Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Shepherd's Hey" -

Very informative thread with lead sheet (in G) on the Session website ... cites lyrics:
"One can whistle, two can play, three can dance the Shepherd's Hey"

* * *

"Oh dear mother, what a fool I be;
Here are six young fellows come a-courting me.
Three are blind and the others can't see;
Oh dear mother, what a fool I be!"
Not a good fit on the second one, as the discussion suggests, but close enough.

Kintbury villagers join in to celebrate May Day! Kintbury Morris and the Garston Gallopers lead the way with Derek Shaw on melodeon. Kintbury is a village in the southwest of England. Uploaded by juliacrobinson on May 3, 2010.

BBC PROMS 2011 from the Royal Albert Hall, London. A Late Night Prom celebrating anniversary composer Percy Grainger. Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell leads the way into the musical world of a composer she finds 'quirky and outrageous and very unconventional', concentrating on Grainger's fascinating and varied responses to folk music. Amy Thatcher clog dances to the music of the Kathryn Tickell Band.

Live at the Royal Albert Hall. Kathryn Tickell and Friends - Shepherd's Hey - Percy Grainger !

E2 'Shepherd's Hey' Big Session 20 06 09.. English folk/reggae roots band Edward II aka E2 - at the Big Session Festival in Leicester, June 2009. Their music is what they say it is - a blend of English folk and roots reggae. Website at

Piano sheet music available online for Percy Granger, British Folk-Music Settings Nr. 4, "Shepherd's Hey" (Lovingly and reverenetly dedicated to the memory of Edvard Grieg) [the typo appears to be Granger's in the original].

More on Hogfiddle, including Percy Granger's orchestral version and an old 78rpm of Granger playing his piano arrangement,

Friday, March 23, 2012

New Salem: "Song catching," finding songs and transposing them for the dulcimer in open modal tunings ** UPDATED 04-05 **

"Songcatcher" is a catch phrase for someone who goes out in the field, not the studio, and records music wherever he or she finds it. It all started with Edison, of course, and his invention of the phonograph. ... Since then there have been many, many songcatchers working at the far corners of the Earth.
-- Mickey Hart, author and percussionist, Grateful Dead. Qtd. National Geographic News.
For our last off-season workshop on period music in open, modal lap dulcimer tunings, we'll look at a couple of songs that were sung at camp meetings near New Salem - at Rock Creek - and a Robert Burns song that raised eyebrows when a church musician sneaked it into a worship service down in Springfield. Since they're available on line in Appalachian dulcimer tab for DAA and DAD tunings, as well as their original keys of G and B-flat, they give us a good opportunity to learn how to transpose a song from the original to "D for dulcimer." Don't worry: It's easier to do than it is to talk about it!

And once we can do that, we can be our own song-catchers. We may be finding our songs in books like John Lair's "Songs Lincoln Loved" or David McIntosh's "Folk Songs and Singing Games of the Illinois Ozarks", but as far as I'm concerned we're still catching songs. I think we almost have to do that, since the ones that have the strongest connection to New Salem aren't always tabbed out for the dulcimer.

In my research for my paper on folk hymns, articles in The Picayune and dulcimer workshops at New Salem, I have identified a half dozen songs that are attested in New Salem and the surrounding rural communities during frontier days and perhaps another dozen that are attested in Springfield and elsewhere in what we now consider downstate Illinois.

On Saturday, April 7, we'll learn three of these songs we can share with visitors:
  • "How Firm a Foundation." Sung in camp meetings at Rock Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church (see below). Text by "K---," in John Rippon's Selection of Hymns (London, 1787). American folk melody collected by Joseph Funk (1832) and William Walker (1835). This hymn was said to be Andrew Jackson's favorite and still appears in denominational hymnals.
  • "There is a Fountain Filled With Blood." Text by English poet William Cowper (1779), American folk melody arranged by Lowell Mason (18--). Although it has fallen out of favor, this was also one of the most popular hymns of the 19th century.
  • "The Banks of Doon" (Ye Banks and Braes of Bonny Doon"). Text and melody by Robert Burns (1783). According to the thread on the Mudcat Cafe online discussion group, the published melody had widespread Scots and Irish antecedents. Very popular, and attested in Springfield (see below) in the 1830s or 1840s.
And I will hand out copies of North Carolina traditional dulcimer player Don Pedi's tuning chart of different keys at (to make your own copy, scroll down to it -- it's the first item on the page -- and right-click on it, click on "Save picture as ..." to save the JPEG file to your hard drive. You can print it out from there. Check out Don's tab, too. He has some wonderful fiddle tunes.

The three hymns were popular camp meeting spirituals. In a 1922 history of Rock Creek Presbyterian Church Alice Keach Bone, the daughter of old settlers in Menard County, described the singing when she was a girl:
Prominent among the preachers on the platform [set up outside the church building at camp meetings] was Rev. John M. Berry. He would give out the hymn, read it, line it, and, in a strong voice, lead the singing himself, the people joining in one after another.

'On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,' and 'How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent word' were favorites. These were frequently followed by
'There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.'
Then came an earnest, heartfelt prayer and, sometimes, another song. After this he announced the text and began to preach. He did not time his sermons, neither did the people turn uneasy glances toward their camps. (*Bone, Rock Creek Church: A Retrospect of One Hundred Years.)
Last month we learned "On Jordan's stormy banks ..." (also known as "The Promised Land"), and in April we'll learn the other two that Alice Keach Bone remembered. When I sang with the New Salem Shape Note Singers, we could see the vistors perk up and listen when we told them we were singing a hymn from the early days at Rock Creek just a few miles down the road.

Another song we'll take up April 7 is secular, "The Bonny Doon" by Robert Burns. but its melody was played in church. Springfield's First Presbyterian Church, in fact, in the 1830s or 40s before it had an organ. According to a story that was told years later, an accompanist started playing the popular Robert Burns melody instead of another tune in the same hymnal:
Mr. Rague was ... leader of the choir. The tune book was Mason's Missouri Harmony with patent notes [shape notes]. Edward Jones was the accompanist on the flute, and Henry E. Dummer on the violin. It is said that one night when the hymn 'Sweet Is Thy Works, My God, My King, To Praise Thy Name, Give Thanks and Sing,' was announced, before Rague could pitch his pipe of 'Kingsbury' [the tune] to which it was set, Dummer started it to 'Ye Banks and Braes of Bonny Doon.' (*Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Organization of First Presbyterian Church, Springfield, Illinois, January 29-February 1, 1903.).
Was this an accident, or a little tomfoolery in the choir loft? We don't know. But we do know the story was still being told 70 years later (even if some of the details got confused in the retelling). At any rate, Robert Burns was popular in Illinois.

When William Herndon was collecting material for his life of Abraham Lincoln, he interviewed his mother, Rebecca Herndon. She recalled "my sisters & myself learned Burns by heart 0 Sang his Songs - Such as 'Bonny Doon-' 'Highland Mary ' Soldiers return." (That third song is obscure. Douglas Wilson and Rodney Davis, who edited Herndon's letters and interviews, guess it might be "When the Wild War's Deadly Blast Was Blawn." The other two were well known.) And Lincoln's fondness for Burns' poetry is well attested.

Some YouTube clips of the songs follow, along with a citation to the paper where I discuss the folk hymns that were sung on the Illinois frontier:

"How Firm A Foundation" played by David Summerford on mountain dulcimer

"There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood" by Grace Chu

-- Southern gospel singer David Phelps

-- UAB Gospel Choir , Univ of Alabama at Birminghan

"Ye Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon" - Singer-songwriter Holly Tomas of Edinburgh

Tony McManus teaches "Ye Banks and Braes." McManus plays Celtic fingerstyle in dropped D tuning, talks about arranging the song, ornamentation, etc. (10:32)

Digital Tradition (in G);ttBNKSBRAE.html


* Detailed citations in my paper "American Folk Hymnody in Illinois, 1800-1850" (Conference on Illinois History, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Springfield, Oct. 14, 2000)

Friday, March 09, 2012

Thomas Moore, "Let Erin Remember ..."

Melody on whistle (?) uploaded by VanOrchClubYuki [of Hong Kong] Aug 15, 2010:

As a rousing pub song by Tanaman Dùl at Mittelalter Taberna in Brasília, Feb. 18, 2011

And as a very nice, contemplative piano solo by YouTube user machinehay

Sheet music (3 pages) from The Irish Melodies by Thomas Moore, arranged by Charles Villiers Stanford:
Let Erin remember the days of old.
Ere her faithless sons betrayed her;
When Malachi wore the collar of gold,[1]
Which he won from her proud invader.
When her kings, with standard of green unfurled,
Led the Red-Branch Knights to danger;[2]
Ere the emerald gem of the western world
Was set in the crown of a stranger.

On Lough Neagh's bank as the fisherman strays,
When the clear cold eve's declining,
He sees the round towers of other days
In the wave beneath him shining:
Thus shall memory often, in dreams sublime,
Catch a glimpse of the days that are over;
Thus, sighing, look thro' the waves of time
For the long-faded glories they cover.[3]
Moore's Footnotes quaoted in "Sing, Sweet Harp of Erin: Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies (1808)." Folkworld
[1] "This brought on an encounter between Malachi (the Monarch of Ireland in the tenth century) and the Danes, in which Malachi defeated two of their champions, whom he encountered successively, hand to hand, taking a collar of gold from the neck of one, and carrying off the sword of the other, as trophies of his victory." -- Warner's "History of Ireland," vol. i. book ix.

[2] "Military orders of knights were very early established in Ireland; long before the birth of Christ we find an hereditary order of Chivalry in Ulster, called Curaidhe na Craiobhe ruadh, or the Knights of the Red Branch, from their chief seat in Emania, adjoining to the palace of the Ulster kings, called Teagh na Craiobhe ruadh, or the Academy of the Red Branch; and contiguous to which was a large hospital, founded for the sick knights and soldiers, called Bronbhearg, or the House of the Sorrowful Soldier." -- O'Halloran's Introduction, etc., part 1, chap. 5.

[3] It was an old tradition, in the time of Giraldus, that Lough Neagh had been originally a fountain, by whose sudden overflowing the country was inundated, and a whole region, like the Atlantis of Plato, overwhelmed. He says that the fishermen, in clear weather, used to point out to strangers the tall ecclesiastical towers under the water.

Andrew Kuntz Fiddlers Companion[3]:
RED FOX [3], THE (An Sionnac Ruad). AKA and see "Let Erin Remember the Days of Old." Irish, Air (4/4 time, "with spirit"). G Major. Standard tuning. AB. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903/1979; No. 390, pg. 68.


T:Red Fox, The [3]



N:”With spirit”
S:O’Neill – Music of Ireland (1903), No. 390

Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion


D2|G2 G>A B2 B>c|d2d2 c2 B>c|d3 e B2G2|A3F GFED|G2 G>A B2 Bc|d
d2 de B2G2|A4 G2||Bd|g2g2 f2 ed|e2 dB d2 BA|G2 G>A BAGB|A4 G2 Bd|g2g2 f2 ed|
More at "Let Erin Remember the Days of Old" w/ notation in D! (but for bagpipe) posted to Hogfiddle on March 17 (!), 2010.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Thomas Moore, "The Meeting of the Waters"

Lesley Nelson Burns at the Contemplator has this background: "Inspired by a visit with friends to the Vale of Avoca (in County Wicklow), Thomas Moore wrote these words to an old Irish air, The Old Head of Dennis." It's an old melody, and the tune was published in "Irish Melodies" in the 1820s. Several good versions (and a couple of awful ones) on YouTube.

A couple of the good ones:

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. ANÚNA, soloist Michael McGlynn & Linda Lampenius (violin) join the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (Conductor John Finucane), Ireland's leading orchestra, for Michael McGlynn's arrangement of "The Meeting of the Waters". This was recorded at the National Concert Hall, Dublin in July 2010.

The Wolfe Tones have a cover called the "Vale of Avoca" -- on YouTube with nice pix

Lyrics and notes from "Sing, Sweet Harp of Erin: Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies (1808)." Folkworld

Moore's notes:

[1] "The Meeting of the Waters" forms a part of that beautiful scenery which lies between Rathdrum and Arklow, in the county of Wicklow, and these lines were suggested by a visit to this romantic spot, in the summer of the year 1807.
[2] The rivers Avon and Avoca.

A bronze bust of Moore marks the spot, and a plague records the tribute offered by Eamon de Valera: "During the dark and all but despairing days of the nineteenth century, Thomas Moore's songs kept the love of country and the lamp of hope burning in millions of Irish hearts here in Ireland and in many lands beyond the seas. His songs and his poems and his prose works, translated into many foreign tongues, made Ireland's cause known throughout the civilized world and won support for that cause from all who loved liberty and hated oppression."

In James Joyce's "Ulysses," Leopold Bloom remarks about the Moore statue in College Green Dublin: "They did right to put him up over a urinal: meeting of the waters."
"Meeting of the Waters" is usually scored in A, but Digital Tradition has a lead sheet with lyrics transposed to D. The thread "Tune Req: Meeting of the Waters" at Mudcat Cafe has dates of Thomas Moore's "Irish Melodies," also relationship (or lack thereof) of his air -- "The Old Head of Denis" -- and a Scottish pipe also titled "The Meeting of the Waters" but with a different melody. links to an early version of Andrew Kuntz' "Fiddlers Companion" w/ tune families, etc. AS ALWAYS, THE MUDCAT THREAD IS A VERY GOOD SOURCE AND HAS MORE INFORMATION THAN WHAT I'VE SUMMARIZED HERE.

From Fiddlers Companion (via keyword search on old Ceolas version linked to Mudcat Cafe):
MEETING OF THE WATERS, THE [1] (Ceann Deiginse). AKA and see "Todlin Hame," "Gage Fane", "Na Geadna Fiadaine," "The Wild Geese," "Armstrong's Farewell," "The Old Head of Denis," "My Name is Dick Kelly," "An Bacac Buide," "The Origin of the Harp," "Old Ireland Rejoice." Irish, Air (6/8 time). A Major. Standard. AB. The title appears in a list of tunes in his repertoire brought by Philip Goodman, the last professional and traditional piper in Farney, Louth, to the Feis Ceoil in Belfast in 1898 (Breathnach, 1997). Roche Collection, 1982, Vol. 3; No. 31, pg. 9.
And this, the tune that Moore cites as the air in Irish Melodies:
OLD HEAD OF DENIS, THE (Sean Ceann Doncad). AKA and see "Meeting of the Waters," "Helen," "The Wild Geese." Irish, Air (6/8 time, "with feeling"). G Major. Standard. One part. The melody was used by Thomas Moore for his text "The Meeting of the Waters," but was the vehicle for a number of hymns and ballads, including many cowboy songs such as "The Dreary Black Hills" and the Catskill Mountain (New York) collected "Rock Island Line" (Cazden, et al, 1982). O'Neill (1850), 1903/1979; No. 526, pg. 92.
The tune is related to the Irish lament for the Wild Geese who fled Ireland after the wars of Cromwell and William III:
WILD GEESE, THE [1] (Na Geadna Fiadaine). AKA and see "Gage Fane," "The Origin of the Harp," "Old Ireland Rejoice," "Armstrong's Farewell," "The Old Head of Denis," "The Meeting of the Waters," "Todlin Hame," "My Name is Dick Kelly," "An bacac buide," "An Cana Draigeann Eille," "Tis believed that this harp." Irish, Slow Air (3/4 time). A Major (O'Neill, O'Sullivan/Bunting): G Major (O Canainn). Standard. One part. This Irish air dates back to the mid-17th century and has often been used as a song tune. Perhaps the first lyrics were written in 1670 by John Fitzgerald, son of the Knight of Glin. In the next century a version called in Irish "Na Geandna Fiadaine" had its title mangled into English as "Gage Fane" and appeared in several collections. The given title commemorates the thousands of Irish soldiers who fled to France and Spain after the Treaty of Limerick in 1691, preferring an honorable exile to remaining in their country when their cause was lost. These exiles sustained the national reputation afterwards under the name of the Irish Brigade in the wars on the Continent.
A legend has it that the air was sung by the women assembled on the shore at the time the troops embarked after the defeat of the Gaelic chiefs. O'Sullivan (1983) points out this is poetic license for the exodus was gradual, and not an embarkation along the lines of Dunkirk in this century, but (quoting MacGeoghan, who states in his History of Ireland {pg. 599}) "within the 50 years which followed the Treaty of Limerick 450,000 Irish soldiers died in the service of France." O'Sullivan also adds the title "Na Geadna Fiadhaine" is a translation of the English "The Wild Geese," and not vice versa, but that even the Gaelic-speaking majority at the time referred to these men as "Wild Geese," for they flocked before taking flight.
Source for notated version: Bunting noted the tune from Patrick Quin, the harper, in 1803. Holden (Collection), volume II, 1806 (appears as "Gage Fane"). Mulholland (Collection), 1810 (appears under the erroneous title "The Wild Swan"). Neale (Celebrated Irish Tunes), pg. 25. Ó Canainn (Traditional Slow Airs of Ireland), 1995; No. 51, pgs. 46-47. O'Neill (1850), 1979; No. 170, pg. 30. O'Sullivan/Bunting, 1983; No. 113, pgs. 162-164. Thompson (Hibernian Muse), c. 1789 (appears as "Irish Air"). Island ILPS9432, The Chieftains - "Bonaparte's Retreat" (1976). RCA 09026-61490-2, The Chieftains - "The Celtic Harp" (1993).
And to quite a few other tunes as well, on both sides of the Atlantic, including the "Rye Whiskey" family and tunes heard at the Belfast harp festival in 1798:
BACA(C)H BUIDHE, AN (Lame Yellow Beggar). AKA and see "Bacach Buidhe Na Leige" (The Yellow Beggar of the League), "The Lame Yellow Beggar," "The Wild Geese," "Johnnie Armstrong," "Todlin Hame," "The Meeting of the Waters." Irish, Air (4/4 time). B Flat Major (O'Sullivan/Bunting): G Major (Flood). Standard. AAB (Flood): ABB (O'Sullivan/Bunting). The great Irish collector Edward Bunting's 1840 publication attributes composition of this melody to the famous Ulster harper Rory Dall O'Cahan in the year 1650. Though born in Ulster, O'Cahan performed primarily in Scotland, and this tune is "said to have been composed by him in reference to his own fallen fortunes, towards the end of his career." {See note for "Give Me Your Hand" for more information on O'Cahan). Audiences heard the air in "The Beggar's Wedding" (1728), an opera by Charles Coffey of Dublin, and it was printed in the score in 1729. The title was reported by the Belfast Northern Star of July 15th, 1792, as having been a tune played by one of ten Irish harp masters at the last great convocation of ancient Irish harpers, the Belfast Harp Festival, held that week. Bunting, who was in attendance at the festival, claimed to have noted it from harper Charles Byrne in his manuscript, though he attributes harper Daniel Black in 1792 as the source in his 1840 published work. The melody may also be found in Neales' Celebrated Irish Tunes, pg. 26 and Holden's Old Established Tunes, pg. 36, reports O'Sullivan (1983), and is a variant of the melody known variously as "Johnnie Armstrong," "Todlen Hame," "Rye Whisky," "Jack of Diamonds," "Drunken Hiccups," etc. Flood, 1905; pg. 80. Murphy (A Collection of Irish Airs and Jiggs, 1809 or 1820; pg. 22. O'Sullivan/Bunting, 1983; No. 20, pgs. 34-35.
There's an American parody "The Meeting of the Waters of Hudson & Erie" by Samuel Woodworth. It begins like Moore's, "There is not in the wild world a Valley so sweet ..." but gets off into the brave new America vs. tired old Europe meme pretty quickly:
Yet it is not that Wealth now enriches the scene
Where the treasures of Art, and of Nature, convene
'Tis not that this union our coffers may fill
O! no - it is something more exquisite still

'Tis, that Genius has triumph'd and Science prevail's
Tho' Prejudice flouted, and Envy assail'd
It is, that the vassals of Europe may see
The progress of mind, in a land that is free.
And so on.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

"Shenandoah Falls"

Big Hungry Joe - oldtime American trad band of Copenhagen practicing for a dance gig at Kattinge oldtime music festival in Denmark. Uploaded by r810s on Sep 1, 2010. Jesper Delurian, illustrator and band member, at

Stringfield hammered dulcimer duo of Springfield, Mo.: Gail Morrissey, Barry Smith & Victoria Johnson on DU Uncut. A tune learned from the teaching of Ken Kolodner...

Lead sheet at by Jennifer Wrigley in John Lamancusa's collection of Old Time Fiddle Tunes at Penn State. See also Lamancusa's "State College Old Time Music Jam" page at Chords and lead sheet (with mandolin tab) on the website.

Background. From Andrew Kuntz, Fiddler's Companion (link here and scroll down):
SHENANDOAH FALLS. Old-Time, Breakdown. A Major. Standard tuning. AABB (Johnson): AA'BB (Phillips). Clyde Curley and Susan Songer, in notes to The Portland Collection, traces the tune. Vermont fiddler Pete Sutherland learned it from West Coast musician Carol Robinson, originally from Sebastapol, who herself learned it as an untitled reel from a mandolin player named 'Cookie', once a fellow student with her at Sonoma State College. It is thought Sutherland titled it, perhaps thinking it reminiscent of Bill Monroe's bluegrass composition "Shenandoah Breakdown." Source for notated version: Pete Sutherland (Vermont) [Phillips]. Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 2: Occasional Collection of Old-Timey Fiddle Tunes for Hammer Dulcimer, Fiddle, etc.), 1982 (revised 1988 & 2003); pg. 15. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; pg. 219. Songer (Portland Collection), 1997; pg. 182. Dancing String, Randy Zombola - "Snowflake Breakdown" (1986). Epact Music, Pete Sutherland - "Eight Miles From Town" (1982). Marimac 9031, Sutherland, Pete - "Eight Miles From Town" (1986). Marimac 9043, Boiled Buzzards - "Fine Dining" (1991).


T:Shenandoah Falls




N:From a transcription by John Lamancusa, by permission

Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion


cd |: “A”e2 ef edcB | AB c2 “D”d4 | “A”c2 cd cBAc | “E”BAGF E2 cd |

“A”e2 ef edcB | AB (3cBA “D”d4 | “A”cBAc “E”BA G2 |1 “A”A4 A2 cd :|2 “A”A6 G2 ||

|: “Bm”F4 B3B | A2 (B2B4) | “A”ABcA BcAB | cAB(c c)B A2 |

“Bm”F4 B3B | A2 (B2B2) Bd | “A”cBAc “E”BA G2 |1 “A”A4 A3G :|2 “A”A6 ||
A well regarded contra dance tune. See Laura Lengnick's essay "So You Wanna Play Dance Music?" at

Friday, March 02, 2012

God's work, our hands - a note from Benedictine spirituality

Emailed March 1 by Fr. Steven Janoski, Director of Campus Ministry, Benedictine University Springfield ...

Campus Ministry Minute
Janoski, Steven A.
To: #All Springfield Campus Faculty; #All Springfield Campus Adjunct Faculty; #All Springfield Campus Staff; #All Springfield Campus Student

Once upon a time, the ancients tell, past the seeker on a prayer rug came the beggars and the broken and the beaten. The pray-er was appalled and looking up to heaven cried out, "Great and loving God, if you are a loving God, look at these and do something!" And the voice came back from heaven, "I did do something. I made you."

A spirituality of work is that process by which I finally come to know that my work is God's work, unfinished by God because God meant it to be finished by me.

(from “The Spirituality of Work” by Sr. Joan D. Chittister, OSB, 1995)