Soldier's Joy (1)

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X:1 T:Soldier's Joy (1), The M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel B:McGlashan - Collection of Scots Measures (c. 1781, p. 32) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D FG|AFDF AFDF|A2d2d2 cB|AFDF AFDF|G2E2E2 FG| AFDF AFDF|A2d2d2 fg|afdf gece d2 D4:| |:g2|fd fg f/g/a gf|ec ef (e/f/g) (fe)|fd fg (f/g/a) gf|edcB A2g2| fd fg (f/g/a) gf|ec ef (e/f/g) fe|(f/g/a) fd (e/f/g) (ec)|d2 D4:|]



SOLDIER'S JOY [1] (“Lutgair An Sigeadoir/t-Saigdiura”). AKA and see "French Four (2)," "I Am My Mamma's Darlin' Child," “John White,” "Joie du soldat (La)," "King's Head (1)," "King's Hornpipe (1) (The)," "(I) Love Somebody (1)," "Payday in the Army," "Rock the Cradle Lucy," "Set canadien de Québec 3ème partie," "Wild Bill Reel." American, Canadian, English, Irish, Scottish; Scottish Measure, Hornpipe, Reel, Country Dance and Morris Dance Tune. D Major (almost all versions): G Major (Bacon, Bayard‑Simmons). Standard or ADae (Edden Hammons) tunings. AB (Athole, Bayard‑Simmons, Shaw, Milne): AABB (most versions): ABCDE (Cooke {Ex. 54}). One of, if not the most popular fiddle tune in history, widely disseminated in North America and Europe in nearly every tradition; as Bronner (1987) perhaps understatedly remarks, it has enjoyed a "vigorous" life. There is quite a bit of speculation on just what the name ‘soldier’s joy’ refers to. Proffered thoughts seem to gravitate toward money and drugs. In support of the latter is the 1920’s vintage Georgia band the Skillet Lickers, who sang to the melody:

Well twenty-five cents for the morphine,
and fifteen cents for the beer.
Twenty-five cents for the old morphine
now carry me away from here.

Bayard (1981) dates it to "at least" the latter part of the 18th century, citing a version that has become standard in James Aird's 1778 collection (vol. 1, No. 109) and Skillern's 1780 collection (pg. 21). London publishers Longman and Broderip included it in their Entire New and Compleat Instructions for the Fife in 1785. Kate Van Winkler Keller (1992) says that the hornpipe “Soldier’s Joy” appeared with a song in London in about 1760. John Glen (1891) and Francis Collinson (1966) maintain the first appearance in print of this tune is in Joshua Campbell's 1778 A Collection of the Newest and Best Reels and Minuets with improvements. It has been attributed to Campbell himself but Collinson notes it is hardly likely as it is a well known folk dance tune in other countries of Europe. There is also a dance by the same name which is "one of the earliest dances recorded in England, but no date of origin has been established. It is still done in Girton Village as part of a festival dance. The tune is also well known in Ireland" (Linscott, 1939). The melody was used in North‑West England morris dance tradition for a polka step, and also is to be found in the Cotswold morris tradition where it appears as "The Morris Reel," collected from the village of Headington, Oxfordshire. Scots national poet Robert Burns set some verses to the tune which were published in his Merry Muses of Caledonia. In the first song of Burns' cantata, The Jolly Beggars, by the soldier, is to the tune of “Soldier's Joy.” Early versions of "Soldier's Joy" can be traced to a Scottish source as far back as 1781; variants can be found in Scandinavia, the French Alps, and Newfoundland (Linda Burman‑Hall, "Southern American Folk Fiddle Styles," Ethnomusicology, vol. 19, #1, Jan. 1975). Jean-Paul Carton identifies a version of “Soldier’s Joy” in the tablature manuscript of French fiddler Pierre Martin, dating from around 1880. He says: “I find (Martin’s) version of Soldier’s Joy—simply referred to as Été [a type of dance], tab #132—surprisingly close to some of the American versions, including the bowing, which is indicated in the tab.” [1]

Swedish folklorist Jonas Liljestrom writes to say that Danish folk dance researcher Per Sørensen has traced the history of “Soldier’s Joy” in Denmark and Scandinavia, and has written that it can be found in the third volume of Rutherford's Compleat Collection of two hundred of the most Celebrated Country Dances, Both Old and New, published in Scotland circa 1756. Sørensen’s article includes a transcription of the Rutherford version, nearly identical to the usual melody, and indicates the “Soldier’s Joy” title was used by Rutherford and that it was published with dance directions. Liljestrom cites: Sørensen, Per: "Dansens og musikkens rødder 42: Hornfiffen fra Randers 2.del" ("The Roots of the dance and music part 42: The Randers Hornpipe part 2"), (Published in "Hjemstavnsliv" issue nr. 11, 1999. The magazine is issued by "Landsforeningen Danske Folkedansere" ["National Association of Danish Folk Dancers"] in association with Danske Folkedanseres Spillemandskreds ["Danish Folkdancers' Association of Fiddlers"].) The Finnish "Ten Person's Polka" is also a version of "Soldier's Joy"[2]

In America the melody is ubiquitous. Early printings of the melody are in Benjamin and Joseph Carr’s Evening Amusement (Philadelphia, 1796), Joshua Cushing’s Fifer’s Companion (Salem, Mass., 1804) and Daniel Steele’s New and Compleat Preceptor for the Flute (Albany, 1815). It was cited as having commonly been played for country dances in Orange County, New York, in the 1930's (Lettie Osborn, New York Folklore Quarterly), and Bronner (1987) confirms it was a popular piece at New York square dances in the early 20th century. The title appears in a repertoire list of Norway, Maine, fiddler Mellie Dunham (the elderly Dunahm {b. 1853} was Henry Ford's champion fiddler in the late 1920's). Musicologist Charles Wolfe (1982) says it was popular with Kentucky fiddlers. The tune was recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, from the playing of Ozark Mountain fiddlers in the early 1940's, and, for the same institution by Herbert Halpert in 1939 from the playing of Mississippi fiddlers John Hatcher, W.E. Claunch and Stephen B. Tucker. Fiddler and outdoorsman Leizime Brusoe (Rhinelander, Wisconsin), born in Canada around 1870, recorded it on 78 RPM under the title “French Four,” which was actually the name of the dance he usually played it for. “Soldier’s Joy” is one of ‘100 essential Missouri tunes’ listed by Missouri fiddler Charlie Walden. It was also recorded by legendary Galax fiddler Emmett Lundy, and is listed as one of the tunes played at a fiddlers' convention at the Pike County Fairgrounds, Alabama (as recorded in the Troy Herald of July 6, 1926) {Cauthen, 1990}. Arizona fiddler Kenner C. Kartchner said: "Every fiddler plays this. Some not so good" (Shumway). Howe (c. 1867) and Burchenal (1918) print a New England contra dances of the same name with the tune. Tommy Jarrell, the influential fiddler from Mt. Airy, North Carolina, told Peter Anick in 1982 that it was a tune he learned in the early 1920's when he first began learning the fiddle, at which time it was known as "I Love Somebody" in his region. Soon after it was known in Mt. Airy as "Soldier's Joy" and, after World War II, as "Payday in the Army." Another North Carolina fiddler, African-American Joe Thompson, played the tune in CFgd tuning. Gerald Milnes (1999, pg. 12) remarks that tune origins were of significant value to West Virginia musicians who often tried to trace tunes to original sources. It was the first tune learned by Randolph County, W.Va., fiddler Woody Simmons (b. 1911). Braxton County fiddler Melvin Wine (1909-1999), says Milnes, used family lore to attribute the tune to his great-grandfather, Smithy Wine, of Civil War era. Smithy, it seems, had been detained by the Confederates in Richmond under charges of aiding Union soldiers. Although imprisoned, his captors found out he was a fiddler and made him play for a dance, and Smithy later associated the tune with this incident, calling it “Soldier’s Joy.” For further information see Bayard's (1944) extensive note on this tune and tune family under "The King's Head." During a Senate campaign in the 1960's the piece was played to crowds by Albert Gore Sr., the fiddling father of the Vice President during the Clinton administration (Wolfe, 1997).

In England, the title appears in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes ("The Northern Minstrel's Budget"), which he published c. 1800. The novelist Thomas Hardy, himself an accordionist and fiddler, mentions the tune in his novel Far From the Madding Crowd (1874):

'Then,' said the fiddler, 'I'll venture to name that the right and proper thing is 'The Soldier's Joy' ‑ there being a gallant soldier married into the farm ‑ hey, my sonnies, and gentlemen all?' So the dance begins. As to the merits of 'The Soldier's Joy', there cannot be, and never were, two options. It has been observed in the musical circles of Weatherbury and its vacinity that this melody, at the end of three‑quarters of an hour of thunderous footing, still possesses more stimulative properties for the heel and toe than the majority of other dances at their first opening.

At the turn into the 20th century the melody was in the repertoire of fiddler William Tilbury (who lived at Pitch Place, midway between Churt and Thursley, Surrey), the last of a family of village fiddlers who had learned his repertoire from an uncle, Fiddler Hammond (died c. 1870), who had taught him to play and who had been the village musician before him. The author of English Folk-Song and Dance concludes that “Soldier’s Joy” was enjoyed in the tradition of this southwest Surry village about 1870, and was one of a number of country dances which survived well into the second half of the 19th century (p. 144).

Some of the lyrics which have been sung to the tune are:

“Chicken in the bread tray scratchin' out dough,
Granny will your dog bite? No, child, no.
Ladies to the center and gents to the bar,
Hold on you don't go too far.”

Grasshopper sittin on a sweet potato vine..... (x3)
Along come a chicken and says she's mine.

I'm a‑gonna get a drink, don't you wanna go?..... (x3)
Hold on Soldier's Joy.

Twenty‑five cents for the malteen,
Fifteen cents for the beer;
Twenty-five cents for the malteen,
I'm gonna take me away from here.

Love somebody, yes I do .... (x3)
Love somebody but I won't say who.

I am my mama's darling child..... (x3)
And I don't care for you.

Dance all night, fiddle all day,
That's a Soldier's Joy. ....[Kuntz]

The Holy Modal Rounders sang:

Bold General Washington and old Rochambeau
Buggering the hessians while the fire light's aglow
Spending all their money, drinking all their pay
They're never going to end the war this a way.

In Newfoundland, it is sometimes known as “John White” and sung accompanied by the fiddle or accordion:

Did you see, did you see, did you see John White?
Did you see, did you see, did you see John White?
Did you see, did you see, did you see John White?
He's gone around the harbour for to stay all night.
He's gone around the harbour for to get a dozen beer.
He's gone around the harbour and he won't be coming here.
He's gone around the harbour for to get a cup of tea.
If you sees him will you tell him that I wants he?


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - John Carson and The Skillet Lickers (North Georgia) [Kuntz]; J.S. Price (Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma) [Thede]; Ben Smith (Dixon, Missouri) [Christeson]; Willie Woodward (Bristol, N.H.) [Linscott]: Floyd Woodhull (1976), Woodhull's Old Tyme Masters (1941), Pop Weir (c. 1960) {three versions from central New York State} [Bronner]; Bobbie Jamieson (Cullivoe, Yell, Shetland) [Cooke]; George Sutherland (Bressay/Vidlin, Shetland) [Cooke]; Lorin Simmons (Prince Edward Island, Canada, 1930's), James Marr (elderly fiddler from Missouri, 1949), twenty southwestern Pa. fifers and fiddlers [Bayard]; Richard Greene with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys [Phillips]; a c. 1837-1840 MS by Shropshire musician John Moore [Ashman]; the 1823-26 music mss of papermaker and musician Joshua Gibbons (1778-1871, of Tealby, near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire Wolds) [Sumner]; Elliot Wright (b. 1935, Flat River, Queens County, Prince Edward Island) [Perlman]; fiddler Dawson Girdwood (Perth, Ottawa Valley, Ontario) [Begin]; Isham Monday (Tompkinsville, Monroe County, Ky., 1959) [Titon].

Printed sources : - Adam (Old Time Fiddlers' Favorite Barn Dance Tunes), 1928; No. 2. Ashman (The Ironbridge Hornpipe), 1991; No. 86b, p. 35. Bacon (The Morris Ring), 1974; p. 197. Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 121. Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife), 1981; Appendix No. 1A‑B, pp. 571‑572, and No. 332A‑S, pp. 303‑310. Bégin (Fiddle Music from the Ottawa Valley: Dawson Girdwood), 1985; No. 47, p. 56. Breathnach (CRÉ V), 1999; 11. Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; p. 262. R.P. Bronner (Old-Time Music Makers of New York State), 1987; No. 12, pp. 71‑72 and No. 25, p. 110. Burchenal (American Country Dances, vol. 1), 1918; pg. 6. Carlin (English Concertina), 1977; pp. 40‑411. Cazden (Dances from Woodland), 1945; p. 19. Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers’ Repertory, vol. 2), 1984; p. 61. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 24. Cooke (The Fiddle Tradition of the Shetland Isles), 1986; Ex. 54, p. 112 and Ex. 55, p. 113. Davis (Devil's Box, vol. 20, No. 4), Winter 1986; p. 49. DeVille, 1905; No. 76. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 49. Harding Collection (1915) and Harding's Original Collection (1928), No. 20. Hime (Forty Eight Original Irish Dances Never Before Printed with Basses, vol. 1), Dublin, 1804; No. 8. Honeyman (Strathspey, Reel and Hornpipe Tutor), 1898; p. 9. Howe (Complete Preceptor for the Accordeon), 1843; p. 39. Howe (School for the Violin), 1851; p. 37. Howe (Diamond School for the Violin), p. 41. Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; p. 75. Jarman (Old Time Fiddlin' Tunes), No. or p. 23. Kaufman (Beginning Old Time Fiddle), 1977; pg. 40. Karpeles & Schofield (A Selection of 100 English Folk Dance Airs), 1951; pg. 7. Keller (Fiddle Tunes from the American Revolution), 1992; p. 14. Kennedy (Fiddler’s Tune Book), vol. 1, 1951; No. 4, p. 2. Kerr (Merry Melodies), vol. 1; Set 1, No. 6, p. 3. Krassen (Appalachian Fiddle), 1973; p. 15 and 45 (latter includes a 'A' part variation by Charlie Higgins {Galax, Va}). Kuntz (Ragged but Right), 1987; p. 295‑296 (two versions). Lerwick (Kilted Fiddler), 1985; p. 21. R.M. Levey (First Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland), 1858; No. 90, p. 36. Linscott (Folk Songs of Old New England), 1939; p. 110‑111. Lowinger (Bluegrass Fiddle), 1974; p. 22. McGlashan (Collection of Scots Measures), c. 1780; p. 32. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; pg. 38. Martin (Traditional Scottish Fiddling), 2002; p. 95. Mattson & Walz (Old Fort Snelling Book for the Fife), 1974; pg. 83. Milne (Middleton’s Selection of Strathspeys, Reels &c. for the Violin), 1870; p. 9. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 183. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 1642, p. 305. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 868, p. 150. Perlman (The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island), 1996; p. 71. Phillips (Fiddlecase Tunebook), 1989{A}; p. 38. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; p. 227 (two versions). Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 166 (appears as "King's Head"). Reiner (Anthology of Fiddle Styles), 1979; p. 37 (includes several variations). Robbins, No. 56. Roche (Collection of Traditional Irish Music, vol. 2), 1912; No. 216, p. 12 (appears as a hornpipe). Ruth (Pioneer Western Folk Tunes), 1948; No. 7, p. 4 (an alternate title is given as “King’s Head”). Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 174. Shaw (Cowboy Dances), 1943; p. 383. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 150. Sumner (Lincolnshire Collections, vol. 1: The Joshua Gibbons Manuscript), 1997; p. 22. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964; No. or p. 43. Sym, 1930; pg. 13. Thede (The Fiddle Book), 1967; p. 118. Titon (Old Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes), 2001; No. 153, p. 178. Trim (Thomas Hardy), 1990; No. 43. Wade (Mally’s North West Morris Book), 1988; p. 17. White's Excelsior Collection, 1907; p. 72.

Recorded sources : - Anachronsitic 001, John Hilt – “Swope’s Knobs” (1977). BEJOCD-28, The Mellstock Band – “The Dance at the Phoenix: Village Band Music from Hardy’s Wessex and Beyond.” Bluebird 5658‑B (78 RPM), Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers (North Ga.) {1934}. Caney Mountain Records CEP 210 (extended play LP, privately issued), Lonnie Robertson (Mo.), c. 1965‑66. Columbia 191‑D (78 RPM), Samantha Bumgarner {recorded as "I Am My Momma's Darlin' Child"). Columbia 15538 (78 RPM), Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers. County 405, "The Hillbillies." County 506, The Skillet Lickers‑ "Old‑Time Tunes. County 514, Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers‑ "Hell Broke Loo"se in Georgia" (Originally recorded in 1934). County 756, Tommy Jarrell‑ "Sail Away Ladies." Document 5167, The Booker Brothers. Edison 52370 (78 RPM), 1928, John Baltzell (appears as "Soldier's Joy Hornpipe") {Baltzell was a native of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, as was minstrel Dan Emmett (d. 1904). Emmett returned to the town in 1888, poor, but later taught Baltzell to play the fiddle}. Flying Fish 102, New Lost City Ramblers ‑ "20 Years/Concert Performances" (1978). Folk Legacy Records FSA‑17, Hobart Smith ‑ "America's Greatest Folk Instrumentalist." Folkways 2317, Marion Sumner – “Mountain Music of Kentucky” (1968). Folkways FA 2381, "The Hammered Dulcimer as played by Chet Parker" (1966). Folkways FA 2492, New Lost City Ramblers ‑ "String Band Instrumentals" (1964. Learned from Hobart Smith). Fretless 132, "Ron West: Vermont Fiddler." Heritage 32, Rafe Brady – “Cherokee Rose” (1981). Ivy Creek 201, Tommy Hunter – “Say Old Man Can You Play the Fiddle” (1992). June Appal 007, Tommy Hunter ‑ "Deep in Tradition" (1976. Learned from his grandfather, fiddler James W. Hunter, Madison County, N.C.). Library of Congress (2738-B-2), 1939, recording by Herbert Halpert of the Houston Bald Knob String Band (Franklin County, Va.). Maggie’s Music MM220, Hesperus – “Celtic Roots.” Mississippi Department of Archives and History AH‑002, Stephen B. Tucker ‑ "Great Big Yam Potatoes: Anglo‑American Fiddle Music from Mississippi" (1985). Morning Star 45003, Taylor's Kentucky Boys (with fiddler Jim Booker) ‑ "Wink the Other Eye: Old Time Fiddle Band Music from Kentucky" (1980. Originally recorded in 1927). OKeh 45153 (78 RPM), Aiken County String Band (South Carolina) (1927, under title "Carolina Stompdown"). Revonah RS‑924, "The West Orrtanna String Band" (1976). Rounder 0070, The Kentucky Colonels‑ "1965‑1967." Rounder 0073, The White Brothers‑ "Live in Sweden." Rounder 1003, Fiddlin' John Carson‑ "The Old Hen Cackled and the Rooster's Goin' to Crow." Rounder CD1518, Various Performers – “American Fiddle Tunes” (1971. Played by Leizime Brusoe as “French Four”). Smithsonian Folkways SFW 40411, Fred Allery – “Plains Chippewa/Mets Music from Turtle Mountain” (1992. A Métis version). Tradition TLP 1007, Lacey Phillips ‑ "Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians," 1956. United Artists 9801, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." Victor 263576a (78 RPM), A.J. Boulay (1929, as "Set canadien de Québec 3ème partie"). Victor 263597 (78 RPM), Joseph Allard (1929, as "La joie du soldat"). Voyager VRCD 344, Howard Marshall & John Williams – “Fiddling Missouri” (1999). Wild Goose WGS 320, Old Swan Band – “Swan-Upmanship” (2004). Yazoo 2045, The Booker Brothers. Bob Smith’s Ideal Band – “Ideal Music” (1977). “Fiddlers Three Plus Two.” “The Caledonian Companion” (1975). Edden Hammons Collection II, Disc 1.

See also listing at :
Hear Isham Monday's 1959 field recording at Berea Sound Archives [1] and Slippery Hill [2]



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  1. Reference: Claude Ribouillault, Violon du Poitou, Répertoire de danses en tablatures (Cahier de Pierre Martin, vers 1880), UPCP-Métive, Les Cahiers du CERDO No. 1, CPCP-Métive: 2003]
  2. c.f. Elizabeth Burchenal's Folk Dances of Finland.