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Violinists: 3 ways to transform your sound from Violin to Fiddle today « Kiana June Weber



Violinists: 3 ways to transform your sound from Violin to Fiddle today COMMENT

So you already play violin, but you want to FIDDLE. Weather it is because you are looking for something fun, looking to expand creatively, or looking for new employment opportunities these steps will help.

I am a classically trained violinist, with a raw and life-long passion for fiddle and I have made Fiddling my career, touring with an internationally famous Irish band.

Gordon Swift wrote a brilliant article titled “Learn the difference between violin and fiddle.” In 2006 (link) He states that out of the deceptive structural simplicity found in many fiddle tunes opens up room for variation and off the cuff embellishment that characterized the genre, which is where a fiddler’s artistry is found. Fiddling, as we think of it, also calls for great skill to actually produce the rhythmic and melodic lift that makes people want to get up and dance.


So great? Now what do I actually do to sound like a “fiddler?”

While there are many different styles, and each has its unique differences in “inflection” lets say, some principles apply across the board. For example, the beat in classical music is often accented on the downbeat, while fiddling accents the upbeat for dances.  Fiddling also evolved as an oral tradition first, and as a result there are many stylistic elements that have not, and often cannot, be written down.  Donna Herbert listed many different ways (12 in fact in) violinists can approach this crazy world of fiddling that completely apply, but let me give you just three you can start with that will give your the best results right off the bat.

The top 3 things to change your sound from Violin to Fiddle:

1) Turn the Beat Around  – switch the emphasis in your playing from the 1 and 3 to the 2 and 4, and really focus on the rhythm being a driving factor because for this dance driven music, the beat comes first.

2) Listen – listen to two different versions of the tune you want to learn (even if you are reading sheet music). Youtube, spotify, and itunes make this so easy! Even just listening to somebody play it once will help your playing so much. Later as you get further into your study of fiddle playing you can take notes on your favorite versions, variations, and styles, but for now just start listening and let osmosis happen.

3) Stop thinking about your bow – Yes, this is what drives the rhythm and the heart of the tune, yes, bowing variations are important but classical players so often focus and obsess on this and end up sounding stiff and also using too much bow. (I did too!) Stop thinking “What bowing are you using? How you are doing that?” and  just listen and let changes naturally happen that are driven by the sound you want to create, or the speed you want to achieve.

Seriously, do this now with any fiddle tune or even any passage you are working on and instantly change your sound and open up your creativity!

PS: Want a tune to practice on?  I post new tunes to learn every Tuesday (or #TUNEsday).  Give it  a try.



Kiana June Weber is an Irish-American fiddler in the internationally famous Celtic band Gaelic Storm. She has recorded 3 Billboard World No. 1 albums and toured the globe performing for millions of fans, student, and dignitaries. With an honors B.M. in Violin Performance from University of Michigan, and a specialization Social Media Marketing from Northwestern University  Kiana continues to perform, explore and expand Irish and Classical music. Reach out to her on twitter, and all other platforms @KianaJuneWeber  #IrishFiddle

For more detailed information, enthusiasts and students can follow Kiana’s new project, @IrishFiddle,  on Instagram.