A little more than two years ago we reviewed a very clever instructional book for fiddlers, written by Nashville musician John Mailander. Titled A Fiddler’s Guide To Moveable Shapes, it conveys information in a succinct fashion that will be highly valuable to any fiddler having difficulties with improvisation, or seeking to gain a more thorough knowledge of the fingerboard.
Mailander presents his information in a straightforward manner, and in a way that can be readily understood even by intermediate level players. By moveable shapes he means fingering positions that can be shifted across the strings and up and down the neck for use in a variety of keys and situations.
As we said back in 2017…
Closed positions are familiar territory for guitar, banjo, and mandolin players who typically learn chord shapes early on in their study of the instrument. From these shapes they learn where other notes related to the chord are located, and how to move these closed shapes up and down the fingerboard for other chords/keys. But many fiddlers focus solely on playing a melody, either of a fiddle tune or in orchestra or band situations, and may not always even be aware of the harmonic structure of what they play.
John’s book starts right there with a brief tutorial on chord theory and the circle of fifths. From there he moves to a discussion of double stops, in both open and closed positions. The examples are demonstrated in standard musical notation, augmented by images of the fingering positions he is covering on a photo of a violin neck. There are also examples of a couple of tunes, with suggestions for how to accompany others using tidbits from the music.
And now he has released a revised, expanded, and spiral-bound edition just in time for holiday giving. New content has been added, and John feels like it now offers a smoother and more comprehensive read. It is targeted towards the improvising fiddler/violinist, though the insight and information contained in the book would be of interest to any player within the string family.
As a special treat, John includes a box of colored pencils with each order to allow the reader to color in the black-and-white line art included throughout the book.
This new 60-page edition will be available on December 20, and pre-orders are being accepted now for shipping on the 20th.