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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 08/13/2010 Sarah Armstrong's Tunes

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LyleK - Posted - 08/13/2010:  18:35:24

I never can seem to settle on just one tune, so for this week I thought I'd go instead with a medley of tunes from the fiddling of Sarah Armstrong. So here's a medley of:

1. The Blackbird
2. Red Brick House in Georgia Town
3. "Sarah Armstrong's Tune" (Old Reel No. 33)
4. Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine

The *.mp3 is at:

A music search of BHO will reveal a few recordings of "Sarah Armstrong's Tune" (notably Zepp's version). Of course, it would be nice to have recordings of Sarah herself playing this, and other of her tunes. But she was never recorded. Thankfully, S.P. Bayard transcribed and published 37 of her tunes in his 1944 "Hill Country Tunes." This is where I learned the first three tunes in the medley. "Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine" was not a Sarah Armstrong tune, per se, but I have added it as a contrast (?) to "The Blackbird," which she called "Napoleon Crossing the Rhine" (The Blackbird is an Irish aire from which "Napoleon Crossing the Rhine" is derived).

Part of the reason I picked these Armstrong tunes is in response to previous threads that devalued tab and music notation relative to learning tunes by ear. That said, there is an excellent CD by Todd Cleswell that consists entirely of Sarah Armstrong tunes ( ). Also see Todd's "Sarah" page ( ) which gives a link to a *.pdf of "Hill Country Tunes."

While I'm on the soapbox now, my point about tabs/written music is just that they are another tool for learning tunes. Many tunes I do learn by ear, but it is just about impossible to learn (for example) Cincinnati Quickmarch (a Civil War era fife tune) unless you are willing to read the fife manuals. Speaking of tabs, all but "Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine" are on my page ( ).

rteale - Posted - 08/13/2010:  18:47:09

Lovely choice and very nice playing Lyle - although I now have three songs to learn this week instead of just the one ( I already know "Bonaparte ....")

Which banjo are you using? Great tone I think.


ChuckJo - Posted - 08/13/2010:  23:26:42

Always loved "Old Tarheel", another name for Old Reel No. 33. Played it once in Carl Jones presence. He told me that he thought that James Bryan mad up the name "Old Tarheel" as a humorous reference to Carl himself.

vrteach - Posted - 08/14/2010:  06:16:17

Nice collection of tunes, and I'm glad to learn of that CD (which I just ordered). I have a vague memory that I knew of the Sarah Armstrong collection of tunes, but it had fallen well off my radar.

biscuit joiner - Posted - 08/14/2010:  09:16:26

This is great! I've now learned that 'Sarah Armstong's tune' has two other names, learned who Ms. Armstrong was (and ordered a CD to learn her tunes on my fiddle), and discovered that one of my favorite tab resources has what looks to be some very straightforward arrangements of these fantastic tunes-of-the-week.

Thanks for everything Lyle!

RG - Posted - 08/14/2010:  10:13:57

Wow, a great set of tune(s) of the week...these will be fun to work through...thanks Lyle!

ZEPP - Posted - 08/14/2010:  11:24:32

I don't quite know how to say this without sounding full of myself, but I've always thought my 2004 recording of SAT was about my favorite thing I've done. Usually, I can't stand to listen to my own recordings, but I sorta like this one. I had never heard the tune played on banjo when I recorded this, but I really liked the way it laid out.

It was recorded using a Mike Ramsey Dobson-style Woody that I took in trade: aCGCD capoed to double D (aDADE).


Sarah Armstrong's Tune


LyleK - Posted - 08/16/2010:  07:21:34

Thanks all for the comments/interest.

Ray - It's a Bart Reiter Regent identical to , except with a tubaphone ring instead of a whyte laydie ring.

Chuck - Thanks for the info; I didn't know about the relabeling. In searching around for that I found which has your link for a *.pdf of Hill Country Tunes at the bottom. I had a link for Andrea's scan, but it was on her personal site so the link is better. And it's a better copy than the one at Lamancusa's page.

Jim & Erich - Good to hear that you're ordering the CD. Guess I should too!

Zepp - Your recording is also a favorite of mine, and I've "heard" a number of people marvel at the triplets in that *.mp3 in past BHO threads.

Nuts - Posted - 08/17/2010:  11:00:02

Very nice Lyle, I especially liked your rendition of Red Brick House in Georgia Town.

LyleK - Posted - 08/17/2010:  11:41:15

Originally posted by Nuts
Very nice Lyle, I especially liked your rendition of Red Brick House in Georgia Town.

What, are you nuts? --Sorry, I've been meaning to use that one for a while. Thanks, and hope to see you and "strokestyle" soon again.

vrteach - Posted - 08/20/2010:  18:31:32

My copy of the Todd Clewell CD of Sarah Armstrong's Tunes came in the mail today. It's quite nice. I'm particularly drawn to the jigs & hornpipes on it, there is a medley of Quadrille's that I like.

tfaux - Posted - 08/22/2010:  08:28:48

Very nicely played, and recorded.

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