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ROWAN LESLIE - Contemporary Fiddle Tunes From The Northeast Of Ireland 

ROWAN LESLIE - Contemporary Fiddle Tunes From The Northeast Of Ireland 
Mel Bay ISBN: 9781513465296 

Rowan Leslie is a great young fiddler player from Antrim currently living and working in Glasgow. He has compiled a collection of 64 tunes reflecting the breadth of playing and the vibrancy of the tradition in his (previous) part of the world. There are reels and jigs of course, but also polkas, marches, barndances etc and, more puzzling, set dances. Have the set dance tunes been written for a new dance? What is it? Each tune is given twice – in a straightforward version and then an edited version, with suggested bowing, slurring and ornamentation. As seems to be sadly usual nowadays, no tempo indications, although on one of Rowan’s recordings he plays the polka Nailed It (included here) so fast that even the Kerry set dancers would struggle to keep up!

But why Fiddle Tunes? Why not just Tunes? It might make it appeal to a wider readership. For instance, a couple of tunes are from whistle/flute player John Kennedy, who certainly never played fiddle! The two tunes from Kennedy are great, but have already been published (and rather more elegantly, avoiding the unnecessary first- and second-time bars) – so it would have been nice to have one or two of his many others.

Modestly priced (and also available as a Kindle edition), this is a wide-ranging and entertaining volume of tunes which will appeal to both fiddle players and others.

Paul Burgess


This review appeared in Issue 135 of The Living Tradition magazine