How do you do circular bowing?
A student named Lisa Brookins asked me during a recent office hours session, “How do you do the Figure 8 or circular bowing?” To be honest, I hadn’t even heard the term. So I went and watched a video by Bruce Molsky, learned it, and practiced it. The same thing that you and other amazing FiddleHed students do…
I’m now working on a more in-depth lesson on this with progressive exercises. Stay tuned…📻
This micro-lesson is an excerpt from an office hours webinar I gave on April 14, 2020.
The basic exercise…
The video explains this better than I can with words. But here’s a simple exercise you can do to get started.
Bow down on open D, then up on open A. Loop on this. Once it flows, watch your right hand. Observe that it moves in a circle. See if you can smooth out the curves of the circle. Observe that it moves in a circle. See if you can smooth out the curves of the circle.
Now let’s turn that into a figure 8. We will simply play open D followed by open A in a down bow, and then do the same thing in an up bow.
Down: D0-A0, Up: D0-A0
Voilà! (That’s French for “Voilà” 🤪)
Here’s a slightly more challenging step, using the slur 3 bowing:
Down: D0-A0-D0, Up: D0-A0-D0
Master these exercises, then add left-hand fingers. Eventually, try on scales, tune phrases, and whole melodies.
I experimented with adding this bowing to Mary Had A Little Lamb. Side note: even the most beginner tune can be a source of learning and creativity. Don’t write off simple, tried, and true melodies…
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I just learned something called the figure 8 bow pattern. Trying it out on a simple melody: Mary had a little lamb. I’m working from the new studio in Los Angeles. It’s a nice space but still in the moving in stage. But it’s great to have a space to work in, very grateful 🙏
- Fun With String Crossing Exercises
- Slur Across Strings Exercises
- Fingering and String Crossing Exercises I
- Fiddler Playground #1: String Crossing on D Major
- Use this exercise to practice circular bowing
- Practice loops
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3 responses to “How do you do circular bowing?”
Thank you for this fantastic lesson! So many possibilities with this technique!
Not to take away from Fiddlehed, but, Matt Cranitch’s book covers this nicely, too! Cranitch uses the tune Kildare Fancy. I use this pattern in the second half of Planxty Drury.
Nice job, Jason!
Thanks much @Paul. Are you talking about The Irish Fiddle Book?