A musical patchwork of hope and healing, longing and loss with airs and ballads, Irish jigs, Appalachian fiddle tunes, marches, spirituals and hymns, and parlor music from the time of the American Civil War. It's a time of time of sharp contrasts and shifting moods brought to life by HESPERUS early music ensemble and its guests on fiddle, recorder, oboe, pennywhistle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, mouth bow, hammered dulcimer, bass and bodhran.
BIO: HESPERUS early music ensemble were artist-in-residence at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History; featured at Monticello and Colonial Williamsburg; in the film Sleepy Hollow and at President Clinton’s celebration of Thomas Jefferson’s 250 birthday. Tina Chancey, Director, is a former member of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Folger Consort. HESPERUS’ Early American Music CDs on the Maggie’s Music label are considered bestsellers in their genre, carried at historic museums and now adds their fifth recording in this series A Civil War Scrapbook ( MM236).
Artistic Director, Producer: Tina Chancey; Executive Producer: Maggie Sansone; Engineer, Co-Producer: Charlie Pilzer, Airshow Mastering, Takoma Park, MD.
CD booklet: Maggie Sansone Art Director, cover design: Viki Garte Graphic artist, booklet design: Tina Paul: Graphic Artist. Photo Credits, Cover Photo: Misty Blue Ridge by Al Petteway; Flag: The Iron Sides, U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, MD; Civil War Envelope: Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
About the CD
There are many wonderful recordings of music from the American Civil War made by marching bands, Old-Time string bands, gospel choirs, classical chamber ensembles and shape-note singers. How is this album different? We focus on a time just after the war, a period of sharp contrasts: bitter regret and fragile optimism, when the memories of war were being laid to rest and Americans were just beginning to conceive of a united future.
The music on this recording explores and reflects that complex, transitional moment. American popular music, like that of any country, included a multiplicity of genresï¿½broadside ballads (new, topical words set to traditional tunes), marches, sacred harp hymns, cotillions and quadrilles (patterned social dances related to our modern square dance); Irish jigs, reels and hornpipes; Scottish airs and variation sets; fast fiddle breakdowns, spirituals and waltzes.
We sample these delights using a multiplicity of early and traditional instruments modern and early fiddle (with gut strings and a shorter bow); the traditional plucked trio of guitar, banjo and mandolin; baroque oboe, recorder and whistle; double bass and viol (used as a proto church bass, an all-purpose string instrument with a variety of tunings and number of strings); and hammered dulcimer, with accents of harmonica and mouth bow (an instrument of African origin consisting of a sapling with its ends tied together with piano wire, agitated with a pick and placed close to the mouth to make tunes using its resonant cavity).
Some of our arrangements are suited to the parlor, some to the dance hall. It's that spontaneous juxtaposition of people and styles that makes this a quintessential HESPERUS recording; an early traditional crossover band playing with enthusiasm and warmth.
Please enjoy it!
Fewer songs from the 1860s better express the American experience than When Johnny Comes Marching Home. The lyrics were written by Irish-American bandleader Patrick Gilmore, and set to a Civil War drinking song Johnny Fill Up the Bowl, which bears a close resemblance to two 17th c. ballads, the Scottish song John Anderson, My Jo (with lyrics by Robert Burns) and Thomas Ravenscroft's Three Ravens.
The song Booth Shot Lincoln or Booth Killed Lincoln was originally a broadside ballad, probably written within days of the actual event. In style it's reminiscent of Minstrel show tunes with syncopations and cakewalk-style figuration anticipating ragtime. Sugar in the Gourd is harder to date; it was popular throughout the South as a fiddle tune and ballad.
The droll march Hail to the Chief is one of six pieces we've learned from The Musician's Companion (1842), 22-year-old Elias Howe's first publishing venture featuring tunes he collected in his travels as a dance musician. Howe (1820-1895), not related to the inventor of the sewing machine and the zipper, went on to publish more tune collections and instruction books for the violin, accordion, flageolet, seraphine and melodeon (both are small reed organs) . Many of his tunes, masquerading under different names, are recognizable today such as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Go Tell Aunt Rhody and Auld Lang Syne.
Washington's Hornpipe appears in Howe's tune book as Good for the Tongue, the name by which it's known to many contradance musicians today. We've scored it for recorder, fiddle, guitar and viol. Viol? Well, a number of different cello-like instruments were used in 19th c. America, generically labeled "church basses." We suspect that the viol was one of them, unearthed in the attic and put into use when a bass line needed doubling.
Wondrous Love is a sacred harp hymn from the American South. Its lyrics were first published in Lynchburg, Virginia in the 1811 camp meeting songbook A General Selection of the Newest and Most Admired Hymns and Spiritual Songs Now in Use. Some say its tune bears a strong resemblance to the early 18th century English popular song The Ballad of Captain Kidd, which describes the exploits of the famous pirate in chilling detail. We use the four-voice version published by William Walker in Christian Harmony, 1867.
All Quiet Along the Potomac Tonight began life as a poem, "The Picket Guard" by Ethel Lynn Beers in 1861. It was based on a newspaper report of telegrams sent to the Secretary of War following the First Battle of Bull Run. Beers noticed that the report was followed by a small item telling of a picket being killed; she wrote the poem that same morning. It was set to music by John Hill Hewitt in 1863, a poet, newspaperman, and musician who was serving in the Confederate army.
The two Irish jigs, The Rakes of Clonmel and The Humors of Tipperary make a great medley but their backgrounds are quite different; Rakes is still popular today while Humors, an excellent tune, has disappeared from view; the Howe book has the only version we can find.
Maggie Lawder or Lauder, was a popular Scottish ballad whose perky melody was the basis for many 18th and 19th century variation sets for small pipes, violin and flute. This florid violin version, adapted by Kat for alto recorder, was written in 1829 by James Davie, a musician and music publisher from Aberdeen.
We know the tune titled Isle of Sky as the Irish air George Brabazon by Irish harper and composer Turlough O'Carolan (1770-1738) , though it was also circulated as a ballad, Twa Bonny Maidens. Our variations are improvised.
Bruce plays a spiritual on the harmonica, Hold on to God's Unchanging Hand. The harmonica with separate chambers for each reed first appeared in Vienna, by 1824. In 1857, Matthias Hohner, a clockmaker from Trossingen, started producing harmonicas. Eventually he became the first to mass-produce them. By 1868, he began supplying the United States and his factory is still active today.
Beautiful Dreamer , the beloved parlor song by Stephen Foster (1826-1864), was published posthumously. It was reputed to be Foster's last song, but its copyright date of 1862 makes this highly unlikely. Kat plays it on an 18th century oboe, which has the appropriate wistful quality.
Shule Aroon or Siúil a Rún, a traditional Irish ballad, tells of a woman lamenting that her lover has embarked on a military career, but vowing to support him. The song has English verses and an Irish or Gaelic chorus, a style known as macaronic. The title translates to "go, my love": siúil is an imperative, literally translating to "walk!", a rún is a term of endearment. The history of the song is unclear, but Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier/Buttermilk Hill was a well-known American variant dating to the Revolutionary War, sharing a common melody and similar lyrics.
Scarce of Tatties/Lincoln and Liberty/Irish Washerwoman are three jigs found in Howe, though they also survived in different tune books. Scarce of Tatties' title refers to a dearth of potatoes, predating the famine. The middle tune, called by its broadside ballad name, Lincoln and Liberty, was originally either Rosin the Bow or Rosin the Beau, depending on which set of words you call original. The Irish Washerwoman has been popular in England, Ireland and Scotland for three centuries.
Minstrel Boy is a patriotic song composed by the Irish poet/musician Thomas Moore (1779-1852), also known as lyricist of The Last Rose of Summer and Believe Me if all those Endearing Young Charms. Set to the melody of The Moreen, it was written to honor his friends who died in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 but it remained popular during the Civil War, as well as after World War I.
Yellow Rose of Texas/Girl I Left Behind Me/Arkansas Traveler These classic fiddle tunes were sung and danced to throughout the 19th century. We arrange them as parlor tunes by adding a bass part, counter melodies, and solo moments.
Little Rabbit/Hop High my Ladies Bruce is a mouth bow virtuoso. Like the African tune bow, the mouth bow is made of a small tree limb bent like a bow and tied with piano wire. The wire is agitated with a pick and a corner of the bow is lifted to the mouth, which acts as a resonating chamber. Matt obliges with some body percussion.
The Eighth of January This final set includes two versions of the Eighth of January. While it's tempting to call the tune The Battle of New Orleans, Jimmy Driftwood didn't set those words to the tune until the 1950s; he used this particular tune because that was the date of the original Battle in 1815, and he sang it to his high school history students to keep them interested in his class lectures.
When Johnny Comes Marching HomeHesperus1:18
Booth Shot LincolnHesperus0:58
Hail to the ChiefHesperus Early Music Ensemble0:37
Washington’s HornpipeHesperus Early Music Ensemble0:34
Wondrous LoveHesperus Early Music Ensemble1:04
All Quiet Along the Potomac TonightHesperus Early Music Ensemble1:08
Rakes of Clonmel/Humors of TipperaryHesperus Early Music Ensemble0:58
Maggie LawderHesperus Early Music Ensemble1:05
Isle of SkyHesperus Early Music Ensemble0:51
Hold on to God’s Unchanging HandHesperus Early Music Ensemble0:43
Beautiful DreamerHesperus Early Music Ensemble0:58
Shule AroonHesperus Early Music Ensemble0:59
Scarce of Tatties/Lincoln and Liberty/Irish WasherwomanHesperus Early Music Ensemble0:50
Minstrel BoyHesperus Early Music Ensemble0:42
Yellow Rose of Texas/Girl I Left Behind Me/ArkansasHesperus Early Music Ensemble1:10
Little Rabbit/Hop High my LadiesHesperus Early Music Ensemble0:44
The Eighth of JanuaryHesperus Early Music Ensemble0:50