Some Basic Fiddling on "Boil the Cabbage Down" - Part 1

by Mary Anne Harbar

This little fiddle classic (and it's only the first half, of the real tune!) packs such a powerful punch that in my studio it's become a "daily warmup" etude (practice study) for all sorts of fiddle techniques. Here we present four: the Nashville shuffle (with and without slurs), the slide, hammer-on and open string drone.

Boil that Cabbage Down

basic melody

This hoedown is probably the simplest, yet most effective way to get the left hand fingers going in a recognizable song. This basic version's in D: the finger pattern is the same on both the D and the A strings (the 2nd & 3rd fingers are close together). The bowing is Nashville shuffle: start downbow and play long-short-short, then reverse (start upbow and play long-short-short). It's a self-equalizing stroke; it takes you back to where you started.

Boil that Cabbage Down

with slides

A slide gives a note an expressive inflection while giving your fingers an opportunity to "seek" the pitch!

To do a slide, lean the wrist back slightly to flatten the end segment of the finger, and pull that finger back (toward the nut) about half a step from its destination. We'll be sliding with the second finger, so start your slide around F natural (low second finger) on the D string.

Now, draw the bow, and push the finger back up to F#. Use the finger pad, not the tip.

Here's "Boil that Cabbage Down" with second finger slides.

S-l-i-d-e into the first note of every other bar, starting at the beginning of the song.

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