Cool tune! I Have jotted it down from the rubai-recording by Flook. It seems that this is in fact a bluegrass tune.
This is a great West Virginia tune…. being from a WV rooted family I have to make a correction… this is definitely not a "bluegrass" tune. It seems there is a misconception about bluegrass in Europe and the USA!… that it is the "mountain" music or traditional music of America that came about from the Scot-Irish settlers. The truth is that if you go to any bluegrass festival in the US and start playing Reels and JIgs and even this tune .. "Elzics Farewell" that you won’t get much company or appreciation because bluegrass repertoire is 99% derived from original songs written in the 40’s and 50’s. The true Appalachian music is still very obscure and mainly identified with the Southern "old-time" string band scene which is only a small part of the traditional music of the Appalachian region or the traditional music of the USA. Don’t take this little post of mine to personal offence, but to call Elzic’s a bluegrass tune is a huge misnomer. In fact the traditional music of the Appalachian’s is more comparable to Irish traditional music with its jigs, reels, hornpipes, mazurkas etc… these tune types are a very small part of what bluegrass music really is… bluegrass is more of a blues based music with those "old world" tune types and formulas being a part of the mix. I would more acurately characterize Elsic’s as an Appalachian tune. There is some skepticism of whether its even a trad. tune because there is strong evidence that the author of the tune is known… Kentuckian Harvey G. Elswick .
I just wanted to add that "most" of the core of what is bluegrass came from the musicians in the 40’s and 50’s… modern bluegrassers usually draw from the original compositions from the 40-50-60’s and introduce their own original songwriting… only every now and then does a trad. tune show up.
When was this written?
does anyone know when this was written, because the chromatic part in part c sounds very contempory
A Great Tune
Mary Custy, a great Irish fiddle player with her own unique style plays gives this tune a contempory airing, lovely double stopping!
goes back to the 1800’s… this take on it is much different than trad. usa versions.
Elzick — Civil War Hero / Victim
I learned this tune when I was living in Tasmania, Australia and was playing with the Hobart Old-Time String Band. The version I learned is quite different to this one … well, there are some resemblances, but the overall sound is quite different, and the version I learned has (to my ear) a more distinctive "Appalachian" flavor to it than this one.
What I learned from the Tassie folks, which included a gifted Australian musician and ethnomusicologist interested in American traditional music (who’s day job is as a fisheries biologist over there!), is that Elzick’s Farewell was written by a man who was a soldier during the Civil War. He wrote the tune while on the march, as a "farewell" to his home, his pre-war life… but he was killed during the war while his tune survived. So it takes on a more somber double-meaning, almost … his tune is his personal epithet to the world, perhaps.
Notes from Rattle on the Stovepipe’s album "No Use in Cryin": "Kentucky-born fiddler Harvey G. Elswick wrote the original in 1889, reportedly playing it as a request for his dying mother. The tune entered aural tradition in West Virginia, where Elswick had moved in 1875, and French Carpenter, who died in 1964, handed it down to Wilson Douglas and Gaither Carlton. A legend that ‘Elzick’ was an ancestor of Carpenter’s, and had played the tune before marching away to fight in the Civil War, got added as an attachment. By the late twentieth century, as played by revival fiddlers like Ruthie Dornfeld, the tune lost a few bars here and there but gained a distinctive C-part. …" Check out Norman Blake’s version on YouTube.
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