King's Head (1) (The)

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X:1 T:King's Head [1], The M:4/4 L:1/8 R:Reel S:Mrs. Sarah Armstrong (near Derry, southwestern Pa., 1943) B:Bayard - Hill Country Tunes (1944, No. 21) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D B2|A2 FG [DA]FDF|[D2A2][D2d2][D2d2] cB|A2 FG [DA]FDF|{F}GFED E2 FG| A FG [DA]FDF|[D2A2][D2d2][D2d2]e2|f2 af egfe|d2 [d2f2]d2|| de|f2 de f2 af|e2 cd e2g2|f2 de fgaf|edcB A4| f2 de f2 af|e2 cd e2 g2|f2 af egfe|d2 [d2f2] d2||

KING'S HEAD. AKA and see "Soldier's Joy (1)," "King's Hornpipe (1)]," "I Love Somebody (1)," "Love Somebody (1)," "Payday in the Army." English (origianlly), American; Reel. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. "Kings Head" was the name "Soldiers Joy" went by in areas of the northern U.S., especially in Pennsylvania; it is an immensely popular tune and in nearly every fiddler's repertory (see note for "Soldier's Joy"). Bayard (1944) relates that a Pennsylvania story exists to explain this name concerning a condemned man who saved himself by playing this tune for the king; this will be recognized as an old legend, having attached itself in another form to such tunes as "Camp Chase" and much earlier (in a variant form) to "MacPherson's Farewell." Influential North Carolina fiddler Tommy Jarrell also heard the story of "King's Head" and repeated it to an interviewer in 1982 (see Peter Anick, "An Afternoon with Tommy Jarrell," Fiddler Magazine, Spring 1995), although the melody was not known by that title in his region (Jarrell knew the tune variously as "Love Somebody," "Soldier's Joy (1)" and "Payday in the Army;" it was not recorded where and when he heard the "King's Head" story and it may be heard heard it from one of many young musician visitors who frequented his home in his later years). Seattle fiddler and musicologist Vivian Williams writes: "'The King's Head' was played by fiddler Jake Lake (originally from Cook County, Illinois) at the wedding of Henry Van Asselt and Catherine Jane Maple in a cabin on the Duwamish River, near Seattle, on Christmas Day, 1862, according to an account written by the bride's brother, John Wesley Maple. Other tunes played at that wedding: 'Unfortunate Dog (The)', 'Fishers Hornpipe', 'Devil's Dream', 'Gal on a Log', 'Arkansas Traveler'."

Despite the story of the condemned man, the title probably has more to do with its association to the alternate titles "Soldier's Joy (1)" and "Payday in the Army." It is recognized that money, often a joy to soldiers (especially when paydays were irregular during hostilities), carries numerous euphemisms. Among these are references to a sovereign whose picture was stamped on the obverse of coins; note, for example, the phrase 'taking the Queen's shilling' for the bounty upon enlisting once upon a time in the British army. In a similar sense, the title 'the kings head' may refer to money paid out in coin stamped with a male sovereign.

The King's Head was also the name of many taverns in England, referred to from the 16th century on. One famous King's Head was in Southwark, an area that featured a competing establishment called The Queen's Head. Another King's Head inn at the corner of Chancery Lane, dating from the time of Edward VI, was the residence of Izaak Walton and appears in all his illustrated editions of his book The Compleat Anger, which he advertised to be "sold at his shopp in Fleet Street; under the King's Head tavern." Perhaps the oddest story connected to a King's Head establishment was regarding the tavern adjacent to Stationers Hall Court, accessed through a doorway that passersby would scarcely glance at. Through the door was "a long passage, at the end of which was a roomy tavern with quaint corners, and originally known by the sign of the 'King's Head', at which time it was a fashionable coffee and chop-house. At the beginning of the 19th century the famous fat man, Daniel Lambert, took up his lodgings at this house, and here he held public receptions, at which visitors, for a modest fee, might look upon his fifty-two stone (728 lbs.) of human flesh. For years after Lambert had departed this life his portrait in oils hung upon the tavern walls, and his walking-stick was also preserved as a curiosity" (Hackwood, 1909). Charles Dickens (in Household Words, vol. 12, 1855) writes that pleasure gardens and music halls had to be licensed in London in the last half of the 18th century, a license which had to be renewed annually at the Middlesex quarter sessions (although theatres such as Drury Lane, Covent Garden and the Opera House were exempt, as they had special crown-licenses). Not surprisingly, this limited the number of venues. Ones that were licensed were "Saddler's Wells, which has since grown into a temple of Shakespeare; another was Bagnigge Wells; a third was Rannelagh; while others were Marybone Gardens, the Bell and the Angel at Edmonton, the King's Head at Enfield, the Long Rooms at Hampsted, White Conduit House, Islington Spa, the Adam and Eve tea-garden, the Shepherd and Shepherdess, &c. Some of these had much celebrity in their day."

Bayard traces the tune itself to Europe: "Either in part or as a whole, this tune also has international currency: see J. Tiersot, 'Chansons Populaires Recueillies dans les Alpes Francaises', p. 532, tune No. 3—an air (one of the 'monferines') with a second part closely resembling the second of No. 21. See also Burchenal, Folk-Dances of Finland, p. 36, 'Ten Person's Polka', pp. 78, 79, the whole of No. 21 as the second part of a 'Kontra'; Yngvar Heikel, Finlands Svenska Folkdiktning, VI, B, Folkdans (Helsingfors: Utgivna av Svenska Litteratursallskapet i Finland, No. 268, 1936), pp. 69, 'Gammalmodig Atta'; 73, No. 1b, 'Stampantakt'; 264, 'Fein Engelska'; 283, 'Kokar Engelska'; 310, 'Sex Man Engelska'. The names of the dances connected with these Swedish-Finnish versions suggest that tunes and steps alike were introduced from British tradition" (Bayard, 1944). In his 1981 publication he stated the tune dated back to the latter part of the 1700's, and that it had since become as popular on the fife as on the fiddle.

Additional notes

Mrs. Sarah Armstrong

Sources for notated versions: - Mrs. Sarah Armstrong, (Derry, Pennsylvania, 1943) [Bayard, 1944]; Hiram White (elderly fiddler from Greene County, Pa., 1930's), George Reed (elderly fiddler from Centre County, Pa., 1930's), and George Strosnider (elderly fiddler from Greene County, Pa., 1930's) [Bayard, 1981].

Printed sources : - Adam (Old Time Fiddlers' Favorite Barn Dance Tunes), 1928; No. 2. Aird, (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 1), 1782; No. 109. American Veteran Fifer, No. 93. Bayard (Hill Country Tunes), 1944; No. 21. Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 332A-C, pp. 303–310. Burchenal (American Country Dances, vol. 1), 1918; p. 5. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 24. DeVille & Gold (Universal Album), 1912; No. 76 (as "Soldier's Joy"). Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 95 (2d part of "Coonie in the Creek"). Greenleaf and Mansfield, Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland; p. 377 (a quadrille with a second strain which corresponds to part 2 of 'King's Head'). Harding's Original Collection, No. 20. Howe (School for the Violin), 1851; p. 37. Jigs and Reels, vol. 2, 1908; p. 22. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1875; No. 6. Krassen (Appalachian Fiddle), 1973; pp. 15 & 45. Levey (Dance Music of Ireland, 1st Collection), 1858; No. 90 (unnamed reel or hornpipe). Linscott (Folk Songs of Old New England), pp. 110, 111. O'Neill, Music of Ireland, No. 1642. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 166. Robbins (Collection of 200 Jigs, Reels, and Country Dances), 1933; No. 56. Roche Collection, vol. 2, No. 216. Saar (Fifty Country Dances), 1932; No. 14. O'Malley & Atwood (Seventy Good Old Dances), 1919; No. 9, p. 14. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964; p. 43. Sym (Sym's Old Time Dances), 1930; p. 13. Thede (The Fiddle Book), p. 118. White's Excelsior Collection, p. 72.

Recorded sources: -

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]

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