Quince Dillon’s High 'D' Tune

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QUINCE DILLON'S HIGH 'D' TUNE. Old Time, Breakdown. USA, southwestern Virginia. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Silberberg): AABB (Phillips): AA'BB' (Brody, Krassen). Quincy Dillon (b. 1813) was a Civil War fifer who taught the tune to fiddler Henry Reed of Glen Lyn, Virginia, near the West Virginia border. Reed didn't remember its real name and gave it a descriptive title. Evidently, it is the only tune attributed to Dillon to survive.

Jim Taylor (1995) researched Reed’s source and found that Quincy (or Quincey, as it is spelled on his military service records) volunteered for service as a fife player in the 166th Virginia Militia in August of 1861 at Red Sulpher Springs in Monroe County, now part of the state of West Virginia. The unit was subsequently incorporated into the 59th Virginia Militia, and Dillon served in that unit until its capture at the Battle of Roanoke Island, North Carolina, in February, 1862. Taylor says that members of the 59th who either escaped or were later paroled were reorganized as the 26th Virginia Battalion, and it was in that organization that Quince again enlisted (signing his name with an ‘X’) in 1863 at Centerville, now Greenville, (West) Virginia, where he was promoted to Chief Musician. “It is difficult to tell from the record,” says Taylor, “but it appears as though Quince was present at most of the engagements of the 26th Virginia Battalion from its skirmishes in western Virginia to the large battles of New Market (May 15, 1864), Third Winchester (Sept. 19, 1864), and Cedar Creek (Oct. 19, 1864).” Paul Gifford finds genealogical records that indicate Quincy Perry Dillon was born about 1827 in Franklin Co., VA, and died 12 February, 1902, in Cashmere, Monroe County, West Virginia. Family genealogy records: “He leaves a wife and seven children. ‘Uncle Quincy’ was married twice, his first wife being Miss Catherine McGhee. She has been dead a number of years. His second wife was Miss Jennie Chambers. Uncle Quincy, as he was popularly called, was a noted man in the Civil War as a “Fifer”. He belonged to Edgar’s Battalion of Infantry, C. S. A., and was not only honored by the Southern Army but by the Northern Army for his Music on the Fife. His funeral was preached at Pine Grove Church by Revs. Henry and James Dillion of Summers County. Uncle Quincy has been a member of Pine Grove Baptist Church for 30 years.”

Professor Samuel Bayard researched the interplay between fiddle and fife in the Western Pennsylvania area, largely a traditional survival of Civil War and post-Civil War genres. The fifer (along with the drummer) in the Civil War not only provided the cadence for the often long and grueling marches, but also signaled times of day and various duties and routines of the camp. In addition, musicians were expected to serve as stretcher bearers and to assist medical personnel when called on in battle.

The Reed brothers, Henry on right

Source for notated version: Henry Reed (Glen Lyn, Virginia.) [Krassen]; Mark Gaponoff [Silberberg].

Printed sources: Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; p. 224. Frets Magazine, vol. 3, No. 7, July 1981. Krassen (Appalachian Fiddle), 1973; p. 54. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; p. 191. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 123.

Recorded sources: Living Folk LFR 104, Allan Block "Alive and Well and Fiddling." PearlMae Muisc 004-2, Jim Taylor – “The Civil War Collection” (1996). Rounder 0035, Fuzzy Mountain String Band "Summer Oaks and Porch" (1973). CD, Alan Jabbour, James Reed, Bertram Levy – “A Henry Reed Reunion” (2002).

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




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