David Brody’s Fakebooks

The Fiddler’s / Guitar Picker’s / Banjo Picker’s / Mandolin Picker’s Fakebook, by David Brody


The Fiddler’s Fakebook was one of the first two books of fiddle tunes I bought. The edition I have is bound with a plastic comb, so that it lies flat on a music stand. I understand that some versions don’t have this kind of binding, which makes no sense at all. If you get a version that doesn’t open flat, take it to a copy shop and ask them to cut off the spine and re-bind it with a comb or spiral binding, if possible.

One of my favorite things about these books is that each tune has a key and mode listed. This is probably more important for the fiddle book, which is in standard notation, because if you’re used to reading the key from the key signature, modal tunes are confusing. If a piece is written in a key with two sharps, it’s probably in D, right? Well, no, it could also be in A Mixolydian, E Dorian or B Aeolian (or others, but those are the ones you’re likely to see). If you’re new to music, it can be tricky to figure out what key something is in (although a good way to guess is to check what the last note of the tune is). You’ll want to know that if you’re going to be leading a tune at a jam, so having the book tell you is handy.

The fiddle book is in standard notation, while the other three are in tab. All four books, as far as I can tell, include suggested chords for each tune as well as the melody. I don’t think all four books contain all the same tunes, although I’m pretty sure there’s a fair amount of overlap. They all contain a wide variety of genres and styles, from Irish and Scottish to Western Swing, Southern Old-Time and French Canadian. There are discographies which list recordings of each tune.

If I were to pick only one repertoire book for fiddle, it might be this one. It’s almost certainly not the best book for beginners, since the transcriptions are of particular recordings and include that player’s idiosyncrasies, but it’s a great one to grow into. I don’t know if that’s the case for the three other books, but I can definitely recommend the fiddle version.