By Michael John Sanchez

Marches are fun tunes to play. They can be played fast or slow, but all have a steady beat. Many fiddle marches are actually pipe marches that have been adapted to play on the fiddle.

One thing that’s unique to Scottish fiddling is the up-bow technique. Getting a harsh and full sound by pressing into the string is key. It’s also very appropriate to move your up-bows farther and faster than you normally do. These are called driving up-bows and are unique to the Scottish fiddle style. Listen to this comparison between a normal quarter-note pattern and the way it’s done in Scottish fiddling.

The driving up-bow is an important part of Scottish fiddling — especially the Cape Breton style. Instead of pulling the bow up and down, this style focuses on just moving the bow up. If you’re reading a piece of Scottish music, you may see several notes in a row that should be played with up-bows. The focus on the driving up-bows helps to accent the music, which is another characteristic of this style of fiddling.

“The Barren Rocks of Aden,” is a march on which you can include driving up-bows. Keep in mind that you can include driving up-bows on all the tunes you’ve learned so far as well.

[Credit: Figure by Michael Sanchez]
Credit: Figure by Michael Sanchez

The bowings you see in any song are suggestions only. Try and create your own bowing pattern now that you’re starting to see the trend. Are you noticing that the bowings are more random than in Irish music? See what you can do if you eventually memorize a tune, play it by heart, and do the slurs differently each time.