Glory in the Meeting House

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GLORY AT/IN THE MEETINGHOUSE. AKA - "Glory to the Meeting House." Old-Time, Breakdown. USA; Mt. Airy, N.C., Ky. D Mixolydian (Carlin/Sing Out): E Major/Mixolydian (Phillips): E Mixolydian/Dorian (Titon/Strong). Standard, EDae or ADad tunings (fiddle). AABB'BB'C (Carlin/Sing Out): AA'BB'AA'B"B"' (Phillips): ABABACB'ABABA (Titon/Strong). Jeff Titon (2001) gives its provenance as the Kentucky River basin. The melody was in the repertoires of Kentucky fiddlers Luther Strong and W.H. (Bill) Stepp. It was also collected from fiddlers Bev Baker (Luther Strong's father-in-law) and Boyd Asher, from the same region. The EDae tuning appears to have been generally applied to the tune in the region. Strong (like Baker and Asher) recorded his version for Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress in 1937, a trip which resulted in several eastern Kentucky fiddler's waxing their renditions (on aluminium disks!) of this tune for the musicologist. The piece is heard played either in the major or mixolydian mode, and Titon says that Strong's version has a dorian character. His version has been so influential, that dorian versions among modern fiddlers are prominent (Jody Stecher gives a considered musical analysis in his Fiddler Magazine article). Kentucky fiddler Hiram Stamper recorded a 'crooked' version in the key of D minor, with three parts, and other regional fiddlers also had 'crooked' versions-in fact, Strong's version is the only older one to be 'foursquare'. These older versions started with one of the high parts first.

Despite what might be inferred from the title, the tune apparently has no connections with hymnody, although Titon says "the C and B' parts suggest the excitement of 'shouting' (getting happy, feeling the Spirit) in a church." According to musicologist Jeff Titon, Stamper told Bruce Greene that "Glory in the Meetinghouse" was a contest tune that he originally learned from Bev Baker, a notorious figure but an influential fiddler. Stamper also indicated the tune was known to other fiddlers at the time and that Baker had played it in the 1919 Berea fiddle contest. Luther Strong says, "I won $500 on this tune" at the end of his LC AFS field recording. The tune has similarities to the bluegrass composition "Jerusalem Ridge."

Source for notated version: Luther Strong (Hazard, Perry County, Ky.) [Titon]; Mark Graham (Seatle, Wash.) [Carlin/Sing Out]; Armin Barnett with the Hurricane Ridgerunners [Phillips]; Luther Strong via Jody Stecher [Fiddler Magazine].

Printed sources: Sing Out! ("Teach In: Clawhammer Banjo," Bob Carlin). Fiddler Magazine, vol. 14, No. 4, 2007; p. 43. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 2, 1995; p. 56. Titon (Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes), 2001; No. 49, p. 80.

Recorded sources: Library of Congress L2 ("Anglo-American Shanties, Lyric Songs, Dance Tunes and Spirituals") - Luther Strong (orig. rec. 1937). Flying Fish 283, The Harmony Sisters - "Second Helping." Green Linnet SIF 1122, Kevin Burke - "Open House" (1992). Marimac 9000, Dan Gellert & Shoofly - "Forked Deer" (1986). Rounder CD 0139, The Hurricane Ridgerunners - "The Young Fogies." Shanachie Records 6040, Gerry Milnes & Lorriane Lee Hammond - "Hell Up Coal Holler" (1999. Learned from Luther Strong's recording). Yazoo CD 2014, Luther Strong - "Music of Kentucky" vol. 2. Yodel-ay-hee Records 002, Critton Hollow Stringband - Sweet Home" (1983). Yodel-ay-hee Records 014, The New Dixie Entertainers - "Maybelle Rag."

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear Luther Strong's 1937 LOC recording at Juneberry 78's [2]




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