Figure 8 Bowing
Here’s an intermediate lesson on the Figure 8 bowing. This rhythmic texture will help you to play Old-time, Bluegrass and probably any fiddle style on Earth.
It’s a string-crossing pattern in which you get your hand to move in a Figure-8 pattern. You bow primarily on one string and then add double stops accents using another string.
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Let’s learn Figure 8 by using some video loops. I’ll also give you audio play along tracks below.
Circular bowing on D0-A0 (separate bows)
Watch your hand move in a clockwise direction to trace a circle shape. Try to make an even circle.
Note: if you want to turn the video looper on or off, click the button in the lower left corner. Also, you can adjust the speed of the video by clicking the gear icon ⚙
Figure 8 bowing on single strings
Figure 8 bowing on D0-A0 with Slur 2
This creates a figure 8 (or infinity) shape. Pause and practice this for a bit.
See if you can smooth out the “loop ends” of the 8 shape. Lift your hand slightly to get a nice loop shape.
Now we’ll do a series of progressive exercises. In addition to these video loops, there are play along tracks for these and other exercises below.
Figure 8 bowing on D0-A0-D0, Triplets, Slur 3
Figure 8 bowing on D0-A0-D0, Hoedown, Slur 3
Figure 8 bowing on D0-D0A0-D0, Hoedown, Slur 3, with double stops
Now we’ll play a double stop (D0A0) instead of just a single note (A0). When you go to the A string, tilt the bow less so that you play both strings. Master this basic exercise.
Use he play along tracks below to learn and practice each step. If you master it on these exercises, then you’re ready to add it to tunes.
Learning chunks™ 🍰
I’ve made some “Learning Chunks” to help you learn more easily. These focused exercises contain sheet music, tabs and mp3 snippets to guide you on your fiddle journey.
Exercise 1: D0-A0, Circular bowing
Exercise 2: D0-A0-D0-A0, Slur two, Figure 8 Bowing
Exercise 3: D0-A0-D0, Hoedown
This and the remaining tab, sheet music and mp3 snippets are available to All-access users. Subscribe here. And thanks for your support. 🙏
Exercise 4: D0-D0A0-D0, Hoedown with double stops
Exercise 5: A0-D0, Circular bowing
Exercise 6: A0-D0, Slur two, Figure 8
Exercise 7: A0-D0-A0, Hoedown, Figure 8
Exercise 8: A0-D0A0-A0, Hoedown, Figure 8
Exercise 9: Hoedown, Figure 8, Single/Double stops alternation
Exercise 10: First four notes of D Major, going up
Exercise 11: First four notes of D Major, up and down
Full sheet music
Note: “Learning chunks” for exercises 12-23 can be found here: Figure 8 – Advanced Exercises
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2 responses to “Figure 8 Bowing”
Thank you for the figure 8 bowing. The exercises are so helpful. I love how you start slow
and then speed up with all the exercises. Your “slow down” mantra has already improved
Glad you’re taking that to heart Judy. I need to remember it too. It’s funny how there’s a natural tendency to speed things up.