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A Chat About Bowing

a chat about bowing cajun and creole cajun fiddle fiddle lessons how-to ifiddlemag Apr 28, 2020

 Hi, I’m Mitch Reed at Mitch Reed Music Lessons. I’m going to give you a little taste of some Cajun fiddle technique for iFiddle Magazine. And I thought this month I could talk about  Cajun bowing, just some of the rocking in Cajun bowing, what kind of makes it unique.

I learned a lot of tunes from a guy named Dennis McGee and he had a really old-time bowing, and there’s a great tune to kind of show that. It’s a pretty simple tune, and it’s just called Reel de Deshotels. I’m tuned down to Cajun tuning, which is the E string, the little string, is D, then G, C, F. So I’m making a double stop, an F double stop. Normally it’d be a G, but I’m doing it here. And then I’m going to rock the open low G and D strings. And while I’m doing that, I’m going to play a melody with my other fingers. So I’m going to do like this. [01:02]

All right, so I kind of break that down a little quick. Basically, all I’m doing is I’m just [01:34] catching the low G and D and then I’m going to the E and the A. [01:39]

And then the melody that I’m playing just so you can hear the notes or find the notes without all the other strings is low second on the E string. [01:52] An open E, third.

So I’m just staying on the E string there. While I’m doing that though I’m holding my first finger down on the A, so I’m creating that double stop chord. [02:09]

So I’m also doing an octave [02:34] that’s really common in old-time Cajun fiddle. All right. And then the B part goes like this. [02:43]

All right, so let’s go over those notes real slow, and then we’ll go back to the bowing and add the rocking bowing in there. So we have some slides, Cajun music’s very bluesy. So [03:09]

And there’s our B part. So now we’re going to go back and we’re going to add that rocking bowing from the low open G and D to the double stop F chord on the E and A strings. So here we go. [03:47]

All right, so I just want to share with you a little bit about old-time Cajun bowing, a lot of rocking back and forth from the low G and D to the E and the A. From what I’ve heard, most of it was just so the fiddle could be heard over the dancing cause in the old-time house dances, the wooden floors were really loud and the people were loud. And so just to get a fiddle to be heard, you really had to use all four strings. So thanks so much for joining me today and for tuning into iFiddle Magazine. Check out if you are interested in any Cajun or Creole tunes, techniques, anything like that. Stay inspired. Keep on fiddling. Thanks for joining me.