Fiddle player Casey Driessen offers exercises and audio examples on chop grooves to accompany his Technique article in the December 2021 issue
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How to build up a chop groove
In exercise 1, begin by working through the building blocks of a two-position groove that uses only the middle and away sounding points. Play all sounds within 10cm of the frog, and always keep the rhythm steady and tight.
- The ghost notes here are on a D–G string double-stop, so you may prefer also to chop on the D and G strings. Personally I prefer to chop on the A and D strings, with a slight rotation of the bow
- Keep the standard pitches as short and articulate quavers, even for longer notes and slurs, but let the strings ring for the whole note value. For d), play the final C sharp only with the left hand
Work on every bar in isolation, until you can play it rhythmically in tempo, then practise multiple bars in different combinations. Finally, bring everything together in exercise 2. Build this up bar by bar, as you would when working on any challenging passage.
The next step is to incorporate the closer sounding point, in a three-position groove. Practise the building blocks in exercise 3 as you did in the first exercise, no more than 10cm from the frog, before moving on to exercise 4.
Read: Technique: How to play a chop groove
Read: Introducing the ‘chop’: a rhythmic accompaniment for jazz and pop music
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