Belled Buzzard (2) (The)

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 Theme code Index    161H6 3636
 Also known as    
 Composer/Core Source    
 Region    United States
 Genre/Style    Old-Time
 Meter/Rhythm    Reel (single/double)
 Key/Tonic of    C
 Accidental    NONE
 Mode    Ionian (Major)
 Time signature    2/4
 Structure    AABB
 Editor/Compiler    Ira Ford
 Book/Manuscript title    Traditional Music in America
 Tune and/or Page number    p. 60
 Year of publication/Date of MS    1940
 Title of recording    
 Record label/Catalogue nr.    
 Year recorded    
 PDF Score   ()   

BELLED BUZZARD [2], THE. Old-Time, Breakdown. C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Phillips): AABB (Ford). The melody has similarities to "Billy in the Lowlands." Ira Ford (1940) relates an Ozark tale regarding the origins of the tune, concerning a settlement along a river bottom. "One bank of the river was bordered for miles by high unscalable bluffs crowned with scrub timber, the home and breeding place of thousands of buzzards. Hog raising was the main source of income of the community. Mast from the acorn-bearing trees furnished food for the droves of hogs ear-marked and turned into the woods each year, to by rounded up in the fall ready for market. One summer hog cholera broke out among the porkers. The buzzards, feasting on the dead carcasses, carried the disease from one section of the country to another. There was an unwritten law that these birds should no be killed, but the farmers were aware that, unless some action was taken to check the spread of the disease, their hogs, together with their incomes, would be wiped out entirely. A meeting was called. It was decided to capture one of the birds and fasten a small sheep bell to it, in the hope that it would cause them to leave. One of the birds was accordingly trapped and belled. His arrival among the others created a great commotion and in a few days the flock of buzzards disappeared, only the belled buzzard remaining. Finally he, too, took flight. At the end of the summer there was an epidemic of typhoid fever in the community, many dying. About the same time the belled buzzard reappeared, the tinkle of his bell being plainly heard as he soared above the houses. He came and went time after time and always following his reappearance some sort of calamity happened. The return of the belled bird aroused apprehension in the minds of the more superstitious and his presence became associated with their misfortunes. They believed the repulsive fowl was possessed of an evil spirit. Many believe he still roams the skies, as he has for more than a hundred years, so that even today any report of the belled buzzard casts a spell of gloom over them. The tune, 'The Belled Buzzard', has been handed down through the years with this tradition, the plucking of the fiddle string in certain places in the music representing the tinkle of his bell."

Source for notated version: fiddler Ruthie Dornfeld (Seattle) [Phillips].

Printed sources: Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 60. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; p. 22.

Recorded source:

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

T:The Belled Buzzard [2]
C/D/E/G/ AA/G/|c/B/c/B/ A/G/E/D/|E/^G/A/B/ A/G/E/D/|EA A>A|
c/B/c/B/ AA/G/|E/C/G,/C/ EE/F/ G/A/B/d/ g/d/B/d/|[Ec][Ae] [E2c2]:|
|:[Ae][Ae] [Ae][Ae]|[A/e/]f/e/d/ c/B/A/G/|E/^G/A/B/ c/B/c/B/|A8|
[Ae][Ae] [Ae][Ae]|[A/e/]f/e/d/ c/B/A/=G/|E/G/c/d/ [A/e/][ca][A/f/]|[Bg][DB] [E2c2]:||