- Perfect Paperback: 88 pages
- Publisher: Mel Bay Publications, Inc. (June 3, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786652454
- ISBN-13: 978-0786652457
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.2 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mel Bay Fiddling for Viola Perfect Paperback – June 3, 2015
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About the Author
Michael Hoffheimer lives in Oxford, Mississippi and is Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi. Before teaching, he practiced law. He has a strong interest in traditional music and fiddling, has published articles on fiddlers and violinists, and plays fiddle with his children.
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One reviewer points out that if you want to play fiddle tunes regularly, you will need to have a violin, not a viola. Another points out that the tunes are generally transposed down a fifth from "original" fiddle tune. These things are basically true; the viola itself is tuned a fifth lower than a violin and it would be nigh impossible to play many fiddle tunes up to speed on a viola, way up in the 3rd or higher positions necessary to do this. It's a question of using the "right tool for the job." But as another reviewer comments, if all you have is a viola, your guitar or other accompianist ought to be able to switch keys and help you out. It will all sound a bit low, but the aim here is to give violists a crack at playing these tunes!
It's important to understand how the author has set up the tunes (see photo). Each one looks like a duet, but it isn't a duet! The top line is the viola's staff, in the Alto Clef that violists are familiar with. All violists will want to use that top line of the staff and ignore the second line.
The second line, with the Treble Clef, is not what it appears to be at first glance. This line is intended solely for violinists who find themselves deprived of their violin but have access to a viola. If they "pretend" that the viola is a violin, and play the tune as written, they will achieve the same result as a violist will, playing on the Alto Clef line. So, imagine that you're a violinist visiting your viola-playing friend, who happens to have two violas. You can play the tune together this way, and it will sound identical.
It's important to realize that the Treble Clef line does not actually represent the true sound of the notes in this book. For example, the tune "Soldier's Joy Reel" (see attached photo), in the Key of G, begins on a "B" (i.e., the second finger on the next-to-lowest string). If you're a violinist, that fingering position would give you an F#. So the author has written the tune as if it were in the key of D, with the first note being an apparent F#. But if the violinist is actually playing a viola (pretending it to be a violin), he will find himself playing a "B" just like his viola buddy.
Think about it, you'll figure it out. I'm just glad he didn't write a third line for cellos...
How such a situation would ever arise -- a violinist needing to play a viola to imitate fiddle tunes written for the violin to begin with -- is beyond me. But having it available doesn't hurt... and makes the book an interesting conversation piece on top of everything else.
5 Stars, Mel. Way to go!
I coming around to the understanding that if you want to play fiddle tunes (with other people), get a fiddle.
I think it's one of the best books I've seen for those who want to transition from violin to viola.