David Brody,
The Fiddler's Fakebook
(Oak Publications, 1983)

As an Irish session fiddler sadly dependent on sheet music, I collect a lot of music books. Some are great for learning technique, others are full of history about the tunes. But for sheer volume and convenience, nothing yet compares to The Fiddler's Fakebook by David Brody.

Printed in 1983, the Fakebook remains the undisputed champion of music references for fiddlers, and it's aided a fair number of other non-fiddlers as well.

Inside its broad covers you'll find nearly 500 tunes from the various fiddle traditions. Jigs, reels, hornpipes, rags and breakdowns, each clearly labeled for origins (Irish, bluegrass, French-Canadian, old-time, etc.) and including a short list of recordings where the tune can be heard. Just flip it open randomly for a taste of its contents, and imagine the sound of tunes like "Haste to the Wedding," "Leather Britches," "The Munster Buttermilk," "Drowsy Maggie," "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," "Hanged Man's Reel" and "Great Big Taters in Sandy Land."

Eight pages of textbook materials -- music theory, history and culture, style and genre -- give a wonderfully brief overview of the things you'd like to know without loading the book down with endless information which, frankly, can get in the way of the tunes and make it too bulky for carrying. Better still, the book is held together by a sturdy plastic binding which allows you to plop it down on your music stand with ease. There's nothing so frustrating as a music book with tight bindings which make it impossible to play straight from the page.

The tunes themselves are presented clearly, easy to read and very accessible. They're in alphabetical order, too, so it's easy to find a title quickly when it's called out at a lively session. Only rarely does the book make the mistake of forcing the player to turn a page in the midst of a tune.

The book concludes with an ample discography, directory of record companies and an immensely useful index of tunes by alternate titles.

When I'm leaving home with my fiddle slung over my back and my music under my arm, you can bet the fakebook is there. It's the one indispensable source in my collection.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

Buy it from Amazon.com.




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