Sunday, July 1, 2018
Cambridge MA, MA
Darol Anger and Friends
47 Palmer Street, Cambridge MA, MA 02138
As players advance, they’ll need to recognize that bluegrass is dominated by two different styles of bow pressure and speed. On the one hand, Anger points to players like Gordon Terry, Vassar Clements,and Bobby Hicks who use a slow bow with a lot of pressure. “Playing that way, you get the feeling that you’re driving the sound down through the back of the instrument,” he says. “It’s very powerful.”
On the other hand, folks like Kenny Baker and Mark O’Connor have used a faster bow and less pressure. “You’re letting the instrument ring out in a more natural way, closer to the classical style,” Anger says. “Being able to go between the two styles is a nice thing. You might choose one for one song and one for the other.”
One crucial skill bluegrass fiddlers must develop: They have to be able to frame other instruments and the singer, and put them in a good light. If the vocalist is singing the chorus, for example, the fiddler should evolve some kind of harmony, Anger explains—possibly with double-stops that play up whatever notes the singer is singing.
But, Anger says, if the fiddle is playing the melody along with the singer, it’s a pretty clear signal that a bluegrass band doesn’t know what it’s doing. “That’s a bad sign,” he says.