Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine (1)

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X:1 T:Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine [1] M:C L:1/8 R:March Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D FG | A>B AF A2 de | f>e fa d2 dc | BcdB AFDF | E2 E>F E2 FG | A>B AF A2 de | f>e fa d2 dc | BcdB AFEF | D2 DE D2 :: de | f>e fg a2 dc | B>A Bc d2 AA | B>c dB AFDF | E2 E>F E2 FG | A>B AF A2 de |fefa d2 dc | B>c dB AFEF | D2 DE D2 :||

BONAPARTE CROSSING THE RHINE [1]. AKA and see "Bonaparte's Retreat," "Bruce's March (1)," "Caledonian March (1)," "Freemason's March," "Napoleon Crossing the Rhine," "Ranahan's March (1)," "Sherman's March (to the Sea)," "Star of Bethlehem (The)" "St. Patrick's March." Old-Time, March (cut time). D Major. Standard or ADae tunings (fiddle). AB (Barnes): AAB (Phillips/1995): AABB (most versions). The first part of the tune shows up in several melodies from Ireland, Scotland and England; these variants include the Irish "Centenary March" and "Comhra Donn (An)," and the Scottish "Caledonian March" (printed, for example, in by George Willig in Philadelphia in 1837 [1] and Elias Howe in his Musician's Companion of 1842). Barry Callaghan (2007) says the core tune was current as a military march in the Peninsular War, and probably earlier, although he cites no source for this assertion. However, the tune has melodic similarity to an English hornpipe (possibly a march) called "Durham Rangers" and "Sherwood Rangers."

Samuel Bayard (1944) was familiar with "Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine" as a common march tune in his primary collecting area of western Pennsylvania, and one which circulated under a variety of names including (in Fayette County) "Bruce's March" and (in Greene County) "The Star of Bethlehem." A Pennsylvania bandmaster gave Bayard the name "Ranahan's March," which he said commemorated a local bandmaster. As with several of the other 'Bonaparte'-titled tunes it is sometimes confused with similar names; for example, Bayard once heard it played by a New Jersey fiddler who gave it the ubiquitous name "Bonaparte's Retreat." Fiddler Mack Snodderly played a slow, dirge-like version of the tune and called it "Dying on the Field of Battle/Died on the Field of Battle."

"The Greene County title (i.e. "Star of Bethlehem") suggests that the air may formerly have been sung to a once popular religious piece of the same name, beginning:

When marshaled on the nightly plain
The glimmering host illumed the sky.

But this hymn is now usually associated with the air 'Ye Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon' in southwestern Pennsylvania and elsewhere. And there is no other indication thus far that (this tune) has been anything but an instrumental march tune in the Middle Atlantic area. We know, however, that it was used as a hymn melody in the South. Its currency in southern tradition is attested by two distinct versions used with a couple of the favorite pieces in the shapenote hymn books of fa-so-la singers. One of these, a close variant of (this tune) appears in Swan, The New Harp of Columbia (1867), No. 148 as 'France'; the other, representing a quite different--somewhat more vocal--development of the air, is entitled 'Family Bible' in Walker, The Southern Harmony (1835), No. 20, and Cayee, The Good Old Songs (1913), No. 217. This second version is listed by Professor George Pullen Jackson among the eighty most popular tunes in the fa-so-la song books: see 'White Spirituals in the Southern Uplands', p. 146, tune No. 63 and references. Other Pennsylvania sets are Bayard Coll., Nos. 35, 50. A variant called 'Caledonian March' appears in Howe's School for the Violin, p. 17. Although the air sounds Scottish, it has not yet been traced outside this country (ed.-"Caledonian March" does appear in Kerr's Merry Melodies and McDonald's Gesto Collection. Did Bayard think that the Scots picked it up from Howe?). A tune bearing some resemblance to it occurs, in Smith, The Scottish Minstrel, IV, 12, 'The Pride of the Broomlands'; and another, still closer, occasionally appears in the commercial fiddle-tune books as 'Lochnagar': e.g., Cole, p. 124; White's Excelsier Coll., p. 70; Kerr, No. 214" (Bayard, 1944).

See also the similar airs "I Won't be a Nun," "I'll Marry and I Won't be a Nun." The opening bars of the second strain of J.O. LaMadeleine's "Reel du viloneux" uses the same melodic material as the opening bars of the first strain of "Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine (1)."

Additional notes

Source for notated version: - Tony Marcus [Phillips].

Printed sources : - Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 43 (appears as "The First of October", the name of a country dance by Phillippe Callens set to the tune). Bayard (Hill Country Tunes), 1944; No. 90. Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 51. Callaghan (Hardcore English), 2007; p. 30. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 2, 1995; p. 23. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 15.

Recorded sources: -June Appal 003, John McCutcheon - "How Can I Keep From Singing?" (1975). Rounder 0035, The Fuzzy Mountain String Band- "Summer Oaks and Porch" (1973. Learned from John Summers, Marion, Indiana).

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