Edden tunes

 

by Alan Jabbour
1984
Washington's March
Fine Times at Our House
Arkansas Traveller
Big Fancy
Love Nancy
Sandy Boys
Shaking Off the Acorns
Mississippi Sawyer
Queen of the Earth ...
Falls of Richmond
Waynesboro
Forked Deer
On My Way to See Nancy
Digging Potatoes
Old Greasy Coat

 

Washington's March
Accompanied by James Hammons on Guitar. Violing tuning (high to low): d" a' d' d'.

This is one of the tunes in the repetory of the Hammonses that carry special family associations. They think of such tunes as either composed by early family members or at least uniquely preserved by them. Indeed, this tune seems not to be widely circulated, even in the old time repertory of West Virginia fiddlers. Various tunes titled Washington;s March appearing in 19th-century popular publications and 20th-century documentation of fiddling and fifing (see Samuel P. Bayard, Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife, 1982) testify to the esteem in which George Washington is held. None, however, seem musically related to this tune.

Edden Hammons (as well as Burl Hammons in the present generation of the family) plays Washington's March at a lively tempo more characteristic of the general reel or breakdown category than the classic 4/4-time march. The drift of marches into the breakdown genre is a widespread phenomenon in American fiddling, reflecting both the longtime interplay between martial music and dance music in Anglo-American folk tradition (admirably discussed by Bayard in various publications) and the 20th-century decline of martial forms like the traditional fife and drum corps.

Certainly this tune has the earmarks of having been a march, as its title asserts. Yet it is equally certain that, like the more well-known Bonaparte's Retreat (usually played in the same tuning with the striking tonic and dominant drones), Washington's march has survived into the present century simply as a "piece," serving an aesthetic rather than a march or dance function for both fiddlers and their appreciative audiences.

Chappell noted that Edden hammons won the 1939 Greenbriar Valley championship playing this tune, and that he had learned it "59 years ago and first played it on a gourd covered by a deer skin."

 

Fine Times at Our House
stuff

 

Arkansas Traveller
stuff

 

Big Fancy
stuff

 

Love Nancy
stuff

 


  Next

WVU press