Dan Gelo,
Fiddle Tunes & Irish Music for Guitar
(Mel Bay, 1985)

This book and CD combination is a welcome addition to the already extensive list published by Mel Bay.

So many people throughout the world express a love for Irish traditional music and would like to play it, but find the more usual instrument -- the fiddle -- somewhat difficult to master. Thanks to its portability and easy acceptance, the guitar is an ideal instrument to keep the traditional music alive and kicking.

The book itself has a good introduction and history -- although this could have been a bit longer. The notes on the technical aspects of playing the tunes were good and the CD featuring selections from the book was a great asset.

On first glance at the title my chauvinistic Irish spirit assumed it only had Irish tunes. Thankfully it has much more, including Scottish, bluegrass and other genres.

There is a good combination of old and new with tunes like "The Masons Apron," "Spanish Lady," "Banish Misfortune" and "The Minstrel Boy" getting the treatment. The inclusion of tunes associated with Chet Atkins, the Chieftains, the Dillards and Doc Watson indicates the diversity and potential appeal of this book. There are jigs, strathspeys, breakdowns, hornpipes, reels, set dances, airs and waltzes on offer here.

In addition to the chords and notations, which form the body of the book and will recommend themselves without my imprimatur, there is a very good section at the end that provides very limited historical notes on some of the tunes. There is also a cross reference to albums where some of the music can be heard.

I liked this book and believe it will be loved by those interested in playing the music. My small suggestion is that a bit more research and expanding information on the tunes plus inclusion of the words would have expanded the audience potential.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 30 June 2001



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