Monday, August 17, 2015

"Shenandoah" -- dulcimer tab (in D) and a couple of videos for our song-learning circle at Clayville

Some tab in D ...

By Steve Smith of the Western North Carolina Dulcimer Collective, on the website at (or go to Dulcimer Tablature menu and scroll down to Smith's version of "Shenandoah." There are a couple of others -- his is the one you want.) A couple of videos available on YouTube:

  • Shenandoah in live concert by Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø, with Paddy Moloney of the Chieftans and Swedish artist "Kalle" Moraeus on violin. It was recorded during her concerts held in 2001 Drammen Theater, Norway, released on the album In Symphony and picked up on her American album Sissel. (Kyrkjebø, by the way, is pronounced sort of like "SHIR-ke-buh" in Norwegian. I have no idea how it would be pronounced in English.)

  • Suzy Bogguss, Shenandoah. At the Loveless Cafe Barn for Music City Roots in Nashville, April 20, 2011. Pat Bergeson on harmonica, Fred Carpenter on fiddle, Will Barrow on accordion, Brian Owings on drums and Charlie Chadwick on bass. Suzy Boguss, by the way, was a homecoming queen at Aledo High School up in the Quad-Cities area.

  • A Shenandoah Lullaby by Jerry Garcia, vocal and guitar, and Jerry Grisman on mandolin.

Mudcat Cafe has several lengthy threads speculating on the song's origins and early history, which are obscure and varied. Two of the most informative are here and here. I like what Kim C said May 11, 2001, at 10:15 a.m. in the thread "Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin":

Here's what I tell people when I perform this, and it's as near as I can figure ... originating as a boatman's song in the 1830s or thereabouts, went out to sea as a shanty, came back to land as a ballad and has been sung as one for many years. It was popular with soldiers during the Civil War, and went out west with them afterwards and has enjoyed an incarnation as a cowboy ballad.

But by far the best

"Oh Shenandoah" (also called simply "Shenandoah" or "Across the Wide Missouri") is a traditional American folk song of uncertain origin, dating at least to the early 19th century.

The song appears to have originated with Canadian and American voyageurs or fur traders traveling down the Missouri River in canoes, and has developed several different sets of lyrics. Some lyrics refer to the Native American chief "Shenandoah" (Oskanondonha) and a canoe-going trader who wants to marry his daughter. By the mid 1800s versions of the song had become a sea shanty heard or sung by sailors in various parts of the world.

Sea Songs and Shanties, Collected by W.B. Whall, Master Mariner (1910, Glasgow).

["Shenandoah"] probably came from the American or Canadian voyageurs, who were great singers .... In the early days of America, rivers and canals were the chief trade and passenger routes, and boatmen were an important class. Shenandoah was a celebrated Indian chief in American history, and several towns in the States are named after him. Besides being sung at sea, this song figured in old public school collections.

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