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Bluegrass Bowing

Discussion in 'Bluegrass [DB]' started by Steve Killingsworth, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. Do any of you ever play any arco? If so, what tunes do you play?

    In generally arco in grass is highly frowned upon around here. Of course, a lot of that may have to do with my playing.:meh:
  2. lowEndRick

    lowEndRick Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2006
    There's a guy up around here who takes solos with the bow in a bluegrass band. He brings the house down each time. People love it.

    I'm working on it :rolleyes:
  3. Cathead


    Dec 13, 2002
    Premier, WV
    Andy Moritz with Cadillac Sky does it. It sounds great. I did it in a couple of songs I recorded.....In The Sweet By and By and one that I wrote. Listen to Jerry Douglas' Hop, Skip, and Wobble album......awesome arco bass.
  4. M Ramsey

    M Ramsey

    Mar 12, 2005
    North Carolina
    Years ago, while recording a completely live CD, I played a simple bowing intro to a song in the key of D. Basically just a droning D note. I know it don't happen much, but I like it when I hear it.

    I've always loved hearing cellos mixed in with acoustic guitars. Nanci Griffith music comes to mind, so I guess that would have been my initiation or inspiration.

    Another song comes to mind, "Erase the Miles" by IIIrd Tyme Out. For those unfamiliar with them, they are a contemporary bluegrass band.

    How's that for chiming in? Not as good as George and John Shuffler chiming the octave G on some of that earlier Stanley Brothers stuff. :D
  5. I found this on my computer. It was just a practice thing so don't judge it as a "recording" recording. Go to myspace page and click on "George Washington's Tune". It's just me working out a fiddle tune.

    Here is the link:
  6. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    That's really cool, Jason. I've been thinking about my little-used bow recently and I've been thinking about fiddle tunes as a vehicle to warm it up some over this winter. I think you play fiddle, too, don't you? What's the influence of your fiddle-playing on choosing fiddle tunes for the bass? Any at all? Significant? Just curious...
  7. I know that Dennis Crouch (formerly with the Nashville Bluegrass Band) owns a bow and isn't afraid to use it - Byron House has also used a bow in my studio, and I've seen Mark Schatz play with one...
  8. Thanks Damon. I probably play about 30 tunes or so now on the bass with the bow. Some just work better than others. I like to work them so I can get some open strings happening within the bowing. Some don't lay well at all but they're just in my blood and I have to play them. It's not so hard to play the notes as much as get the drive into them. I have been talking to Mark about playing some duets since he is really getting into the bow more and more as well. I think it's a tough thing to do but if the tunes are really deep in your soul then just go for it.
  9. There is an amazingly beautiful song (at least to me) on the Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers "Live at the Ryman" album called "If I Could Be There" wherein Roy Huskey Jr. comes in about 1/2 of the way into the song bowing his bass and then there's a slow, resonant, wonderful thump. I'm pretty darn sure he is slowly slappin' the body of his bass for the thump while he's bowing but maybe it's a kick drum or combination of both ..... I wasn't there :crying: . The work by Roy on this song is so minimalist and understated as far as bass playing goes but it packs a real visceral and emotional punch. Wow .... do I wish I had been there that night at The Ryman .... it's a great album with a whole lotta excellent Roybasswork.
  10. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    In the tiny amount of messing around I've done with fiddle tunes and the bow, my biggest problem is getting that fiddle-playing kind of bite on the string. Mushy attack, bye bye drive...
  11. I can't even come close to playing a fast tune cleanly. It just all runs together. It seems like my biggest problem is playing across the strings. On occasion I can get a pleasing sound on a few slower tunes like Maiden's Prayer or Ella's Grave but for now forget the fast stuff.
  12. Well take the tune I posted, for instance. Looking back I remember that I was taking tunes that I play and recording them slower than normal to try to just focus on the "shuffle" in the bow. To start out the day you could just practice the shuffle of the bow, with a metronome, on any string or note that you like. Keep the bow really light and your wrist very relaxed. Then when you get comfortable, pick a tune and just work a small phrase of the tune. Try it in different places on the bass and just be happy with what you get, don't be too judgmental. Look for that part of the bow that feels nice and springy. If you keep at it, you'll start to get parts of tunes, and then whole tunes together. Like any kind of music you will start to see patterns in one tune that open up new tunes. Then it just sort of goes from there. Later you'll find that it can be harder to play them slow than fast.
  13. Reuben


    Aug 8, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Pretty impressive Georgia bow, Jason! Inspiring.
  14. Thanks for giving it a listen Reuben. I went on today and realized that it's only like 20 seconds long! I was cutting it down to try to just attach it to talkbass but it was too big. I think I'll re-edit it and put a little more on there. It's a little fiddlus-interruptus the way it is now.
  15. Reuben


    Aug 8, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Oh cool. I thought it was just my browser barfing. Put up more!
  16. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
  17. Ben Kaufmann in Yonder Mountain String Band used the bow for an extended solo when I saw them last -- they're not so much "bluegrass" but he used it well. Don't know how much it added though, seems to be more of an eye-catcher than anything else.
  18. That's the thing I want to avoid at all costs. I could pull out the bow and saw a little bit for the novelty effect, but I want to make music, not just put on a show.

    There is a guy who plays with a bluegrass band in the Memphis area. He has a jazz background and really knows his way around the neck. Sometimes he is too busy for the music but there is no doubt he knows his stuff. He pulls out a bow on occasion and the crowd enjoys it. However, it drives some of the purist pickers nuts.

    I am seeking the Holy Grail--a balance of taste and adeptness.
  19. I agree Steve. Its not what you know, its how you use what you know.

    In my case, I don't know much anyhow :help:
  20. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Just got back from the Chilliwack Bluegrass Festival.

    Eric Thorin was playing with Ben Winship on mandolin/bouzouki and Brian Wicklund on fiddle in a fantastic new trio called "Brother Mule". http://www.brothermule.com/

    Eric bowed, plucked and slapped his borrowed Kay in a tour de force demonstration of what DB can do in a bluegrass context.

    Eric's playing was almost as technically brilliant as Edgar Meyer's but with a better feel for the form.

    Jesus they were good! :)

    Many of the bass players from the other bands were in the audience for Brother Mule's sets.

    If you get a chance to see them I highly recommend them.

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