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discovering rock violin  
discovering rock violin


exploring jazz violin


by Chris Haigh



by Chris Haigh



By Chris Haigh



"A great achievement...fantastic book"- Mark Wood

"I love the fact that your book features a lot of great players in the rock world who, many of whom I have always felt were underappreciated. This is something I was considering doing with my book, but instead I decided to focus on theory and techniques, which your book covers extensively as well. ...Thank you again for writing a book on a topic which is long overdue" -Joe Deninzon


"I would highly recommend this book to any violinist, no matter what their musical taste; you will learn something from it! Congratulations to Chris Haigh for drawing together the strings of such a wide ranging subject". -Steve Bingham (ESTA magazine)

"a goldmine for aspiring rock violinists"- Jin, Violins in Metal

"immensely helpful"- Victoria Yeh, violinist in Toronto

"all sorts of fun and interesting information"- Lyris Hung

"excellent in every way"- Roberta Anderson (Amazon Review)

"I love the way you explain things. The quality and quantity of information is amazing"-Samuel, France

"Great book- easy to follow...not just another boring music instructional"- Matthew. UK

"If there's a more entertaining pedagogical book than this published in 2012 I'd like to see it. Chris Haigh celebrates the violinist in the rock band in an offering as full of laughs as a Spinal Tap concert"-David Lasserson. The Strad

"So many ideas presented in such a great way!" -Travis St Peter (Amazon review)

"all my questions are there and is set out exactly the way I need to learn."-Maree, Australia

"Perfect book for anyone looking to branch out into the rock genre. I highly recommend it."Beorn- Amazon review.

"Great resource...a well written and researched book ...very in depth" Amazon review

" I really love this book!" Carol, USA

Where did it all go wrong? You started out on the violin with dreams of string quartets, recitals, playing violin concertos before a hushed and reverent audience. And now here you are playing in a band, plugging in your violin and making an unholy racket, with not the slightest idea of how you’re supposed to go about playing rock music on this most unlikely of instruments

Guitarists began with a clear goal ahead of them, with a pantheon of ‘guitar Gods’ as their role models and to help them, there are shelves groaning with guitar tutor books and DVDs. Violinists, on the other hand, mostly stumble into a band almost by accident. If you’re lucky, you may have an album or two by Jean- luc Ponty or Sugarcane Harris to listen to, but by- and-large you’re making it up as you go along, working out by trial-and-error the things that guitarists, or most other instrumentalists, take for granted. So the bad news is that no one is going to tell you what or how to play, there is no rule book for rock violinists and basically you’re on your own. The good news is that no one else in the band, or indeed in the audience, can tell you that you’re ‘not doing it right’.

This book aims to fill that gap and whilst it’s certainly not a rule book, it is an aide to mastering a whole heap of approaches and techniques for playing rock on the violin. Working on the assumption that you have the basics of the instrument, can read music and know a bit of theory, it will guide you in easy steps through everything you need to know about how to play rock music on your fiddle. First of all you need to learn how to follow a chord sequence and play simple rhythm parts. Then, using the appropriate scales, to construct melodic lines, counterpoints and hooks that will compliment what the rest of the band is doing. You need to get to grips with pentatonic and blues scales, as well as modes. Then you get on to riffs, improvisation and rock soloing.


1: The Bare Bones The Chord Sequence; Double-Stopped Harmonies ; chord shapes for the violin; The Violin as a One Man Orchestra Unexpected Chords; the violin as a horn section; Sean Mackin (Yellowcard); Mik Kaminski (ELO); Bobby Valentino; Mackenzie Gault (Flobots); Helen O'Hara (Dexy's Midnight Runners)

2. A Tonic for the Troops: The flattened 7th; the flattened 3rd; the minor pentatonic scale; rock riffs; the power chord; the Hendrix Chord; finger patterns; the higher positions; Don Sugarcane Harris; Nigel Kennedy; John Sevink (Levellers); Toni Marcus (Van Morrison); Allen Sloan (Dixie Dregs)

3. The Blues; the major and minor blues scales; the 12 bar blues; blues riffs; slides; repetition; the harmonica lick; Papa John Creach (Jefferson Starship); Nick Pickett (Fleetwood Mac); Jim Lea (Slade)

4. Chords, melody and modes: diatonic chords; "safe" notes and "wrong" notes; altered chords; dissonance; unexpected chords; the mixolydian mode; eastern mysticism; David Cross (King Crimson); Dave Arbus (The Who, East of Eden) ; Andrew Bird; L Shankar; Ric Sanders (Soft Machine)

5. Soloing; artificial feedback; harmonic overtones; the pick slide; glissando; rock vibrato; working with a singer; working with another soloist; phrasing ; Rachel Barton Pine; Tracy Silverman; Barry Wickens; Scarlet Rivera (Bob Dylan) Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra)

6. Progressive rock; complex time signatures; the Canterbury Scene; Prog in the rest of Britain and outside. Eddie Jobson (Curved Air, Roxy Music, UK) ; Anna Phoebe (Jethro Tull); Geoffrey Richardson (Caravan); Simon House (Hawkwind); Ray Shulman (Gentle Giant); Graham Smith (String Driven Thing); David LaFlamme (It's a beautiful day) ; Robby Steinhardt (Kansas) ; Ben Mink (Rush) Akihisa Tsuboy (KBB)

7. Folk Rock; American Folk Rock; electric folk; folk forms and rhythms; tremello; drones; the Dorian mode; Irish folk rock; ornamentation, fingered and bowed. David Lindley (The Band); Dave Swarbrick (Fairport Convention); Peter Knight (Steeleye Span); Seth Lakeman; Tom Hobden (Noah and the Whale); Charles O'Connor (Horslips) ; Steve Wickham (The Waterboys) ; Eileen Ivers (Riverdance) ; Angus R Grant (Shooglenifty) ; Martyn Bennett

8. Country Rock; a brief history of country music; the Nashville shuffle; the Georgia shuffle; the double Shuffle; double stops; cajun fiddling; contemporary country; Rufus Thibedeaux (Neil Young) ; Charlie Daniels; Vassar Clements; Richard Greene (Seatrain); Martin Bell (Wonderstuff) ; Byron Berline (Rolling Stones); Doug Kershaw; Brantley Kearns (Dwight Yoakam) ; Glen Duncan (Travis Tritt) ; Larry Franklin (Shania Twain); Rob Hajacos (Garth Brooks);

9. Jazz Rock; modal jazz; swing; jazz fusion; latin jazz; following the chords in jazz; playing "outside"; playing in octaves; the'seagull";Jean-luc Ponty; Didier Lockwood; Michal Urbaniak; Joe Deninzon.

10. Heavy rock and metal; violin metal in Scandinavia, Europe and the USA;guitar style riffs; Pete Johansen (Morgul, Tritania); Olli Vanska (Turisas); Emilie Autumn; Lyris Hung; Anton Patzner (Judgement Day), Mark Wood

11.Other styles; effects and amplification; the violin in pop music; punk; art rock; amplifying the violin; electric violins; effects pedals; John Crocker (Cockney Rebel); Ric Gretch (Family); Jack Fallon (The Beatles); Nick Pynn (B•Wiched); Russell Senior (Pulp); Clare Lindley (Stackridge); Abi Fry (British Sea Power); Lili Haydn; Vicky Aspinall, Anne Wood (The Raincoats); Tymon Dogg (The Clash); Owen Pallet (Arcade Fire); Laurie Anderson; Mia Matsumiya (Kayo Dot)

PLUS....The top 20 best rock violin solos of all time, ever!



The book was written with the help of interviews with many contemporary rock violinists including Mark Wood, Joe Deninzon, Tracy Silverman, Pete Johansen, Steve Wickham, Olli Vanska, Larry Franklin, Rachel Barton Pine, Anna Phoebe, Geoffrey Richardson, Nick Pickett and Bobby Valentino.



This rock violin book comes with 37 studio tracks on CD, including full pieces and short riffs, with and without the violin top line. There are also 121 mp3 tracks. Musicians on the recording are

Guitars – Hugh Burns; Bass – Dudley Phillips; Keyboards – Geoff Castle; Drums – Roy Dodds; Violin – Chris Haigh Engineering and mixing – Andy Ramsay (Pressplay studios)


author: Chris Haigh

An introduction to rock styles, technique and improvisation

Instrumentation: Violin
Publisher: Schott Music
Difficulty: intermediate
Edition: edition with CD
Language: English
Series: Schott Pop-Styles
192 Pages - Paperback/Soft Cover
ISMN: M-2201-3300-8
ISBN: 978-1-84761-26700
Order number: ED 13459



Discovering Rock Violin; reviewed in Arco; magazine of the European String Teachers’ Association.

When I was asked to review this book my first thought was “why would anyone need a whole book on rock violin? However, Chris Haigh has gone into such depth of detail that I soon realised that “Discovering Rock Violin” would be a valuable addition to almost any violinist’s bookshelf!

The liberal sprinkling of typically over-the top publicity photos of a vartiety of players, coupled with the chatty, relaxed (perhaps edging towards the over-informal at times) writing style, places this book as being aimed at the younger generation. However, the sheer amount of detailed explanation and analysis means that there really is something for everyone.

A word of caution at this point; Although the author has- as stated in his introduction-worked on the assumption that the reader will have “the basics of the instrument, can read music and know a bit of theory”, it’s safe to say that most of the chapters give detailed musical examples and use in some cases quite complex theoretical and practical ideas. Don’t let this put you off; it’s worth working through it all. Suffice it to say you may need to delve into a little more theory than you expected!

This is a book that you can dip into very easily, as it is laid out clearly and logically, but I would highly recommend taking the time to read it (and work through the musical examples on the accompanying CD) in order. In doing so you will undoubtedly-as I did- find useful reminders of things you already knew, discover the theory behind techniques you already use, but had maybe not analysed, and certainly find a range of new and useful techniques and styles to explore.

The musical examples throughout the book are clearly laid out, and well planned, though as I mentioned earlier you may need to read some of the theoretical parts a few times in order to take it all in, and the exercises are certainly not a piece of cake. There’s a page of minor pentatonic scales in all keys which wouldn’t be out of place in the Carl Flesch scale book!

After covering all the basics, and adding chapters on a variety of styles from folk to heavy metal, Chris Haigh includes a useful final chapter which covers amplification, effects and more; it would be almost impossible to be comprehensive in a chapter such as this, as technology is constantly changing, but Chris manages to keep it all relevant and to-at the very least-point the player towards the right resources when trying to navigate the maze surrounding choosing what instrument, effects and amplification to use. A final word about the excellent discography and list of the top 20 rock solos of all time; I am definitely going to have fun tracking down and listening to all the albums and individual tracks listed- reminding myself of old favourites, and discovering new music along the line.

I would highly recommend this book to any violinist, no matter what their musical taste; you will learn something from it! Congratulations to Chris Haigh for drawing together the strings of such a wide ranging subject.

-Steve Bingham


Violins in Metal Blog;

"While reading through Discovering Rock Violin by Chris Haigh I couldn't help thinking to myself "I wish I had this book when I first joined a metal band". It addresses many of the problems an aspiring rock vioinist faces at the beginning of their career-what kind of parts should I write, how should I play, what kind of gear should I use? While I was left to guess and wrangle my way through these issues with only the help my band's guitarists and the indie musicians my college town had to offer, this book walks you through much like a seasoned veteran would take an amateur under his wing. Not only is it instructional, but also very down to earth, funny, and an interesting read with extra tidbits of history and exclusive interviews sprinkled throughout.

"The bad news is that no one is going to tell you what or how to play, there is no rule book for rock violinists and basically you're on your own. The good news is that no one else in the band, or indeed in the audience, can tell you "you're not doing it right". This book aims to fill that gap"

This is first an instructional book, but also features interviews, history, and an overview of notable bands within each given genre of rock. It presupposes a basic ability to read music and shows you the different ways violins are used in each different genre of rock by showing samples of styles, chord progressions and techniques employed by that genre. The segments of sheet music are accompanied by a cd with audio and mp3 tracks. Folk, blues, jazz and progressive rock, metal, country and pop all have dedicated chapters with histories and overviews of the genres, and a player spotlight showcasing a specific player's rock violinist journey and impact on the genre. Haigh also delves into the gear necessary for being a rock violinist, with an overview of different types of violins, pickups, amps, and pedals. And at the end of the book is a little bonus; a list of the top 20 top rock violin solos of all time!

Of course the section that piqued my interest was the section on metal, and I was pleased to find that it was very accurately portrayed, comprehensive and entertianing to read. "it's a land populated by trolls, orcs, dragons, warriors, and Nordic Gods...Band names like Slayer, Hellhammer, Venom, Anvil of Doom, Extreme Noise Terror, Possessed, Morbid Angel, Bleeding Oath and Carcass all suggest that this was not what your parents had in mind when they presented you with your first 3/4 size violin." Haigh features genres from black metal to folk metal, gothic metal and Death Metal, and has interview segments with Pete Johansen (Sirenia, Sins of thy Beloved), Olli Vanska (Turisas), Lyris Hung (Hung) and Mark Wood (Trans Siberian Orchestra). The intervies offer some interesting insight into the social implications of violins in metal; Pete Johansen explains that the instrument's historical pagan associations make it not as unlikely a choice for metal as it may seem, and Olli Vanska discusses the metal violinist as being a subversive force in the status quo of rock music. I found this an altogether fascinating and enjoyable read!

Discovering Rock Violin is a goldmine for aspiring rock violinists, and will help you not only in your playing and writing abilities, but also in making you well read and educated in the history and styles of the kind of music you are playing. So whether you plan on starting or joining a band, or just want to fiddle around on your own time, this is a great guide for transitioning your classical violin skills into rock violinist awesomeness."

Jin-Violins in Metal Blog


Hi Chris

My name is Victoria and I'm a violinist based in Toronto, Canada. I found your book a few months ago on Amazon and have been methodically going through it almost everyday. It has been so immensely helpful and I wanted to say a big thank you! You explain everything so clearly and have great audio samples and listening suggestions.
-Victoria Yeh

"I'm tremendously honoured to be included amongst some amazing violin talent in the new book Discovering Rock Violin by Chris Haigh. The Book features all sorts of fun and interesting information on the history of violin in rock and alternative music, including breakdowns of riffs, styles and techniques that helped transform the instrument."

Lyris Hung


"Iíve had your book for a few days and am finding it has everything I need, all my questions are there and is set out exactly the way I need to learn. It is a terrific resource and I reckon it will take me about a year to get through it! I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your book"

-Maree Australia



If you're in the UK you can get it here by paypal for just £24.00 (including postage & packing)


Non-UK residents, but in the EU, can order by adding £8 for postage. If you're outside the EU add £10 for postage.


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Chris Haigh is a freelance fiddle player based in London. His playing covers a huge range of styles, all played with commitment and authority. He has played on over 70 albums. He has two book published by Spartan Press; "Fiddling aroud the World" and "Any fool can write Fiddle Tunes", and "The Fiddle Handbook" is published by Backbeat/Hal Leonard. Exploring Jazz violin is published by Schott.