NEW HOMEPAGE LANDING PAGE Forums Chatting On The Porch The Fiddle Handbook – A Review

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      Jim Guinn

      The Fiddle Handbook

      By the same author of the website, “Fiddling Around the World”, Chris Haigh’s “The Fiddle Handbook” is an informative and entertaining compendium of fiddle history, styles and wisdom from around the world. The first 28 pages cover fiddle history, fiddles of the world and the basics of fiddle playing. The remainder of the book looks in detail at the most commonly played styles among today’s fiddlers. From America, there’s old time, bluegrass, Cajun, Western swing, country, blues, rock, klezmer, and jazz, while from the British Isles there’s Irish, Scottish, and English. There is also a quick romp through Eastern Europe and beyond, from the spike fiddles of Africa and Asia to the Chinese Erhu, the fabulous Indian Sarangi, and the mysterious Norwegian Hardingfele. Each of these styles is richly illustrated with photographs, tunes and a good taste of musical examples (ornaments, bowing patterns, scales, modes, exercises and complete tunes) on the two CD’s that come with the book which contain over 150 audio tracks.

      From the first fiddle player to set foot in America to how Mary Queen of Scots escaped from 500 fiddle players to who really wrote the Orange Blossom Special, The Fiddle Handbook is full of good solid facts in addition to fiddlers’ gossip, scandal and even some blatant speculation. In the company of the ghost of Cecil Sharp, you’ll find out where it all went wrong for English fiddle playing at the Battle of Waterloo, and you’ll learn about the crimes against music perpetrated by the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. You’ll meet fiddlers on horseback, on the gallows, and on acid. Want to know who the best fiddle player in the world is, and the worst? You’ll even find out what happened when the Devil came back to Georgia.

      I love reading about the fiddle, its history, the musical styles, the players and characters, the legends and lies, and just about anything about the fiddle I can get my hands on. If you are like me, you’ll find The Fiddle Handbook to be a fabulous must-have resource for your library. When it arrives on your doorstep, make sure you have no plans or engagements for at least a few hours after you open it, because you’ll immediately get lost in it and won’t be able to put it down. It is one I know I will read and refer to often, and the least likely to gather dust on the shelf in my music room. As one reviewer put it, “If I had only one fiddle book to take to a deserted island, this would be it.”
      Chris Haigh began playing classical violin at age seven, before discovering that the fiddle was more fun. As a prolific and versatile musician, he has played on more than 70 albums, and his playing has been heard in more than 300 films, shows and commercials. He teaches in schools, universities and workshops and has written extensively about the fiddle.

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