As a fiddler or a violinist, you won't always be playing chords while if playing with a band. If you are echoing the band's melodies you very well may be playing chords, but if you are backing up the lead or secondary vocals, or adding fills in key points of the song, you may simply be playing notes.
Just like most instruments, there is a multitude of ways to play each chord. In this article, we'll only be going over basic chords in the first positions, or high up on the neck. As you learn the neck and you're bowing improves you can move down the neck, but to start, stay high!
The first thing you need to know before you start learning is a basic understanding of the neck, or at least a notation chart. We've included our basic chart below for reference.
Because of the lack of frets on the neck of a fiddle, it is important that you become familiar with the different positions and notes before attempting to play any chords. Once you can accurately position your fingers you are ready to start to attempt playing basic chords.
The G Major Chord
Your first finger goes on the B note of the A string and the 2nd finger on the G of the E string. Both the D and G strings are open
The D Major Chord
Your first finger goes on the A note of the G string, 2nd finger on the F# of the D string, 3rd finger on the D# of the A string, and the 4th finger on the A# note of the E string.
The F Major Chord
Your first finger goes on the C note of the G string, 2nd finger on the F of the D string, 3rd finger on the F of the E string.
The A Major Chord
Your first finger goes on the A note of the G string, 2nd finger on the E of the D string, 3rd finger on the C# of the A string, and the 4th finger on the A note of the E string.
The E Minor Chord
Your first finger goes on the E note of the D string, 2nd finger on the B note of the A string, and the 3rd finger on the G of the E string.
These five chords are a great start for any Fiddler or Violinist. Once you want to expand your basic chord set Nikolas Efthymiou has a nice article with the next two chords to learn
Bowing any of the chords that involve more than the thinnest two strings can be difficult. Each string bowed is described as a "stop". Therefore, a chord in which you bow three strings is a "triple stop". The correct technique is to bow the strings in pairs and to spend most of the time in contact with the thinner strings, not the thicker ones. There is a basic explanation of this on ViolinMasterClass and in the video below.