MANDOLIN FOR DUMMIES—BY DON JULIN

Wiley & Sons 9781119942764. Paperback, 396 pp., $24.99. (The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, P019 8SQ, England, www.wiley.com.)

By now it should almost go without saying that the word “Dummies” used in the titles of this series is not to be taken literally. There is more than enough information contained in this book, information complex enough to keep a beginner (and, to some extent, an intermediate player) reading the chapters and working through the dozens of exercises for quite some time.

There are, after all, 364 pages, of which about a third addresses the buying and caring for a mandolin and of which about two-thirds is text and musical examples explaining the basics and some advanced concepts of technique, musical theory, and playing in styles ranging from folk to old-time to blues to Celtic to bluegrass and to ragtime and jazz and choro and classical.

Obviously, even with that many pages, if you’re going to cover that many topics, you’re not going to go into graduate level depth on any of them, but the book’s author, Don Julin, an educator, composer, and performer well-known among mandolin aficionados, manages by writing in a clear, concise manner to touch on most of the key points and subjects you can imagine. Not all questions will be answered, nor will the exercises exhaust the possibilities of a technique or style, but a player working with this far-ranging guide will come away with a solid grounding.

There to enhance the teaching and illustrate specific points necessary to learning each style of music are 32 public domain tunes, along with ten compositions by Julin. Audio files for each song and exercise is only a mouse-click away.BW

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