Hi, I’m Mitch Reed. Welcome to The Vlog! Today I’m gonna talk about the shuffle bowing. It’s a bowing you find in American fiddle music all over the country: Appalachia, New England, Mid West, Texas fiddling, and Cajun fiddling as well.
What I mean by the shuffle bowing is just the rhythm that you create on top of the chord or you can also create it on top of the melody. The way I usually teach this to beginners is the phrase “I’m happy, You’re happy”…[00:37] So there you got that “I’m happy, You’re happy, I’m happy, You’re happy, I’m happy, You’re happy.” So, sounds silly, I know I look silly but it’ll help you to remember the rhythm.
So one of the things I wanted to talk about today that I find kind of useful or can be an interesting approach to practicing, especially if you feel like maybe you’re having timing issues, or if you’re yet to kind of get yourself more in the groove. This is one of the things that I learned from Michael Doucet that I really like and I use this a lot, sometimes just when I’m playing by myself or practicing, is to start off with a shuffle rhythm on a chord and then go into the melody. So I’ll give you an example of what I mean by that. So I’m going to start off on a G chord down here…[1:39]
Alright. So what I did, I started off with my bowing just holding that shuffle, and then I went into the melody but when I went into the melody I kind of kept the same shuffle bowing going, the same rhythm going on my bow. I find this is really helpful just to get started. A lot of times when we play fiddle tunes we just think of the notes or sometimes we even hear just the song in our head or the band in our head and we might just start off with the single notes…[2:42] which is fine and that works great.
If you feel, on certain tunes… you’re not quite sure how to kick it off or you’re not quite sure if you’re locked in on the rhythm, try this approach. It works really well, and then you can keep your bow going basically throughout the tune. Now this is… what I’m dealing with here is basically all Two-Steps or Reels. Fast tunes, you know, things like that. So yeah, it works really well. So I’ll play… I’ll do another one…[3:18]
Alright. So that is the shuffle bowing and just always remember, if you have a hard time remembering what the rhythm is it’s “I’m happy, You’re happy.” You could also think of it as “long short short, long short short.” But this is the rhythm I use a lot and it’s also the rhythm I use for seconding. So if I’m gonna accompany an accordion or another fiddle for a two step or anything in 4/4, this rhythm works.
So I just want to share this with you, maybe try some of the tunes. I had a few people talk to me about tunes that they felt like are hard to kick off on the fiddle and it seems like those tend to be a accordion tunes. So the other one is the Lacassine Special. This is one that a lot of people talk about, you know, just feels awkward on the fiddle to kick off. So let’s see if I can even get the tune. Okay, here we go…[5:25] No, that’s the Eunice Two Step. Gosh I can’t get it in my head so I guess we’ll have to move on. But give it a try. It works really well and like I said just starting off on that G. So you can do it on another approach, you can do it for a C as well…[5:57]
Alright. So that was the C there. Give it a try, see if it helps your timing. It’s a great way to practice, and a great way to kick-off a fiddle tune if you’re playing with a group of people and you want to get everybody in the groove really fast. The accordion is a powerful instrument, it’s loud, there’s a lot of rhythm to the instrument so sometimes it’s hard for us fiddles to compete with that. But this is one way you can set the groove right off the bat and again I learned this from Michael Doucet, great teacher and a great example of how a fiddle can also lead a Cajun band.
So thank you so much for joining me today. Stay inspired, keep on fiddling and I’ll see you soon. Thank you so much.