Few Days (1)
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FEW DAYS . American, March (2/4 time). USA, southwestern Pa. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. A fife tune once popular in southwestern Pa. Bayard (1981) retells the legend about the origins of the tune, given to him by an informant, which begins in the last days of the Civil War. Lee's men had surrendered and the vast Union Army was standing down, but it took some time to process the orderly discharge of so many men. To prevent them from disbanding wholesale at the prospect of a long wait they were told by the command that they would be going home "in a few days." As this line was repeatedly given for the continued delays it became a camp joke, and any fifer who composed a tune, if asked what he named it, said "Oh, A FEW DAYS." The real origins of the tune are in a pre-Civil War camp-meeting spiritual, finds Bayard, that in southwestern Pa. went:
Our camps in the wilderness, a few days, a few days,
Our camps in the wilderness, and then we're going home.
He also says that "Quick Dutch," one of the traditional "Fife Duty" pieces from old fife tutors, may be an ancestor of this tune.
Source for notated version: fifers Thomas Hoge (Greene County, Pa., 1951), Samuel Palmer (Greene and Fayette Counties, Pa., 1944), Marion Yoders (Greene County, Pa., 1960) [Bayard].
Printed sources: Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 154A-C, pp. 89-90.