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Hungarian Fiddle Tunes

143 Traditional pieces for violin






























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Hungarian tune book  


exploring jazz violin


by Chris Haigh



by Chris Haigh



By Chris Haigh



"a fascinating insight into a whole world of music." John Offord, Fiddle On

"a wonderful book, a treasure trove and musical resource" Ann Inglis ARCO (ESTA Magazine)

"Excellent book with wonderful examples of folk tunes"-Philip S Taylor (Amazon review)

"Nicely printed, great page layout...a great book to expand your fiddle horizons" -D H Bailey, Amazon review

"Bought this book after hearing some lovely Hungarian folk music on a holiday last month and have to say, it's pretty comprehensive! The music is nice and clear and the CD really helps to get the rhythms right and is quite nice to play along with." Eoin Supple- Amazon review




1: INTRODUCTION; Seven pages of text outlining the history of Hungarian fiddle music, from the oldest pentatonic tunes brought by the Magyars from central Asia, through the Old style and New Style tunes of post-Ottoman Hungaray, through the verbunkos, csardas, and finally Magyar Nota. The study of this music by Bartok and Kodaly is also explained, as well as the late 20thC revival and thre Tanchaz movement.

2. Old and New Style : 57 tunes including pentatonic tunes such as Ropulj Pava, Hungarian Sheperd's songs, Legenyes (Lad's dances), Dudadtanc (bagpipers's dances), Ugros (jumping dances), drone tunes, tunes demonstrating "closed structure", swineherd's dances, and tunes demonstrating the Duvo and Esztam rhythm fiddle parts.

3. Verbunkos; 11 Military recruiting tunes dating from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, including the famous Rakockzi march

4. Csardas: 31 tunes from the dance craze which followed verbunkos. These include many tunes used as source material by composers such as Bartok and Liszt. There are tunes from all the different counties of Hungary, plus many from Transylvania (now in Romania) which was once part of Hungary, and still is largely dominated by Hungarian language and culture.

5. Magyar Nota ; 10 tunes from the late 19thC; these were made famous by the gypsy orchestras of Budapest. Flowery and sentimental, they were dispised by intellectuals such as Bartok, but still greatly loved by many Hungarians




All of the tunes in the book are on the enclosed cd. Some (the first two sections) are as regular audio tracks. The second two sections are in mp3 format. Recorded by Chris Haigh with lead and rhythm fiddle, plus Double bass player Viktor Obsust on some tracks.


author: Chris Haigh

Hungarian Fiddle Tunes

Instrumentation: Violin
Publisher: Schott Music
Difficulty: easy to intermediate
Edition: edition with CD
Language: English
Series: Schott World Music
192 Pages - Paperback/Soft Cover
ISMN: 979-0-2201-3355-8
ISBN: 978-1-84761-279-3
Order number: ED 13493




At the London Fiddle Convention earlier this year, one of the acts was the Romany Diamonds, a Polish Gypsy family, featuring the leader, Ricardo Czureja, an astonishing virtuoso violinist. I thought their music sounded more Hungarian than Polish, but in fact this genre is common over much of Eastern Europe among Gypsy clans.

In the introduction Chris says that “The study of Hungarian traditional music bears more of a passing resemblance to archaeology”, meaning that the music changed over the centuries. In the early 1900’s the composers Kodály and Bartók collected over 40,000 tunes from the Hungarian speaking areas of eastern Europe. These pieces can be divided up into three groups and Chris gives examples. The first is “Old Style melodies”, these were played solo on old instruments like bagpipes. The second is “New style melodies”, emerging in the mid 1700’s and were played by string bands often including a cimbalom (hammered dulcimer) and showed the influence of music outside the tradition, such as the use of chords. The last group is tunes which were overtly influenced by foreign music.

In the 1800’s a wave of nationalism swept through Hungary, which was still in the Hapsburg empire. New styles of music and dancing called Verbunkos and Csárdás , a blend of old and new, became very popular, leading in the 1900’s to the development of Magyar nóta, old tunes with new lyrics, or more often newly composed songs, modern in style. The latter music has often been derided as being crass and commercial. The older music often begins with a slow, poignant introduction leading to dance music of great vigour, which is reflected in the dances.

Bow marks and finger positions are given by Chris, who is one of the finest musicians today interpreting Eastern European music, especially Gypsy Jazz as well as Rock Violin and many other musical styles, just look at his website. Well worth the money, giving a fascinating insight into a whole world of music.

John Offord- Fiddle On magazine



This is a book for grownups as well as children; a collection of nearly 150 Hungarian tunes from various traditions. Some are simple, some far less so, and groupings can help with concert planning or general enjoyment. Bowings are few, but information in the introduction is great and welcome. This is a wonderful book, a treasure trove and musical resource, and perfect for solo playing. Most of the tunes are short (Haigh explains that the original sources are often longer and more rambling) and some of the keys and tempos have been changed. Rural Csardás (dance tunes), most commonly played in Hungary today, appear probably the most frequently. There is much to learn here, not least from Haigh's own playing on the CD.

-Ann Inglis -ARCO magazine (European String Teachers Association)



If you're in the UK you can get it here by paypal for just £17.00 (including postage & packing)


Non-UK residents, but in the EU, can order by adding £3 for postage. If you're outside the EU sorry, you'll have to buy it elsewhere.  


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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 100 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, and Discovering Rock violin, French Fiddle Tunes, Exploring Folk Fiddle and Exploring Klezmer Fiddle are published by Schott.