Tips: How To Play Blues Music With Your Violin

Tips: How to Play Blues Music with Your Violin

When you think about blues music you don’t always think of the violin, but the style does exist.

Many violinists over time venture to expand their playing skills through learning genres outside of what they used to perform. However, similar to how all violinists learned playing classical compositions, the blues, and popular music in general, has its own techniques in terms of vibrato and double stops to be smoothly performed. Here are some tips that you may utilize in order to play blues music with your violin and let your listeners or audience get enthusiastic with your piece:

In playing this certain music through violin, it requires improvised solos and licks between vocals. Be aware with the fact that most songs for this genre is written in Key E or B, thus you’ll have to practice how to move forward to the mic and play as well as know when you should hang back. The bowing techniques you should practice are as follows:

  • Plenty of double stops and slides
  • Application of saw strokes wherein you change the direction of the bow for each note.
  • Nashville shuffle wherein you’ll need to have low bow flowed by two (2) short notes
  • The Georgia Shuffle refers to a three-not slur on the upbow stroke paired with a single stroke across the downbow. 
  • Orange Blossom Special Shuffle on the other hand refers to double shuffle takes. Just always remember that you have to start with a slow tempo until you reach your regular playing speed.

Generally, when you’re learning blues or any other popular music such as pop and rock, you have to:

  • Create your own style or take on it. How do you perceive the composition, do you want a slower or faster tempo? This is your time to release some creative juice out and give yourself a chance to play with the tunes.
  • After learning the chords or sequence, the execution or the art of creating music through the violin is all up to you now. Unlike any other music, playing blues is considered to have the ability to recreate it the way you understand it.
  • Understand the rhythm of the song you are trying to play for it’s vital in understanding its chord sequence and development of double stops series. Eventually, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with various patterns such as bouncing of bows at the heel and alike.
  • Recognition of melody which means matching the vocals and adding licks in between pauses is also key in perfecting a blues composition. If you are to be adventurous on this part, it’s good to depend on the root, third and fifth notes of each chord. Always bear in mind that you  should always know your pentatonic and blues scales.
  • Practice playing the bow with the spiccato technique wherein it involves light bounces with four string up and down in semiquaver patterns paired with licks.

Nonetheless, learning genres outside your comfort zone is both challenging and worthwhile. All you have to do is pick a style that you know resonates with your skills and personality, and always persevere in outdoing your last performance. 

Tritan Chan

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