A student asked me during office hours, “How do I play chords with the fiddle on a tune I don’t know?”

When you don’t know the tune, you can play along if you know how to play some simple chords. On the fiddle, we can play two-note chords called double stops.

Simple chords

A good place to start with chords is to just learn open string chords:

D major is D0A0

D0A0 with the tucka rhythms

G major is G0D0

A major is A0E0

If you’re new to playing double stops, I STRONGLY recommend you stay with these simple open-string chords for much longer than you feel like it. 

Then you can add fingered chords:

D to A, triplets

I go into more detail in my mini-course, How To Play Chord Backup.

Other backup stratgeies

Playing backup on tunes and songs is an art form. I try to listen to what the song wants. 

In addition to chording (playing double stop chords), you can also play fills (filling musical spaces with little riffs), solos, sing or…not play at all. Taking away the fiddle for parts of a song is actually a powerful musical device. Then when returns, the ear welcomes the sound. A lot of fiddler players tend to overplay.  

Remember, listening is practice too.

Further learning

How to play chord backup mini-course

Double Stop Exercises I

Double Stop Exercises II

Double Stops Exercises III

I-IV-V Progression Exercises

This video is an excerpt from an office hours webinar I gave on January 28, 2020. View the entire live-stream with indexed questions here.

Do you have a fiddle or violin question? The office hours live-stream happens on the last Tuesday of the month. 

Two ways I can help you level up your fiddling

  1. Sign up for the FiddleHed newsletter below.
  2. Sign up for the Free Two-week Trial. You’ll get full access to all courses and group lessons. Plus, I’ll send you some free lessons tailored to your current skill level.

Thanks for being here 🙏

Return to Fiddle Questions >>

Leave a Reply