Black Mountain Rag (1)

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 Theme code Index    3655 3651
 Also known as    
 Composer/Core Source    
 Region    United States
 Genre/Style    Bluegrass, Contest, Old-Time, Texas/Oklahoma
 Meter/Rhythm    Country Rag, Reel (single/double)
 Key/Tonic of    A
 Accidental    3 sharps
 Mode    Ionian (Major)
 Time signature    2/2, 4/4
 History    USA(Southwest)
 Structure    AABBCC'
 Editor/Compiler    Biography:David Brody
 Book/Manuscript title    Book:Fiddler's Fakebook (The)
 Tune and/or Page number    p. 48
 Year of publication/Date of MS    1983
 Artist    Biography:Curly Fox
 Title of recording    
 Record label/Catalogue nr.    King Records 562
 Year recorded    1946
 Score   ()   

T:Black Mountain Rag [1]
GA |: B2 eB dedB | B2 eB d2 GA | B2 eB dedB | _BAGE G4 :|
|: d4 [G4B4] | d2B2E2D2 | d4 [G4B4] | DEDB, A,D G,2 :|
|:(A,B,)[B,G]G (A,B,)[B,G]G|G,2 [D2B2g2] A,2B,2|C2[c2e2](DE)[ce]e|[=F2c2]E2 DG C2 |1 
(A,B,)[B,G]G (A,B,)[B,G]G|G,2 [D2B2g2] B,2C2|D2 [d2f2] A,D [Af]f|D2 [d2f2] G,2A,2 :|2 
(A,B,) [B2g2] (B,A,) G,2|A,2 [A2f2] B,A, D2|G,2 [D2B2g2] DG [Bg]g|G,8|| 

BLACK MOUNTAIN RAG [1]. Old-Time, Bluegrass; Rag. A Major (Brody): G Major. AEac# or GDac tuning (fiddle). AA'BB'CC'. "One of the most popular fiddle tunes in modern history..." (C. Wolfe). The piece became popular in the late 1930's. It was claimed by fiddler Leslie Keith (who is featured on the very first recordings of the Stanley Brothers), who said he wrote it in the early 1940's after taking "a little bit of" the west Alabama group The Stripling Brothers recording 'The Lost Child', and " a little of two or three of the Carter Family's tunes." He named it "Black Mountain Blues" after the name of a mountain in Cumberland County, Tenn., however, "Lost Child (The)" is the basic melody for the tune, although some credit "Lost Indian (1) (The)" as the ancestral tune. Curly Fox changed the name from "Black Mountain Blues" to "Black Mountain Rag" on his 1947 recording for King, which eventually sold over 600,000 copies (Charles Wolfe, The Devil's Box, Dec. 1982, pp. 3-12). In 1952 the Stripling Brothers were recorded in the field by Ray Browne, on a collecting trip for the Library of Congress, and although they had never recorded "Black Mountain Rag" commercially, Browne did record them playing it that day (see "Black Mountain Rag (2))."

Several 'black mountains' have been suggested as the one referred to in the title, including one of the tallest peaks east of the Mississippi, Mount Mitchell. Mitchell was apparently called by various names in the past, beginning with Grey Eagle (due to a rock formation on its side). Later it became known as Black Mountain because of the dark appearance of the balsams at the top. The tune appears in a list of "traditional" fiddle tunes common to the Ozark Mountains, compiled by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph in 1954. It was also a favorite "trick" fiddling tune in the Texas tradition.

Printed source: Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 48.

Recorded sources: United Artists 9801, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" (various artists). Rounder 0073, "The White Brothers, Live in Sweden." Vanguard VSD 45/46, "The Essential Doc Watson." Vanguard VRS 9152, "Doc Watson." County 703, Benny Thomasson - "Texas Hoedown." Elektra 7285, The Dillards with Byron Berline - "Pickin' and Fiddlin.'" Antilles 7014, "Country Gazette, Live." Mercury SRM 1-1058, Vassar Clements - "Superbow." County 730, Kenny Baker - "Baker's Dozen." Folkways FA 2398, "New Lost City Ramblers, vol. 3." Folk Star 613(2764) - "Glen Neaves and the Grayson County Boys (Va.)." Mercury 6246 - Tommy Jackson. King Records 562, Curly Fox (Ga.) {1946}. Caney Mountain Records CLP 228, Lonnie Robertson (Mo.) - "Fiddle Favorites."