Dandy Jim from Caroline (1)

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DANDY JIM FROM/OF CAROLINE [1]. AKA - "Dandy Jim (1)." AKA and see "Chicken-Foot and Sparrow-Grass" (Pa.), "Old Aunt Jenny." American, Reel or Breakdown. USA, southwestern Pa. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Bayard (1981), Southern (1983) and others identify this tune as coming from the American minstrel tradition of the mid-19th century. Hans Nathan (Dan Emmett and Negro Minstrelsy, Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1962) dates the stage tune to c. 1844 and says the words and perhaps the tune were composed by minstrel Dan Emmett. As with many minstrel tunes there is confusion as to whether Emmett wrote the music or simply adapted a found folk tune, but Bayard says the tune crops up "everywhere" in American music (including play-party songs) in many guises under several titles. Bayard also found the tune in the British Isles in Kerr's Merry Melodies collection (c. 1875, vol. 1, p. 29 as "American Air") and in Frankl Roche's Irish collection (vol. 2, 1912, No. 297 as the second figure of the second tune in the quadrille "The Orange and the Green").

William John Mahar, in his book Behind the Burnt Cork Mask: Early Blackface Minstrelsy and Antebellum American Culture (1999), offers this cogent analysis of the minstrel dandy:

The dandy stereo types are, as Jane Tompkins has argued about female stereotypes in nineteenth-century American sentimental novels, "the instantly recognizable representatives of overlapping racial, sexual, national, ethnic, economic, social, political, and religious categories; they convey enormous amounts of cultural information in an extremely condensed form." The idea that assuming the superficial characteristics of sartorial style and etiquette will somehow bring gentility is one of the great tropes of American popular culture....

The various (and different) dandy caricatures should no be confused. The "Dandy Broadway Swell" and "Zip Coon" (he claims to be from "Tuckyhoe" or some other non-New York locale) are not the same type, and both differ from "Dandy Jim of Caroline" But they all reflect the parvenu or nouveau riche convention that was a typical and efficient method of parodying class distinction. The minstrel performers' choices of material were probably not governed by a need to display racist attitudes even though minstrelsy was based on them. Neither racial aversion nor desire is by itself a concept sufficient to explain the relationships shared by performers playing for an American audience of whites and blacks, both of whom found something funny in the minstrel caricatures. The satirized dandy figure is a prentender, a charlatan, a confidence man who is insincere and ignorant of the values associated with social station or power. The blackface dandy embodies the same feelings of disdain coupled with class envy captured in the epithets heard outside Astor Place Opera House the night when firebrand orators urged the crowd to "Burn the damned den of the aristocracy!" and complained, "You can't go in there without...kid gloves and a white vest, damn 'em." .... [pp.203-209]



Source for notated version: Hiram Horner (Westmoreland/Fayette Counties, Pa., 1944) [Bayard].

Printed sources: Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 326, pp. 291-192. Briggs (Briggs' Banjo Instructor), 1855; p. 11. Saunders (New and Complete Instructor for the Violin), Boston, 1847; No. 16, p. 54.

Recorded sources:




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