Such a Gettin' Upstairs (1)
X:2 T:Such a Getting Up Stairs  M:2/4 L:1/8 S:Howe – Complete Preceptor for the Accordeon (1843) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:C EFGc | E2 FG | AG FE | DE F2 :| |: G/F/ | E/C/D/B,/ G,C | B,/C/D/E/ F/A/G/F/ | E/C/D/B,/ G,C | B,/C/D/E/ C :|
SUCH A GETTIN' UPSTAIRS . AKA and see "Getting Upstairs (2)," "Gittin' Upstairs," "Asa Hoge Tune," "Never Seen The Like." American; Air and Reel (2/4, 4/4 or cut time). USA; Virginia, southwestern Pa., Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky. D Major (Bayard): C Major (Howe/Accordeon): G Major (Bayard). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. An early version of the tune was published by George P. Knauff in his Virginia Reels, volume IV (Baltimore, 1839). Samuel Bayard (1981) thinks the tune may have originated as a stage or vaudeville number, and indeed, it was adopted by American minstrels and was first published as a minstrel song in the 1830's. It was in the repertoire of minstrel Thomas "Daddy" Rice and Sigmund Spaeth reports it was sung by P.T. Barnum in black-face. The minstrel publication mentions its interpretor as "Mr. Bob Farrell, the Original Zip Coon." The song was said by Brown to have been featured by one Barney Burns, a low comedian connected with a rural travelling circus in the mid-nineteenth century. Several writers, beginning with Winston Wilkinson (Southern Folklore Quarterly, vol. VI, No. 1, March 1942, “Virginia Dance Tunes”), have found that “Such a Getting Upstairs” is derived from the morris dance tune “Getting Upstairs,” collected by Cecil Sharp and published in 1909.
Various ditties or rhymes have been collected with the melody in American tradition, including floating verses. Wilkinson (1942) printed these:
Old Molly Hyar, what you doin’ dar?
Settin’ in a cornder smokin’ a cigyar.
Such a gittin’ up sta’rs I never did see
Such a gittin’ up sta’rs I neved did see.
Some love coffee, some love tea,
But I love the pretty girl that winks at me.
Such a gittin’ up stairs you never did see,
Such a gittin’ up stairs you never did see.
This rhyme was collected with one of Bayard's Pennsylvania-collected versions:
Went upstairs with a dollar and a half,
Came downstairs with a cow and a calf.
Such a gittin' upstairs I never did see,
Such a gittin' upstairs'll never do me.
The tune is probably the "Getting Upstairs" mentioned in a 1931 account of a LaFollette, northeast Tenn., fiddlers contest. It is similar to West Virginia fiddler French Carpenter's "Shelvin' Rock." The title appears in a list of traditional Ozark Mountain fiddle tunes compiled by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, published in 1954. Wilkinson finds a variant of the melody as a play-party tune collected in Indiana, and in similar use by children in Liverpool, England (where they sing a rhyme beginning “Up the streets and down the streets,” which Wilkinson sees as a possible morris dance relic). North Georgia fiddler Clayton McMichen, recording with the Skillet Lickers for Columbia in 1929 (No. 15472), sang the song as “Never Seen the Like Since Getting’ Upstairs.” The English collector Cecil Sharp made a cylindar recording of this tune in 1909 of the playing of English musician John Locke, Leominster, Hereford, described as a “gipsy fiddler” (see abc below).