Annotation:Sally come down the Middle

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X:1 % T:Sally come down the Middle C:Noel Scott (Ozark County, Mo.) M:C| L:1/8 D: Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:D DDED F>F FD-|DFFD E>E E[DA]-|[DA]A/B/ AF [DB]>[DB][D2B2]|A>F E>F ED3:| |:dded f>g fd-|dded e>A Af-|ff/g/f/e/d B>c BA-|A>F E>F ED3:|

SALLY COME DOWN THE MIDDLE. American, Reel (cut time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The phrase ‘Sally come down the middle’ was a line in the chorus of a blackface minstrel song called “Sally, Come Up,” sung by Buckley’s Serenaders and other minstrel troupes. The song, which was often anthologized in minstrel songbooks and popular song collections, features stage directions for the movement of female characters (whether portrayed by males or not) that act like dance directions. It was written by T. Ramsey and E.W. Mackney and published in 1863, and begins by relating that the plantation ‘massa’ is 'gone' and left an overseer in charge. Its a time for carousing:

Sally, come up! Sally go down!
Sally, come twist your hell around;
De old man he’s gone down to town
Oh, Sally come down the middle!

Sally can dance, Sally can sing,
De cat chocker reel, and breakdown fling;
To get de Niggers in a string
Dar’s not a gal like Sally.

As with many popular songs, parodies and alternate words soon appeared. It was also sung, with altered words, in the concert saloons of New York city. This account was of the “St. Nicholas Casino” was published in the periodical New York Clipper, Jan. 30, 1864, where a version was sung by one of the waiter girls:

Flat across her face it grows,
It sounds like thunder when it blows,
Such a lubly nose has Sally!
She can smell a rat,

So mind what you’re at,
It’s razor sharp, although it’s flat,
Sally has got a lubly nose,
Is de lubly nose of Sally.

Sally come up! Oh! Sally go down,
Sally come twist your heels around;
De old man he’s gone to town,
Oh! Sally come down the middle.

A clanking of glasses an rapping of knuckles showed how she was appreciated; and as she gave a bully imitation of Dave Reed in the same character, we could perceive that she was no novice at the business and had probably appeared some time or other at the old-fashioned concert halls.

The original melody for “Sally Come Up” is in 6/8 time and bears to relation to the "Sally come down the Middle" reel that is sourced to Noel “Festus” Scott, a truck driver and musician from Wasola, Ozark County, Missouri. It is surmised that the phrase "Sally come down the middle" was a survivor in folk memory from the minstrel song, perhaps because of its resemblance to a square dance call, and became attached to the lively tune.

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : -

Recorded sources: - Rounder 0437, Noel Scott – “Traditional Fiddle Music of the Ozarks, vol. 3: Down in the Border Counties” (2000. Various artists).

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