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Lyr Add: Old Fiddle, The (C. Fox Smith)

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WHERE THERE'S REST FOR HORSE AND MAN or HOME LADS HOME


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GUEST,Charley Noble 28 Mar 05 - 11:33 AM
Charley Noble 29 Mar 05 - 12:54 PM
Charley Noble 31 Mar 05 - 05:33 PM
Uncle_DaveO 31 Mar 05 - 06:28 PM
Charley Noble 31 Mar 05 - 07:18 PM
Charley Noble 01 Apr 05 - 12:30 PM
Charley Noble 10 Apr 05 - 06:01 PM
Charley Noble 13 Sep 05 - 11:55 AM
Anglo 13 Sep 05 - 09:44 PM
Charley Noble 13 Sep 05 - 10:09 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Old Fiddle, The (C. Fox Smith)
From: GUEST,Charley Noble
Date: 28 Mar 05 - 11:33 AM

Cicely Fox Smith was fond of poking around the waterfronts of sailortown, and one of the typical shops she most loved was the nautical junk shop, chock-a-block with mundane and exotic artifacts from the seven seas. I recall a similar nautical junk store along Portland's working waterfront in the 1960's that I used to prowl through. Today we have the more upscale version, places like the China Sea Marine Trading Co., but which somehow still evoke that dream like sense of another era.

THE OLD FIDDLE

(Words by Cicely Fox Smith © 1922
In SMALL CRAFT, pp. 91-95)

By Chinese Charley's junk-store, by the Panama Saloon,
Where 'longshore loafers lean and spit, at morning, night, and noon, –
All among the keys without a lock, and locks without a key,
The old boss-eyed binoculars and sextants on the spree,
New Brummagem and old Bombay a-tumbling side by side,
A brown bald-headed idol and an "Extra Master's Guide," –
Mouldy, musty, dumb and dusty, broken on the shelf,
I thought I heard the sailor's fiddle singing to itself.

Singing in a queer old quaver, shaky, shrill, and sad,
Like an old man singing songs he knew when he was yet a lad,
Singing of a good old time that all too fast did fly,
When the world was rather younger in the years gone by.

There were scraps of dead old choruses and snatches of old tunes,
We surely knew in other worlds and under other moons;
There was singing in the half-deck, and the sky full o' stars;
And bits o' tipsy shouting out of gaudy, glary bars;
Little tunes on Chinese fiddles in a quiet street
Full of dinky Chinee houses, where the East and West do meet;
"Ranzo, Ranzo, Reuben Ranzo" – came the sound to me
Of a chantey chorus roaring with the roaring sea.

Was it only seagulls piping faint and far away,
All in rows along the freight-sheds where they sit all day, -
Mewing round the inner harbour where the tugboats lie –
Or a song we sang together in the years gone by?

There were ships that once I sailed in, sail and steam, and great and small;
And some were good and some were bad, but, Lord, I loved 'em all;
There were rusty-red old hookers going plugging round the world,
And Clyde-built China clippers with their splendid wings unfurled;
And all the winds of all the seas came singing down the street,
With its smell of beer and harbour-mud, and tread of weary feet,
Till I heard the stormy westerlies go thrashing through the sails,
And the Trades' low thunder, and the Biscay gales.

Was I waking, was I sleeping, did the wet wind go
Thrumming in the slender tops of ships I used to know,
With the deep-sea glory on them all against a sunset sky,
On the tide o' dreams a-sailing out of years gone by?

There were faces long forgotten, friends both false and true
I sailed with once and lost again, the way that sailors do;
There were folks I loved and lost with smiling faces all a-shine,
Came and walked a while beside me with a hand in mine;
Are you dead or living, comrade, near or far away?
Do you ever think of me, lad, friend upon a day?
Late or soon, lad, night or noon, lad, you and I will meet,
All the seas and years behind us, strolling down the street.

Was it but the muttering tide that by the wharf did go, -
Or the footsteps of a comrade out of long ago?
Did I hear the wave lap and the light wind sigh, -
Or the voices of my shipmates in the years gone by?

By Chinese Charley's junk-store, by the Panama Saloon,
I walked and talked with shadows there in all the glare of noon,
Where – among the keys without a lock and locks without a key,
The old boss-eyed binoculars and sextants on the spree,
New Brummagem and old Bombay a-tumbling side by side,
A brown bald-headed idol and an "Extra Master's Guide," –
Mouldy, musty, dumb and dusty, broken on the shelf,
I thought I heard the sailor's fiddle singing to itself.

Notes:

"Boss-eyed" is an archaic word for cross-eyed or wall-eyed

"Brummagem" is the old name for Birmingham and here means shoddy goods, as does the reference to "Bombay"

Now in adapting this poem for singing I've taken some liberties in changing some words. In some cases it's to aid with singing and in others it's a personal choice. However, you can decide which version you prefer or change it to suit yourself. I've tried several tunes, one reminiscent of an old train wreck song, but the one I'm using now is a more haunting minor tune, which I shift up an octave here and there. I'll link a MP3 file to this thread when the arrangement settles down. I actually sing it in Cm (to line up the chords copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12):

THE OLD FIDDLE

(Original words by Cicely Fox Smith © 1922
In SMALL CRAFT, pp. 91-95
Adapted by Charles Ipcar, © 2005
Tune: Charles Ipcar © 2005)

G-Am----------------------------------------G
By Chinese Charley's junk-store, by the Panama Saloon,
--------Am----------------------------------G
Where 'longshore loafers lean and spit, morning, night, and noon, –
----Am--------------------------------------G
All among the keys without a lock and locks without a key,
----Am--------------------------------G
The old boss-eyed binoculars and sextants on the spree;
------Am-----------------------------------G
New Brummagem and old Bombay, a-tumbling side by side,
--Am-----------------------------------G
A brown bald-headed idol and an "Extra Master's Guide," –
Am-----------------------------------G
Mouldy, musty, dumb and dusty, broken on the shelf,
--Am-----------------------------------G
I thought I heard the sailor's fiddle singing to itself.

Am--------------------------------G
Singing in a queer old quaver, shaky, shrill, and sad,
Am-------------------------------------------G
Like an old man singing songs he knew when he was just a lad,
Am---------------------------------G
Singing of a good old time that all too fast did fly,
Am--------------------------------------------------G
When the world was so much younger. in the years that have gone by.(2X)

There were scraps of dead old choruses and snatches of old tunes,
We surely knew in other worlds and under other moons;
There was singing on the fo'c's'le, with a sky so full of stars,
And bits o' tipsy shouting out of gaudy, glary bars;
Little tunes on Chinese fiddles up some curving narrow street
Full of dinky Chinee houses, where the East and West do meet;
"Ranzo, Ranzo, Reuben Ranzo" – came the sound to me
Of a chantey chorus roaring 'bove the roaring of the sea.

Was it only seagulls piping, faint and far away,
In their rows along the freight-sheds where they hang about all day, -
Mewing round the back cove, where the tugboats lie –
Or a song we sang together in the years that have gone by? (2X)

There were ships that once I sailed on, ships both great and small,
Some were good, some were bad, but, Lord, I loved 'em all;
There were rusty-red old hookers, going plugging round the world,
And Clyde-built China clippers with their splendid wings unfurled;
And all the winds of all the seas came swirling down the street,
With its smell of beer and harbour-mud, and tread of weary feet,
Till I heard the stormy westerlies go thrashing through the sails,
And the Trades' low whining humming, and them Bay of Biscay gales.

Was I waking, was I sleeping, where did the wild wind go,
Thrumming in the slender tops of ships I used to know,
With the deep-sea glory on them, all against a sunset sky,
On the tide o' dreams a-sailing, from the years that have gone by? (2X)

There were faces long forgotten, friends both false and true,
That I'd sailed with once and lost again, the way that sailors do;
There were folks I loved and lost, with faces all a-shine,
Came and walked a while beside me, with their hand in mine;
Are you dead or living, comrade, near or far away?
Do you ever think of me, lad, your friend upon a day?
Late or soon, night or noon, you and I will meet,
All the seas and years behind us, strolling down this street.

Was it but the rippling tide, that by the wharf did flow, -
Or the footsteps of a comrade, from many years ago?
Did I hear the waves lap-laping, did I hear the sea wind sigh, -
Or the voices of my shipmates, from the years that have gone by?

By Chinese Charley's junk-store, by the Panama Saloon,
I walked and talked with shadows there, in all the glare of noon,
Among the keys without a lock, and locks without a key,
The old boss-eyed binoculars, and sextants on the spree;
New Brummagem and old Bombay a-tumbling side by side,
A brown bald-headed idol and an "Extra Master's Guide," -
Mouldy, musty, dumb and dusty, broken on the shelf,
I thought I heard the sailor's fiddle singing to itself.

Yes, singing in a queer old quaver, shaky, shrill, and sad,
Like an old man singing songs he knew when he was just a lad,
Singing of a good old time that all too fast did fly,
When the world was so much younger, in the years that have gone by. (2X)

If you want to know more about C. Fox Smith, or what I and other folks have done to musically adapt her poems for singing, here's a link to a Mudcat thread that I started years ago: Click here!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Fiddle, The (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Mar 05 - 12:54 PM

Refresh!

Well, this old poem really didn't get fair play since Mudcat was down for a couple of days.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Fiddle, The (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 Mar 05 - 05:33 PM

Here's the update for my arrangement of this poem. It's still pretty close to what I've posted above with a few more word changes but most importantly the melody has become more complex and spooky, as seems appropriate (copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12 to line up chords):

Original words by Cicely Fox Smith © 1920
In SMALL CRAFT, pp. 91-95
Adapted by Charles Ipcar, ©2005
Tune: Charles Ipcar ©2005
Key: Am (2/Gm)

THE OLD FIDDLE

G-Am----------------------------------------Dm------C--Dm
By Chinese Charley's junk-store, by the Panama Sa-loon,
--------Am----------------------------------Dm--------------C----Dm
Where 'longshore loafers lean and spit, morning, night, and noon, –
----Am--------------------------------------Dm------------C-Dm
All among the keys without a lock, and locks without a key,
----Am-------------C-----------------G----------------Em
The old boss-eyed binoculars and sextants on the spree;
------Am-----------------------------------Dm------------C--Dm
New Brummagem and old Bombay, a-tumbling side by side,
--Am-----------------------------------Dm---------C---Dm
A brown bald-headed idol and an "Extra Mas-ter's Guide," –
Am----------------------------------Dm-------C---Dm
Mouldy, musty, dull and dusty, broken on the shelf,
--Am------------------C---------------G----------Em
I thought I heard the sailor's fiddle singing to it-self.

Dm--------------------------------Am-----------C---Am
Singing in a queer old quaver, shaky, shrill, and sad,
---------G------------------Em---------------------Am---------G-Am
Like an old man singing songs he knew when he was just a lad,
Dm---------------------------------------Am--------C---Am
Singing of them good old times that all too fast did fly,
-----------G----------------------Em---------------Am--------------G----Am
When the world was so much younger. in the years that have gone by.

There were scraps of dead old choruses and snatches of old tunes,
We surely knew in other worlds and under other moons;
There was singing on the fo'c's'le, with a sky so full of stars,
And bits o' tipsy shouting out of gaudy, glary bars;
Little tunes on Chinese fiddles up some curving narrow street
Full of dinky Chinee houses, where the East and West do meet;
"Ranzo, Ranzo, Reuben Ranzo" – came the sound to me
Of a chantey chorus roaring 'bove the roaring of the sea.

Was it only seagulls piping, faint and far away,
In their rows along the freight-sheds where they hang about all day, -
Mewing round the back cove, where the tugboats lie –
Or a song we sang together in the years that have gone by?

There were ships that once I sailed on, ships both great and small,
Some were good, some were bad, but, Lord, I loved 'em all;
There were rusty-red old hookers, going plugging round the world,
And Clyde-built China clippers with their splendid wings unfurled;
And all the winds of all the seas came swirling down the street,
With its smell of beer and harbour-mud, and tread of weary feet,
Till I heard the stormy westerlies go thrashing through the sails,
And the Trades' low whining humming, and them Bay of Biscay gales.

Was I waking, was I sleeping, where did the wild wind go,
Thrumming in the slender tops of ships I used to know,
With the deep-sea glory on them, all against a sunset sky,
On the tide o' dreams a-sailing, from the years that have gone by?

There were faces long forgotten, friends both false and true,
That I'd sailed with once and lost again, the way that sailors do;
There were folks I loved and lost, with faces all a-shine,
Came and walked a while beside me, with their hand in mine;
Are you dead or living, comrade, near or far away?
Do you ever think of me, lad, your friend upon a day?
Late or soon, night or noon, you and I will meet,
All the seas and years behind us, strolling down this street.

Was it but the rippling tide, that by the wharf did flow, -
Or the footsteps of a comrade, from many years ago?
Did I hear the waves lap-laping, did I hear the sea wind sigh, -
Or the voices of my shipmates, from the years that have gone by?

By Chinese Charley's junk-store, by the Panama Saloon,
I walked and talked with shadows there, in all the glare of noon,
Among the keys without a lock, and locks without a key,
The old boss-eyed binoculars, and sextants on the spree;
New Brummagem and old Bombay a-tumbling side by side,
A brown bald-headed idol and an "Extra Master's Guide," -
Mouldy, musty, dull and dusty, broken on the shelf,
I thought I heard the sailor's fiddle singing to itself.

Yes, singing in a queer old quaver, shaky, shrill, and sad,
Like an old man singing songs he knew when he was just a lad,
Singing of them good old times that all too fast did fly,
When the world was so much younger, in the years that have gone by. (2X)

Notes:

"Boss-eyed" is an archaic word for cross-eyed or wall-eyed (not sure how something can be both)

"Brummagem" is the old name for Birmingham and here means newer shoddy goods, while the reference to "Bombay" may imply older exotic goods

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Fiddle, The (C. Fox Smith)
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 31 Mar 05 - 06:28 PM

Nice Song, Charlie! Especially the last, with the chord changes. The first version was kind of monotonous, I thought. I'm going to work on this, and see if I can feel good with it.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Fiddle, The (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 Mar 05 - 07:18 PM

Dave-

Be careful. There's a lot of power in the words, what I call that old Cicely magic. It will take another week or so before I record a MP3 version. I think it's finally stabilized and works reasonably well with my banjo but I've still got to really learn it.

There's probably a whole set of these songs that might best be described as "The Olde Curiosity Shop."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Fiddle, The (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Apr 05 - 12:30 PM

Well, I've really only been trying to sing the first set of lines, and just noted that generally the 7th line is divided into internal rhythming and three parts. However, there's an exception in this verse:

There were ships that once I sailed on, ships both great and small,
Some were good, some were bad, but, Lord, I loved 'em all;
There were rusty-red old hookers, going plugging round the world,
And Clyde-built China clippers with their splendid wings unfurled;
And all the winds of all the seas came swirling down the street,
With its smell of beer and harbour-mud, and tread of weary feet,
Till I heard the stormy westerlies go thrashing through the sails,
And the Trades' low whining humming, and them Bay of Biscay gales.

Which I propose "tidying up" as such:

There were ships that once I sailed on, ships both great and small,
Some were good, some were bad, but, Lord, I loved 'em all;
There were rusty-red old hookers, going plugging round the world,
And Clyde-built China clippers with their splendid wings unfurled;
And all the winds of all the seas came swirling down the street,
With its smell of beer and harbour-mud, and tread of weary feet,
EASTERLIES, AND WESTERLIES, ALL thrashing through the sails,
And the Trades' low whining humming, and them Bay of Biscay gales.

So much for now!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Fiddle, The (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 06:01 PM

Additional Note: The location of this song is likely Victoria, BC's Chinatown in the early 1900's.

Here's the promised MP3 sample of this song from my website: Click here!

This is definitely one of my favorite musical arrangements.

Unfortunately the whole song runs some 6 minutes and I'm loath to edit.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Fiddle, The (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 11:55 AM

While visiting Victoria this August I went prowling around the narrow alleys of old Chinatown. The most narrow alley is called Fan Tan Alley, about 4 feet wide, but the whole area has been regimented into a conventional grid pattern. The old insurance maps in the BC Archives are far more intriguing. No sign of Chinese Charlie's but there was a Panama Saloon on Yates Street, right around the corner from where Cicely "thumped a typewriter" in a law office.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Fiddle, The (C. Fox Smith)
From: Anglo
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 09:44 PM

As far as I know, "Brummagem" is still current (it was when I was growing up less than twenty miles away), often abbreviated to "Brum."

Charley, you do set tunes to these, so why not just learn ABC - it's a real straightforward way of notating and transmitting tunes in plain text, and for just a melody line it's fairly simple. You don't have to do the fancy stuff and add the chords and lyrics, you could do those just as you are doing them already.

Best,
JR


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Fiddle, The (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 13 Sep 05 - 10:09 PM

John-

Thanks for the comment on "Brummagem." Do I have the right sense of what "Old Bombay" is?

You're also right that I should learn ABC. I do provide folks a link to an MP3 of how I sing the verse and bridge. But I'm still musically illiterate and not particularly proud of it.

It's a damn nice tune too, one of my best!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Fiddle, The (C. Fox Smith)
From: Anglo
Date: 14 Sep 05 - 10:07 PM

I would agree with your read of "old Bombay," more "real" and as you say exotic antiques, compared with mass-produced trinkets. Birmingham is (was?) England's second-largest city, and a major manufacturing center.


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Subject: Lyr Add: I CAN'T FIND BRUMMAGEM (James Dobbs)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 05:33 PM

John-

I did run across a reference to Brummagem years ago in some unrelated music research :

The current confusion and sadness experienced by those who return home looking for their old neighborhood is clearly anticipated in this 19th century broadside from Birmingham collected by Roy Palmer:

"For the past ten years and more (1970's), not only visitors, but inhabitants have been astonished and perplexed by continual changes in the topography of Birmingham caused by re-building carried out on a vast scale. The situation was apparently similar in 1828 when music-hall entertainer, James Dobbs, wrote this song to the tune of Duncan Grey. It was popular for several years, being frequently reprinted on broadsides and sung, we are told, by passengers riding on the tops of stage coaches...The old church mentioned is St. Martin's; the moat around the residence of the ancient lords of Birmingham was filled up to form Smithfield Market Place; the Dungil or Dungeon was the town prison, originally in Peck Lane, and later moved to Moor Street; jack bannils are sticklebacks (fish)."


Words by James Dobbs, 1828,
Recorded by Richard Hamilton on The Wide Midlands
Topic Records 12 TS 210

I Can't Find Brummagem


Full twenty years and more have passed
Since I left Brummagem,
But I set out for home at last
To good old Brummagem;
But every place is altered so,
There's hardly a single place I know,
Which fills my heart with grief and woe,
For I can't find Brummagem.

As I was walking down our street
As used to be in Brummagem,
I knowed nobody as I did meet;
They've changed their faces in Brummagem;
Poor old Spiceal Street's half gone
And the poor old Church stands all alone;
And poor old I stands here to groan
For I can't fin Brummagem.

Amongst the changes we have got
In good old Brummagem,
They've made a market on the moat
To sell the pigs in Brummagem;
But that has brought us more ill-luck;
They're filled up poor old Pudding Brook,
Where in the mud I've often stuck,
Catching jack-bannils in Brummagem.

But what's more melancholy still
For poor old Brummagem,
They've taken away old Newhall Hill,
From poor old Brummagem;
At Easter time, girls fair and brown
Used to come roly-poly down,
And show their legs to half the town,
Oh, the good sights of Brummagem.

Now, down Peck Lane I walked along
To find out Brummagem;
There was the dungeon down and gone,
What, no rogues in Brummagem?
They've taken it to a street called Moor,
A sign that rogues have got no fewer;
The rogues won't like to go there, I'm sure,
While Peck Lane's in Brummagem.

I remember one John Growse,
A bucket-maker in Brummagem,
He build himself a country house
To be out of the smoke of Brummagem,
But though John's country house stands still
The town itself has walked up the hill;
Now he lives besides a smoky mill
In the middle of the streets of Brummagem.

Among the changes that abound,
In good old Brummagem,
May trade and happiness be found,
In good old Brummagem;
And though no Newhall Hill we've got,
Nor pudding Brook, nor any moat,
May we always have enough to boil the pot,
In good old Brummagem.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Fiddle, The (C. Fox Smith)
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 02:51 PM

I was at a concert last night where CFS was mentioned more than a couple of times(Martyn Wyndham-Read & others) so it's great to find your settings.

I just listened to your mp3 . Fine tune for the words. Thanks.

re 'Brummagem'
If you're wanting it in a local accent I've always heard it as 'brum a djum' / 'brum a jum'.
As here in The Rosemary about 2:10


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