First tunes - Intonation

The Cotswold morris tune Glorishers is a suitable first tune to learn on the fiddle because it uses the same fingering pattern on the two middle strings and starts with an ascending scale. First, listen to the tune until you know it well enough to be able to sing it (aloud or in your head).

You can then begin by playing pizzicato (plucking the strings) so that you do not need to worry about the bowing. Hold the fiddle as in this photo and use your your thumb to pluck the strings over the finger board. (Never pluck the strings where you will be using the bow as that will make the string greasy and slippery!).

The tune is in the key of D major and starts with an ascending scale starting on D. Use the finger spacing shown on the diagram below. You need to use the middle two strings only (D & A string). Listen carefully to your intonation to check that you are spacing your fingers corrrectly and playing in tune.

On the video clip notice that the fingers are always hovering close to the string and that the same finger spacing is maintained throughout.

At the end of the second line of the printed music below the 1st finger is placed on both the A and D strings simultaneously so that the note E can be played immediately after the note B without moving the finger.

First tunes - bow management

This next video clip shows you Glorishers played with the bow.

At first play the tune slowly and smoothly in the middle and upper part of the bow. Play with bow lengths proportional to note lengths i.e. use longer bow strokes for long notes and short strokes for short notes. Later you can shorten the amount of bow used but keep a contrast between short and very short strokes. Less movement means the tune will be faster but the effort used will be less - less is more!

When you are ready to be more ambitious you can play some notes staccato (lifting the bow off the string or almost off the string as in bow patterns 3 & 4). A staccato note leaves a silent space after it (before you hear the next note) - or more accurately, it leaves a space in which the note rings out and dies away instead of continuing as a sustained sound. The first four quavers start with a fast bow stroke to emphasise the first note, then the following strokes are shorter and quieter. (i.e. longer fast strokes are louder than shorter slower strokes).

First tunes - learning by ear

The last video clip on this page is of the well known tune for the song Happy birthday to you. Hopefully you are already familiar with this traditional birthday song though you may never have seen it written in music notation. It is sung in any key depending on how the first note is pitched by the person who starts the song. This video recording has a starting note of D and is in the key of G major.

Try to work out how to play this tune (pizzicato at first, then with the bow). Start with the open D string. You will need to use the middle two strings only, with the finger spacings for the key of G major as shown in this diagram. Notice that on the D string you need to place the 2nd finger close to the 3rd but on the A string you need to move it close to the 1st finger.

If necessary seek help by watching the fingering on the video clip.

When you have tried learning by ear you can go on to study how the tune is written on the page. Click on these links to open pdf files showing:

1.the standard music notation

2. Music notation with note names

3. Music notation with note names and fingering

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