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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW (OT) 09-20-14 Bonaparte's Retreat


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/291594

etparadox - Posted - 09/20/2014:  12:32:23


For this Tune of the Week, I’ve chosen Bonaparte’s Retreat.



 



This tune is fairly common in the old-time canon and with good reason. The roots of the tune go back to an old Irish march, and indeed, the traditional fiddle arrangement imitates a bagpipe in many ways, using “dead man’s tuning” where the G string of the fiddle is tuned to a low D which is used as a drone in the A part of the tune. The B part moves away from the low drone, but the bowing keeps the droning feeling going.



 



There are two main versions of this tune commonly played. The first is closer to the original version, a slow march turned reel over the years, while the second is sped up considerably with an altered melody. The fast version is attributed to William H. Stepp who recorded it in 1937 for a Library of Congress field recording. This Stepp version was later adapted to be the main theme of Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown.”



 



The slow version fits on the banjo pretty well and can be played in two octaves. The low A part uses a lot of left hand ornamentation, so some may find the high A part easier. For the B part the roles reverse. The high B part requires playing and staying up around the 10th fret compared to the low B part which never leaves first position. For this reason the easiest way to start with the tune is probably mixing the octaves. I’ve included a tab with this mixed configuration along with the tabs that stick to their octaves. No matter what octaves you choose, I recommend trying to stick pretty firmly to a bum-dit-ty pattern with a brush in the “dit.” This tune traditionally used a lot of drones and keeping the patter will help give that impression despite the short sustain of the banjo.



 



To play the Stepp version on banjo one must use almost exclusively hammer-ons and pull-offs as the tune is a barrage of eighth notes alternating up and down the scale. With some practice it is doable, but it may take a while to get it up to speed. The A part is always the same, sans ornamentation, but there are two versions of the B part. The melodies are the same they are in different octaves (both in first position though). The traditional way of playing it is to play the low B on the first and the high B on the second. Repeat this cycle to the end of the tune.



 



I've put both versions up in the tab archives as well and they can be found here and here



 



My favorite take on the slow version would have to be Brittany Haas':





This version from the Transatlantic Sessions is probably the closest version to the original Irish march:





Here's Stepp's original recording:





And a more modern take:





And what Aaron Copland did in his "Hoedown" from "Rodeo" (with hints of Sail Away Ladies and other such tunes):





 




Bonaparte's Retreat (Low)


Bonaparte's Retreat (High/Low)


Bonaparte's Retreat (High)


Bonaparte's Retreat (Stepp)


Bonaparte's Retreat (High)


Bonaparte's Retreat (Low)


Bonparte's Retreat

Lew H - Posted - 09/20/2014:  15:38:54


RE: Copeland's Hoedown: What a pompous asp Copeland is!   In college, I had to listen to  Copeland's entire Appalachian Spring thing that messes up traditional tunes badly. .Classicifying this and other tunes, having violins slur beginning note of a run, etc., drives nails into the heart of traditional folk and old time music.  I hope his high-brow audience didn't take this to be the real McCoy!  Bartok also used folk melodies in his classical works:  I don't know his originals, but I hope they fared better than those Copeland transmorgified. 



Edited by - Lew H on 09/20/2014 15:42:00

J-Walk - Posted - 09/20/2014:  18:11:22


To demonstrate further how this tune as become popularized.





 





And:




Edited by - J-Walk on 09/20/2014 18:12:13

J-Walk - Posted - 09/20/2014:  18:16:09


It's a great jam tune, as long as there is a strong fiddle leading it -- and everyone follows. It seems that everyone has their own way of playing this tune.


Paul R - Posted - 09/20/2014:  20:21:23


It's a wonderful tune, with so many variations out there. It's hard to choose a "definitive" version.



Thanks for this.


blockader - Posted - 09/20/2014:  21:13:13


There are indeed many iterations of BR, but i'm tellin y'all the pinnacle is Ahaz Gray's! And my great uncle Johnny baptized his son (as an adult). Runner up is Tommy Jarrell's version, which is how i fiddle it since i can't quite figure out what AA Gray was doin. I never really caught it well on banjo, looking forward to seeing what BHOers come up with! 




VIDEO: A. A. Gray "Bonepart's Retreat"
(click to view)

   

RG - Posted - 09/20/2014:  23:33:21


Love playing this tune on the fiddle, tuned DDad, patterned after Gaither Carlton's playing...great tune!



"Classicifying this and other tunes, having violins slur beginning note of a run, etc., drives nails into the heart of traditional folk and old time music." - Lew H



Lew, your description matches about 90% of the fiddlers considered "old time" by most of today's ears...agreed, sad, sad, sad...


blockader - Posted - 09/21/2014:  08:48:15


And heres Tommy's! "Thats Boneypart retreatin' at the end!"




VIDEO: "Bonaparte's Retreat" ~ Tommy Jarrell
(click to view)

   

Ernest M - Posted - 09/21/2014:  16:00:42


quote:

Originally posted by Lew H

RE: Copeland's Hoedown: What a pompous asp Copeland is!  







If you dislike Copleland, I cringe to think how feel about Bela. Not Barkok. Fleck.



 



youtube.com/watch?v=8fu2s2H-hlc


Lew H - Posted - 09/21/2014:  21:13:00


Ernest,  I prefer Fleck to Copeland, although I've only been to two of Bela's concerts.  Oh, make that three--- one from the New Grass Revival days. I think I prefer the music from NGR more than from the Flecktones, despite their musical wizardry. It's a treat to see Wooten and Fleck facing off and  matching notes and runs on banjo and bass.  Not much to listen to in a recording, however.


g3zdm - Posted - 09/22/2014:  05:02:05


Jazz version from Kay Starr here :  youtube.com/watch?v=YbwX2DhJrw4



 



Chris Muriel, Manchester, UK


wizofos - Posted - 09/22/2014:  06:08:12


A simple but great clawhammer version by a student in a Ramsey Student Model.



youtube.com/watch?v=P_L_ZmcAsh0


JanetB - Posted - 09/22/2014:  06:38:47


Nice presentation, Eli.  I enjoyed all of your versions, plus the newer intrepetations of it, but was sparked to do some sleuthing about the original Irish march that may have evolved into Bonaparte's Retreat.  In Stephen Wade's book, The Beautiful Music All Around Us, he mentions a possible link to an Irish march, The Eagle's Whistle, and a recording by Frank Ferrel.  It's a beautiful Celtic tune, but it wasn't played as a march, so I looked further and found information from Patrick Weston Joyce's book published in 1909--Old Irish Folk Music and Songs:  tunearch.org/wiki/Eagle%27s_Whistle_(1)_(The).  This link has notation for The Eagle's Whistle to use for an arrangement.  The second part of my recording is just me guessing at how Bonaparte's Retreat may have come from The Eagle's Whistle.



There's lots of information and stories about this tune, including one about West Virginia fiddle patriarch Jesse Hammons playing Bonaparte's Retreat on his deathbed.  He insisted on having his fiddle given him when his grandson Currence was playing it out of tune, though he wasn't even able to recognize family members at the time.  He'd also been wildly tempermental and they were afraid he'd throw the fiddle down. But then Jesse was given it and played Bonaparte's Retreat perfectly.



Some of the above videos are so strikingly beautiful to hear.  I was inspired last year to learn the Stepp version when I read Stephen Wade's book.



 



Edited by - JanetB on 09/22/2014 06:42:22



The Eagle's Whistle/Bonaparte's Retreat march medley


The Eagle's Whistle/Bonaparte's Retreat march medley tab


Bonaparte's Retreat--William H. Stepp

Zischkale - Posted - 09/22/2014:  08:48:15


quote:

Originally posted by blockader

And heres Tommy's! "Thats Boneypart retreatin' at the end!"







This particular recording is what really piqued my interest in old-time fiddle. Tommy's tone is like a hot knife slicin' through butter! 



Thanks for posting, Eli, this one's essential!



After I built my canjo I gave Ken Perlman's abbreviated version of the melody a shot:



 




VIDEO: Gas Can Banjo -- Bonaparte's Retreat
(click to view)

   

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 09/22/2014:  10:07:45


quote:

Originally posted by Lew H

RE: Copeland's Hoedown: What a pompous asp Copeland is!   In college, I had to listen to  Copeland's entire Appalachian Spring thing that messes up traditional tunes badly. .Classicifying this and other tunes, having violins slur beginning note of a run, etc., drives nails into the heart of traditional folk and old time music.  I hope his high-brow audience didn't take this to be the real McCoy!  Bartok also used folk melodies in his classical works:  I don't know his originals, but I hope they fared better than those Copeland transmorgified. 







I can't see what your problem is here.



Taking a melody used in one context, and adapting it for another is a time honoured musical tradition. Woody Guthrie did it all the time. So did Bob Dylan. Procol Harum took Bach and turned it into Pop music, Gershwin borrowed an Eastern European lullaby for the melody of "Summertime". etc. etc. etc.



Didn't you just do that same thing, Lew, with your version of Bye-Bye Blues, currently up in Sound-Off?



Just because a melody is used in another context, it does not mean that the original context is being diminished, dismissed or disrespected. The new and old versions continue to exist side by side, each with its own audience.



And what's the difference if "his high-brow audience" would take Rodeo to be "the real McCoy". If they actually heard the real McCoy, most of them probably would not have liked it.



There's a wide range to musical taste. The fact that something appeals to MY musical taste doesn't make it superior to some other music that does not appeal to me. There's something for everyone in this vast diversity of organized sound that we call "music".



Edited by - Marc Nerenberg on 09/22/2014 10:13:36

Mark Johnson - Posted - 09/22/2014:  12:58:25


Fievel Goes West!  That's hilarious.



My earliest memory of this tune was the Copeland version as used in a jewelry ad.  I saw it frequently enough as a lad that I still associate the melody with diamond rings.



 



 



I'm kinda with Marc N. here.  It seems inconsistent to fault Copeland or modern players for tweaking the tunes to fit their style and taste, but not finding the fault with the nameless folks of days gone by who changed the tune from a march to a reel, or with Mr. Stepp for speeding it up and altering the melody as he saw fit.  So those changes were OK, but now we're supposed to just stop there and never change it again?  



 



 



I type this full well knowing I can't broker agreement between folks on this point, but it seems to me there are two NOT mutually exclusive ways of carrying on traditions like this:



-continuing to play like the players of the early 20th century played, in the sense of the exact sounds and mechanics they used; and



-continuing to play with the spirit those same early 20th century players played with, grabbing tunes floating in the ether and making them their own.  These folks took tunes from varied sources including Europe, Africa and even Tin Pan Alley and adapted them to their instruments, purposes and tastes.  This activity can be preserved, which can lead somewhere different than the exact sound the very same activity lead those early 20th century people to.



Personally I'm very glad both approaches exist, and enjoy participating in both.  



 



 -Mark



Edited by - Mark Johnson on 09/22/2014 12:58:57

jojo25 - Posted - 09/22/2014:  13:01:26


for fear that my Kevlar armor may not hold up...I must say I concur with Marc Nerenburg...as the Romans used to say...loosely translated...."in matters of taste let there be no dispute..."



I too love this tune.  But I seldom play it with others, due to the myriad of versions out there.  Usually, only the good Dr. Brown asks me to play this.  I got my version from listening to Steep...and from tab supplied by the Old Woodchuck.  I play this tune in my hybrid Seeger style. 



I play the B, C and D parts both high and low.   Usually I do...A,B,C,C,D.  Because only my guitar friend Dr. Brown plays this with me I am free to mix and match the high and low parts...but I always do 2 C parts back to back...one high, one low.



Hunter does a killer take on Steep's version, where he nails ALL the notes!



and...I love where, in the Lomax recording of Mr. Steep, you can hear him exclaim..."that's the boney part"



and...I do NOT play the hoochie coochie girl part...nor do I sing the pop lyrics...though I am tempted to learn them some day...maybe this coming winter?



nice write up...love all the Boneparte tunes



...Crossing the Rhine



...Crossing the Rocky Mountains



...Retreat



...March??



isn't there an Illinois version that Garry Harrison collected?...is that the March?



my take is that us Iroids loved Boneparte...cause he kicked English arse...and anyone who kicked English arse was OK by the Iroids:)



 


Mark Johnson - Posted - 09/22/2014:  13:08:36


quote:

Originally posted by jojo25

my take is that us Iroids loved Boneparte...cause he kicked English arse...and anyone who kicked English arse was OK by the Iroids:)




 







I've heard that theory before, or at least generally that the Irish liked the guy and that tunes that are pro-Napoleon are usually Irish.



Of course it's unclear if a tune called Bonaparte's Retreat is pro or con?


Tom Kidwell - Posted - 09/22/2014:  13:14:18



For my taste Hunter Robertson's version on Youtube comes closest to capturing the old time fiddle sound of this classic.

youtu.be/JmrxYic9ktg

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 09/22/2014:  13:53:15


youtu.be/JmrxYic9ktg



Live link to Hunter Robertson.



It's a magnificent rendering of this tune!



Edited by - Marc Nerenberg on 09/22/2014 13:57:02

dbrooks - Posted - 09/22/2014:  13:59:05


Nice version, Janet. Our fiddler plays "Eagle's Whistle" as a waltz at our contra dances. I think he learned it as a slip jig, and he plays a couple of slip jigs as waltzes. I may have worked up a version some time ago, but I usually just strum to help the dances with the waltz rhythm

David

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 09/22/2014:  14:02:18


Allow me to add to the discussion above about borrowing the tune for use in various other musical contexts than actual old time fiddling, that my favourite version, hands down, is William H. Stepp's.



That recording is pure magic.



But it doesn't mean I shouldn't also enjoy all those other varied versions, many of which are quite wonderful in their own right.



This is a really terrific thread, by the way; so much great stuff to listen to here! Thanks, Eli!



Edited by - Marc Nerenberg on 09/22/2014 14:03:35

Lew H - Posted - 09/22/2014:  15:04:56


Marc & Mark & others,  I apologize for my rant. I'll try to explain it and let people get back to discussion.  Maybe my problem with Copeland is that I just don't like the composition that he put together with the tune. (My taste in classical music runs more toward baroque).  Maybe it's that I was asked to "appreciate" it in a music appreciation class when I was fervently concerned with traditional folk music.  There are some differences between what he did and what many of the indigenous musicians did--it's the difference between traditional folk music and high-art music.   In a sense, folk music exists as a process, not as a genre.  A folk song or tune shifts in various was as it is transmitted person to person, face to face. This process is partly conscious, partly unconscious, partly due to faulty memory, partly differences in technique.  While there may be a "standard" version in one community, overall there may be many different versions--as we see here in this forum.  Copeland took one version of this tune and consciously, for profit, made it into something standardized and unchanging.  Of course, all the old-time or folk versions can still be known independently of Copeland's composition. 



In actuality, my earliest recollection of Bonaparte's Retreat is a country music version on the radio when I was a kid, which was much like, and perhaps the precursor for, the Kay Starr recording that Chris linked above.  It would be a struggle for me to try to play a version different from the one that has been in my head over half a century.



 


Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 09/22/2014:  16:07:11


I think you misunderstand what Copeland was trying to do. It had nothing to do with appropriating someone else's music for profit. It was a conscious choice to try to create a uniquely American music - a music that would appeal to the "common man". Copeland was a left winger who participated in the whole movement of trying to bring music (and a political consciousness) to the common man by using folk themes as a basis of the music. Eventually they realized that the common man wasn't the slightest bit interested, and this whole movement later morphed into trying to bring music and political consciousness to the common man through actual folk music. This was considerably more successful. It eventually led to the folk revival of the 1950s-60s. Ultimately though, the political consciousness aspect of it all was lost in a sea of commercialism.



Copeland may have been a pompous ass - I don't know what he was like as a person - but he was creating this music out of a sense of idealism and higher purpose.



I myself first heard Rodeo in the context of Montreal Symphony Orchestra Saturday morning Children's Concerts (that I attended, not unsurprisingly, as a child). No one was trying to cram it down my throat, and I thought it was the best thing I ever heard them play (except, perhaps, for the Sorcerer's Apprentice, where they had a cartoonist drawing pictures telling the story while they played the music).


Lew H - Posted - 09/23/2014:  07:32:00


Marc,  I hesitate to respond since we seem to be drifting off-topic here.  But perhaps I mis-spoke in  contrasting folk and art music.  I didn't mean to imply that Copeland had bad motives--simply (I assume) that he made his living from music.  I don't really know what his motives were in composing this thing or any other thing.  Still,  I assume you are correct in saying that he wanted to alter the thinking of the "common man" by using music to do it. I think I see a motive I don't like here.  There's something a bit condescending in this kind of attitude.  It is as if a person feels he or she has the truth or the "correct" attitude, while others are misguided or lame-brained--inferior in some way.  Now, I grew up on a farm in Arkansas, and my generation of my family was the first to go to college, so I have "common man," "red neck" roots. So maybe I grow resentful when I think pieces of rural folk culture are being changed around by the high brows.  But never mind: We can agree to disagree on how good a version of "Bonaparte's Retreat" Copeland produced.


Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 09/23/2014:  08:13:38


quote:

Originally posted by Lew H

... There's something a bit condescending in this kind of attitude.  ...







I would say there's something a lot condescending in that kind of attitude. That's probably one of the reasons it didn't work at all.



Pete Seeger's parents were part of that whole movement and had a traveling Chamber Music group that went to small rural communities, with 7 year old Pete in tow. They were greeted with profound indifference, and gave up the venture after not too long.



Of course their son, as we all know, was much more successful than they had been in later using the actual music of the people to engage in political discourse with the people.



Edited by - Marc Nerenberg on 09/23/2014 08:19:55

UncleClawhammer - Posted - 09/23/2014:  08:27:27


Pee Wee King slightly altered and put some words to this tune in the late 40s. I've never thought too much of it, but that's the version that Ola Belle Reed recorded, with Kevin Roth's dulcimer taking the role of the fiddle. It gives it an interesting sound. Ola Belle sings it with more conviction than most. King's arrangement is also the one that appears on Mike Seeger's anthology of traditional autoharp players, played by Kenneth Bedfield. He doesn't sing it.



Edited by - UncleClawhammer on 09/23/2014 08:27:55

Don Borchelt - Posted - 09/23/2014:  08:28:32


Joe McNally (jojo25) wrote: "my take is that us Iroids loved Boneparte...cause he kicked English arse...and anyone who kicked English arse was OK by the Iroids:)"



Eli, a great TOTW post, and great picking.  Janet, I think that's the best banjo setting of Stepp's version of Bonaparte's that I've heard.  I'm gonna steal your licks! 



I'm going to stay away from the Copland controversy, but I think I would like to comment about the Iroid Rage Joe is referring to.  There is certainly no question that many Irish nationalists were supporters of Napoleon; there was even an Irish regiment in Napoleon's army, the Legion Irlandaise. which was made up of Irish expatriates and Irish prisoners-of-war recruited after capture.  But the fascination with Napoleon in the young American republic was as much about political philosophy as about historic national grievances.  In the United States in the early 19th Century, a very central and controversial political issue of the day was the fight to break the hold of the elite class on the institutions of both economic and political power.  This included the drive to open up western lands for settlement, access to credit for small farmers and merchants, and the elimination of freehold and other voting requirements that had restricted the franchise to the higher social classes. When the French Revolution began in 1789, Americans like Thomas Jefferson were enthusiastic about the sudden rise of a brother egalitarian society on the European continent.  While we were always taught that Napoleon effectively ended that revolution when he crowned himself emporer, this was not the way it was viewed by a great many at the time.  While it is true that Bonaparte ended France's experiment in political democracy, he remained to the end dedicated to the economic and social egalitarianism of the revolution, to the elimination of the power and privileges of the ruling classes.  Though perhaps not literally true, what was true in a philosophical sense about Napoleon's army, that  "even a drummer boy could rise to be a general,"  illustrates that spirit.  This image of Napoleon as the bold and brilliant protector of the interests of the common man extended across the ocean to the American hinterland, and shone bright enough to survive long after his defeat at Waterloo, and death on Saint Helena.   The other issue, of course, is that many of the Piedmont fiddlers like Stepp were not Irish, they were Scotch-Irish, with a much more complicated relationship and attitude towards the British than that of the Irish.



Lew H wrote: In actuality, my earliest recollection of Bonaparte's Retreat is a country music version on the radio when I was a kid, which was much like, and perhaps the precursor for, the Kay Starr recording that Chris linked above.  It would be a struggle for me to try to play a version different from the one that has been in my head over half a century."



That's the version I heard all the time too, when I first started playing as a teenager back in Cincinnati, the version with that "little Egypt" theme tucked in as a third part.  I always assumed that was the traditional western version of the tune, but it was pointed out to me in another BHO thread some time ago that there are no fiddle recordings that have that third part until after Pee Wee King wrote and recorded the song in 1950, so the song may have actually come first.  This is what King said about it in his biography, Hell-bent for Music, the life of Pee Wee King, by Wade H. Hall:



"Bonaparte's Retreat" was another song Redd (Stewart) and I put together that was a national hit, but not quite as popular as "The Tennessee Waltz."  We were rehearsing some square dance numbers with a boy from Texas, and he showed us a recording of a Texas square dance tune called "Bonaparte's Retreat," which had a sort of cajun beat.  It was a folk tune in the public domain, so Redd and I took part of the melody, put a bridge or middle to it, wrote some words, and reshaped the whole song, building on its folk base.  Our recording with the Golden West Cowboys had good sales, but it didn't become a smash until Kay Starr did her recording.  (pg. 152)



The only thing I can hear in King's recording that sounds anything like a bridge is the Little Egypt part, so I guess he took credit adding it, and maybe he did.



I've attached a video that I posted some time ago playing the standard, three part version.  Ed Britt and I play an unusual version that comes from fiddler Henry Reed of Glen Lyn, Virginia; I've linked below to the MP3 recording which Ed has posted on his BHO Homepage.  I have also embedded the recording of Reed collected by fiddler and folklorist Alan Jabbour, from the Library of Congress website.  I have my three-finger arrangements of both the standard and Reed versions tabbed on my website.



Ed Britt & Don Borchelt play Henry Reed's Bonaparte's Retreat



Henry Reed plays Bonaparte's Retreat:



media.loc.gov/player/flowplaye...695447988" />





     Henry Reed (1884-1968)





- Don Borchelt





 





 



Edited by - Don Borchelt on 09/23/2014 08:38:47



VIDEO: Bonaparte's Retreat
(click to view)

   

mworden - Posted - 09/23/2014:  10:59:06


quote:


Originally posted by Don Borchelt

In the United States in the early 19th Century, a very central and controversial political issue of the day was the fight to break the hold of the elite class on the institutions of both economic and political power.  







plus ça change...


Lew H - Posted - 09/23/2014:  14:21:55


Don, Thanks for that info on Pee Wee King's recording of  BR. That must be the version I heard as a child.  I'm glad to learn about it--even at this late date.


Don Borchelt - Posted - 09/24/2014:  05:46:07


quote:

Originally posted by Lew H

Don, Thanks for that info on Pee Wee King's recording of  BR. That must be the version I heard as a child.  I'm glad to learn about it--even at this late date.







You're welcome, Lew.  I'm getting to realize how late it is every morning when I try to roll myself out of bed.


dbrooks - Posted - 09/24/2014:  16:21:33


Don, your excerpts from Pee Wee King stir some memories for me.  Pee Wee was from Louisville and had a weekly TV show.  I always thought it was strange that he played country accordian, but the music spoke for itself. I always enjoyed Red Stewart's fiddle playing. Pee Wee's show was part of a Saturday lineup including another local show (Hayloft Hoedown with Randy Atcher), Flatt & Scruggs, and the Porter Wagoner Show. I was an early fan of Dolly Parton (no offense to Miss Norma Jean).



Wade Hall, the author of the Pee Wee King book, was the chairman of the English Department at Bellarmine University where I majored in English.



Lots of connections and memories. Thanks.



David


Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 09/24/2014:  22:06:58


Here's Hank Williams and his band: youtu.be/-fLfFeO8h5Q



He does the "Little Egypt" part, but since there's no indication of the date of this recording (which sounds like a radio broadcast to me), I can't tell if it's before or after the 1950 Pee Wee King version. Hank Williams died in 1953, so who knows?


UncleClawhammer - Posted - 09/24/2014:  22:15:12


Ola Belle Reed's recording. She sings, Kevin Roth plays the dulcimer.


Paul Meredith - Posted - 09/25/2014:  09:50:07


Eli - great choice for TOTW, lots of information and you've provided us a wide variety of examples of the tune.  And a lot of good versions have been posted as well.  I first heard the tune on the Hobart Smith LP and have played that version on banjo and fiddle for a long time.  Then I learned another version from oldtimejam.com (a great resource!).  But my favorite (so far) is the Stepp version which I based on the tutorial Hunter Robertson so kindly posted on youtube a few years ago.




Boneparte's Retreat (Stepp)

   

ramjo - Posted - 09/25/2014:  11:06:47


There's also Ed Haley's brilliant, crooked version 



youtube.com/watch?v=L-Oy3AtplNs



(with the righteous variations that happen at about 1:50). John Hartford covered it on "Speed of the Old Long Bow," and Mac Benford made a pretty faithful clawhammer transcription on his "Half Past Four" album.


stevel - Posted - 09/25/2014:  20:34:57


quote:

Originally posted by ramjo

There's also Ed Haley's brilliant, crooked version 




youtube.com/watch?v=L-Oy3AtplNs




(with the righteous variations that happen at about 1:50). John Hartford covered it on "Speed of the Old Long Bow," and Mac Benford made a pretty faithful clawhammer transcription on his "Half Past Four" album.







yup, good stuff!



mac plays it in f#DF#AD, and it sounds great in that tuning.


maryzcox - Posted - 09/26/2014:  04:43:40




Trying to embed a video on this post--lets see if it still works.

There are simple tabs to both of these Bonaparte tunes in "Vintage Banjo Tab Book. "

Hope this helps :)
Mary Z Cox
maryzcox.com

etparadox - Posted - 09/28/2014:  20:44:34


What a great discussion! Thanks to all those who posted and informed us about other versions of the tune. I wish I could have been more involved, but I've been busy moving. A fun TOTW to be sure. 


Rick Turner - Posted - 09/30/2014:  20:08:04


Eli, was that recorded with the new microphone? Or was it the 57?

Rick Turner - Posted - 09/30/2014:  20:23:55


Shameless plug here for my son, Eli, and a project he and I have been working on this past summer:

Eli's recordings of Bonapart's Retreat were recorded using a prototype of our new Trident Acoustics "Nautilus 1" banjo pickup/microphone. Eli and I have been developing this for about a year now with a couple of breakthroughs earlier this summer. We're going "patent pending" with it, and we have just sent several out to be field tested by Martin Simpson (loves it in his Romero), Alison Brown (so far so good!), and Abigail Washburn (using it in her fretless), and Bela (about to try it). It is a true mic with a unique baffling system that makes it remarkably immune to feedback under most conditions, and being a mic, it doesn't affect the weight of the head or bridge, and it's getting true acoustic response. We designed it with live performance in mind, but it is proving to be of studio quality as well. We'll likely go into production this coming winter after some more players and builders wring it out and we're sure of the circuitry. We want to thoroughly beta test before we commit to making a real production run.

It's about the air...

hstrawn - Posted - 10/01/2014:  07:35:41


And as they used to say on Monty Python's Flying Circus; and now for something completely different.



From the BNL - Old Time From the Ozarks - "This month’s tune is a rather interesting Missouri rendition of the tune Bonaparte’s Retreat (Number 6 in the Fiddler’s Companion) as played by “Uncle Bunk” Williams. You may want to check out Howard Marshall’s fine book, Play Me Something Quick and Devilish—Old-Time Fiddlers in Missouri for additional information on “Uncle Bunk” and this tune. LOTS of really good information on all Missouri styles and fiddlers here (even though Howard is a North Missourian!). Thanks Howard for this important work and accompanying CD of fine Missouri fiddling. “Uncle Bunk” often played ‘archaic tunes in an archaic style, often unaccompanied and often with his violin in scordatura tuning (chorded tuning)’, according to Howard’s CD liner notes. He reportedly learned this tune from Confederate veteran and fiddler Sam Strother about 1915 in Shannon County (liner notes)."



Check out the tune at     ozarksbanjo.com/    2013 - December or better yet, buy Howard's book/CD. laugh



Been waiting for someone else to mention this interesting rendition but as no one has, I will. Cool old version, and now that I really listen, I hear some Uncle Bunk in Ed Haley's version or vice versa.



Edited by - hstrawn on 10/01/2014 07:40:17

ModGar - Posted - 10/24/2014:  11:09:03


Aeroweenie:



 But my favorite (so far) is the Stepp version which I based on the tutorial Hunter Robertson so kindly posted on youtube a few years ago.



Paul,



What tuning are you in?  Has Hunter Robertson's tutorial been removed?  I can't seem to find it.



Thanks,



Gary



Edited by - ModGar on 10/24/2014 11:10:58

blockader - Posted - 10/30/2014:  09:11:06


I finally got a Bonaparte's Retreat video made, here it is:



Edited by - blockader on 10/30/2014 09:11:23



VIDEO: The Ale Raisers- Bonaparte's Retreat, Breaking Up Christmas, & Cluck Old Hen
(click to view)

   

banjo bill-e - Posted - 10/30/2014:  10:32:54


Very, very nice.

Paul Meredith - Posted - 10/30/2014:  19:34:23


quote:

Originally posted by ModGar

Aeroweenie:




 But my favorite (so far) is the Stepp version which I based on the tutorial Hunter Robertson so kindly posted on youtube a few years ago.




Paul,




What tuning are you in?  Has Hunter Robertson's tutorial been removed?  I can't seem to find it.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



It is in double D (double C, capo 2).  I don't think the youtube video is still up.  I imagine Hunter has it as part of his instructional material, he is a member here on BHO so you can easily contact him.




Thanks,




Gary







 


Hunter Robertson - Posted - 11/03/2014:  15:53:46


quote:

Originally posted by aeroweenie

quote:


Originally posted by ModGar

Aeroweenie:




 But my favorite (so far) is the Stepp version which I based on the tutorial Hunter Robertson so kindly posted on youtube a few years ago.




Paul,




What tuning are you in?  Has Hunter Robertson's tutorial been removed?  I can't seem to find it.




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




It is in double D (double C, capo 2).  I don't think the youtube video is still up.  I imagine Hunter has it as part of his instructional material, he is a member here on BHO so you can easily contact him.




Thanks,




Gary








 







I did take that video down a good while ago. I filmed a new version of it for my DVD with a professional videographer and that older one I had made myself looked a little... shabby afterwards. The original video was in double-C but I started playing it in gCGCC later and that's the way I teach it on the DVD. If anyone's really interested in the old video lesson, send me an email and I'll give you a way to watch it. The DVD with the newer version is here: hunterrobertson.com/unpupframe.html



Hobart Smith's is one of my favorite recordings of the tune and the first version I heard and learnt: amazon.com/Bonapartes-Retreat/...00FX8N6CS. He did the Little Egypt section and if it's good enough for Hobart...



Hunter


Zischkale - Posted - 11/06/2014:  14:24:15


Ran across this one today, thought it needed to be posted:





 


maryzcox - Posted - 11/07/2014:  06:07:47


Here's a fun medley with Bonaparte retreat in it :) Bonaparte's Retreat is also recorded on my "Vintage Banjo" cd (1999--my only cd of the last century :) & there is an easy clawhammer tab to it in the "Vintage Banjo Tab book". Best wishes, Mary Z Cox



maryzcox.com




oct 2014

   

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 11/07/2014:  06:28:15


Gee Mary, you already posted that video in this thread. It's only a few posts back - hard to miss it.


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