Thursday, July 10, 2008

Irish Fiddle Ornaments


What are Irish ornaments in fiddle music? This description may help you somewhat in your search. Getting the hang of Irish fiddle ornaments is another matter

When I started playing jigs, my default bowing pattern made a groove like Pop Goes the Weasel: "Long-short, long-short, mulberry bush, the long-short, long-short weasel."And that still works for me without having to think about it. The one rule to keep in mind is: Do not slur from one string to another. This is unlike Irish reels. There, you can and do slur from one string to another. But not in jigs.

Getting the hang of ornaments think of the Irish fiddle ornaments as falling into melodic and percussive categories.The three most common melodic moves are, the grace note, the triplet, the roll. These moves all use "neighbor notes." Any note within one step of the main melody note can be a neighbor note. In Irish fiddling, the neighbor note can be two steps away.Grace notes are typically the upper neighbor, one whole step or half step higher. The grace note is usually played just before the beat.In standard music notation it is shown as a very small note. In my tab charts I follow this convention by making the tab grace note much smaller than the main melody notes.

Triplets start with the melody note, go up to the neighbor note, and return to the melody note. The rhythm of this is a substitution of three internal beats for two.Think of a shuffle pattern: dah-duh-duh. Now go: diddally-duh-duh. This ornament is very popular in Texas Contest style also.The roll starts on the melody note, goes to the upper neighbor, back to the melody note, then to the lower neighbor, then back to the melody note. When the melodic note is played with the first finger, the upper neighbor is usually the third above, and is played with the third finger. In the roll, the neighbor notes are very light and quick, almost ghost notes.
Irish Fiddle Ornaments
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1 comment:

Janet said...

Good fiddle information. I bought my husband a fiddle a couple years ago.