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Origin: Billy in the Lowland / ... Low Ground

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Lyr Req: Billy in the Lowground (8)

mandomad 02 Feb 01 - 06:01 PM
Ebbie 02 Feb 01 - 07:30 PM
Les B 03 Feb 01 - 01:03 AM
Ebbie 03 Feb 01 - 05:25 AM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Feb 01 - 09:46 AM
mandomad 03 Feb 01 - 07:38 PM
Louie Roy 04 Feb 01 - 12:03 PM
GUEST,Bruce O. 04 Feb 01 - 03:14 PM
GUEST,Bruce O. 04 Feb 01 - 03:47 PM
Willie-O 04 Feb 01 - 07:59 PM
Peg 05 Feb 01 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,protectionist 05 Mar 16 - 09:26 PM
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Subject: Billy in the Lowland
From: mandomad
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 06:01 PM

Such a great old time tune, but where did the title come from? Any ideas? Mandomad

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Subject: RE: Billy in the Lowland
From: Ebbie
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 07:30 PM

All I can say is that when it's played at a moderate speed, I hear a trotting horse!

(I've always heard it as 'Billy in the Low Ground) A song I know that's called 'Lowlands (is my home)' is very much like another tune called 'Sally Ann'.)


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Subject: RE: Billy in the Lowland
From: Les B
Date: 03 Feb 01 - 01:03 AM

Here's more than you probably want to know about it at the "Ceolas - Fiddler's Companion" site.

BILLY/BILLIE IN THE LOW GROUND. AKA and see "Beaus of Albany," "Billy in the Low Land," "Braes of Auchtertyre," "Fiddler's Drunk and the Fun's All Over," "Jinny in the Lowland," "Kerry Fulton's Schottishe," "The Kerryman's Daughter." Old-Time, Bluegrass; Breakdown. USA, known under this title throughout the American South, Midwest, and Southwest. C Major (most versions): D Major (Bayard-Marr). Standard. AABB. See also related tune "Apple Blossum" and the related part 'A' of "Shelvin Rock." Miles Krassen (1973) identifies an Irish version called "The Kerryman's Daughter" which may be cognate or ancestral, while R.P. Christeson suggests it can be traced to the Scottish "Braes of Auchentyre" in (Cole's 1001) {as John Hartford has supported} and "Beaus of Albany" in Howe. Samuel Bayard (1981) agrees with Stenhouse-Johnson in concluding that the tune originated in Britain as a slow 3/4 time song tune from c. 1710 or earlier, called "O Dear Mother (Minnie) What Shall I Do?" He sees the development of the tune as having then split into two branches, and that during the 1740's a 6/8 "giga" or jig form was composed called variously "All the Blue Bonnets Are Over the Border," "Blue Bonnets Over the Border," "Over the Border," or "Blue Bonnets." Later in the century the second branch was fashioned from the original 3/4 tune into a fast duple time (4/4) dancing air which went by several titles including "The Braes of Auchtertyre/ Auchentyre" (the oldest and most common title), "The Belles of Tipperary," and "The Beaus of Albany." These latter tunes are the immediate ancestor of the "Billy in the Lowground" group of tunes in America. ** The melody is widely disseminated through the United States. Bayard (1944) writes that when he collected the melody it was "current as a marching tune in Greene County, Pennsylvania, and is known to its 'Billy' form of the title farther south (as the tune resembles another Pa. tune called 'Jinny in the Lowlands'). The resemblances between this tune and 'Jinny in the Lowlands' may be fortuitous; but they have at any rate attracted enough notice from the players to cause confusion of the titles..." Tom Carter and Blanton Owen (1976) maintain the tune and title are characteristic of the Franklin, Floyd and Patrick County area of southwestern Virginia, and represent an older fiddle repertoire which predates the later development of stringband or fiddle/clawhammer banjo tunes. "Billy in the Lowground" was played by Arizona fiddler Kenner C. Kartchner for dances in the Southwest at the beginning of the twentieth century (the piece was identified by him as having come to that region from the American South, and assessed it as "a good one"). It was recorded from the playing of an Ozark fiddler for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph who collected in the early 1940's, and, likewise, by Herbert Halpert (also for the Library of Congress) in 1939 from Tishomingo County, Mississippi, fiddler John Hatcher. Cauthen (1990) collected evidence from period newspapers and other accounts in Alabama and records that it was one of the tunes commonly played throughout every region of that state in the first part of the 20th century. The Marion Standard of April 30th, 1909, reported it was one of the tunes (along with "Miss McLeod") played at a housewarming in Perry County, Ala., in 1827. Elsewhere in the deep South, a Georgia fiddler named Ben Smith, serving with the 12th Alabama Infantry in the Civil War, played the tune in that conflict according to a memoir of the unit. It is also known to have been associated with Kentucky fiddlers (Wolfe, 1982). The famous Kentucky fiddler Dick Burnett related this improbable story about the origin of the tune and title: ** You know how come them to make that? There was a man a goin' through an old field one time and he had his fiddle with him and he walked out on the bank of a sink hole and it broke off and he fell down in that hole and couldn't get out. He just sat down there and took his fiddle and played that tune. His name was Billy something but I forgot his full name. (Charles Wolfe) ** Early American printings of the piece can be found from the early 19th century onwards. The melody appears under the "Billy/Low Grounds" title in George P. Knauff 's Virginia Reels," volume III (Baltimore, 1839). Folklorist and fiddler Alan Jabbour finds that, in some sources, the title changed around 1800 to "Johnny in the Nether Mains." ** The tune was in the repertories of Uncle Jimmy Thompson 1848-1931 (Texas, Tenn.), Fiddlin' Cowan Powers 1877-1952? (Russell County, southwest Virginia) [and recorded by him for Victor, though the side was unissued], Bob Wills (Texas), black Kentucky fiddler Cuje Bertram. and Alabama fiddlers Monkey Brown (1897-1972) and D. Dix Hollis. Sources for notated versions: black fiddler Bill Driver (Miller County, Missouri) [Christeson]; Charlie Higgins (Galax, Va.) [Krassen]; David P. Gilpin, 9/22/1943 (played at Connellsville, Fayette County, Pa. but learned at Dunbar, Pa., though Gilpin did not have the title) [Bayard, 1944]; Irvin Yaugher, John Meighen, Frank Lowry, John Filby & Wiley Jobes (from Greene or Fayette Counties, southwestern Pa.) [Bayard, 1981]; James Marr (Mo., age 93 in 1949) [Bayard]; Howdy Forrester via John Hartford [The Devil's Box]; Lowe Stokes (Ga.) [Kaufman]; Billy Baker & Forest Daugherty (Texas) [Phillips]; John Johnson [Phillips]; Clyde Davenport (Indiana) [Phillips]. Adam, 1938; No. 42. Bayard (Hill Country Tunes), 1944; No. 5 (appears as "Reel"). Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 234A-E, pgs. 192-194. Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; Appendix No. 23, pg. 581. Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; pg. 42-43. R.P. Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers Repertory, Vol. 1), 1973; No. 54, pg. 41. The Devil's Box, pg.s 51-53. Fiddler Magazine, Vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 1996; pg. 30. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; pg. 65 (as "Billy in the Low Land"). Kaufman (Beginning Old Time Fiddle), 1977; pgs. 68-69. Krassen (Appalachian Fiddle), 1973; pg. 74 (an irregular version with nine measure parts instead of eight). Lowinger (Bluegrass Fiddle), 1974; No. 21. Messer (Anthology of Favorite Fiddle Tunes), 1980; No. 65, pg. 39. Phillips (Fiddlecase Tunebook), 1989; pg. 6. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), Vol. 1, 1994; pg. 25 (three versions). Ruth (Pioneer Western Folk Tunes), 1948; No. 74, pg. 27. Thede (The Fiddle Book), 1967; pg. 78. Welling (Welling's Hartford Tunebook), 1976; pg. 1. Brunswick 239 (78 RPM), Dr. Humphrey Bate and His Possum Hunters {1928) (Nashville, Tenn. Columbia 15209-D (78 RPM), Burnett and Rutherford (1927). Columbia 15620 (78 RPM), Lowe Stokes (1930). County 202, "Eck Robertson: Famous Cowboy Fiddler." County 507, Lowe Stokes (North Ga.) {1930} - "Old Time Fiddle Classics." County 512, The Fiddlin' Bootleggers - "A Day in the Mountains" (orig. rec. in 1928). County 703, Benny Thomasson - "Texas Hoedown." County 733, Clark Kessinger - "The Legend of Clark Kessinger." Davis Unlimited 33015, Doc Roberts (Ky.) - "Classic Fiddle Tunes" (One of the first tunes recorded by this fiddler). Folkways 2337, Clark Kessinger (Va.) - "Live at Union Grove." Gennet 3235 (78 RPM), Doc Roberts (1925). Gennet 6390 (78 RPM), Doc Roberts (1927). Library of Congress 1010A2, Jilson Setters, recorded for Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress in June, 1937. Marimac 9110, Dr. Humphrey Bate and his Possum Hunters - "It'll Never Happen Again: Old Time String Bands Vol. 1." Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers' Association, Casey Jones (1910-1967) - "Rocky Road to Jordon." Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers' Association, Cyrill Stinnett - "Plain Old Time Fiddling." Okeh 40020 (78 RPM), John Carson. Okeh 45397 (78 RPPM), Oscar and Doc Harper. Omac 1, Thomasson, Shorty, Morris, and O'Connor - "A Texas Jam Session." Rounder 0046, Mark O'Connor - "National Junior Fiddle Champion." Rounder 1004, "Ramblin' Reckless Hobo: The Songs of Dick Burnett and Leonard Rutherford." Rounder CD0262, Mike Seeger - "Fresh Oldtime String Band Music" (1988. Appears as part of "Billy in Waynesboro"). Sonyatone 201, Eck Robertson (Texas) - "Master Fiddler." Vanguard VSD 9/10, Doc Watson - "On Stage." Vetco 102, Jilson Setters (under the name Blind Bill Day) {b. 1860, Rowan County, Ky.}, originally recorded on Victor 21407 (78 RPM) in 1928 (as "Billy in the Low Land"). Victor 19372 (78 RPM), Eck Robertson (Texas) {1922}. Recorded by Burnett and Rutherford (Ky.), 78 RPM, and Uncle Am Stuart (b. 1856, Morristown, Tenn.) in 1924 for Vocalation. Voyager 309, Benny and Jerry Thomasson - "The Weiser Reunion: A Texas Jam Session" (1993). T:Billy in the Lowground

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Subject: RE: Billy in the Lowland
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Feb 01 - 05:25 AM

Les B- wow!


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Subject: RE: Billy in the Lowland
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Feb 01 - 09:46 AM

The Fiddler's Companion

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Subject: RE: Billy in the Lowland
From: mandomad
Date: 03 Feb 01 - 07:38 PM

Thanks so much Les B for all that info. Also for introduction to that Great site. More than I could have hoped for.

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Subject: RE: Billy in the Lowland
From: Louie Roy
Date: 04 Feb 01 - 12:03 PM

Billy In The Low Ground is played by many Fiddlers at Championship Fiddle Contest and is classified as a Hoedown Nearly all of them play the tune in the Chord of "C"-"Am" "C"-"Am" "C"-"G7" and finish in "C".then repeat

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Subject: RE: Billy in the Lowland
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 04 Feb 01 - 03:14 PM

Here's a bit more on the early history of the tune.

You will note that the tune derives from "The Braes of Aucthtertyre" itself modified from "O, dear Minninie". According to Wm. Stenhouse in 'Illustrations to SMM' "How can I keep my maidenhead" was the modification by James Crockat, c 1723, of "O dear Minnie". Jack Campin has recently rediscovered the long lost Crockat MS, and we may have some substantiation soon. Another early name for the tune was "Lennox Love to Blantyre". The earliest known copies, printed and manuscipt, of the tune under the "Lennox love" title are given as ABCs in file S2.HTM on my website. It appeared under the "How can I keep my maidenhead" title in book 2 of Walsh's 'Caledonian Country Dances', c 1736, and from there, copied into a number of manuscripts. (The song from which the tune took this title is in Scarce Songs 2 on my website). For other copies of "Lennox love" and "How can I keep" see file CNTYDAN2.HTM on my website.

PS: You can click onto Andrew Kuntz's 'Fiddler's Companion Tune Index' from a link on my home page.

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Subject: RE: Billy in the Lowland
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 04 Feb 01 - 03:47 PM

Correction to above, the earliest copy of the tune is from the Sinkler MS, c 1710, and is untitled there.

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Subject: RE: Billy in the Lowland
From: Willie-O
Date: 04 Feb 01 - 07:59 PM

Damn, I thought I wrote it while I was drunk in the basement one night.

But I am even more alarmed to suddenly see the resemblance with "Blue Bonnets O'er the Border." I think I feel a medley comin on.

That's one of the first tunes I ever learned to flat-pick. Still trying to get up to speed on the Clarence White cross-picked B part. After twenty-five years of trying.


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Subject: RE: Billy in the Lowland
From: Peg
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 03:20 PM

there is also a film by Jan Egleson, part of his Boston trilogy about troubled urban youth in Boston, called Billy in the Lowlands...

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Subject: RE: Origin: Billy in the Lowland / ... Low Ground
From: GUEST,protectionist
Date: 05 Mar 16 - 09:26 PM

I have heard the tune refers to the Battle of the Boyne in 1690) in which the Irish King William III (AKA William of Orange), who was also a Dutch prince, defeated the troops of another Irish King, King James II.
The battle is important in Ireland's Catholic/Protestant relations, and was fought in a swampy, low valley field.

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