Reply To: Light touch on strings – issues
hope you don’t mind another post from me.
I’ve read your entries with great interest.
I hope what I’ve learned since my initialising the thread helps.
If I think of more will post again.
The great epiphony for me was an enforced break from the instrument through a slight shoulder injury (R shoulder). I kept studying those fortunate folks who can rotate their last digit on the string to demonstrate vibrato. Their touch was so light and yet the string still flexed to the finger board.
When I was able to pick up the fiddle again to my astonishment the left hand was much more relaxed. Occasionally I could play a vibrated note – my wife asked what did you do that sounded nice. THAT WAS HUGE.
I reckon (for me) the damage was done by those folk who teach little ones to play and try to teach the strong hammer on – to take Nick’s point after learning to play a fretted instrument for a wee while I was hammering on too hard. The dynamic of a healthy fiddle hold just doesn’t lend itself to this.
Billy (William) Fitzpatrick (Professor Of Music) – found on YouTube also sowed a seed about the touch needed when he talked about “in his day”…with gut strings things were different and you needed heavier finger board/string pinch to produce a sweet note. He makes the instrument sound so classically sweet and mellow.
I was also misdirected by one teacher and beginner books claiming that insufficient pressure made for fuzzy notes.
If you hammer on (with the required dynamic left hand fiddle and relaxed), DO NOT HOLD THE NECK of the fiddle you cannot hammer off.
That was my real issue. HOW????
The left hand reactions could not match the bowing speed. Well, truth is you can’t physically do it at the contorted wrist angles of the fiddle. It is far more comfortable to hammer on and off when the fiddle strings are plucked like on a fretted instrument. You are holding the neck *cradling) and the hand is at a very different angle to when the fiddle is under the chin and that is hard.
Over time, I’ve tried the Wonder Thumb and Wrist Rascal and they seemed to help.
Bearing in mind I’m >60 yo and still very much a beginner.
Ginny has a good approach with isolating but then try with respect just try to add a single combination factor top the technique until it is second nature but I’m sure you know that. Progress will come.
I should note that I’ve been working very hard at a rough Lover’s Waltz (Jay Ungar) that has double stops in it. The lighter touch resolved the double stop issues too. I’d read about people pulling strings to the side etc. That is just too hard to do in the flow of even a lovely slow waltz like Lover’s AND you change string tension by doing so.
Jason and Fiddlehed has got me to the stage where a musical ignoramus has started to hear a tune and be able to approximately play it – so long as it’s easy.
Good luck with your quest for the Holy Grail guys.