Lesson 11

Billy in the Lowground: Creative Back Up


Playing back up is an integral part of being a responsible fiddler player. It will affect your ability to play in jams, bands and any music making you do with other people. The key part of playing back up is to know what “role” it is that you are playing in the group. If the mandolin is taking a break, you should consider taking over their chop. If a fiddler is playing, stay out of the road! Possibly a chop or maybe a harmony is appropriate. If a guitar player is playing a break or any kind of melody, it is common to go with long bows that emphasize the chords. Of course, there are many options and no right answers, but knowing that you are the only sustained (bowed) sound in the band and that alone makes the fiddle the unique, soulful, but sometimes intrusive instrument is a good start! Let’s look at some common back up techniques used with a C to Am chord progression. Try playing these with the play along tracks online or another person.