OLD TIME MUSIC...You're top ten.

Steven Berger
Steven Berger
@steven-berger
5 years ago
131 posts

Henry Martin, Which Side Are You On, Wreck of the C&O, Few Days, Oh! Susanna, Camptown Races, Hard Times Come Again No More, Van Diemen's Land, Red River Valley, Paddy West, The Constitution and the Guerriere, I Don't Want Your Millions Mister, Napoleon Crossing the Rhine, Battle of the Somme, The Last Flight of Amelia Earhart...to name a few.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,794 posts

Here's the Old Time tunes I mix in with my usual Scots ballads and such at our weekly Open Mic.

  • The Cuckoo
  • Old Joe Clark
  • Wafaring Stranger
  • Hang Me, Oh Hang Me (Been All Around This World)
  • Matty Groves
  • Trials, Troubles, Tribulations
  • Crawdad Hole
  • Amazing Grace
  • Barbara Allen
  • Go Tell Aunt Rhodie
Gwen Caeli
Gwen Caeli
@gwen-caeli
5 years ago
3 posts

Got to be some shared chromosomes there, Strumelia!  Figured that in 7 years there would be enough player turnover that the topic should be revisited - it is important.  The post originator, Bill D., emailed me on a different dulcimer topic this morning and I ran across this old thread, so thanks, Bill!  

I am a strong believer in understanding the historical context of any of our music - if we do not look at where it came from and why it grew to popularity at that point in history, then we are just playing symbols on a piece of paper without any emotional involvement that gives us the key to unlock how a piece of music should be played.  The only way to 'get' old-time music is to wrap our heads around it and tie it up with our ears in a bow!

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
5 years ago
1,917 posts

Wow Gwen, were we separated at birth or something?  I could echo your post word for word.  Thanks for the great information so well laid out.  Pretty good update to a seven year old thread!   violinbanjo




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Gwen Caeli
Gwen Caeli
@gwen-caeli
5 years ago
3 posts

In my experience, “old time music” is a very distinct type of American homegrown tradition that includes use of certain instruments – typically clawhammer or folk banjo and fiddle. It is called “old-time stringband music” by my friends that play in old time bands.  Instrumentally, old-time is rhythmic, danceable music that is easily identified after spending time with it.  Vocally, old-time is often sung with humorous words (think Uncle Dave Macon on earliest Grand Ol’ Opry). Other traditional music genres sometimes cross-blend into these established “old-time” tunes, but are not defined as “old-time music” – early country, bluegrass and contra-dance music.  In my research, the old English cross-over ballads, country(contra) tunes, Child ballads, Morris dance tunes, old Irish and Scottish tunes were an early step in the progress of musical styles, but “old-time” music came much later in history.  They are old, yes, but not “old-time”.  

To understand the distinct genre of “old-time music”, one must develop an ear for what it is – requiring listening and absorbing yourself into that distinct music culture.  I like this documentary of Clifftop, one of the most popular old-time festivals

.  Sometimes “early country” can be construed as “old-time”.  I recently did a workshop on this for dulcimer – the music born from Atlanta’s famous fiddle conventions from post-Civil War times into the 1920-1930’s, as plantation workers and freedmen moved to the textile mills in the city, around which time early field recordings were done. With the advent of radio and the vast number of early 'hillbilly' musicians, Atlanta was destined to become America’s music capitol (Nashville won out!).  This was the heyday of early country musicians like Gid Tanner and the Skilletlickers (Tanner homeplace is six miles from me), Fiddlin’ John Carson and his daughter, Moonshine Kate, Georgia Crackers and many others. (Dulcimer tab from this genre and two sound files for “I’m Growing Old and Feeble” (Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane) is on the free tab page at www.gwencaeli.com .)

Instead of thinking of my favorite old-time songs, I think of my favorite legendary old-time musicians and study their music to develop my old-time ear - like Melvin Wine, Lester McCumbers, Clyde Davenport, Tommy Jarrell and all the musicians from the Round Peak area in North Carolina, Emmett Lundy, Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith, Estill Bingham, Pug  Allen, Charlie Poole, etc. 

My favorite "second generation" old time musicians that keep the tradition alive are Mike Seeger, Bruce Molsky, Rafe Stefanini, Brad Leftwich, Ira Bernstein, David Holt, Bruce Greene (Don Pedi’s dulcimer recordings are mainly old-time Kentucky tunes learned from Bruce) and Jere and Greg Canote (listen to their old-time music at http://stringband.mossyroof.com/ ).  

Some of my favorite old-time tunes:

  • Step Back Cindy
  • Sally Ann
  • Drunken Hiccups
  • Angelina Baker 
  • Fly Around My Blue-Eyed Gal
  • Camp Meeting on the Fourth of July
  • Old Yellow Dog Come Trotting Through the Meeting House (on my “Hoe the Corn!” Appalachian/OldTime CD)
  • Sail Away Ladies
  • Oh, My Little Darlin’
  • Reuben’s Train
  • Knoxville Girl
  • Pretty Polly (also on “Hoe the Corn!” CD) . . .and about 200 others!
B. Ross Ashley
B. Ross Ashley
@b-ross-ashley
12 years ago
50 posts
They are both in the same key and tuning, I strum them in D Ionian, DAA, the tonic for both tunes is D ... one verse of Water followed by one verse of Shenandoah. Try it, it works! Bill Davenport said:
Interesting concept of Water is Wide whith Shenendoah. I'd love to hear that.
Bill

B. Ross Ashley said:
I guess I don't do genre Old Time either. I like stuff like Stephen Foster's "Hard Times", the traditional "Old Joe Clark", and others of that ilk, but I'm not enamored of the okeh Records style, no. I do Red River Valley in Pete Seeger's style, mainly because I love the alternate words he put to it back in the late 30s, There's a Valley in Spain Called Jarama. I do Git Along Little Dogies/Streets of Laredo, and The Water is Wide crossed with Shenandoah, 'cause I like them. ;)
Bill Davenport
Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
12 years ago
74 posts
Interesting concept of Water is Wide whith Shenendoah. I'd love to hear that.Bill B. Ross Ashley said:
I guess I don't do genre Old Time either. I like stuff like Stephen Foster's "Hard Times", the traditional "Old Joe Clark", and others of that ilk, but I'm not enamored of the okeh Records style, no. I do Red River Valley in Pete Seeger's style, mainly because I love the alternate words he put to it back in the late 30s, There's a Valley in Spain Called Jarama. I do Git Along Little Dogies/Streets of Laredo, and The Water is Wide crossed with Shenandoah, 'cause I like them. ;)
B. Ross Ashley
B. Ross Ashley
@b-ross-ashley
12 years ago
50 posts
I guess I don't do genre Old Time either. I like stuff like Stephen Foster's "Hard Times", the traditional "Old Joe Clark", and others of that ilk, but I'm not enamored of the okeh Records style, no. I do Red River Valley in Pete Seeger's style, mainly because I love the alternate words he put to it back in the late 30s, There's a Valley in Spain Called Jarama. I do Git Along Little Dogies/Streets of Laredo, and The Water is Wide crossed with Shenandoah, 'cause I like them. ;)
TERI WEST
TERI WEST
@teri-west
12 years ago
25 posts
Here's a fewAngelina BakerHard TimesMes parentes (with a cajun swing)Cumberland Mtn.Deer ChaseForked deerbarlow knifebritches full of stitchesgoin to bostonfly away pretty little missold joe clarkglendy burkand a zillion others..........
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
12 years ago
1,917 posts
Yes, I think we may be saying the same thing just in two different ways. ;)


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folkfan
@folkfan
12 years ago
366 posts
I didn't mean to say that other types or sounds of music that use the core of tunes and ballads that are at the heart of "Old Time Music" are themselves "Old Time Music". As you point out Bluegrass is based on in part on the music core of "Old Time" , but doesn't have the same sound as "Old Time"I was simply trying to say that "Old Time" music has had a basic core of songs to develop on and through the years has developed a special sound that is "Old Time" music. In effect it is it's own genre now. But the tunes and music that are at the core of "Old Time" aren't just played or sung by "Old Time musicians", they have a more general audience.Here's how I'd want my Barbara Allen to sound, only not in a man's voice. This has the tonal quality that I would try to achieve if I could. I melt when I hear this, but I've always have love the rolling tones of someone like Mario Lanza, or Nelson Eddy. Yummy voices
The New Christy Minstrels do a marvelous version of Barbara Allen too, but I wouldn't call it "Old Time Music" when they sing it. It doesn't have the sounds or tones, and rhythms that I've come to associate with "Old Time Music"
It just isn't the same as the young girl's singing of it in "Songcatcher".Strumelia said:I have a different view on it. After all, a good chunk of Bluegrass music is from old-time songs, tunes, and ballads but played in a more modern bluegrass style. I don't think of it as 'old-time' music then- it's then bluegrass music, derived from old-time music sources. If someone played Shady Grove in Latin salsa style, it wouldn't be old-time music. And it wouldn't be bluegrass then either.Thus, I think of old-time music as being both the material (due to its age and other very distinctive characteristics) and the style in which it is played. It certainly can be a shadowy defining line between things sometimes though. Sometimes things are hybrids of two styles or two sources, etc.
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
12 years ago
1,917 posts
folkfan said:
Carson, I'm going to say that "Old Time Music" is definitely more that just a core of basic tunes and songs. It is by this time developed into a genre of music with it's own sound coming from a basic cultural core but spiced with a variety of other cultures musical ingredients.

You can play the core of music without the sound that is now associated with "Old Time Music"
I have a different view on it. After all, a good chunk of Bluegrass music is from old-time songs, tunes, and ballads but played in a more modern bluegrass style. I don't think of it as 'old-time' music then- it's then bluegrass music, derived from old-time music sources. If someone played Shady Grove in Latin salsa style, it wouldn't be old-time music. And it wouldn't be bluegrass then either.Thus, I think of old-time music as being both the material (due to its age and other very distinctive characteristics) and the style in which it is played. It certainly can be a shadowy defining line between things sometimes though. Sometimes things are hybrids of two styles or two sources, etc.


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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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folkfan
@folkfan
12 years ago
366 posts
Carson, I'm going to say that "Old Time Music" is definitely more that just a core of basic tunes and songs. It is by this time developed into a genre of music with it's own sound coming from a basic cultural core but spiced with a variety of other cultures musical ingredients.You can play the core of music without the sound that is now associated with "Old Time Music"Pretty Saro is an old song. Here's Iris DeMent doing it in what I think of as an "Old Time Music" sound
And this is more the way I do it. It has more of a lilt Which doesn't mean that it's better, but just a different style to the same song.
Carson Turner said:
I'm a huge fan of Shady Grove and several style permutations of that tune. It just speaks to me for some reason.

The question I'd toss back is whether Old Time music is a core collection of songs from a period as opposed to a style of rendering tunes of any period? I play Old Time (as well as several variations) and tend to think it's more a performing aesthetic than a particular list of tunes.

Just my thought though. A friend and I do a pretty good If You Seek Amy in Old Time style that gets more than a few raised eyebrows. I'm betting that many of what we call bluegrass tunes can be traced back to pre-bluegrass and into Old Time -- and possibly further back into vernacular folk styles.
folkfan
@folkfan
12 years ago
366 posts
No disagreement here on the various influences other cultures other than English, Irish, and Scottish have had on "Old Time Music". Lomax's book on the Folk Songs of North America gives a nice maps showing the areas of influence you mentioned.My comment was made merely to clarify why I have to qualify that I sing old songs but not Old Time music. Since I listen mostly to Irish, and Scottish singers, I come more from a background of the Irish sessions, rather than from jams on pickin' porches in the hollers of the Appalachian Mountain. Though my father was the first one in his family born outside of WV since the families settled in the area before the Revolution, his music was Glenn Miller, and Benny Goodman. etc.Most of the tunes and songs from the Smith/MacNeil book are related to the Child ballads , but they give the American version of the tune as it was sung at various spots along the Wilderness Road. It's an interesting book, especially if someone is interested in learning a bit of history about the songs as well as the development of the country in the early days of settlement.And I get caught on the Scottish Skip quite a bit, at least that's what I call that "hop" the rhythm can sometimes take. Strumelia said:
Interesting reminder, Folkfan!
Let's keep in mind that early American music was influenced by various other ethnicities and cultures besides English, Irish, and Scottish. In old-time music one can hear the definite influence of African rhythm in particular, and there were also influences of the French, Native Americans, Scandinavian, Spanish, German, etc etc.... But the African influence is clearly there, with rhythm (especially as contributed with clawhammer/gourd banjo and tambourine/bones), also as early blues scales (applied to both the instrumental music and singing).I do know that as an 'american old-time' musician, I have a terrible time trying to play along in Irish sessions. Even if the tune is one I already play in old-time style...the rhythm is so different, I mostly fail! The rhythm difference really trips me up- to me it's almost like trying to write on a paper while looking at it in the mirror. =8-o
Bill Davenport
Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
12 years ago
74 posts
Whoa!Now were talkin!Thanks guys for the input. Looks like I got enough research to keep me busy for the winter.That's what is so neat about this site. Friendly people ready to help.Thanks again.Bill
Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
12 years ago
88 posts
Here's some links to tunes I've been listening to lately....tryin to steal a few licks... : )....Black Mt Rag
White Creek http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YSQzF8WmI8 Three Thin Dimes
White Freight Liner
Sweet Mt Corn
Big Ball in Monterey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zpu7rL06Qo Lilly Dale
Wild Bill Jones http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyy4PY6-j9s Few Days
Trouble
Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
12 years ago
1,116 posts
I like lots of tunes/songs. Here are some:RoustaboutGathering FlowersLittle BirdieChased Old SatanRed WingRed Rocking ChairArkansas TravelerHunting the BuffaloShady GroveWhiskey Before Breakfast


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one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
12 years ago
1,917 posts
My favorite top ten old-tune music TUNES?- you mean instrumental as opposed to songs or ballads?Hmm....favorite old-time tunes that I like to play...Here are a few in no particular order:Brushy Fork of Johnson's CreekHell up Coal HollerCold Frosty MorningTexasLady of the LakeLet's Hunt the HorsesJeff SturgeonOld Jimmy SuttonJack WilsonYew Piney mountainCallahanChinqapin HuntingI just realized that almost all the above are minor/modal tunes. =8-oIf you mean ballads/songs, that's a whole different list.


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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
12 years ago
1,917 posts
Interesting reminder, Folkfan!Let's keep in mind that early American music was influenced by various other ethnicities and cultures besides English, Irish, and Scottish.In old-time music one can hear the definite influence of African rhythm in particular, and there were also influences of the French, Native Americans, Scandinavian, Spanish, German, etc etc....But the African influence is clearly there, with rhythm (especially as contributed with clawhammer/gourd banjo and tambourine/bones), also as early blues scales (applied to both the instrumental music and singing).I do know that as an 'american old-time' musician, I have a terrible time trying to play along in Irish sessions. Even if the tune is one I already play in old-time style...the rhythm is so different, I mostly fail! The rhythm difference really trips me up- to me it's almost like trying to write on a paper while looking at it in the mirror. =8-o


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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
folkfan
@folkfan
12 years ago
366 posts
I was just going through Songs and Tunes of the Wilderness Road by Smith and MacNeil which might have a clue as to why I say I sing old songs, but not old time songs. One paragraph gives a description of the difference between old Appalachian music and the music of Great Britain. It says "five tone and six-tone folk tunes are rare among the tunes that have been field collected in Great Britain. Somewhere between Great Britain and the Cumberland Ford, these tunes became, you could perhaps say, more primitive, without declining the least bit in beauty or power--perhaps , in some instances, even gaining."English and American folk songs tend to be in one of the 4 common modal scales, but old Appalachian tunes tend to use what are called "gapped scales" such as the hexatonic scale that leaves out 1 note, and even more tunes leave out 2 notes and are pentatonic.I came to folk music and ballads from listening to English, Irish, and Scottish singers mostly, not American. Many of the books that I tab from are published in the British Isles. No wonder my music is slightly different in singing style.
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
12 years ago
64 posts
I forgot to give my personal top 10! I already named some fave ballads and there are others too:Barbara AllenTwo SistersThe Outlandish KnightSweet William and Lady MargaretArise AriseLittle SadieBut for me the other side of OT music is the tunes that were for dancing rather than singing and tend to have nonsense or repetitive verse/chorus structures, or no words at all:Sourwood MtnClinch Mtn BackstepGive the Fiddler a dram ( it is a favourite family hobby to make up more silly verses for this!)Swing and Turn JubileeIn fact it is difficult to limit it to 10 - my list will change a lot as I learn new songs and tunes as I am still a beginner with only a limited knowledge of repertoire!
Foggers
Foggers
@foggers
12 years ago
64 posts
Hi - am interested in the debate AND the music! That website is really interesting and I like the article that explores the term "old time" - I guess it means that rural people did not realise their music was "old time" until Okeh records (and later the radio stations) labelled it as such!Discussion about defining musical genres can be full of pitfalls and different interpretations (take a look at the endless theads on the Mudcat cafe about "What is Folk music?" to see what I mean - it usually descends into a slanging match there!). However, I feel confident that FOTMD is a much more polite and friendly place and that we can discuss and explore without falling out!Folkfan - I am interested in the distinction you pick up about doing old songs and tunes but not necessarily in an "old time " style. This is tricky for me - I would sound darned stoopid as an english woman trying to sing appalachian songs in a suitable accent, though you are quite right that some pronunciations need to be preserved for the rhymes to work.I am playing MD and banjo in OT styles though, and keep the song arrangements simple. My voice is not a trained voice, so I sing in a simple and not overly developed timbre . Like you a love the old ballads (barbara Allen, Two Sisters,The Outlandish Knight, Sweet William and Lady Margaret) and I think the focus should be on telling the tale - afte all these songs lasted because people love a good yarn!I think that this way I can be true to the original spirit of OT music whilst also being realistic about acknowledging that I am 100 years and a whole ocean away from its US sources!
Bill Davenport
Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
12 years ago
74 posts
Thanks....been there and still looking at it.Thanks.....Bill
folkfan
@folkfan
12 years ago
366 posts
Bill, Here's a site that has a "description" of Old Time Music. http://www.oldtimemusic.com/ and from what it describes, I definitely don't qualify as an old time music player in that I make no attempt to capture the flavor of the mountain culture that spawned the music style. I simply sing old songs. Occasionally, on some of the Scottish songs, I have to pronounce the words in a Scottish way in order that the rhythm or rhyme of a song works. Hame instead of home for example. My Ain Folk rather than My Own Folk. But other than that, I sing with my Mid-Western accent in as natural a voice as I can use. Fortunately for the world, I sing in private. heheheheheee Bill Davenport said:
Thanks folkfan.
I can't answer my own question. I always hear about Old Time Music. 1920's era music? Bill Monroe with his mother before he "founded" bluegrass. I've read so many things, I'm just not sure myself.
It's hard to "peg" an old time tune. That's why I put this out there.
Jump in anybody.
Bill Davenport
Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
12 years ago
74 posts
Thanks folkfan.I can't answer my own question. I always hear about Old Time Music. 1920's era music? Bill Monroe with his mother before he "founded" bluegrass. I've read so many things, I'm just not sure myself.It's hard to "peg" an old time tune. That's why I put this out there.Jump in anybody.
folkfan
@folkfan
12 years ago
366 posts
Hi Bill, Your question is a good one, but not one that I can really answer. I play a lot of old songs and ballads, Really old songs, but I don't play "Old Time Music". I don't play in the style that I understand "Old Time Music" has.Some of my songs would be: Barbara Allen, Eileen Aroon, Pretty Saro, The Riddle Song, Rue, Paper of Pins, Greensleeves, The False Knight on the Road, At the Foot of Yonders Mountain and a lot of songs from Scotland, like An Eriskay Love Lilt, Westering Home, Sound the Piobroch, Come By the Hills, Turn Ye To Me, MacPherson's Lament, Mairi's Wedding, and The Mingulay Boat Song. Hold old some of these are I really don't know.
Bill Davenport
Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
12 years ago
74 posts
We've all heard of Old Time Music.I'd like to know you're Top Ten of Old Time Music tunes.You can add more than ten if you want.I'm just curious.Bill
updated by @bill-davenport: 02/18/19 08:05:43AM