Ragtime Annie (1)

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X:1 T:Rag Time Annie M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Reel B:Ford - Traditional Music in America (1940) K:D A|A/F/B/F/ A/F/B/F/|A/F/B/F/ A>A|A/F/B/F/ A/F/B/F/|A/(c>B) c>B| (A/B/c/)(A/ B/c/)(A/B/)|(c/A/)(B/c/) c c/B/|1 AA BA|F3:|2 AA Bc|d3|| |:f|(a3f)|A3 A/A/|dd ^c=c|(B3e)| (g3e)|c3 (c/B/)|AA (BA)|F3 A| (a3f)|A3 A/A/|dd ^c-c|B3 z| B/A/B/c/ d/c/d/e/|f/e/f/g/ a2|f/e/f/g/ a/f/e/c/|d3:|



RAGTIME ANNIE [1]. AKA and see “Ragged Annie,” "Raggedy Ann," "Raggedy Ann Rag," “Raggin' On,” "Bugs/Bug in the 'Tater(s).” American, Canadian; Reel. USA, very widely known. D Major ('A' and 'B' parts) & G Major ('C' part). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Phillips/1989): AA'B (Sweet): AABB (Ford, Welling): AA’BB (Ruth): AA'BB' (Krassen): ABCC (Christeson): AABCC (Jarman, Johnson): AA'BCC' (Reiner & Anick): AA'BBC (Messer): AA’BCC (Silberberg): AA'BB'CC (Miskoe & Paul): AA'BB'CC' (Phillips/1995). A popular American fiddle tune and a staple of the North American fiddling repertoire, of uncertain origins. There is much speculation along the lines of the following: "Ragtime Annie is almost certainly a native American dance tune, possibly less than 100 years old" (Krassen, 1973). Guthrie Meade has a similar point of view regarding the tune's antiquity, noting that this very popular piece appears in many relatively modern collections, but not in early ones. There are persistent rumors that it first was heard played by Texas fiddlers around 1900–1910, but no firm evidence. Reiner & Anick (1989) suggest the tune is derived from a piano piece called "Raggedy Ann Rag," and categorize it as a 'Midwest' and 'Southwest' tune, but they did not cite a source and so far no one has been able to access a piano melody similar to the fiddle tune (The title “Raggedy Ann Rag” does appear on printed music, written by Joe "Fingers" Carr and published in 1952, far too late to have been the original for “Ragtime Annie”.) The earliest appearance of “Ragtime Annie” that can be documented, in print or otherwise, is the recording by Texas fiddler Eck Robertson (along with Henry C. Gilliland) in 1923 and a few years later by the Texas duo Solomon and Hughes. Robertson’s release was backed with “Turkey in the Straw.” “Ragtime Annie” was later recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph from Ozarks Mountains fiddlers in the early 1940's.

There is often some confusion among fiddlers whether to play the tune in two or three parts, and both are correct depending on regional taste. Eck Robertson’s original version was in three parts (the third part changes key to G major) as are many older south-west versions, and some insist this form was once more common that the two-part version often heard in more recent times. Other Texas fiddlers learned the two-part version. Glen Godsey writes: “Of the fiddlers I knew in Amarillo in the 1940's–1950's, Eck was the only one who played the third part. I learned only two parts as a kid, and we always played just two parts for the square dances. I only learned the third part many years later from Eck's recording.” Little Dixie, Missouri, fiddler Howard Marshall says the third part has been a vital part of the tune in Missouri for many years, offering that the renowned regional fiddler Taylor McBaine remembered playing it that way as a child in the very early 1920s. Marshall reports that local speculation is that the third part was inserted to relieve a square dance fiddler from the stress of keeping the main part of the tune going through a long set. Gordon McCann (2008) remembered that Missouri fiddler Bob Walsh, a respected entrepreneur who often judged fiddle contests, would deduct points from a performance if the third part was omitted. Drew Beisswenger (2008), however, remarks that the three-part version of “Ragtime Annie” is seldom heard among Ozark fiddlers and consigns the longer version to northern Missouri fiddlers and fiddlers west of the Mississippi. Some feel the third part is reminiscent of “Little Brown Jug,” although there can be considerable variation from fiddler to fiddler in the way third parts are rendered.

“Ragtime Annie” was the first tune learned by itinerant West Virginia fiddler John Johnson (1916-1996), originally from Clay County, from fiddler Dorvel Hill who lived in a coal-mining town called Pigtown, not far from Clay, W.Va. Left handed fiddler Walter Melton played all three parts at square dances around Dunbar, W.Va., in the 1930s.

I was bashful back then and wouldn’t go in anybody’s house hardly. I’d sit on the railroad and listen to Dorvel play the fiddle at night. And I learned most all of Dorvel’s tunes. I just set down there and listened to all his tunes and then go home and play them.[1]

Other early sound recordings include those by Al Hopkins (1926) and the Kessinger Brothers (1930). As "Raggedy Ann" the tune title appears in a list of traditional Ozarks Mountains fiddle tunes compiled by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, published in 1954. "Raggedy Ann," a variant title of “Ragtime Annie,” was perhaps an association with the popular American rag-doll of the mid-20th century. Arkansas Arkie Woodchooper calls the tune “Raggin On.” In June, 1930, the Texas-based Humphries Brothers recorded a two-step called “What made the Wildcat Wild?" that uses melodic material from "Ragtime Annie" in the second strain, but they also recorded a delightfully down-tempo version of "Ragtime Annie" as "Ragged Ann Rag." See also note to "Goin' Up Town."

Additional notes

Source for notated version: - African-American fiddler Bill Driver (Miller County, Missouri) [Christeson]; Hector Phillips [Reiner & Anick]; Alexander Robertson [Phillips/1995]; transplanted French-Canadian fiddler Omer Marcoux {1898-1982} (Concord, N.H.) who "played (the tune) way back in Canada" [Miskoe & Paul]; Glenn Berry [Silberberg]; Bob Walsh (1929–1990, Shannon County, Missouri) [Beisswenger & McCann].

Printed sources : - Beisswenger & McCann (Ozarks Fiddle Music), 2008; p. 160. R.P. Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers Repertory, vol. 1), 1973; pp. 171–172. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 44. "Byron Berline: The Fiddle," Frets, July 1980, p. 64 (includes variations). Jarman (The Cornhuskers Book of Square Dance Tunes), 1944; pp. 2–3. Johnson (Kitchen Musician No. 7: Michigan Tunes), 1986-87; p. 12. Krassen (Appalachian Fiddle), 1973; pp. 48-49. Messer (Anthology of Favorite Fiddle Tunes), 1980; No. 10, p. 1 (appears as "Raggedy Ann"). Miskoe & Paul (Fiddle Tunes of Omer Marcoux), 1980; p. 40. Miskoe & Paul (Fiddle Tunes of Omer Marcoux), 1994; p. 35. Phillips (Fiddle Case Tunebook: Old Time Southern), 1989; p. 36. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 2), 1995; p. 107. Reiner & Anick (Old Time Fiddling Across America), 1989; p. 131. Ruth (Pioneer Western Folk Tunes), 1948; No. 123, p. 43. Silberberg (Fiddle Tunes I Learned at the Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 123. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964/1981; p. 75. Welling (Welling's Hartford Tunebook), 1976; p. 5 (with variations).

Recorded sources: -Caney Mountain CEP 212 (privately issued extended play LP), Lonnie Robertson (Mo.). Columbia 15127-D (78 RPM), 1926, Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers (Posey Rorer, fiddler). County 507, The Kessinger Brothers (Clark Kessinger, fiddler) – "Old Time Fiddle Classics." County 509, "Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, vol. 2." County 725, "The Riendeau Family: Old-Time Fiddling from Old New England." County 733, "The Legend of Clark Kessinger." Document DOC-8012-CD, “The Kessinger Brothers, vol. 3.” Document DOC-8038-CD, “Texas Fiddle Bands.” Document 8040, “The Hill Billies/Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, vol. 2” (reissue. Appears as “Ragged Annie”). Folkways FA 2381, "The Hammered Dulcimer as played by Chet Parker" (1966). Folkways 8826, Pers Four – "Jigs and Reels." Fretless 200a, Yankee Ingenuity – "Kitchen Junket" (1977). Front Hall 01, Bill Spence and Fennigs All-Stars – "The Hammered Dulcimer." Heritage 048, Gordon Tanner – "Georgia Fiddle Bands" (Brandywine 1982). Marimac 9110, Floyd County Ramblers – "It'll Never Happen Again" (orig. rec. 1930). Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers Association 002, Taylor McBaine – "Boone County Fiddler" (played in three parts). Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers' Association, Cyril Stinnett – "Plain Old Time Fiddling." Rounder 0100, Byron Berline – "Dad's Favorites." Vanguard VSD 79170, "Doc Watson and Son." Victor LPV 552, Eck Robertson – "Early Rural String Bands" (a reissue of the original 1922 recording). Victor 19149 (78 RPM), Eck Robertson (1922). Victor Vi V-40244 (78 RPM), {Ervin} Solomon & {Joe} Hughes (1929. A twin fiddler version). Voyager VRCD 344, Howard Marshall & John Williams – “Fiddling Missouri” (1999). Voyager, Benny Thomasson – “Say Old Man Can You Play the Fiddle?”

See also listings at:
Alan Snyder’s Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [1]
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Hear bluegrass fiddler Kenny Baker's 1970 recording on youtube.com [3]

Hear the Humphries Brothers' "Ragged Ann Rag" at Slippery Hill [4]


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  1. Michael Kline, Mountains of Music, John Lilly ed. 1999