Folk Music and Related Resources
KiwiFolk is a "not-for-profit" website. Purchases made through the link below help to support the overheads and ongoing maintenance of this site. The books and music listed on the linked pages have been selected on the basis of popularity and great reviews, and are excellent value for money. Amazon.com provides a well-respected, fast, reliable and secure service. All prices are in US dollars so check your country's exchange rate at the time of purchase.
Irish Music Resources
Here, I've selected the titles that are rated highly by those that have purchased them and/or represent good value for money. Remember, the NZ dollar price is usually a little less than twice the US dollar price.
The Companion to Irish Traditional Music by Fintan Vallely (Editor)
Field Guide to the Irish Music Session by Barry Foy, Rob Adams
50 Irish Melodies for all Harps by Heidi Spiegel, Sylvia Woods
Sylvia Woods' harp music books are among the most popular books for harpists at any level. They are playable on lever harps (also called Irish, Celtic, or folk harps) as well as pedal harps (also called concert, grand, or orchestral harps).
The Heartbeat of Irish Music by Christy McNamara (Photographer),
Peter Woods. US$14.36
DADGAD Guitar by Dufou, Sarah McQuaid US$14.36
Blooming Meadows : The World of Irish Traditional Musicians by Fintan
Vallely, Charlie Piggott, Nutan (Photographer), US$26.95
Last Night's Fun : In and Out of Time With Irish Music by Ciaran
Carson's Belfast childhood, early encounters with music, and travels through Ireland and America contributes to chapters which blend autobiography with reflections on Irish musical style. Last Night's Fun features a chatty blend of musical history and travelogue following the author's encounters with popular Irish music.
Patricia Monaghan, Booklist , March 1, 1997
...explaining how fiddlers playing together know when one reel is going to segue into the next in a set, telling you how to find the pub where the music will be most freely flowing at night, and advising the best way to cook eggs-and-fry the morning after.E. Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News
"...cracker of a book, pure pleasure, stuffed with anecdotes, memories, wit and humor and deep knowledge of traditional Irish music. The reader is transported into the smoke and warmth of certain rooms in Northern Ireland where a glass of whiskey stands on the table, the black, cast-iron pan sputters on the burner, and a tune falls canted and sly out of the instruments."Sean Laffey Irish Music Magazine Dublin, September 11, 1998
Delvings of the deep diddly diddly, Belfast writer, fluter, raconteur and unreliable witness takes us into the subterranean world of craic agus chaos as he attempts to surf the web of the perfect session experience. Part nostalgic interrogtation of his own relationship with traditional music, part exploration of the Ulster breakfast: this book is a close as it gets to the cameraderie and catharsis of an all night music bash. A work of astute fiction that might never be true but is always email@example.com from Santa Fe, NM , April 30, 1998
... It's almost as good as being there
50 Irish BalladsUS$7.95
Darley and McCall Collection of Traditional Irish Music US$11.95
English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish Fiddle Tunes by Robin Williamson US$18.95
Guitar Playing (Various Styles)How-to books for many styles.
Guitar Playing Hawaiian Style : Ki Ho'Alu an Instructional Method for Slack
Key (with Cassette) by Ozzie Kotani, Dennis Ladd US$13.56
firstname.lastname@example.org from Sacramento, Ca, August 15, 1997; Wonderful start to playing Hawaiian Slack Key style. After working through all the songs in this book I now have a set of beautiful and playable guitar pieces. Most are in G tuning and the progression from song to song is excellent. The left hand fingering details are very helpful. (30+ year fingerstyle guitar player)
Traditional Irish Guitar : A Tradition-Based Approach to Accompaniment
and Solo-Playing of Irish Dance Music on the Guitar by Paul De
Art of Classical Guitar Playing by Charles Duncan, US$15.96
Folk Music on Campus Easy Guitar; For Singing and Playing Guitar
by Lisle Crowley (Editor), John L. Haag, $14.95
Guitar Melody Chord Playing System by Mel Bay, US$9.56
Hot Country : A Comprehensive Guide to Lead and Rhythm Country Guitar
Playing by Lee Hodgson, US$14.36
Instrument Making and RepairThere are some wonderful books here for both the professional and the beginner.
How to Set Up the Best Sounding Banjo: A Complete Technical Guide
by Roger H. Siminoff US$13.56
Constructing a 5-String Banjo : A Complete TechnicalGuide by Roger
H. Siminoff US$13.56
Constructing a Bluegrass Mandolin : A Complete Technical Guide
by Roger H. Siminoff US$13.56
Great book! I would recommend this book to anyone even thinking about building a mandolin. I just started my first, but I don't think I ever would have started without this book. Very clearly written and illustrated.
Guitarmaking : Tradition and Technology A Complete Reference for
the Design & Construction of the Steel-String Folk Guitar & the
Classical Guitar; by William R. Cumpiano, Jonathan D. Natelson
(Contributor), Clyde Herlitz (Photographer). US$23.96
Excellent work on guitarmaking. This is a detailed, step-by-step work on building a steel-string and a classical guitar, with very good professional photos and drawings. It is written in a manner that assumes a bit of experience, but takes the time to explain principles and procedures fully in every case. If you are planning to build a guitar for the first time, you'll want this one. It's worth all the tools in your shop.
"Guitarmaking..." is well written and detailed. Cumpiano and Natelson have written a great book for beginners. In this book are all of the details necessary for constructing your own classical or steel-stringed guitar. The appendix is an indespensable resource with lists of potential suppliers, wood types, and dimensions for every piece. They describe the process with a minimum of technology used.
The gods prostrate themselves before this masterpiece. As a technical writer and luthier, I can vouch for this tome on both accounts. It explains guitarmaking in such detail that it does not need to include any patterns; after reading this book, you will understand the instrument well enough to build one on a desert island from memory. Although the paperback edition is quite sturdy, I used mine until it fell apart. Buy the hardback.
Absolutely a must-have book for beginning luthiers. The instructions in this book are well-thought out and very precise. I built the steel string neck in two days. It came out great. The step-by-step instructions left nothing to the imagination. Every step is explained in detail. The authors even go so far as to anticipate your trouble areas and go to extra lengths to pinpoint them and give remedy.
This is the book for all beginning and intermediate luthiers In the research stage of my luthier career I bought quite a few books. Without a doubt my favorites would be this book and Robert Benedetto's "Building an Archtop Guitar". What makes this book so outstanding is that it actually breaks the process down into unique steps. Most books will tell you to "Plane the top plate to the correct thickness". This book tells you how to do it, not just what to do. This is also the only book on guitar building where the author anticipates the areas where the beginning luthier might have problems. There are several areas where you're told to do such and such a step (which may not be obvious) in order to avoid such -and-such a problem. There's also several times when the author tells you how to escape from common mistakes. I own a lot of guitar building books but this is the one that sits in the top of my tool chest.
Probably the best do-it-yourself guide to making a guitar! As a chronic do-it-yourselfer my intest in playing guitar has spawned an interest in building a guitar. I found this tome after years of searching the stacks at my local library, and I instantly fell in love with it. It is quite clearly written and each step is explained in exquisite detail. The authors have divided up the steps into several short procedures so that the reader does not feel overwhelmed. Each procedure is profusely illustrated and accompanied in most cases by a list of materials and tools required. Cognizant that the lay carpenter probably does not have much in the way of woodworking tools, the authors pare down the list of tools needed to a manageable list available at most hardware stores, mostly hand tools. The authors also include an up to date list of catalog suppliers of necessary parts, tools, and woods.
Making an Archtop Guitar by Robert Benedetto US$31.96
email@example.com from San Antonio , May 20, 1999; Good book for a novice builder. I agree that this book is not for someone who is interested in seriously studying archtop design and construction. But It's a GREAT book for someone with a little experience under their belt, who wants to try something different. If you want to become the next "Greatest American Luthier", find a good mentor and apprentice yourself to him/her. If you want to build an archtop, this book is a comprehensive guide that will get you there.
firstname.lastname@example.org from Australia, April 26,1999; THE Archtop book. I don't know who charliem thinks he is, but on the subject of making archtop guitars (amongst others), Benedetto's book is the most informative of it's kind. As far as not giving enough info. goes, there is everything one needs to know from go to whoa. If he doesn't spell it out then it can either be worked out with a little basic math. or it doesn't effect the overall outcome. It is the best book on archtop guitars and should be in every collection.
The Guitar Maker's Manual by Jim Williams US$15.96
Constructing a Solid Body Guitar : A Complete Technical Guide by
Roger H. Siminoff, Chet Atkins (Introduction) US$15.96
Complete Guitar Repair by Hideo Kamimoto US$19.95
Guitar Player Repair Guide : How to Set-Up, Maintain, and Repair
Electrics and Acoustics by Dan Erlewine, US$18.36
Chris Carr, email@example.com from Australia, September 10, 1998; Almost a luthiers course in a book for budding Mr Fixit's This book is partly a compendium of all the excellent articles that Dan Erlewine has written in the US mags over the years. A lot of the stuff in the book really isn't for beginners but is still an excellent reference for repairing and fine tuning your guitar, you can build yourself up to that fretboard recap later. It's also great for giving you the knowledge to combat the technobabble and lies that some shonky repair guys throw at newbies. Honestly this book has been a real help to me in my tinkering with guitars, even if just helps you do a basic setup its going to save you money in repair bills in the long run. The scope and detail of topics in the book is comprehensive, and obviously Dan is a well respected repair jockey who can answer most problems you are likely to face. He covers painting a finish, cracks on acoustics, neck breaks, tuning, trussrods and action, fret replacements and profiling, pickups and the list just goes on. Sometimes it's hard to follow because it's very USA centric and Dan recommends products, which more often than not, are just not sold in Australia. If you can live with this, buy it, anyway his descriptions of what the techniques are and what the products do are good enough that you can translate the instructions into Australian and what's on the shelves of you local hardware store. It's not a luthiers course in a book, but rather an excellent reference book and a must have for all budding Guitar Bruces and Mr Fixit's out there.
Anthony Gundrum (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Bridgeport, PA, July 26, 1998; Excellent reference for repairing and tuning up your guitar The first time I looked through this book I found it to be very informative. I was sorry the next time I looked for it and could not find it on the store shelf. Found it again and this time I bought it. I had a Les Paul copy with a headstock that was cracked down into the neck (really wierd break) and I had glued it up the best I could without this book. Came out good but the problems that followed were buzzing notes and intonation. I learned alot about the problems I was having using this book and was able to get the guitar sounding better than it ever had. A must have reference.
A reader , April 3, 1997; Essential tool for DIY guitarists. This book is essential. If you touch your guitar with anything other than a polishing cloth or your fingers, Read This Book First! Comprehensive in scope, exhaustive in detail, and informed by experience, Erlewine's book is written colorfully and has the answer to any problem a player or repairman is likely to face, whether it be finish damage, structural cracks, or fine tuning the action and setup. About the only place where the book is less than encyclopedic is in its treatment of pickups and electronics, but even here, Erlewine covers the basics and the most common problems. I have used the information in this book to help me build a guitar from scratch; it saved my butt a few times. -j
Banjo BooksPlaying, history, construction and more...
African Banjo Echoes in Appalachia : A Study of Folk Traditions
Publications of the American Folklore Society. New Series) by
Cecelia Conway, US$25.00
That Half-Barbaric Twang: The Banjo in American Popular Culture (Music
in American Life) by Karen Linn, US$17.95
Ring the Banjar: History of the Banjo, the Banjo in America from
Folklore to Factory by Robert Lloyd Webb (Editor),
How to Set Up the Best Sounding Banjo by Roger H. Siminoff,
Constructing a 5-String Banjo: A Complete Technical Guide by Roger
H. Siminoff, US$13.56