FIDDLESTICKS !!!!

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
8 years ago
1,541 posts
Robin, I agree that it might work 'best' that way. But I'm not so sure people follow that method very strictly. I asked Brian and he thought that folks just bounce the thin reeds or BBQ bamboo skewrs off any or all the fiddle strings while the fiddler plays- that maybe for practical reasons the string(s) tapped are the ones that you can reach when the fiddler's arm is at certain angles. I don't know exactly, but I bet folks just get good at doing it over time and work this stuff out automatically. It's a cool thing at any rate!


--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Jim Fawcett
Jim Fawcett
@jim-fawcett
8 years ago
85 posts
See there, ya learn somethin everyday...


--
Site Moderator
Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
8 years ago
257 posts

Hi Lisa,

--I'm assuming we are talking about actually sounding the fretted notes and melodies, rather than just tapping a stick on the soundbox with no notes like a drum rhythm.

I think that something differnt altogether is happening with fiddlesticks. The stick player is bouncing the sticks off the strings that are not being bowed or fretted and so is simply sounding out a rhythm on open drones. This is why it only works (or works best) on cross-tuned fiddles. You can watch the stick player in that clip of Tom Eriksen you posted move from playing the bass open strings to the trebble open strings as Eric moves his fretting and shuffle bowing from the trebble strings to the bass strings in Part B. I've seen this pattern of movement on other YouTube clips of fiddlestick playing. The stick player watches where the fiddler is fretting and bowing and simply dances on the open strings that the fidder is not using. It took me a while to spot what was going on but once you see it and try it out you get the idea of how it all works.

So with the MD you can do the same thing - ie one person bounce the sticks off the drones while the other playes the melody with a noter and strums as normal but with a focus on the melody strings. There doesn't seem to be any clash between pick andstick on the drones, so the MD player doesn't need to avoid the drones.

Robin

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
8 years ago
1,541 posts

Yes Robin the beater/straw does 'work the same way'- except that fiddles are designed to be either bowed or plucked (pizzicato) to make a strong sound- they have such small sound boxes and short string lengths. I don't think you can get enough volume and oomph by only beating straws on the fiddle without bowing as well. But with a dulcimer/zither/hammerdulcimer you can! Thus for fiddlesticks on a fiddle you really need two people.

BUT- some fiddle players can get a good effect with bouncing their bow in a percussive way as though it was a beater- but if you watch them they are actually drawing the bow a little while they are bouncing, so they can get the strings to sound. If they did it without a hair bow, with just a stick, I wonder how much effective tone and sound they could get. --I'm assuming we are talking about actually sounding the fretted notes and melodies, rather than just tapping a stick on the soundbox with no notes like a drum rhythm.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
8 years ago
257 posts

Great clips!

I love the way the stick player uses those bodhran style Celtic rhythms on the fiddle.When I played the sticks last night I was thinking about how I would play bodhran to the tune.

I understand what you are saying Lisa about using a striker toplay the tune on MD or other zither - that looks like quite a differnt concept. We've had a go here today though at one person playing the tune noter/drone while a second sits opposite in courting dulcimer style and beats outa bohdran style rhythm on the drone strings. It seems to work on MD pretty much the same way it does on fiddle. Smile.gif

Robin

john p
john p
@john-p
8 years ago
175 posts
Thanks for the Tim Erikson link Strel, been racking my brains all morning trying to remember were else I'd heard this technique. Cordelia's Dad have some Clyde Davenport tunes played this style on the album 'Spine'.

john p
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
8 years ago
1,541 posts

On a dulcimer, this is called beating straws or using a striker. Obviously on the fiddle it's called 'fiddlesticks' or beating straws. Can't really call it fiddlesticks on a dulcimer though. It's a very old and traditional technique for both fiddles and dulcimer/zithers. I have enjoyed watching Bruce Greene & Loy McWhirter doing it with fiddle in their concerts.

On fiddle, you need someone fretting notes and bowing, while someone else beats with either one or two straws. On a mtn dulcimer or other zither-like instrument, it's not bowed so you don't need a 2nd person- the person playing can fret with one hand and beat one or two straws or use the striker with the right hand instead of a pick. Some folks use broom straws or chopsticks, or either bamboo or steel thin knitting needles.

Here's my favorite example of using a striker on a 'zither/dulcimer-type instrument'- this one is being used on an epinette:

Here's a classic fiddlesticks example:




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
8 years ago
1,483 posts
I've played Pook Sticks. And I've played dulcimer with a "striker" stick instead of strumming. But not Fiddlesticks! Now all I need is a musical partner!.
john p
john p
@john-p
8 years ago
175 posts
Great stuff Robin,

The girl who first introduced me to the dulcimer would sometimes beat the strings with a quill instead of strumming out the tune.
Bit of a cheap trick she reckoned, but it sounded good to me.

john p
Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
8 years ago
257 posts

I was over at a friend's cottage last night for a session with our string band "Snakewood". I was given a gift of a couple of goose quills for my Galax dulcimer that my friend Nick found on the Mawddach Estuary by the Toll Bridge where he works.

A few weeks ago I fitted a set of Wittner Finetune-Pegs to my partner's fiddle (an 8.5:1 planetary geared peg that looks just like a wooden fiddle peg) to encourage and help her to learn cross-tuning. She cross-tuned last night to AEAE to play "Cripple Creek" and, looking at the two Galax quills I'd just been given, I realised that I had a set of fiddlesticks 39.gif

So we had our first ever go at "fiddle stickin'" 113.gif

What a great toe tapping sound!!!!! The consensus was "That's definately going in the band's set!!!"

So now I'm wondering if the technique would work well for noter/drone fast fiddle tunes on mountain dulcimer 69.gif

Watch this space! 109.gif

If you've not come across "fiddlesticks" before then hereis a lovelyexample - just image working something like this on mountain dulcimer in noter/drone - I think that has to be worth a try!:

Robin


updated by @robin-clark: 06/11/15 07:27:38AM