Ben Butler's Reel

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 Theme code Index    17L16 17L7L1
 Also known as    Arbana
 Composer/Core Source    
 Region    United States
 Genre/Style    Contra
 Meter/Rhythm    Reel (single/double)
 Key/Tonic of    B
 Accidental    2 flats
 Mode    Ionian (Major)
 Time signature    2/4
 History    USA(New England)
 Structure    AABBCCDD
 Editor/Compiler    William Bradbury Ryan
 Book/Manuscript title    Ryan's Mammoth Collection
 Tune and/or Page number    pp. 42 & 78
 Year of publication/Date of MS    1883
 Title of recording    
 Record label/Catalogue nr.    
 Year recorded    
 Score   ()   

BEN BUTLER'S REEL. AKA and see "Arbana." American, Reel. B Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCCDD. The title probably refers to the blustering Massachusetts politician and Union army figure of the same name in the Civil War era. Butler was placed in charge of the newly-captured New Orleans and became known as "Beast" Butler to the wealthy New Orleans citizens due to his unsympathetic administration of the city. He was an unsuccessful candidate fpr President, but was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 1882 (the year prior to the publication of the Ryan collection). "Early in the Civil War," writes Frank Dumont in an article in the New York Clipper (March 27, 1915-"The Younger Generation in Minstrelsy and Reminiscences of the Past"), "General Ben Butler coined a new word for the minstrels, which proved both funny and of interest. To all the Negro refugees who were flocking to Fortress Monroe, having escaped from their masters, he applied the term, 'Contrabands of War.' The papers took up the phrase, and in fact everybody talked about it, and the word 'Contraband' crept into our conversation. The minstrels were quick to attach the word to songs, n....r acts and speeches. 'The Happy Contraband', 'Contraband from Dixie', 'Contraband's Lament', 'Contraband Children', 'Contraband's Adventures', and 'Contraband Brothers' appeared on all programs, and furnished subjects for all kinds of songs and dances." [1]

Printed sources: Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 50. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; pp. 42 & 78.

T:Ben Butler's
S:Ryan's Mammoth Collection  (1883)
Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion 
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