fiddle player (unless you're thinking of simultaneously riding a unicycle) :)

I'm trying to stay on track with this fiddling blog topic, but I'll point to the source of the shoulder rest thread anyway. Basically, I made a video to show the effectiveness of a shoulder rest for me, and a sensible and civilised debate followed :

There was yet another debate before that one, which started off OK, but ended up like a debate between a geographer and a flat-earther :)


October 5, 2010 at 12:11 AM ·

OK, so we can now discuss ellipsoid and geoid? Everybody should recognize that the earth is actually concave, and the gnomic projection is the only true undistorted map projection!

Sorry, off topic, I guess, unless I find some way to relate the shape of the concave geoid with the inverse of ideal bridge shape; it depends on latitude (both in music expression and coordinates).

October 5, 2010 at 10:17 PM ·

 I was classically trained, and have now played the violin for over 40 years.  I started playing fiddle about 8 years ago.  While I still play in the local community orchestra, I am also a regular contest fiddler.  When I play the "fiddle" I use a should rest as do most of the more competitive fiddlers.

I have modified my vibrato to be more compatible with the "old time" fiddle style I play most often. But I use the same equipment (okay, I did change strings), bridge set-up etc.   Some people have mentioned that they can spot a classically trained fiddler from across the room.   I don't think of that as a criticism, though I'm sure it is sometimes intended that way.



October 5, 2010 at 10:29 PM ·

I can usually spot a classically trained fiddler too. Most of the ones I know play fiddle well.


October 6, 2010 at 10:42 PM ·

Right, first video is ready, to be uploaded in the UK morning, to the newly-created "Fiddling Tips" blog. All the vids will be numbered incrementally (and on the vid's caption too). This first one will be a fiddle "hot lick"  :)

October 7, 2010 at 02:13 PM ·

Blog now published (may take a while to show, while being approved by the moderators).

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