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Fiddling Around – Strategies to Write Your Own Fiddle Tunes.

September 7th, 2016 by Katherine Moller

I have been writing fiddle tunes for the past 15 years or so, but only started doing so with any regularity six years ago.  At the moment I write all of my tunes with my fiddle in my hands, and have come up with a few strategies.  Since I am currently in the process of recording a CD of all original material, I thought this would be a good time to share them with you!

If you want to take a run at writing some of your own tunes, you can try out some of these strategies.  You can also check out my blog about the form of a fiddle tune here. Happy composing!

  1.  Mess with it:  Sometimes I just pick up my fiddle and mess around.  I always keep my phone handy so that I can record Symphony orchestra on stage, hands playing violinanything that I think sounds cool.  Sometimes it is only a few notes, sometimes is a full phrase, sometimes it is half a tune –  I record everything! This isn’t the time to worry if it all works into a complete tune. Pick up your fiddle and just mess around. Record everything!
  2.  Challenge yourself:  I like certain sounds and because of that I know that I would write very similar tunes over and over again if I just went with the sounds that I like.  Because of this, I will give myself an assignment that may look like this: “Write a jig in D major”.  By giving yourself an assignment it will give you some parameters and force yourself out of your usual ruts.
  3.  Break it down:  Take time to examine some of your favourite fiddle tunes and try to figure out exactly what it is you like about them.  Is it a certain rhythm?  Is it a chord progression?  A bowing pattern? Etc.  When I break them down, and figure out what exactly it is that I like –  I will then try to incorporate that into my own tunes.

So why do I record on my phone?  I do this so that I don’t have to take the time to write the music down.  When I first started writing tunes, I would write them down right away, and found that it took me away from the creative space that I was in while coming up with the tunes.  By recording, I can stay in my creative head-space better.

I encourage you to take these three tips and incorporate them into writing your own music! Remember to Mess with it, Challenge yourself, and Break it down. It will be nothing short of rewarding to look back at something you created yourself.

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''Celtic fiddle with a classical twist:
the heart and soul of afiddler, the artistry and finesse of a classical violinist.''