In the weekend of the 10th of October, www.irishtradmusic.nl organised the Matt Cranitch Fiddle workshop in Naarden! It was the 3rd time that this fiddle workshop – with a strong focus on the Sliabh Luachra fiddle tradition – was being held here in the Netherlands. Like previous years the workshop let fiddle players immerse themselves in a weekend long of fiddle playing in a relaxed an positive atmosphere.
Testament to the teaching capabilities of Matt Cranitch, we saw a lot of familiar faces who had joined the workshop in the previous year(s). This included one participant who travelled all the way from Glasgow, Scotland, to be with us again! Apart from familiar faces, we also welcomed several new faces who were interested in improving technique and understanding of the music.
The weekend started on the Saturday morning where everybody got together at the wonderful location of Naarden where a joint breakfast was had by all. The breakfast gave everybody a chance to get acquainted with each other before the actual lessons started. In contrast to what is usual at these kinds of workshops, people were not asked to play a tune individually but Matt asked us all to play some of the tunes of last year. Some energetic slides and jigs were played and we headed into the classes.
In the course of two days a variety of different aspects of fiddle playing were treated like proper bow hold, tone production, slow airs, rhythm, ornamentation, various bowing techniques and much more! The Saturday evening was reserved for dinner and a private session so that everyone could play some tunes together in a relaxed atmosphere!
An important part of the workshop was the notion of ‘playing down the octave’ which is commonly found in the playing of Sliabh Luachra and Donegal music. When ‘playing down the octave’, a section of the -in this case- fiddle players will play the same tune (but one octave lower) on one of the repeats. This gives a very powerful effect, especially when all fiddles join again at the regular octave for the last repeat. Of course being able to play a tune in the regular octave is sometimes a challenge but transforming it on-the-fly to another octave requires some practice! But it’s a very good skill to have and can certainly brighten up a session!
Another important aspect of the workshop was the so-called ‘inner meaning’ of the music. Questions about phrasing of tunes – presenting the story of the tune – were addressed and demonstrated. A tune is so much more than the individual notes that make up, for example, a jig; and trying to express that to the listener is what it is all about as a musician!
It is safe to say that this third instalment of the Matt Cranitch fiddle workshop was a very informative workshop with a lot of insights in both fiddle technique as a greater understanding of the music. We aim to continue this workshop in 2016!
There are also plans for a beginner workshop, also by Matt Cranitch, in 2016 so if you have interest in taking part in such a workshop don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org