This version of Collier’s Reel puts all the points mentioned previously into practice, as well as some variations.  The tune has been written out in full to give space for the variation ideas.

Bar 1 – starts off with two slurred sets of notes and then, on the third beat, a unison double stop to emphasise the A note.  This is more effective if the A on the D string is approached by sliding.  Play this at the same time as the open A and you will get a delicious discordance resolving to the unison.  This can be done with the third or fourth finger.

Bar 2 – a reverse cut at beat 1 – play a quick C and B before hitting the main C note on the first beat.  Also note the shift of emphasis to a place between the 2nd and 3rd beat, as can be seen by the second, tied C note in this bar.

Bar 3 – on the last beat, the E-G in the other versions has been replaced by a E-F#-G triplet.  This is very common when you have two notes in a tune a third apart.  This can always be changed to a triplet by adding the note in the middle.  The same can also be done the other way round…

Bar 5 – The F#-E-D triplet has been changed to a pair of quavers – F#-D.

Bar 9 – A variation on the bowing for the F#-E-D triplet.  Seperate bows for the triplet and then slurring into the next F# note

Bar 10 – This triplet has replaced a pair of notes from the other examples.  The pair of notes were C-B and so a higher note has been added (D) to make the triplet.

Bar 11 – The dotted quaver D note at beat 3 could be emphasized here by playing the open D string at the same time.

Bar 12 – A flick or cut has been added here to break up the two D notes, allowing the notes to be played in a slur.  This is very common and can be found again at bar 21. 

Bars 17 and 19 – further examples of the replacing of pairs of quavers a third apart with triplets, by adding the middle note – i.e. E-G becomes E-F#-G

Bar 20 – the rhythm of the tune appears to be held up slightly by the use of longer notes here.  The pulse should not slow down at all, though.

Bar 21 – To allow slurs to be used in this bar, it is necessary to use flicks or cuts to break up repeated notes. 

Bar 24 – A triplet replaces the G-E of previous versions. 

Bar 25 – From a bowing point of view, this bar is very simple – this is just as effective as using complicated ornaments as it provides contrast.

Bar 27 – A longer F# has been inserted here.  It could just be played straight, approached by sliding or, as shown here, ornamented with a roll.

Bar 31 – A long up-bow here. Slurred up-bows don’t always have to last for 3 quavers.

Transforming a tune in this way can take time.   The process of taking a basic written out tune and turning it into a working version that has your own personal stamp is not an instant process.  Look at tunes you already know – are there sections that don’t flow?  Maybe the bowing needs to be changed.  Try out one or two small variations in tunes you already know.  Keep it up and pretty soon you won’t be able to stop!

I hope this article has given you some ideas you can use in reels you already know. 

Finally, the main thing to remember when playing reels, or any dance music for that matter, is to keep the rhythm tight.  Nothing sounds worse than slipping out of time in order to fit in some complicated variation or ornament.  The first priority is solid rhythm.  Only after you can play the tune steadily should you add ornaments or increase speed.