Fiddle Sessions®
A Mel Bay Publications, Inc. Webzine

August 2007 · Bimonthly

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From Mary Ann Willis:

The intention of this series of articles is not to present the tunes as they are traditionally done. Instead the goal is to use easy, popular music as a vehicle for the student to practice and learn more advanced techniques.

I created these versions of these tunes for my students, who enjoy them and their increased mobility around the fiddle with both left hand and bow as a result of learning them. This series is an alternative to the drudgery of Sevcik, Mazas etc. - to help inspire the beginning student to tackle intermediate techniques.

From the editor: This is the final in this series of articles by Mary Ann. Thanks to her for all the work.
Click to listen to Cotton-Eyed Joe.

This Texas favorite starts off with a 4 taters intro, droning open A with open E, using the Nashville shuffle bowing.

We'll use the song to learn and practice the Georgia shuffle bowing. Take the first of the two pickups to section A in a downbow. Slur the second pickup note on an upbow into the first two notes of section A. This will place the third note of that measure on a downbow, which will be automatically accented by bow speed as you pull a fast bow to give yourself enough bow for the subsequent three slurred upbow notes.

This is the essence of the Georgia shuffle bowing: placing the offbeat (2nd and 4th beats) on a single, naturally accented, 8th note downstroke, and slurring everything everything else into a three-note upbow slur. It gives the song a "kick."

If you like this technique and those in my other webzine articles, you may be interested in my new "Hot Fiddle!" DVD. It gives you s. . l. . o. . w, clear visual demonstrations, with licks and tunes to practice each of these tricks on, as well as many more (including the famous Orange Blossom cross-shuffle bowing, various scales and rhythmic devices, flashy bounced bowings and much more).

Happy fiddling!

- Mary Ann

©2005 Mary Ann Willis

Thanks to Kelly Lancaster for the backup guitar tracks, and Dan Lewis for the audio engineering.

About the Author:

  • Professional violinist, performing and teaching in Houston Texas
    1977-1999 with The Gypsies. 2000-present with Moodafaruka
  • Author of eight book/recording volumes of ethnic and classical music for Mel Bay Publications (5 published to date under Mary Ann Harbar)
  • Played with numerous symphony orchestras throughout the United States, and the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy
  • Houston Community College faculty member starting in 1988
  • BA in music from University of California

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