Visit Jam with Lauren
Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!

 All Forums
 Other Fiddle-Related Topics
 Other Fiddle-Related Topics
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: German tunes in U.S. fiddling


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link.

PGifford - Posted - 02/05/2008:  16:47:29


Given that many Germans immigrated to the U.S. in the 19th century and settled on farms all over the Midwest, not to mention cities along the Mississippi, Ohio, and other rivers, how did their music get passed on?

I did a lot of "collecting" of Michigan fiddling in the 1970s, and there had been substantial German settlements in various parts of the state. But even in these areas, with fiddlers and old-time musicians of German descent, they only preserved a few tunes (mainly waltzes), such as:

Ach, du lieber Augustin
A nameless waltz, versions of which were commercialized as St. Paul Waltz, Cattle Call Waltz
Du, du, liegst mir im Herzen
Wooden Heart (2/4) (this particular one was played by Bill Bigford, who used to play with Al Platte, from the German settlement of Westphalia, Michigan---I think it predated Elvis's version)
Friederike Waltz

Of course these people all played square dance tunes, primarily. Their old-time waltzes, however, would be German in origin, in part.

I'm curious to learn of the situation in other places with heavy German settlement.


Moved topic from Playing Advice to Other Fiddle-Related Advice - wormbower


Edited by - wormbower on 04/26/2008 10:30:46

fiddlepogo - Posted - 02/05/2008:  17:31:40


quote:
Originally posted by PGifford

Given that many Germans immigrated to the U.S. in the 19th century and settled on farms all over the Midwest, not to mention cities along the Mississippi, Ohio, and other rivers, how did their music get passed on?

I did a lot of "collecting" of Michigan fiddling in the 1970s, and there had been substantial German settlements in various parts of the state. But even in these areas, with fiddlers and old-time musicians of German descent, they only preserved a few tunes (mainly waltzes), such as:

Ach, du lieber Augustin
A nameless waltz, versions of which were commercialized as St. Paul Waltz, Cattle Call Waltz
Du, du, liegst mir im Herzen
Wooden Heart (2/4) (this particular one was played by Bill Bigford, who used to play with Al Platte, from the German settlement of Westphalia, Michigan---I think it predated Elvis's version)
Friederike Waltz

Of course these people all played square dance tunes, primarily. Their old-time waltzes, however, would be German in origin, in part.

I'm curious to learn of the situation in other places with heavy German settlement.




Lynn "Chirps" Smith (Midwest Fiddler) is from Illinois, and
is on this site and does a tune called something like
"Mr. Fisher's Old German Waltz".
And he probably knows other ones, too.

He oughta be showing up here shortly...

Michael

http://www.ezfolk.com/audio/bands/1088
for mp3s, blog, and "Michael's Old Time Fiddle & Banjo Hour" (hifi & lofi audio streams)

"Natchez Under The Hill-
it sounds a lot like Turkey in the Straw, but still there's a difference"- Lon Jordan


Edited by - fiddlepogo on 02/05/2008 17:44:01

hyldemoer - Posted - 02/05/2008:  18:49:06


I imagine when my grandfather played fiddle at Saturday night logging camp dances in up state Wisconsin as a lad in the late 19th/ early 20th century a lot of the tunes were German. Most of his neighbors were at the time, that or Polish. My great grandfather came over to America in the 1860s after a career in the Prussian army.

A book came out a while back that I've been thinking about investing in for my library.
http://csumc.wisc.edu/newsletter/Sp...er_spr06.htm

Glenn - Posted - 02/05/2008:  20:38:29


I think Mark Wilson and Gus Meade speculated on some German influences in the flavor of many of the tunes from NE and Central Kentucky and Southern Ohio. Check out Roger Cooper's music or the Traditional Fiddle Music of Kentucky Series on Google.

Here's a start
http://www.rounderarchive.com/media...66105442.pdf

fiddlenbanjo - Posted - 02/06/2008:  03:53:27


Isn't "Grandfather's Clock" originally a German tune? I know it's not exactly a fiddle tune, but it's a good song, for beginners or advanced players. It's also a good tune to learn in different keys.

PGifford - Posted - 02/06/2008:  07:07:14


quote:
imagine when my grandfather played fiddle at Saturday night logging camp dances in up state Wisconsin as a lad in the late 19th/ early 20th century a lot of the tunes were German. Most of his neighbors were at the time, that or Polish. My great grandfather came over to America in the 1860s after a career in the Prussian army [quote]

But of course he would have been playing mainly square dance music, right? My feeling is that a lot of nameless waltzes that are floating around may have German origins. Certainly German immigrants made the waltz acceptable for Americans to dance. Until 1880 or so, a lot of them thought the waltz was shocking. The Polish-Americans around Posen-Alpena, Michigan, have a fiddling tradition that mixes square dance tunes with obereks.

[quote]I think Mark Wilson and Gus Meade speculated on some German influences in the flavor of many of the tunes from NE and Central Kentucky and Southern Ohio. Check out Roger Cooper's music or the Traditional Fiddle Music of Kentucky Series on Google. [quote]

I'm familiar with Roger Cooper's playing and I respect Meade and Wilson. There was a lot of German settlement along the Ohio River, especially in Ohio. Probably most of the professional musicians in the area in the 19th century were German. One would suspect considerable German influence, but again, it probably would be waltzes or possibly other round dances (not necessarily schottisches and polkas, though). Sorry about the formatting on this---I can't figure it all out yet.

Midwest_Fiddler - Posted - 02/06/2008:  11:12:03


quote:
Originally posted by fiddlenbanjo

Isn't "Grandfather's Clock" originally a German tune? I know it's not exactly a fiddle tune, but it's a good song, for beginners or advanced players. It's also a good tune to learn in different keys.


Grandfather's Clock was written by Henry Clay Work around 1876. Other big hits he wrote include Marching Through Georgia & Kingdom's Coming (The Year of Jubilo).

As to German stuff- I learned Mr. Fisher's from, you guessed it, a Mr. Fisher from Bowling Green, MO. He described it as "an old German waltz", hence my title. I also learned a tune called Bowling Green from him.
I know there were a lot of German settlement around Teutopolis, Effingham and Altamont in SE Central IL. They used to have (and maybe still do have) the Schuteshenfest (sp?) in Altamont every year. It's main thing was a shooting contest, also horseshoes and , of course, lots of beer & food.
I don't recall there being much traditional music there, but then, there was beer.
In WI the German music tradition seems to be manifested in the "Dutchman" bands- polka bands usually fronted by accodion/concertina players. Groups like Karl & the County Dutchmen, lead by Karl Hartwich.
I'm sure Paul Tyler could jump in here, but you've probably already had this discussion with him- correct Mr, Gifford.
Good to see you here at the FHO, Paul!
I'll be over in the great state of MI for the Midwest Banjo Camp in Olivet. Looking forward to a fine time.
Chirps

Eric Sprado - Posted - 02/06/2008:  17:04:43



My father came here from Germany in 1929. Wound up enlisting in the US Army to go fight against his homeland.A TRUE American Patriot. I got my love of music from him. He only knew five or six chords on the guitar but made them fit anything and was a great singer. My favorite waltz still is a German waltz,"Du Cannst Nicht Treu Sein".It became a BIG hit in the United States directly translated to "You Can't Be True Dear". Don't know why it never showed up on the contest fiddle circuit. Surely is old enough.
Please be aware that since Germany was "the enemy" we did not respect any German copyrights and at least a few songs were stolen by folks in the U.S.A. who claimed to have written them. My mother was Russian and same happened with LOTS of Eastern European tunes. Most famous one I can think of is the tune(not words) of "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain". I used to hear Chech mine workers in Ely Nevada sing that tune a LONG time before it came out as a Willey Nelson song. I know there must be Zillions more stories like these. Eric Sprado

PGifford - Posted - 02/06/2008:  20:24:25


quote:
Chirps saidI 'm sure Paul Tyler could jump in here, but you've probably already had this discussion with him
Hi, Chirps. Thanks. Yes, we've discussed this, but not enough. I feel like I'm on to something.

I also know Jim Leary, but haven't yet read all of his latest book, Polkabilly.

Regarding Eric Sprado's comment, I'm sure that part of "Cattle Call," which I think was an Eddy Arnold 1940s hit, used the tune of an old German waltz, and this is the same one that I've heard a couple of Michigan fiddlers play. Don't know what the German words are, though. I was talking about earlier, older borrowings (say, before 1890), so copyright isn't an issue.

Another German dance done sometimes at square dances in northern Michigan is "Herr Schmidt." Apparently this was first recorded in the U.S. by a Texas group. Although there were some heavily German settlements in parts of Michigan, in general I don't think it was as strong as in parts of Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, etc., so I would expect some influence in some places (also Texas, various places in the West, too). I do think that Germans made the waltz acceptable to Americans.



coelhoe - Posted - 02/06/2008:  22:23:52


As to "Blue Eyes" I have been told several times by Tamburitzyn bands (Serb / Hravat) that the song is Balkan and was brought to the US by returning soldiers after WW2. Acuff-Rose publish has the copyright on it from that post-war period.

There seems to not have been much of a string instrument tradition in German folk music, with instead a preference for brass and woodwinds and accordions. I have no idea why this is but there must historical reasons. It is odd, in a way, because the culture areas around Germany all have string traditions, including south central France.

Dennis

Midwest_Fiddler - Posted - 02/07/2008:  08:16:34


quote:
Originally posted by PGifford
Another German dance done sometimes at square dances in northern Michigan is "Herr Schmidt." Apparently this was first recorded in the U.S. by a Texas group.


Now that you mentioned that one, I recall that Harvey "Pappy" Taylor played Herr Schmidt for folks at the Midway Tavern north of Effingham, IL. He played there every Saturday night with a country band. All the older folks, which was the main clientele then, would dance to everything. I can't quite recall how it goes- I wonder if Garry Harrison & Jo Burgess included it in Dear Old IL- I'll have to check later.
Chirps

carlb - Posted - 02/07/2008:  11:34:49


[quote]Originally posted by PGifford

Given that many Germans immigrated to the U.S. in the 19th century and settled on farms all over the Midwest, not to mention cities along the Mississippi, Ohio, and other rivers, how did their music get passed on?

While I haven't had time to check out all the references here's a little of what I've heard or found. First, it has been said that old time tunes in two keys are of German origin. Many Germans who were settled in Pennsylvania and moved west then went down the Appalachian's into West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky and influenced some of the tunes played there. Melvin Wine's family, for example, is of German heritage. If you read a bit through Samuel Bayard's "Hill Country Tunes" <http://www.mne.psu.edu/lamancusa/tunes/hct/>, he considers quite a few tunes to be of German origin. I've found in Marion Thede's "The Fiddle Book", a tune called "Where the Chicken Got the Ax" (p. 125; collected in Oklahoma) which to me, sounds like it has German origins. I live a bit outside Philadelphia, PA and a number of the local tunes by Lancaster and Berks county fiddlers have a German flavor and probably German origins due to the many Germans (other than the Amish and the Mennonites) who settled in that area going back to and before Revolutionary times. Gerry Milnes has some discussion of German influence in his book "Play of the Fiddle". I also edited a transcription of an old manuscript (probably written over the years 1820 - 1845) of a fiddler from Reading, Pennsylvania "James E. Frill's Musick Book". Frill had a German mother and an English father. While most of the tunes appear to be of English origin (rather than Scots or Irish), there are many tunes that appear to be of German origin.

That's enough for now, I guess.
Carl

"Just around the corner is someone who plays better than you....." "There will always be someone who likes your music and someone who dislikes your music. Get over it......." [Dan Haerle, former music prof at University of North Texas]

coelhoe - Posted - 02/07/2008:  12:22:43


Although all of these folks that we identify as "German" had some dialect (not always mutually comprehensible) in common, we should remember that they came from widely different culture regions from Prussia to the Rhine, from the Alps to the Baltic. For example, the Ohio River valley areas from Cincinnati over to Illinois were largely Catholic and speakers of "low" German. The little towns all along the river in Indiana are dotted with German Catholic convents and seminaries. I attended a fiddle contest in the middle of this area, in Jasper, Indiana in '73 that had only three participants. It was part of the local country fair events. One of the fiddlers was a man in his late 70's who played his three tunes just for himself. Two had German titles, and the other was a common waltz. But his fiddle was completely out of tune. He swayed back and forth to some music and some rhythm that only he could hear. Of the other two contestants, one was a teenager and the other a man in his forties. Neither was from the immediate area and they both played typical lndiana repertoire (i.e. Soldier's Joy, etc.).

The really interesting point was that when the judges retired to try to find some way to gently deal with the old-timer, the Master of Ceremonies entertained the crowd for almost a half-hour with jokes and stories, all in German, a dialect that the locals called 'blatt deutsch" to the great delight of the audience of about three hundred of all ages.

German settlement in the US is usually directly related to either post-Reformation religious conflict, or to the political struggles following Bismarck's forced unification of the hundreds of little German-speaking principalities up through 1871. There are also the various Separatist groups, like the Mennonites. In 1976, at Smithsonian Folk Festival, I presented a Mennonite string band (men and women) from Mound Ridge, Kansas, who played much of that 1900's dance repertoire ("Red Wing," etc.) , an unusual circumstance in that their religious beliefs prohibited dancing.

Out here on the high plains, i.e. Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, the Dakotas, and central Canada, most German immigrants came from Russia, this being their second migration: first to the lower Volga in the late 1700's from Bavaria, and then dispersed in the mid-1800's to the US, Australia, Canada and elsewhere. Their music also seems to lack a fiddle element but is centered instead around the large hammered dulcimer, which is known by a variety of terms, some German, some Russian in origin.

OK, so the point of all this is that the notion of so-called German musical culture in the US is very, very complex. In talking about musical influences, I don't think we can meaningfully use the term "German" any more than we could use "southern." And this doesn't even take into account the out-migration in 1740 caused by Frederick II's seizure of Silesia from Austria.

Dennis

DougD - Posted - 02/07/2008:  12:41:09


Dennis, maybe they meant "Plattdeutsch?" Like this: http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Wood-Nu...deutsch.html or this: http://www.plattmaster.de/plattoew.htm

I think "blatt deutsch" would mean "leaf German?"

PGifford - Posted - 02/07/2008:  14:26:28


quote:
carlb said First, it has been said that old time tunes in two keys are of German origin.

Gerry Milnes makes this statement. I don't think there is any reason for this. If you look at the origins of some of these tunes, that doesn't seem to hold. "Flop-Eared Mule" clearly comes from the "Detroit Schottische," written by a music dealer in Detroit, Adam Couse (a native of Maryland), in 1854, which was a big hit, selling a hundred thousand copies (supposedly). The Rochester Schottische (D & A), was written by Rulison and published in Rochester in the same time period. Other schottisches, polkas, and quadrilles from this era were typically in 2 or 3 keys (like G/D/G/C), but often ended up in two. I think a much better argument can be made for those being the origin of two-key tunes than some vague German immigration during the 18th century.
quote:
carlb said I've found in Marion Thede's "The Fiddle Book", a tune called "Where the Chicken Got the Ax" (p. 125; collected in Oklahoma) which to me, sounds like it has German origins.

I looked it up and to me it looks like an ordinary, common schottische with an unusual name. Other than immigrant German musicians happening to compose schottisches in the 1850s, I'm not aware of any reason to associate schottisches with Germans. Dancing masters introduced the dance (I guess from Paris), then as it spread, both new schottisches were published and made up by Americans.
quote:
I also edited a transcription of an old manuscript (probably written over the years 1820 - 1845) of a fiddler from Reading, Pennsylvania "James E. Frill's Musick Book". Frill had a German mother and an English father. While most of the tunes appear to be of English origin (rather than Scots or Irish), there are many tunes that appear to be of German origin.

Sounds interesting --- what I've found in historical sources seems to indicate that in that time period the Pennsylvania Dutch were dancing reels, like the much of the rest of the U.S., the fiddlers were often black, but some of the dances they did were called "hopseesaws." But this period was when waltzes were first being introduced to the U.S., so they might be the German ones.
quote:
Dennis wrote: German settlement in the US is usually directly related to either post-Reformation religious conflict, or to the political struggles following Bismarck's forced unification of the hundreds of little German-speaking principalities up through 1871. There are also the various Separatist groups, like the Mennonites. In 1976, at Smithsonian Folk Festival, I presented a Mennonite string band (men and women) from Mound Ridge, Kansas, who played much of that 1900's dance repertoire ("Red Wing," etc.) , an unusual circumstance in that their religious beliefs prohibited dancing.

Of course there are regional differences, but I don't think that makes for any particular problems. In my original post, I was thinking mainly of 19th-century immigration, from around 1830 to 1880 or so, to rural areas.
quote:
Out here on the high plains, i.e. Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, the Dakotas, and cen

coelhoe - Posted - 02/07/2008:  14:43:57


Although all of these folks that we identify as "German" had some dialect (not always mutually comprehensible) in common, we should remember that they came from widely different culture regions from Prussia to the Rhine, from the Alps to the Baltic. For example, the Ohio River valley areas from Cincinnati over to Illinois were largely Catholic and speakers of "low" German. The little towns all along the river in Indiana are dotted with German Catholic convents and seminaries. I attended a fiddle contest in the middle of this area, in Jasper, Indiana in '73 that had only three participants. It was part of the local country fair events. One of the fiddlers was a man in his late 70's who played his three tunes just for himself. Two had German titles, and the other was a common waltz. But his fiddle was completely out of tune. He swayed back and forth to some music and some rhythm that only he could hear. Of the other two contestants, one was a teenager and the other a man in his forties. Neither was from the immediate area and they both played typical lndiana repertoire (i.e. Soldier's Joy, etc.).

The really interesting point was that when the judges retired to try to find some way to gently deal with the old-timer, the Master of Ceremonies entertained the crowd for almost a half-hour with jokes and stories, all in German, a dialect that the locals called 'blatt deutsch" to the great delight of the audience of about three hundred of all ages.

German settlement in the US is usually directly related to either post-Reformation religious conflict, or to the political struggles following Bismarck's forced unification of the hundreds of little German-speaking principalities up through 1871. There are also the various Separatist groups, like the Mennonites. In 1976, at Smithsonian Folk Festival, I presented a Mennonite string band (men and women) from Mound Ridge, Kansas, who played much of that 1900's dance repertoire ("Red Wing," etc.) , an unusual circumstance in that their religious beliefs prohibited dancing.

Out here on the high plains, i.e. Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, the Dakotas, and central Canada, most German immigrants came from Russia, this being their second migration: first to the lower Volga in the late 1700's from Bavaria, and then dispersed in the mid-1800's to the US, Australia, Canada and elsewhere. Their music also seems to lack a fiddle element but is centered instead around the large hammered dulcimer, which is known by a variety of terms, some German, some Russian in origin.

OK, so the point of all this is that the notion of so-called German musical culture in the US is very, very complex. In talking about musical influences, I don't think we can meaningfully use the term "German" any more than we could use "southern." And this doesn't even take into account the out-migration in 1740 caused by Frederick II's seizure of Silesia from Austria.

Dennis

DougD - Posted - 02/07/2008:  17:30:40


Paul, but what is the origin of the "Schottische?" Isn't that German for "Scottish?" When I first moved here in 1978 it was fun to hear some of my young friends trying to get their tongues around that word!

coelhoe - Posted - 02/07/2008:  18:41:28


Paul (and others) Thanks for the informative post. There are a couple of odd points, though.

Paul states "This style was originally developed by Jews in Bohemia around 1650, then it spread to Germany (Saxony, Bavaria, Upper Austria) and to Hungary, where it developed into the Hungarian Gypsy orchestra in the 18th century (there the viola took over the 2nd violin role in the 19th century). Later, the parallel harmony that is typical of modern Hungarian Gypsy music, with a "tenor" part on another violin, seems to come from the 19th-century Viennese style (Strauss)."

This is hard to figure since the free reed instruments, especially diatonic accordions, were not developed until after 1820. So-called "second" violins as used in Central European traditional music (e.g. Hungary, Romania, south Poland, western Ukraine, Slovakia, etc.) are three-stringed instruments played with a short heavy bow. They play intervals from the chord and are charged with keep the rhythm, or at least the off beat.

I live in eastern Wyoming where Volga German "Dutch Hop" music is alive and well, with monthly dances here in the community. At present the bands come from Greeley, Colorado, or Denver or Scott's Bluff, Nebraska. They seem about evenly divided between piano and diatonic accordions, though Adolf Lesser, perhaps the most prominent Dutch Hop band leader (who just died a couple of weeks ago) used a piano accordion. Bob Schmer and the Polka Playboys of Scott's Bluff use a valve trombone, dulcimer, piano accordion and string bass.

The "Flop Eared Mule" schottishe is really interesting. Several years we were doing a demonstration of older dance melodies at an Elder Hostel and someone asked for a schottiche and my pal who was playing fiddle said "I can't think of one. Let's just play "Flop Eared Mule" and just change the timing," which we did as a double fiddle piece. It works great, but now I see why, if it was a schottishe to begin with!!

Dennis

FiddleJammer - Posted - 02/07/2008:  19:45:21


Hi,

Great thread.

'Dutch' may have roots in Deutsch, by the way. Wiki's got good info on Pennsylvania Dutch referring to German/Dutch geo-politics. I don't see any obvious reference in the Hill Country Tunes introduction. But, just in case it's not clear to the casual observer, Pennsylvania Dutch does not necessarily refer to folks in wooden shoes gathering tulips.

Cheers,

Terri

tunelist, musings, and podcasts at
http://fiddlejammer.blogspot.com

PGifford - Posted - 02/07/2008:  19:57:58


quote:
Dennis wrote: This is hard to figure since the free reed instruments, especially diatonic accordions, were not developed until after 1820. So-called "second" violins as used in Central European traditional music (e.g. Hungary, Romania, south Poland, western Ukraine, Slovakia, etc.) are three-stringed instruments played with a short heavy bow. They play intervals from the chord and are charged with keep the rhythm, or at least the off beat.

You are correct about the geographic range, but the 3-stringed "kontra" you are thinking of is a modified viola, developed perhaps in Transylvania around 1900, and popularized in the Hungarian tanchaz scene since 1980. But the term "kontra" is really a term of function. In the Hungarian Gypsy terminology, primas is the leader, kontras is the person playing viola (two or more strings per stroke). The primas plays the melody, by ear, and everyone else follows, the kontras and the bass player handling the rhythm, the cimbalom player the harmony, embellishments, etc. I covered quite a bit more of this in a book I wrote: http://www.scarecrowpress.com/Catal...d=Search&db=^DB/CATALOG.db&eqSKUdata=0810839431

There is a picture (the only one I could find) of a group, taken in the 1930s around Saratov, Russia. It has this basic instrumentation, with a trumpet added. The second violin is held vertically, just like the Hungarian Gypsies do today. There is also a picture of a group taken in Kansas around 1900-1910, with the same instrumentation, plus clarinet. It would be great if a recording of a Volga German ensemble, with second fiddle, turned up (or was ever made). Maybe in Russia before 1940.

Anyway, my argument is that violins and "Italian" music made it as far East, in the early 17th century, in Lvov, in Galicia, which was ruled by a Catholic prince. The older style at that time there was two fiddles, called "serbska," evidently Byzantine fiddles, plus "cymbaly" (dulcimer). Most likely one serbska played melody while the other played a drone. Then Jewish minstrels had legal opportunities open to them that they didn't have before (1620s), and they probably took the Italian violin and bass (or cello) from the "Italian" orchestras, which were closed to them because they couldn't play in churches, added the cymbaly for harmony (filling the harpsichord's function in Italian music), and in this way, they bridged the older local style, used at dances and wedding banquets, with the new, classical "Italian" style. Then there was a big war and population movements in the 1640s, and some of the Jewish musicians ended up in Prague. From there, the instrumentation spread to Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. Some of the Jewish groups were restricted in some places in Germany to 3-piece ensembles, in which case they dropped either the second fiddle or the dulcimer. Around 1900, Russians still recalled the "Jewish quartet," with 2 violins, tsimbl, and bass. This was the basic Hungarian Gypsy instrumentation (the viola having replaced the second violin in the 19th century) too.

The Volga German musicians seemed to have shared a lot of musical customs with the Hungarian Gypsies and Jewish klezmorim. Maybe it was just something over a wider area, but dancers tipped the musicians, the dulcimer being used as a repository for coins (the Hungarian Gypsy violinists get bills at tables from customers but then give them to the cimbalom player, who keeps them on the pinblock until the evening is over).

I have a bunch of LPs and 78s of Dutch Hop groups (including Lesser and Bob Schmer) and it seems that a lot of the younger groups learned the tunes off the earliest 78s (made in the late 1940s), by Paul Weingardt and also the Nile Valley Boys (recording the same

coelhoe - Posted - 02/07/2008:  20:49:56


PGifford: I think you are generally correct in your description of the ensembles with the "kontra" players, except for the dating. I saw several such groups in Hungary during an extended stay there in 1974 while my spouse studied with Martin George, the then expert on folk dace notation systems. She / we saw many village groups with older musicians who talked of playing their ensemble styles more or less forever (whatever forever means in Magyarorszag). And similar groups that were invited to play at the Bartok Bela tanchaz (dance house) in Budapest. So I think this must predate your timeline of 1980 by several decades. I saw several Gypsie groups in Hungary and all of the fiddle players I saw held the instrument in the "classical" under the chin position. However, the "kontra" players held the instrument sideways as you mention. Kontra wasn't the Magyar word for it, though. I'll have to see if I can it in my notes.

It is still going on right now. I saw a Romanian (officially, anyway, you know the geographic politics of the area) group playing at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France a year ago December with that same ensemble set up.

I'd love to see the photo from Saratov, which was the origin for many Volga Germans in this area, including the father of our last governor.

Here's an ironic tidbit: When I surveyed Idaho (in 1975) to find musicians for the '76 Bi-Centennial Folk Festival in D.C. I was directed to an 80 year old German hackbrett ( large hammered dulcimer) player who lived just above the Snake River in Weiser, Idaho. He must have been Volga German, although we didn't talk of his background at the time. He was hesitant about getting on an airplane saying that he had never flown before. And, sadly at the very last moment, in spite of having relatives fly with him, he decided not to go. The irony is that he had practically no contact with the huge fiddle contest that went on every year, just a few blocks from his house.

Thanks for the exchange on this.

Dennis

mojo_monk - Posted - 02/08/2008:  12:51:09


What an excellent thread. Many things I have been wondering about have been covered in detail. Thanks all.

Grease.

VivianW - Posted - 04/25/2008:  19:59:23


More German tunes common in the Midwest:
Lauterbach Waltz, a German folk song about a simpleton who lost a stocking in the town of Lauterbach, and to the tune of which Septimus Winner wrote the words "Oh Where has my Little Dog Gone" in the 1870's.
The Seven Step (Siebenschritt in German) and its associated couple dance - mostly in North Dakota and Midwest Canada.
Freut Euch Des Lebens - actually Swiss in origin, composed by Hans Georg Nageli in the 1790's, and an immediate international hit. It is used in the Midwest for the "Butterfly" dance, or it could be a regular waltz. In 6/8 time it was used for the "Basket" quadrille figure in the 19th century, as well as for a pattern dance that an 85-year-old friend of mine learned as a little kid in central Idaho.
Du Bist Verruckt Mein Kind - Fiddler Billy Lee from Missouri had a German-speaking grandmother, from whom he learned this polka-like tune. The melody was composed (or swiped?) by Franz von Suppe for his Fatinitza overture, and somewhere along the way acquired the words "Du bist verrückt, mein Kind. Geh’ doch nach Berlin! Wo die Verrückten sind, da gehörste hin!" which roughly translates as "You are crazy, my child. So go to Berlin, Where the crazy people are, that's where you belong."

The St. Paul Waltz is found in Howe's "Musician's Omnibus No. 6" (ca. 1864) under the name of St. Louis Waltz.

Vivian T. Williams

vrteach - Posted - 04/26/2008:  09:19:27


The Illinois tune commonly called "John Short's Tune" sounds like a polka to me. My fiddler friend Steve Staley says he went down to Litchfield (IL) to ask about John Short and he says he was told that there had been many music-playing Shorts in the Litchfield area.

I wonder if maybe the Shorts were originally Schwartz, and if the tune is Germanic in origin?

---
Erich



Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!




You are not logged in.
Log In


Not a member? Create an Account (FREE!)



294 FIDDLE LOVERS ONLINE

HOME | FORUMS | MEMBERS | MEDIA ARCHIVE | TABS & LESSONS | CLASSIFIEDS | REVIEWS | LINKS | CALENDAR | STORE | TERMS OF USE