Fiddle music notation question

November 11, 2018, 6:12 AM · I have the Miller and Perron book, Traditional Irish Fiddle Music. There is an ornament notation I'm unsure about. It looks like a tilde. Is that meant to be a turn? I'm used to turns with curlicues on them and this has none. So I'm unsure if it's a turn, or something fiddle-specific, or just a notation I have not previously encountered. It does not look like a mordent.

Replies (9)

Edited: November 11, 2018, 7:08 AM · Great--thanks! Found a video on the Irish roll and I'm good to go. :-)
Edited: November 11, 2018, 4:07 PM · My experience is that the tilde is used in printed Irish music as a catch-all indication of an ornament of some sort or other, but usually an Irish roll, which is far faster than a "classical" roll and likely with a quite different note pattern. It often has a percussive effect when played at speed.

The link that Tim referred to covers most of the options. As someone posting in that link rightly said, when you see a tilde or whatever in a book of Irish tunes then is the time to close the book and start listening to (and watching) live playing! The tunes in Irish tune books are really only skeletal museum exhibits of the music, which should be learnt by ear from live players in sessions or from a teacher.

November 11, 2018, 10:58 AM · I'm just using them for sight reading and a fun warm up. Not trying to become expert. The fact that Irish musicians always have everything memorized eliminates that possibility for me LOL! I have always sucked at that.
November 11, 2018, 11:19 AM · It's a turn or turn-around or roll, whatever you want to call it. What you do with it depends on the context, and because it is a traditional music, you have a lot of freedom. What is really cool is when you have a turn on a first finger it uses the third finger, not the second; 1-310-1. A turn on a dotted quarter-note in 6/8 time happens in the middle of the note, not at the end the note. Irish and Scottish fiddle ornaments are fast and have a popping sound. Some of that is influenced by the bagpipe ornaments, which can be rather wild, and are used as an articulation, separating the notes that would otherwise sound completely smooth.
November 11, 2018, 4:30 PM · If the fiddle music is morris or English Playford (17/18th c) then there is very little ornamentation, and when present it would tend to be the standard ornamentation of the period.

It is important to know that fiddle music of the British Isles is essentially for dancing (except for the ones that are sung songs), so the tempo of the music when used to accompany dancing should accommodate the requirements of the dancers - if it doesn't (too fast or too slow) then the band will hear about it soon enough from the dance leader!

One counter-intuitive thing is, if you are playing for morris dancing then the fitter the dancers the slower the music. The reason is that there is jumping in morris. The fitter the dancers the higher they jump and accordingly the longer they take to come down. We're talking about small fractions of a second here, but an error in timing by the band resulting in failure to sync precisely with the dancers will be noticeable. You get the same thing in the classical world when you're playing for ballet.

November 11, 2018, 5:01 PM · The OP clearly said they were playing Irish music. And you wouldn't want to tell an Irish fiddler that their music was from the British Isles...

These are rolls (either short or long), and there is one annoying error that many/most people who are reading this music off a page do with rolls. They put their finger down for each note. This is not done in the tradition and makes the roll sound clunky and slow.

The best way to approach it, IMO, is to understand the roll is in two parts. The first part is a cut. That's where the higher note is not pushed down but just flicked with the finger (usually the third finger--see Joel Quivey's comment, above). The bow speeds up a little and it pops--you don't really hear the actual note that finger would play if it pushed the string to the fingerboard. So, first master the cut.

Then the next part is the triplet, the finger holding the main note just barely lifts off the string to let the finger holding the lower note (or the open string) to sound. When you can do a cut and then this second part, then consider the instruction that Kevin Burke used to (maybe still does) give about rolls--each note gets faster. I don't actually think this is quite right, but if you can do the first two steps, this instruction will help you get it to sound right. Maybe it's because it makes you speed your bow up or something.

November 12, 2018, 1:40 PM · `Kevin Burke explains it very well here, ---

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