Old World Tunes



by Mike Yates (http://www.mustrad.org.uk):

There are various ways of judging just how popular old-world tunes were in America.  One way would be to analyze American printed tune-books.  Another way, and I think that this is a better way, is to consider the repertoire of just one mountain fiddler, namely the blind fiddler Ed Haley (1883 – 1951).

Ed was born in Logan County, WVA, and played around the eastern Kentucky-western West Virginia region for most of his life.  During the period 1946 – 1947 Ed’s son, Ralph Haley, recorded his father on a home disc-cutting machine.  In 1997 Rounder Records issued sixty-five of these recordings on two double CD sets – Ed Haley: Forked Deer, CD1132 – 33, and Ed Haley: Grey Eagle, CD1134 – 35 – and I would estimate that over a quarter of these tunes (30% actually) can be traced back to old-world sources.  These are:

Forked Deer Known in America as early as 1839, the ‘fine’ strain of Forked Deer is similar to an old Scotch-Irish tune called Rachael Rae, which is believed to have been composed in 1815 by a Scottish composer called Joseph Lowe.  O’Neill called it The Moving Bogs.
Indian Ate the Woodchuck The second strain of this superb tune is clearly related to the tune Such a Getting Upstairs, which is also known as The Fife Hunt.
Humphrey’s Jig A version of Bob of Fettercairn which can be found in the 18th century Scots Musical Museum.
Love Somebody A version of My Love She’s But a Lassie Yet printed in 1757 as Miss Farquharson’s Reel in Bremner’s Scots Reels.
Salt River Seems to be related to the Irish tune Carron’s Reel, which, according to Francis O’Neill, became attached to the Scots poem The Ewe wi the Crooked Horn.
Jenny Lind Polka Composed by a German composer Anton Wallerstein c.1850.
Chicken Reel Not the usual tune by this name, but possibly one based on an older, and untraced, Scots melody.
Wake Up Susan Known in Ireland as The Mason’s Apron.
Grey Eagle Tune 1214 in O’ Neil’s “Music of Ireland”, where it is titled The First Month of Summer.  In Scotland it is known as The Miller of Drone.
Wilson’s Jig Known under various old-world titles, including Harvest Home, Dundee Hornpipe, Cliff Hornpipe, Ruby Lip, Kildare Fancy and Cork Hornpipe.
Bonaparte’s Retreat Possibly based on an old British tune.
Money Musk Believed originally titled Sir Archibald Grant of Monie Muske’s Reel and possibly composed by Daniel Gow in 1776.  Apparently once used in Ireland to accompany the Highland Fling. 
CD 4
Cumberland Gap A tune which resembles Skye Air (Gow # 559).
Parkersburg Landing A Variation of the well-known Schottische The Rustic Dance.  Also similar to Mrs Kenny’s Barndance as recorded by Michael Coleman.
Cuckoo’s Nest (1) Similar to All Aboard Reel in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection.
Cuckoo’s Nest (2) Known in Ireland under a number of different titles, including Peacock Feathers, Forty Pounds of Feathers, In a Hornet’s Nest, Jacky Tar or Jolly Jar Tar With Your Trousers On.
Paddy on the Turnpike Based on The Bell of Claremont Hornpipe, with a second strain which sounds like Johnny Cope and which is probably based on a tune for The Gaberlunzie Man.
Fire in the Mountains Known in Eastern Europe under a number of titles.  It also turned up in Riley’s Flute Melodies of 1815, as Free on the Mountains (Vol.1, p.87,# 317).
Pumpkin Ridge Also called Marmaduke’s Hornpipe.  According to some sources, Irish fiddler Michael Coleman recorded a version of the tune, although I am unable to trace this recording.
Mississippi Sawyer Possibly based on an old-world tune, The Downfall of Paris.



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