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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW - Soldier's Joy


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: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/172106

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Dock Jekel - Posted - 02/26/2010:  15:56:10


I notice that lately TOTW is trending towards fiddle tune classics. Recently, hangouters have been presented such well known tunes as “Turkey in the Straw”, “8th of January”, “Cluck old Hen”, and, just last week… “Spotted Pony”. So, not to be outdone…. How about… “Soldier’s Joy”!
http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/SO_SOR.htm
Some interesting factoids...
• Bronner (1987) states it as, maybe, “the most popular fiddle tune in history, widely disseminated in North America and Europe in nearly every tradition”.
• References to this tune go back to the 1700’s in Europe.
• The late Tommy Jarrell knew the tune in the 1920’s as “I love Somebody”, later as “Soldier’s Joy”, then, after WWII, it was called in his region, “Payday in the Army” (What’s it called now?)
• In my area, there’s an identical version of this tune played with Dm, instead of D, called “Soldier’s Lament”
I did not have to look far to find a TAB resource, 15 of them!
http://www.banjohangout.org/w/tab/b...byletter/v/S
OK folks! Got anecdotes? videos? stories? recordings?
I will finish by directing, anyone interested, to our string-band “Cobb Stompers”, which included Soldier’s Joy at a local festival last September: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUIt_bgMWNM
Also, I recently conducted an experiment. I was interested to see how Soldier’s Joy would sound after taking the familiar up-tempo string-band qualities out…
http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...usicid=16319
Good notes to y’all, Dock

ramjo - Posted - 02/26/2010:  16:08:16


Great stuff, Dock. I'm glad you directed us to your Soldier's Joyous--a very cool impression. I liked it a lot.

I don't have any soldier's joy stories, other than to say the first time I probably heard it was on the Will the Circle Be Unbroken album in 1975 when I was barreling down the Dead slide into acoustic music (and flying on JH's Aeroplane). John Mcuen on that cut saying into the banjo pot "Uncle Dave, if you're in there. . . . .") and Earl laughing.

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 02/26/2010:  16:20:42


I love Soldier's Joy - one of my favorites, and like probably everyone else, one of the first 25 tunes I learned on banjo!

It is not played enough, in my opinion. It tends to get grouped into the oh that old tune again bin.

Mary Cox played it for me as a waltz - slow down the timing and put it in 3/4 time - makes a nice waltz.

J-Walk - Posted - 02/26/2010:  16:21:45


quote:
the first time I probably heard it was on the Will the Circle Be Unbroken album in 1975

Ditto that, ramjo!

That is a great recording of the tune. I just listened to it again. A nice blend of bluegrass and old time playing.

Good tune choice, Dock. Looking forward to follow-up comments.

robertsart - Posted - 02/26/2010:  16:42:00


quote:
Originally posted by ramjo

...John Mcuen on that cut saying into the banjo pot "Uncle Dave, if you're in there. . . . .") and Earl laughing.




Ditto that ramjo and J-Walk...

And at the risk of stating the obvious, John McEuen really was literally playing Uncle Dave Macon's banjo on that cut...



RB00 - Posted - 02/26/2010:  16:44:57


Always one of my favorites!
Len

RWJones1970 - Posted - 02/26/2010:  17:17:56


*** Nice picking Dock. One of my favorites as well. I think I was first turned onto this tune when I heard "The Three Pickers " perform it. I just love Ricky's clawhammer intro not to mention the way they played the tune. Ricky starts with picking the A and B part and then Earl and Doc each pick the B part before returning to the A part to pick it straight through all together. Fantastic ! My guitar picking buddy assures me that the tune is about a wounded soldier receiving morphine to ease his suffering. I never heard that one before. Here's my humble attempt at the tune.

http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...98&archived=


Edited by - RWJones1970 on 02/26/2010 17:37:12

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 02/26/2010:  17:47:17


quote:
Originally posted by RWJones1970

*** Nice picking Dock. One of my favorites as well. I think I was first turned onto this tune when I heard "The Three Pickers " perform it. I just love Ricky's clawhammer intro not to mention the way they played the tune. Ricky starts with picking the A and B part and then Earl and Doc each pick the B part before returning to the A part to pick it straight through all together. Fantastic ! My guitar picking buddy assures me that the tune is about a wounded soldier receiving morphine to ease his suffering. I never heard that one before. Here's my humble attempt at the tune.

http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...98&archived=


Oddly enough, I uploaded a version of this tune on my page just today (under the title "Joie de Soldat/Soldier's Joy"), that we recorded sometime in the late 70's, with a sung verse: "It's 15 cents for morphine, 25 cents for beer, 15 cents for morphine, hop on soldier's joy!" (We also so sing it in French). My understanding is that those are traditional words.

Here's the link (if I did this properly...never tried before.):
http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...sp?id=47457#


Edited by - Marc Nerenberg on 02/26/2010 17:48:38

Chris Dean - Posted - 02/26/2010:  18:01:03


This is also one of my favorite tunes!


Melvin Wine's family used to claim that the tune was written about his grandfather who was in the CSA during the Civil War. Their story says that his grandfather was captured by Union soldiers and while they were marching him to prison camp, he supposedly "came up" with this tune. The tune made the Union soldiers so happy that they let him go...thus the name Soldier's Joy.

There is an audio file online of him telling the story. It's a pretty cool tale to hear. If I can find it again, I'll post it.

~Chris

Dock Jekel - Posted - 02/26/2010:  18:18:23


Seems families often have the best stories- like urban myths- family myths! Supposedly, versions of this tune have been around since long before the Civil War.

vernob - Posted - 02/27/2010:  03:21:54


I first learned SJ on fiddle. I still think of it as a fiddle tune.

janolov - Posted - 02/27/2010:  03:35:42


Soldier's Joy is also known to traditional Scandinavian fiddlers. It has come over from England in 1600's or 1700's and is named "Engelska" (means "English").

Don Borchelt - Posted - 02/27/2010:  05:38:25


No matter what state of the Union you find yourself in, the fiddlers are going to know this tune. It's play in contra dances in New Hampshire, barn dances in West Virginia, and square dances in Idaho. It may not sound exactly the same in each of those places, but musicians in each will recognize and relate to the others' version.

Dock, the Cob Stompers got it right for sure, but I was really blown away by your "joyous" version, a quiet, thoughtful contemplation. Spontaneous and masterful. I also like Rob's version, too, a fine hoedown with his own subtle mark imprinted on it. RW has a great sparkling tone, but still chugs along with that heart thumping clawhammer stroke. Just wonderful.

I used to play this tune in standard C tuning, capoed on the second fret when I wanted to play with a fiddler. I found a tape I made back around 1985, a quarter century ago, one of my first experiments with overdubbing, and one of my early efforts at bringing more of an old-timey sound to my three finger style.

Soldier's Joy from 1985

This next recording is from an outdoor jam session at the 2008 Clifftop festival, made with my little hand held Tascam DR-1. Please forgive the wind noise and static, and the fact that the banjo is just slightly out of tune. Sometimes you just have to do the best you can and jump in with what you got. Ed Britt and I were jamming with Jimmy Costa, who is just an all around terrific musician, and a truly authentic Uncle Dave interpreter. I was playing my Fairbanks Whyte Laydie in Open D tuning, which is where I play all of my key of D fiddle tunes these days.

Soldier's Joy from Clifftop 2008

I have a tab of this second version in both Tabledit and PDF format on my website, if anyone is interested.

http://www.banjr.com/tablatures.htm

- Don Borchelt



Edited by - Don Borchelt on 02/27/2010 05:59:18

Chris Via - Posted - 02/27/2010:  05:53:49


Thats all good stuff. One of my favorite tunes too.

LyleK - Posted - 02/27/2010:  06:01:57


Excellent pick "Dock," and I've enjoyed listening to all the versions posted here. From the "sacrilegious things one can do to fiddle tunes dept." here are my versions of Soldier's Sorrow and Mississippi Sadder, each followed by the corresponding Ionian version: http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...93&archived=


Edited by - LyleK on 02/27/2010 06:02:45

farmer bob - Posted - 02/27/2010:  07:06:13


I play soldiers joy many times during the day. I can not pick up a banjo and not play it at least once. If you put a banjo in my hands while I'm a sleep I would probably play SJ. Funny thing is that I never play SJ on guitar.
BTW I just pulled out the Circle be Unbroken album this week after 30 years and was surprised to hear SJ though its a bit to studio slick for my taste...
Old time musicians are the only people I know who have respect for simple tunes like SJ...Bob.

Bill Rogers - Posted - 02/27/2010:  12:53:16


As with all the old warhorse tunes, there's a reason Soldier's Joy has survived these many years. It's a great tune--to play, to hear, to dance to. Though, as Hank Bradley once said, "There ain't no joy about being no soldier."

maryzcox - Posted - 02/27/2010:  14:38:09



Old time musicians are the only people I know who have respect for simple tunes like SJ...Bob.
[/quote]

Not necessarily true--we just recorded a new version of Soldier's Joy on our new Cd, "Drumming On the Edge Of Banjo" (It has a cello banjo/dulcimette duet on it as well as African/Caribbean drumming and it is hopefully going out to the world music genre.

And guess which tunes are Yazid's (our drummer who is not an old time musician) favorites? Campbell's Farewell to Red Gap and you guessed it--Soldier's Joy. :)

Soldier's Joy has not lasted hundreds of years for no reason--it is a good tune--nice melody and good dance tune--for old time--and lots of other genres too. :)

CD baby is still loading up my digital versions--but you can hear a short audio clip of our Soldier's Joy on our almost completed page if you type in "Drumming On the Edge Of Banjo" in their search box.

Best wishes,
Mary Z. Cox
www.maryzcox.com

Dock Jekel - Posted - 02/27/2010:  14:45:15


Thanks everyone for the contributions. It sure is interesting hearing all the different directions a tune can go! Dock

Kitt - Posted - 02/27/2010:  14:52:43


I've been practicing my Soldier's Joy the past couple of days via Mary's playing and tablature from Secret Life of Banjo. I've never gotten it to sound quite like I've wanted it to. But it's always interesting when you come back to a tune and find that it's beginning to come much easier to you than before. I'm bouncing along pretty well with it now.

pickinchik - Posted - 02/27/2010:  20:51:27


I LOVE me some SJ!!!

That is one of the first tunes I heard played and man I love it. Thanks for making it tune of the week.

Mandy

slabounty - Posted - 02/27/2010:  22:22:34


I'll jump on the bandwagon and say this is one of my favorite (if not my favorite) tunes. I started out as a bad flatpicker before becoming a bad clawhammer banjo player and a top verison is Clarence White's New Soldier's Joy. I think that David Grier does a similar version.

Scott

madkelt2004 - Posted - 02/28/2010:  04:50:57


I've read that this tune dates back to British soldiers in the 1600s. I've also read that it came out of the War Between the States and refers to morphine.
Whatever it's origins it is a great song!

banjered - Posted - 02/28/2010:  05:21:25


SJ was one of the tunes that inspired me to pick up CH banjo. In the late 80's Pete(?) and a fiddler played that tune at the Santa Cruz annual Strawberry and Shortcake Bash they have (had?) at the YWCA. It was such a happy, joyous sound. To this day I can play it only the way I heard it back then - a lot of drop thumb -POP- on that fourth string. A while back at a jam another learner fired up that tune and at first it was "that old tune" reaction from the pros but we played it so happy they couldn't stop themselves from jumping in. Fun!!! TC

Don Borchelt - Posted - 02/28/2010:  06:05:01


I think Soldier's Joy is still better received at a jam that some of the other chestnuts, like Arkansas Traveler or Turkey in the Straw. It hasn't got that "looney tunes" stigma to deal with.

janolov - Posted - 02/28/2010:  09:14:33


In the 80's I tried to play a little Scruggs style. From Earl Scruggs book I played "Old Folks" in the gCGBD tuning, and a lot later I recogized it was Soldier's Joy.

Don Borchelt - Posted - 02/28/2010:  16:32:31


Janolov wrote: "From Earl Scruggs book I played Old Folks..."

I had forgotten all about Old Folks. I never heard anyone else call the tune by that name. I think that Scruggs setting may be one echo of what folks like Smith Hammett may have sounded like.

WildJimbo - Posted - 02/28/2010:  16:56:00


Strip it down. Back it up to about 1850...

Here's my take in the stroke style.



Soldier's Joy

   

BanjerMaker - Posted - 03/01/2010:  09:54:07


Here's my double banjo take on it!

http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango....asp?id=3975

Viper - Posted - 03/01/2010:  11:26:39


I just heard a group play this on Saturday, and I thought to myself, "I gotta learn that song already!" I busted out Ken Perlman's book (the only tab of it I own) and messed around with it for the first time on Sunday. Now, here it is at TOTW! I gotta learn this song already ...

boondocker53 - Posted - 03/01/2010:  12:19:49


SURELY everyone has seen this version by now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyD2aG2jMwI

OK, no banjo, just a fiddle version, but it was fun to see.

Dock Jekel - Posted - 03/01/2010:  17:23:11


I'm now one of the 3/4 of a million people that have seen that commercial. Wide smiles!

ramjo - Posted - 03/02/2010:  05:33:25


On my way to work this morning, listening to R. D. Lunceford's "Drop Thumb," I was reminded that he has both "Soldier's Joy" and a tune called "Rocky Mountains," which, in his version, is nearer to SJ than some of our posted variations on SJ are. I don't have R.D.'s tab book, so I don't know if he's said anything about "Rocky Mountains." Maybe he'll chime in here and shed some light. To paraphrase John McEuen, "R.D. If you're out there. . . . ."

janolov - Posted - 03/02/2010:  05:59:59


quote:
Originally posted by ramjo

On my way to work this morning, listening to R. D. Lunceford's "Drop Thumb," I was reminded that he has both "Soldier's Joy" and a tune called "Rocky Mountains," which, in his version, is nearer to SJ than some of our posted variations on SJ are. I don't have R.D.'s tab book, so I don't know if he's said anything about "Rocky Mountains." Maybe he'll chime in here and shed some light. To paraphrase John McEuen, "R.D. If you're out there. . . . ."



The answer was given in a discussion in 2007 (http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/74362 , look at the end of the discussion) where R.D. Lunceford answered this:
quote:

"Rocky Mountains" is a tune I got from Mel Durham many years ago.

.....

"Rocky Mountains" was the first of Mel's tunes I set for clawhammer banjo. As far as I remember, Mel said it was a local Southern Illinois tune that he learned from his dad. Mel also played a fairly standard version of "Soldier's Joy" which he considered a wholly different tune than "Rocky Mountains".

ramjo - Posted - 03/02/2010:  06:29:01


quote:
Originally posted by janolov

quote:
Originally posted by ramjo
I don't have R.D.'s tab book, so I don't know if he's said anything about "Rocky Mountains."



The answer was given in a discussion in 2007 (http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/74362 , look at the end of the discussion) where R.D. Lunceford answered this:
quote:

"Rocky Mountains" is a tune I got from Mel Durham many years ago.

.....

"Rocky Mountains" was the first of Mel's tunes I set for clawhammer banjo. As far as I remember, Mel said it was a local Southern Illinois tune that he learned from his dad. Mel also played a fairly standard version of "Soldier's Joy" which he considered a wholly different tune than "Rocky Mountains".




Thank you Janolv. I should have searched the archive myself, but it's good to have the info attached in this thread as well.
Regards,
RAM

g3zdm - Posted - 03/02/2010:  16:04:54


quote:
Originally posted by boondocker53

SURELY everyone has seen this version by now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyD2aG2jMwI

OK, no banjo, just a fiddle version, but it was fun to see.



You add your own take on this.
If the link works, here's a quick attempt that I made (and at least I mentioned a banjo in my lyrics) :
http://www.fiddleafriend.com/?id=f02ire48uxk3ft1

LyleK - Posted - 03/02/2010:  19:35:20


"vrteach" may have been living in fear that would I rediscover the *.mp3 he made from a cassette tape recording from the summer of 1980 (wow, 30 years ago!). So here are much younger "vrteach" on CH banjo and "lylek" on fiddle (with a non-BHO guitarist) playing SJ: http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...94&archived=

This was recorded under acoustically miserable conditions using only the "finest" equipment, but still, maybe it has documentary value. It at least shows that we've been playing for a long time (and boy are my arms tired).


Edited by - LyleK on 03/02/2010 19:36:09

Mirek Patek - Posted - 03/03/2010:  06:48:44


Here is my attempt on CGdg tenor banjo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8rabbtQ1T8

Basic frailing motion is T-RI. Bum is thumbpick, Dit is ring fingernailpick downstroke, Ty is index fingerpick on my 1st (g) string.

Mirek
http://www.banjosessions.com/dec09/patek.html

farmer bob - Posted - 03/09/2010:  06:19:40


Yesterday on BBC news they featured a filler at the end of the broadcast of a sheep shearing contest in the French Alps. Though it was hard to hear over the narration there were people shearing and dancing to a tune that was clearly soldiers joy. No doubt they had a completely different name for the tune but it shows just how far and wide a tune can travel and how a simple melody song can join people around the world.. Bob.

Bisbonian - Posted - 03/09/2010:  07:31:37


Really nice, Mirek.

trapdoor2 - Posted - 03/09/2010:  08:20:20


quote:
Originally posted by janolov

In the 80's I tried to play a little Scruggs style. From Earl Scruggs book I played "Old Folks" in the gCGBD tuning, and a lot later I recogized it was Soldier's Joy.
I also learned the tune via the Scruggs book and for some reason spent a lot of frustrating time trying to learn it from various sources as a CH tune. When I finally sat down and came up with my own version, it turned out to be simply Scruggs on the LH and CH on the right. Go figure...

ZEPP - Posted - 03/09/2010:  08:26:11


quote:
Originally posted by Mirek Patek


Basic frailing motion is T-RI. Bum is thumbpick, Dit is ring fingernailpick downstroke, Ty is index fingerpick on my 1st (g) string.



Fascinating! I'm very impressed with the variety of styles you play on a 4-string banjo. Really neat stuff, Mirek.

Cheers,
ZEPP

Bisbonian - Posted - 03/09/2010:  18:30:29


Cheers to you, too, ZEPP, and thanks for this song (I learned it from one of your videos).

tomberghan - Posted - 03/10/2010:  06:59:10


My recording of SJ from a few months ago.
http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...76&archived=

rteale - Posted - 03/10/2010:  15:19:22


quote:
Originally posted by tomberghan

My recording of SJ from a few months ago.
http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...76&archived=



Hey if we are gonna start referring to Soldiers Joy with the abbreviation "SJ" - what are we gonna use for Turkey in the Straw

Ray

ZEPP - Posted - 03/10/2010:  17:09:35


um... "OZC"?

Cheers,
ZEPP

Bisbonian - Posted - 03/10/2010:  18:33:08


Well, I put my version of Soldier's Joy. The first one was a bit rushed, I am afraid. I'm home sick, and had nothing better to do...but if I hadn't been sick I think I would have done better ;) So, I gave it another shot today, and it turned out a little better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nInbIa8Ucw


Edited by - Bisbonian on 03/12/2010 19:54:23

banjoike - Posted - 03/10/2010:  19:06:56


Real nice Bis! Nice good steady rhythm. You remind me of John Hartford!!

Bisbonian - Posted - 03/10/2010:  20:42:46


Thanks. That's got to be the biggest compliment I have ever received in my life...and undeserved. I just happen to be listening to him in the background as I came to this page again...sure know I've absorbed a lot of his music over the years, and I would be delighted to think a little bit of it had sunk in.

Well I'd like to be a pilot, of that steam powered aereoplane
Well, I'd pull that pilot wheel around, and then back again.

And I'd wear a blue hat, yeah, that says 'steam powered aereoplane'
In letters that go 'round the brim and then back again.

Sittin' on a 737 just a watchin' them clouds roll by, can't tell if it's sunshine or if it's rain...
Rather be a sittin' in a deck chair high up over Kansas City, on a genuine ol' fashioned authentic steam powered aereoplane.


Edited by - Bisbonian on 03/10/2010 21:10:19

Gumbograss - Posted - 03/10/2010:  22:55:36


quote:
Originally posted by Marc Nerenberg
"It's 15 cents for morphine, 25 cents for beer, 15 cents for morphine, hop on soldier's joy!" (We also so sing it in French). My understanding is that those are traditional words.

Here's the link (if I did this properly...never tried before.):
http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...sp?id=47457#



Marc,
I love this version! Being from Louisiana, I'm used to songs that mix French and English. Very nice. The first time I heard this song was on the Circle album, like many others. But when I lived in CA, I attended a once-a-year jam in Los Gatos where they sang verses and a chorus. The chorus they used was almost the same as yours..."It's 15 cents for the morphine, 25 cents for the beer, 15 cents for the morphine, and I'll fly away from here!" If I remember right, the verse and the chorus were sung to the "A" part of the tune, and the "B" part was played as an instrumental in between. That was also a very cool version of this song!
For the record, I've been a 3-finger guy for 30+ years, and now I'm attempting to learn Clawhammer and/or minstrel strum on a fretless, open back. I'm right back where I was when I was 17 and laboring over those basic 3-finger rolls...I sound terrible! But I'm determined.

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