Davy Davy Knick Knack

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DAVY, (DAVY,) KNICK-KNACK/KNICK-KNOCK. AKA and see "Bonnell's Quickstep" (Pa.), "Bonnell's March" (Pa.), "Dancing Mustang (The)" (Pa.), "Hoe Cake," "Major Crichton's Delight," "Virginia Quickstep (1)" (Pa.). English, Scottish, Shetland; Country Dance, Hornpipe, Reel and Morris Dance Tune (2/4 or 4/4 time). Shetland, Unst and Mainland districts. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. A popular British Isles dance tune, although considered a 'beginner's tune' in some English sessions. Bayard (1981) notes that the tune is known internationally, occurring in publications from America, the British Isles, the Netherlands, and Holland. He quotes the Dutch authority Florimond van Duyse who said the tune was a fife or flagolet tune dating from the latter 18th or early 19th centuries, and indeed, it was still well-known in the early and mid-20th century to southwestern Pa. fife and drum bands by local titles. "Davy, Davy, Knick Knack" has a tradition of being used as a vehicle for a polka step in the English North-West morris tradition, and as a vehicle for ceilidh dances (such as Dashing White Sergeant). There is a Scottish children's rhyme used to determine who is "it" in playground games (nievie is the Scottish word for fist), much like "one potato, two potato" in which fists are tapped in succession towards a selection. It goes:

Nievie nievie nick nack,
Which hand will you tak'?
The richt or the wrang?

Nigel Gatherer suggests this rhyme is the origin of the tune's name (although the rhyme was recited, not sung to the tune). See also "Major Duff's Favourite Quickstep" for a possible precursor, and a tune called "Nobody" in an English fiddler's notebook from the early 1800's is likewise a contender as ancestral. Another English musician's manuscript, the George Spencer MS (Leeds, England, c. 1831) gives "Davy, Davy" as "La Belle." Adam Rennie's "Caddam Woods" has some similarities. There is perhaps some slight similarity in the first part of the Irish "Maggie's Lilt." "New Road to Alston (The)" is a relative of "Davy Davy..."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Kennedy (Fiddlers Tune Book), vol. 1, 1951; No. 61, p. 30. Page (Heritage Dances of Early America); No. or p. 21. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 146. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964/1981; p. 58. Wade (Mally's North West Morris Book), 1988; p. 10.

Recorded sources: Tradition 2118, Jim MacLeod & His Band - "Scottish Dances: Jigs, Waltzes and Reels" (1979).




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