Minnie Foster's Clog
X:1 T:Minnie Foster's Clog M:C| L:1/8 R:Clog S:Ryan's Mammoth Collection (1883) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:F (A>B) | (c>.F)(A>.c) d>FB>d | c>FA>c f>ef>^f | g>ce>g b>ea>g | (3fef (3gfd c>AB>=B | c>FA>c d>FB>d | c>FA>c f>ef>^f | g>eb>g e>cB>G | F2A2F2 :| |: (e>.f) | g>ce>g b>eg>b | a>Ac>f a>cf>a | g>c'=b>a a>gf>d | c2 c'2 c>A,B,>=B, | (3C=B,C A,>C F>Ac>^c | (3d^cd D>F B>df>b | a>cf>a e>gc>e | f2a2f2 :|
MINNIE FOSTER'S CLOG. AKA and see "Black Swan (The)," "Comet (2) (The)," "Doctor Peter's," "Down the Glen," "Mrs. Minnie Foster." American (?), Clog. F Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. New York musician, writer and researcher Don Meade finds that Foster was a prominent performer of "Topsy" roles in the 1860's and 1870's in productions such as Uncle Tom's Cabin (in which she was part of the cast in 1873 when it played in New York (albeit the company was playing it as a matinee, primarily aimed at an audience of women and children). Although productions of Uncle Tom's Cabin were popular and rather ubiquitous in the second half of the 19th century, and Foster's among the best, not everyone was pleased. A Lancaster, Pennsylvania, paper declared after one performance: "Minnie Foster's Uncle Tom Cabin Company to fair house, 17th. This is about the tenth Uncle Tom company that has visited us this season, and no more wanted."
Provenance is debatable. Boston publisher Elias Howe was the first to publish the tune (in Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883) although the tune may have been Irish originally, and transported to the United States where it was adapted for or associated with Foster. However, the melody has the feeling of a stage hornpipe typical of American clogs of the 1880's. "Black Swan (The)" is the title for the tune used on a several recordings by Belfast fiddler Seán McGuire, and the hornpipe was also popularized by accordion player Joe Burke (who recorded it in 1973 with fiddler Charlie Lennon). In his note to the tune in his Forget Me Not (2002), multiple All-Ireland champion fiddler Séamus Connolly writes that he first heard "Minnie Foster's" played in the home of Dave Collins in the Bronx in 1972 by the late fiddlers Andy McGann and Paddy Reynolds (Collins is the brother of fiddler Kathleen Collins and Dan Collins of Shanachie Records). Connolly (2002) remarks that McGann and Reynolds were part of a musical circle that included the aformentioned accordion player Joe Burke, fiddler and flute player John-Joe Gardiner, Kevin Burke, Paddy Glackin, Séamus MacMathúna, and Connolly's uncle Paddy Connolly.
Cape Breton fiddlers seem to have independently picked it up, probably from Ryan's Mammoth successor publication, Cole's 1001 Fiddle Tunes (1940), popularized by fiddler Angus Chisholm's (1908–1979) 78 RPM recording.