Jerry Holland,
The Second Collection
(Cranford Publications, 2000)

Cape Breton's Jerry Holland once again opens up his treasure chest of tunes to produce The Second Collection, the sequel to Jerry Holland's Collection of Fiddle Tunes. Fiddlers of all levels will not be disappointed with this collection -- it contains something for everyone. The book is packed with 322 tunes -- 120 of Holland's own compositions, interspersed with traditional and more recent compositions from Scotland, Ireland and North America, particularly Cape Breton.

Holland, born in Boston, has been living in Cape Breton for the last 25 years and currently resides in North Sydney. He began fiddling by the age of 5 and now has two tunebooks to his credit, along with several recordings and guest appearances with other artists.

This tunebook is a fiddler's delight. Aside from the sheer number of tunes contained within its pages, the book also benefits from excellent organization, variety and a number of extras.

The Second Collection is organized into three major sections -- the faster stuff (marches, strathspeys, clogs, reels and hornpipes) are in the first section, jigs are assigned a space of their own, and waltzes and slow airs complete the book. Each section is further organized by key signature -- something which fiddlers trying to find a tune to fit a set will appreciate. At the beginning of each key signature Holland provides a scale, so that fiddlers like myself can get in tune before completely maiming the numbers that follow. For those searching for a particular tune, there is an index (which also includes all of the tunes from Holland's first collection).

It is the little extras that make this collection such a joy. First, it is easy to read. The notes are clear, and large enough for the average person to follow easily. Tunes include Holland's suggested guitar/piano chords, embellishments (where they exist) and notes on tune origins wherever possible. The book also contains other little frills that the fiddler will find useful: notes on chord choices, embellishments and bowing; a list of composers with information on when they composed and where they were from; and the invaluable discography, which includes information on recordings where many of the tunes can be found. As well, readers will find a condensed version of an interview with Jerry Holland that was originally published in Fiddler Magazine in 1999. The interview is a good read, and it provides bits of advice, interesting tidbits and a glimpse into what makes Holland such an excellent player and composer.

As far as the actual tunes go, Holland has provided the fiddler with a colourful mix. There are familiar, traditional tunes such as "Miss MacLeods's Reel," "The Boy's Lament for his Dragon," "An Rogaire Dubh" and "Niel Gow's Lament for the Death of his Second Wife." There are some of Holland's recent compositions that are already being played by others, like "House Hunting" and "The Musical Chisolm Household," and other new compositions which are destined to be played again and again, such as "The Lion's Den" by young Prince Edward Island fiddler Ward Allan MacDonald. (I say that this one will become popular, because it's a snappy reel which even I, a rather green fiddler, can play -- so no doubt, many people will pick it up!)

Not only is the selection of tunes great, but it will also appeal to fiddlers at many different levels, as there is a wide variance in the difficulty of the tunes in the collection. Some may be easily picked up by the beginning fiddler, while others contain more complex notation or rhythms, and will be a challenge to those with more experience. With the inclusion of a partial discography, it is possible for fiddlers to find recordings of the tunes in the book, and hear how they are intended to be played -- something which most fiddlers find quite useful.

This well-organized tune book with its pleasing mix of traditional and hot-off-the-press tunes from Scottish, Irish and Cape Breton fiddling traditions is a must-have for any music-reading fiddler's collection. It is gratifying to see a respected musician like Jerry Holland willing to share his repertoire with others in such a fashion. Such interest can only serve to keep traditional music alive and well for centuries to come.

[ by Cheryl Turner ]