Fiddler’s Fakebook Reviewed

Looking at The Fiddler’s Fakebook

The Fiddler’s Fakebook by David Brody, published by Oak Publications, has been a mainstay of fiddle groups in Pinellas County. First the Bay Area Fiddlers Association relied on it, back up players as well as fiddlers. It has chord indications for the fiddle tunes. Then, the Wednesday morning group in Dunedin with the guitar players also using it.

Fiddler's Fake Book

At one time the bay Area Fiddlers had a really long list of fiddle tunes. I went through the list comparing it to The Fiddler’s Fakebook and found the great majority of the tunes in the book. 

What do you get, then when you acquire it? The book is in a 9 inch by 12 inch format oriented horizonntally. Many fiddlers get a comb binding or a spiral binding for it so that it lays open better on the music stand. Copying pages is a little awkward, especially if you want to use an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet in a three ring binder. 

Using The Fiddler’s Fakebook

I’m the one who is always nagging fiddlers to learn the tunes and not look at the dots. You can get into the habit of looking at the chart even when you don’t need to. Security blanket.

The Introductory Materials section is brief and comprehensive. It covers many aspects of fiddle music as a lead in to how the book is laid out. One thing to be aware of is that the 4-4 tunes are really cut time. There are four eighth notes to a beat when you really get going, not two.

To the left of each tune is alist of sources for listening to the tune. If the arrangement in the book favors a particlar performance, that one gets an asterisk. 

There is a good variety of styles. I think the book was looking ahead to where fiddling was going when it was published. Many fiddlers play more than one genre of fiddle music. This book has old time, bluegrass, Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, Western Swing, Cajun….and more.

How About the Bowings?

Most of the tunes are bowed in a definite concept, if not groove. Occasionally you find that the tune is set so that when you come back to the begining after the end of the first section, your bow is not moving as it was when you began. You are on an up bow istead of down bow. I don’t know how common that is in the book, I found Cattle in the Cane to be that way. But, other tunes I looked at did not make this awkward move.

I use this book in teaching when students get to the stage of being able to read music. I encourage then to look through the book and pick out a tune I have not assigned. One student found Dill Pickle Rag. Now I’m playing it, too.

There is no way of knowing from this book which tunes are really the most popular tunes played by fiddlers. That’s a matter of research and could be a subject for disagreement anyway. And a good skill to develope is that of being able to simplify a tune. Some of the versions in the book are a little notey for beginners and intermediates.

Out of all this I have to say, yes, I recommend you get The Fiddler’s Fakebook.

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