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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Fiddler's Fakebook: where to start?


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/49300

Lawnisg0tmail - Posted - 05/14/2018:  07:54:27


So, I've got the fake-book and I'm trying to figure out a good starting point (side-note: still learning sheet music). Should I start at the beginning and work forward or are there some easier tunes to begin with? Or maybe some staples to learn to build a base from?

I've really only focused on scales and tunes I'd previously learned on the mandolin, so I'm all for suggestions!

Brian Wood - Posted - 05/14/2018:  08:09:22


quote:

Originally posted by Lawnisg0tmail

 I'm all for suggestions!






The only reason to start at the beginning and follow it to the end is if alphabetization is your prime directive. Surely you are aware of some tunes from hearing them somewhere, or maybe you are just familiar with the name. Use the book as a resource to learn whatever tunes you want. I used it a lot back in the day.

Johnny Rosin - Posted - 05/14/2018:  08:18:51


Until you have some specific tunes you’d like to learn I’d stick with standard foundational tunes that every fiddler should know. I’ll give a short list:
Old JoeClark
Soldiers Joy
Liberty
Mississippi Sawyer
Eighth of January
Turkey in the Straw
Leather Britches
Katy Hill
TheGirl I left Behind
Sally Goodin
Bill Cheatum
Wagoner
Arkansas Traveler
Red Wing
Red Haired Boy
Golden Slippers
Black Eyed Susie
Sally Ann
Angeline the Baker
Devils Dream
Fishers Hornpipe
Did You Ever See the Devil UncleJoe
Little Rabbit

mwcarr - Posted - 05/14/2018:  09:03:46


When I first started playing fiddle I acquired the Facebook. I was a reasonably proficient notation reader at that time from years of guitar study. I found it cumbersome and not helpful. A more simplified format will help you get up to speed more efficiently. I would suggest Rodney Miller’s New England Fiddle Tunes, Don Messer’s Anthology of Fiddle Tunes or even the website Happy Hollow Music by Hope Grietzer. Hope’s archive of Fiddle Tunes Of The Week is very clearly notated with the enormous benefit of havin an audio recording of the notated tunes played by Hope herself, no slouch on the fiddle she. Maybe you’ll get back to the Facebook later, personally I never did. You can still get Ryan’s 1050 tunes from Amazon, a real foundation builder that one.

mwcarr - Posted - 05/14/2018:  09:05:04


Facebook should read Fakebook. Sorry, damn auto fill.

Lawnisg0tmail - Posted - 05/14/2018:  09:16:04


I had the same problem writing it up. Seems Facebook is taking over everything


quote:

Originally posted by mwcarr

Facebook should read Fakebook. Sorry, damn auto fill.






 

ChickenMan - Posted - 05/14/2018:  10:02:43


Fakebook as a word isn't really common among anyone but musicians. No surprise auto-mistake changed it. BTW, my keyboard app offered the correction but I didn't choose it.
I found the Fiddler's Fakebook (my phone has already given me the option of that word after typing it twice) to be most helpful when I had a recording to compare it to. I don't really play much from notes, my ears do most of the work translating to my fingers.

RobBob - Posted - 05/14/2018:  10:25:58


The fake book is collection of tune transcriptions with recorded sources. If you are just learning to read I would recommend the American Fiddle Method or Craig Duncan's books as a starting place. While I learned a lot of tunes out of that book back in the day, there were not many fiddle tune collections out there forty some years ago. The ones that were out there were like Coles 1001 fiddle tunes, small print and with no point of reference as to how the tunes were to go making it a daunting task.

Johnny Rosin - Posted - 05/14/2018:  10:45:28


While the majority of the tunes in the Fakebook are transcriptions of specific recordings and thus a specific version of a tune by a specific fiddler, most of the foundational tunes that I listed above are a generic version arranged by the author to give a basic version of the tune. Duncan’s fiddle books that people are recommending are often muddied up by him giving Texas contest versions and hot variations for advanced players. Maybe he has some basic fiddle books, I don’t know- he’s sort of the Betty Crocker of fiddle books.

Fiddler - Posted - 05/14/2018:  12:08:17


I found the Fakebook to be of marginal use for me. I had the referenced recordings and the transcriptions did not match up on many of the tunes. However, it was a start. So, I struggled. Coles 1001 Fiddle Tunes was also marginal because the settings were not what OT folks were playing. 



As I got into playing for contra dances, Rodney Miller's book was good. When the Portland Collection came out, I thought it was ok for some tunes. Others were a problem for me. However, when considering the purpose of the Portland books (creating a common repertoire for contra dance musicians heavy on hammered dulcimer), then this collection is good. Just be aware that the setting may be different - the key may be different - and any irregularities may have been ironed out. So, the transcriptions may not be consistent with traditionally accepted settings and keys. 



I've collected gobs of transcription books since I started over 40 years ago. Each one has it's strengths. If you are just starting to read notes, almost any transcription collection will work. Be sure to carefully read the introduction to get an idea of the purpose and the background of the author.



Here's the process that worked for me:



A. If I heard a tune at a jam or event that really lit up the pleasure center in my brain, I would make a note of the tune and, if possible, get a suggestion for a recording. I would go to the local music store and get the record. (For you kiddos out there, this was before the internet and we could go to stores that had thousands of LPs that you could flip through. The real treasurers were in the cut-out bin!) I would then listen to that tune ad nauseum - even transfer it to a cassette tape.



B. If I couldn't "catch" the tune, I would try to find a transcription collection that had the tune of interest. Now here's the problem - for most OT tunes, the bowing is the most important aspect. The transcription books given little insight to this. They just give the notes. This sometimes solved the problem, but I had other hurdles!!



C. My issue early in my playing was that my fingers would grow roots into the fingerboard when I noted. I did not have the dexterity to play lots of notes. (In fact, this is why I move away from Celtic music to OT.) So, I stripped tunes (and melodies) down to their skeleton - the simplest form (least number of notes ) needed to still recognize the tune. Getting the phrasing was much easier at this point.



D. Once I had the skeleton down, I would revisit the recording and the transcription to fill in notes and ornamentation. To my amazement I found that most of the "extra notes" were no big deal to play.



E. Go find others to play with. That would help set the timing and phrasing. Listening to other fiddlers and banjoists helped me round out the tune



 



 



 

tpquinn - Posted - 05/14/2018:  14:31:41


Johnny's tune list looks pretty good, but some of those from the FB will be a bit notey, even stripped down as they are, if you've not done much other than scales.



There are some online sources for tunes like TheSession.org (thesession.org/tunes). They often have a number of variations of tunes there, often stripped down further so that may be a consideration. I like to download a number of variations, play them all and see what I like. Then I may actually 'create' my own version with parts or measures from multiple versions.



I'm assuming you don't have a teacher. If you can find someone that fiddles, perhaps they may pick some out as more starter tunes. My teacher gave me a list and that proved helpful.

Dan Gellert - Posted - 05/14/2018:  17:12:04


You can learn tunes out of books, but not music, and not fiddling.

Can you imagine trying to converse with someone who learned English out of a book?

mackeagan - Posted - 05/14/2018:  19:22:44


LawnisgOtmail, I hope you didn't get the same advice I got years ago when I started fiddle. My ex-wife handed me a copy of Cole's 1001 Fiddle Tunes and said, with an air of authority, "When you can play every tune in this book, you can call yourself a fiddler". That was 40-some years ago. I can play most of the tunes in that book, but not all. I didn't take her too seriously (there are reasons she's a ex-wife), but I did try nearly all the tunes. There's some duplicates, some tunes that seem to be minstrel-show tunes, a bunch I don't care for, and some just plain wacky.
The Fakebook has some good transcriptions, and some not-so-good. Pick tunes you have heard and liked, then try the printed versions in the Fakebook, or others, until you get one you like, then work on committing it to memory. After the first 10 or so, it will get a bit easier. For now, stick to reels, hornpipes, and regular 6/8 jigs. Have fun!

Dick Hauser - Posted - 05/14/2018:  20:12:46


I also think Randy Miller's "New England" fiddlers book is just right for someone learning how to read basic musical notation. There is very little ornamentation. Melodies are basic. I would get comfortable with those tunes, then move on to Wicklund's "American Fiddle Method" Vol 2.

Lawnisg0tmail - Posted - 05/14/2018:  20:21:43


All that makes sense. I guess it doesn't make sense to go through the whole thing and to treat it like the reference material it's supposed to be.

Luckily I've got my first lesson tomorrow so I can ask for a list of good starters to build a basic repertoire from.

I appreciate the advice!

FiddleHed - Posted - 05/14/2018:  22:16:40


Play some fiddle tunes you secretly already know! That is, tunes you recognize and can sing:

Oh Susannah
Golden Slippers

Play these and other very simple scales using the D major scale:
D0-1-2-3-A0-1-2-3

Here's how the tabs work: wp.me/P8OLq8-25

Sing what you play, and vice-versa.

Have fun doing it...

RichJ - Posted - 05/15/2018:  04:15:44


"Fiddler" wrote:





B. If I couldn't "catch" the tune, I would try to find a transcription collection that had the tune of interest. Now here's the problem - for most OT tunes, the bowing is the most important aspect. The transcription books given little insight to this. They just give the notes. This sometimes solved the problem, but I had other hurdles!!



C. My issue early in my playing was that my fingers would grow roots into the fingerboard when I noted. I did not have the dexterity to play lots of notes. (In fact, this is why I move away from Celtic music to OT.) So, I stripped tunes (and melodies) down to their skeleton - the simplest form (least number of notes ) needed to still recognize the tune. Getting the phrasing was much easier at this point.





In my view these are two of the best comments on learning new fiddle tunes regardless of the source. I've been at this now for 6 years and bowing is by far the toughest. Getting a fiddle tune to sound right takes a lot of time for me. Learning the melody is just the beginning. I can usually do this is a few hours, but then the real work begins in trying to get the right feel of the tune by experimenting with different bowings. Nashville and Georgia are the only two I really know, but even these take time and here I'm  talking about days and even weeks to work into the tune so it begins to sound right.



This may be getting into a different area from the original post, but I just wanted to add my 1 1/2 cents and also thank "Fiddler" for his (as usual) helpful comments.  

mwcarr - Posted - 05/15/2018:  05:49:54


For those of us not fortunate enough to have live exposure to fiddling, the books are a great tool. Of course an effort based solely on text is going to be limited at best but music is there to be found. For hundreds of years notation was the way music was recorded...it’s a tool, make of it what you can. Over the years I’ve heard written music denigrated again and again, usually by folks who didn’t understand it. Stridently stating that music isn’t to be found there makes a mockery of legions of classical musicians who seem to have managed to do just that.

carlb - Posted - 05/15/2018:  06:24:33


I'd use my ear long before I'd go to a book. While I can read notation well, it's the sound that's important to me. I use notation for phrases I have trouble with and for tunes that have no recorded source (e.g. Bayard's "Hill Country Tunes" and much of what is in "Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife"). When I learn tunes from a book, and have no recorded source, I play it over and over, thinking of what, I think, it should sound like as tune. For example, I learned "Cheat River" from "Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife", and returned it to many musicians in my area. About 7 years after I learned it, I finally got to hear a recording and found that I done a pretty good job.

All in all, the ear should be primary in learning tunes.

RobBob - Posted - 05/15/2018:  06:32:56


I like the points made that learning from other fiddlers and by ear is the way to go. That is if they are available to you. I made a point of seeking out every fiddler I could find 45 years or so ago. The books just filled in some gaps.

fujers - Posted - 05/15/2018:  06:56:13


I don't know if this helps...No sheet no tab



mne.psu.edu/lamancusa/jslpages..._left.gif


Edited by - fujers on 05/15/2018 06:58:34

Fiddler - Posted - 05/15/2018:  07:46:29


quote:

Originally posted by RichJ

"Fiddler" wrote:





B. If I couldn't "catch" the tune, I would try to find a transcription collection that had the tune of interest. Now here's the problem - for most OT tunes, the bowing is the most important aspect. The transcription books given little insight to this. They just give the notes. This sometimes solved the problem, but I had other hurdles!!



C. My issue early in my playing was that my fingers would grow roots into the fingerboard when I noted. I did not have the dexterity to play lots of notes. (In fact, this is why I move away from Celtic music to OT.) So, I stripped tunes (and melodies) down to their skeleton - the simplest form (least number of notes ) needed to still recognize the tune. Getting the phrasing was much easier at this point.





In my view these are two of the best comments on learning new fiddle tunes regardless of the source. I've been at this now for 6 years and bowing is by far the toughest. Getting a fiddle tune to sound right takes a lot of time for me. Learning the melody is just the beginning. I can usually do this is a few hours, but then the real work begins in trying to get the right feel of the tune by experimenting with different bowings. Nashville and Georgia are the only two I really know, but even these take time and here I'm  talking about days and even weeks to work into the tune so it begins to sound right.



This may be getting into a different area from the original post, but I just wanted to add my 1 1/2 cents and also thank "Fiddler" for his (as usual) helpful comments.  






Thanks for your kind words, Rich.  Yes, that pesky bow is a menace, isn't it?



I think we each have valuable insights into learning to play the fiddle. The collective wisdom on FHO is astounding! In my opinion this is what makes FHO such a valuable resource.

Dick Hauser - Posted - 05/15/2018:  08:08:34


The suggestion that a person listen to and become familiar with a tune before they try to learn the tune is valid. That applies to people learning by ear or from notation.

If you plan on playing with others, find out which tunes are popular in your area. Also make sure each new tune you learn also teaches you something new.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 05/15/2018:  11:22:28


I don't use books any more i just try to find a few versions on youtube, or a recording etc, and transcribe em, by the time I've done that I've learned em, ...or hopefully a practicable version of em

Brian Wood - Posted - 05/15/2018:  13:11:08


quote:

Originally posted by Dick Hauser

The suggestion that a person listen to and become familiar with a tune before they try to learn the tune is valid. That applies to people learning by ear or from notation.




I don't completely disagree, but I think once you understand the idiom you are learning in you can get quite a lot by reading sheet music you're not familiar with. I used to go through the fake book or O'Neill's and pick out tunes that looked interesting or had an amusing title. I picked up some tunes that way. At least I don't think it hurt me any.

fujers - Posted - 05/15/2018:  13:25:02


You know what I like to do. I use the Standards Fake Book songs like Lady Be Good, How High The Moon that kind of stuff and get the chords. Then I program the chords into my program and I can play those chords in any style I want..what I get is some pretty interesting stuff..then I play over it...fun

tpquinn - Posted - 05/15/2018:  15:18:45


I struggle learning a tune just by listening to it and it's another thing I'm working on. My teacher encourages me to both read the music and try to learn by ear. Also, like Brian, I browse the books for tunes that look interesting either in the notes or just the title (Old Man Quinn being one of them).

It doesn't happen as much now, but earlier on , for some reason, I couldn't hear the random tune in my head when trying to learn it so finding a recording became invaluable. The Fiddlehed videos on YouTube were great for me in this regard.

However, once I sort of get the bare-bones tune memorized, I do YouTube or whatnot (FHO is great) to find it and see what others have done and hear, perhaps, how it really should/could be played. The only issue there is some folk seem to think that playing it screaming fast is the way to do it. It can be pretty amazing, but turns me into a deer in the headlights.

I'm a bit envious of those that can easily pick up a tune aurally, but for the rest of us the sheet music will probably remain, at least for a while, the way to initially learn a tune.

mackeagan - Posted - 05/15/2018:  18:08:43


tpquinn, don't be put off by what seems like blithering speed. It's all according to what you want to do, and what you can do. I didn't think I could play fast, but last year I started playing for Irish square set dancers, and they like their reels around 120 bpm, and I found by working up with the metronome at home, I can do it. That said, our Irish session players tend to play the reels around 90-92 bpm, which is much more comfortable and allows the musicality of the tune to come out. Here's how I get a 2-for-1 practice: I take a reel, sight read it off slow-like, until I get the sense of it. Then I set the metronome to 70 or maybe 80 beats (2 clicks to the bar), count myself in (one, two, ready, play) and try and play the whole reel with repeats, 3 times. Keep sliding the metronome up by 2 beats after each set of 3 plays, until you hit the low 90s. Stop if you keep getting trainwrecked! Make a note of how far you got and come back to it tomorrow. Soon you will not only be up to speed, but you'll have it memorized! Don't get discouraged it if doesn't happen right away. If you're already playing a few tunes, you can do it!

FiddleHed - Posted - 05/15/2018:  18:50:52


Slow is the jedi way to playing fast. It seems backwards, but if you can play something really slow with a beat you'll eventually be able to play faster than someone who doesn't practice that way. But, maybe you don't even want to play fast, which is fine. All these fiddle tunes have a whole new beauty when slowed down...

tpquinn - Posted - 05/19/2018:  13:00:02


Tommy, that's similar to what I do, trying to work on my left finger speed. My issue, though, is listening to someone play the tune very fast and then trying to decipher what the notes are or how they're playing it. I have slow ears. Hopefully they will also get faster with time, but for now, they're just left in the dust; rosin dust I suppose.

mackeagan - Posted - 05/20/2018:  18:48:55


Pat, have you tried the Amazing Slow Downer? I got it, and I tried it on some Stephane Grappelli tunes. I found I had to slow it way down (40 beats?), and even then I had to replay a section at a time several times to get it. I got out the old mandolin and picked out the notes, a phrase at a time, or even a few notes. I'm really bad at writing out what I hear, so just one transcription took forever. Anyway, Grappelli's stuff is just way fast and complex. Now you've given me the idea to use it (the Slow Downer) on Kevin Burke's recordings of jigs and reels--much less complicated, but Kevin has a way of phrasing things that I really like. Now I wouldn't totally copy Kevin's arrangements, but things like where he uses a particular grace-note would be something to use in my playing. Anyway, keep at it, it gets better.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 05/27/2018:  14:38:21


Good resources:

slippery-hill.com/
You could look for the tune in the fakebook and try to play along with a recording from slippery hill. If you can download it you can play it slower or pitch shift it if it's in F but ought to be in G or something, which happens.

youtube.com/watch?v=iIzwBkjFTIA
This is a great explanation of bowing and how when a tune is written out, it might just say A in the sheet music, but there's really a whole lot more going on.

DougD - Posted - 05/27/2018:  16:34:34


Some thoughts about the Fiddler's Fakebook:
To me, a fakebook is a collection of tunes and songs in simple, easily readable form - usually the lead line, chord names, and some lyrics if its a song. The purpose is so musicians can play a wide repertoire without knowing everything from memory or having the complete sheet music. I'm not sure that's what this book really is, although I've seen it used that way, so reading musicians can play a dance class or single tune at a dance, even though they may not know the specific tune or style.
What it is, is a collection of tunes that were relatively popular and available on records when the book was compiled and published in the early 1980's. For the old time tunes, its kind of a tunebook for the early "revival." The transcriptions are sometimes based on one recording, and sometimes they are compiled from several sources.
You can still learn a lot from this book, but there are a few problems. One is that "popular" tunes change with time - some tunes in the book may not be played much in your area, and many that are may not be in the book. I don't think you'll find "Shove That Pigsfoot," for example, or anything from John Salyer or Ward Jarvis, or many of today's popular sources.
Another is that at that time many of the original "source" recordings for these tunes were not easily available, and these transcriptions are often based on the playing of people who popularized their own versions. Now the tables have turned and a lot of the originals are available at Slippery Hill and Youtube, while the sources for the book are out of print.
Just as one example, "Betty Likens" and "Kitchen Girl" are in the book as a medley, based on a recording of my old band. That LP is out of print, but today you can easily find recordings of Henry Reed playing both those tunes, on Slippery Hill or at the Library of Congress. Trouble is, the Fakebook transcription probably won't correspond too closely. Probably few people are playing those tunes just like Henry Reed at your local jam anyway, and I doubt too many people are playing the Highwoods version these days either.
Two things I like about the book - it contains tunes in several styles, so you can easily do some exploring. Also there's lots of useful information densely packed into the Introductory Materials that's well worth some study.
So, just dig in and have some fun. I'm sure you'll find plenty to interest you. Let us know how it goes.

buckhenry - Posted - 05/27/2018:  17:53:23


quote:

Originally posted by RobBob

 The ones that were out there were like Coles 1001 fiddle tunes, small print and with no point of reference as to how the tunes were to go making it a daunting task.






This was my first book of fiddle tunes 45 years ago, and I had all the volumes of 'Kerr's collection of merry melodies'. Not sure what you mean..''with no point of reference as to how the tunes go''..the notation is pretty straight forward.



 



 



I just sight read through the books and selected tunes I liked for further practice and commit to memory. That's a good way to improve your reading skills, but you could search a list of the most popular tunes and start from there.  

Duckinacup - Posted - 05/28/2018:  04:37:03


The Fiddler's Fakebook, compiled by David Brody has been around almost 35 years, but the latest iteration appears to be Print On Demand (POD), and no longer includes the spiral or ring binding for opening flat.  I have concluded this is the book referenced in the original post?  If so, my suggestion would be to compile a list of tunes you want to learn, and open the book to those pages.  With mandolin experience there are probably, at least, a few tunes you enjoy.



The Fifer's Delight compiled by Ralph Sweet was another source of OT favorites, but it is completely out of print, now.  I had one and last year purged a lot of paperwork and it accidently went out with the trash.  Breaks my heart now that I'm 'trying again'.   crying emoticon



The internet is full of downloadable/printable sheet music.  Some at cost and some for free, so a fiddler could easily make her/his own fakebook.



Does anybody reccomend the e-book versions?

sbhikes2 - Posted - 05/28/2018:  06:46:59


I imagine with an ebook, if that means you download a PDF file, you could take that to a copy shop and print it out, even have them spiral bind it if there's enough margin in the middle. Or you could just print it out yourself one tune at a time as you learn them and keep the printed pages in a 3 ring binder.

Dick Hauser - Posted - 05/28/2018:  07:24:33


I only recommended Randy Millers book to help develop your ability to use musical notation. Popular repertoires are a local thing and vary from community to community. After using Randy Miller's book to improve your notation reading skills,
move on to a book that contains tunes the local musicians are playing. The better fiddlers in a jam usually determine which tunes are popular in local jams. Some jams promote specific styles of music.

TuneWeaver - Posted - 05/30/2018:  15:19:23


When I was a beginner I tried to learn from the Fiddler's Fakebook. I failed to learn much.. Now, looking back, I believe that it is a book of transcriptions and not a book for beginners..(Still a great book, however)...

Lawnisg0tmail - Posted - 06/01/2018:  05:45:59


Yeah, I've basically thrown it to the wayside and am focusing more on learning scales and modes (and a few tunes) at the moment

Johnny Rosin - Posted - 06/01/2018:  07:02:02


quote:

Originally posted by Lawnisg0tmail

Yeah, I've basically thrown it to the wayside and am focusing more on learning scales and modes (and a few tunes) at the moment






Can’t go wrong learning your scales well. Make sure to learn your arpeggios too, a lot of fiddle tunes are basically scale fragments and arpeggios when you break them down theoretically. Also if you know your arpeggios you will have a good idea of where all your basic double stops are. Most importantly though, listen to as much fiddle music as you can and decide how and what you’d like to play.

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