July 2020

No surprise… no dulcimers at the Rec Ctr tomorrow but don’t let that stop you from playing.

In the meantime here’s some dulcimer history

Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: JULY


Have a great old fashioned Independence Day!!


David B <><

17 June Update

As you know there is no official jam this Thursday. But as I keep reminding you play you dulcimer anyway, even outside so folks walking by can be blessed with hearing something new (or is it something old?).

I haven’t heard yet anything about the possibility of playing in July. I also haven’t heard anything about moving into the new Rec Center. If anyone has an update on these two things let me know.

Also if you’re doing anything with your dulcimer this summer like playing for your neighbors let me know and I’ll post personal updates here.

Don’t forget our website has a lot to keep you busy:


Dulcimentaries (various articles/stories)

Videos (w/ videos)

Today In Mountain Dulcimer History


David B <><

From Nursery Rhyme to Murder Ballad

by David Bennett 6 June 2020

It must be confessed I like playing the old nursery rhymes on my dulcimer. These often overlooked songs are familiar and are easy to play.

One such discounted song is, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” For a simple children’s song the tune, or melody, has quite a history.

Most of you know the melody is also the same as for the song “The ABC song”. Some of you may also recognize it as the tune for “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.” Did you also know it was used as the melody for a murder ballad?

But first a little background information on the original melody/tune that all the just mentioned songs share. The musical arrangement for all these songs is attributed to Louis Lemaire (1693-1750), an 18th-century composer. The song he wrote, “Ah! vous dirai-je, maman” is a popular children’s song in France and was first published in 1761.

The original lyrics (in part) for “Ah vous dirai-je, Maman”:

Oh! Shall I tell you, Mummy
What is tormenting me?
Daddy wants me to reason
Like a grown-up person,
Me, I say that sweets
Are worth more than reasoning.

I suppose you have to be 280 years old and French to appreciate it.

This song was popularized twenty years later in a piano composition, Twelve Variations on “Ah vous dirai-je, Maman” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart bout 1781 when he was about 25 years old. You can hear it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0mnPCi5lS8 it is actually quite nice.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

The English lyrics were first written and published in 1806 as a poem by Jane Taylor (1783–1824) and published with the title “The Star” in Rhymes for the Nursery by Jane and her sister Ann Taylor (1782–1866). The lyrics with the now familiar tune were first published together in The Singing Master: First Class Tune Book in 1838.

As you know the common version we are familiar with starts off:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

This is an English nursery rhyme from at least 1731, and possibly older. The words and melody were first published together by A. H. Rosewig in Nursery Songs and Games, in 1879.

Katherine Elwes Thomas in The Real Personages of Mother Goose (1930) suggested the rhyme referred to resentment at the heavy taxation on wool, referring to the medieval English wool tax of 1275 in effect until the 1400s. A positive take on the song is the wool of black sheep may have been prized as it could be made into dark cloth without dyeing.

The rhyme was first printed about 1744 in Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book, the oldest surviving collection of English language nursery rhymes.

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir,
Three bags full.
One for the master,
One for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.

The ABC Song or Alphabet song

An alphabet song is any of various songs used to teach children the alphabet. “The A.B.C.” is one of the best-known English language alphabet songs, and perhaps the one most frequently referred to as “the alphabet song” and was first copyrighted in 1835 in Boston using the familiar French tune mentioned above with the title, “The A.B.C., a German air with variations for the flute with an easy accompaniment for the piano forte“.

Here is the common version most of us learned:

W X Y and Z

Now I know my A B Cs
Tell me what you think of me.

To wrap all this up what could be better than a good old-fashioned murder ballad?

Duncan and Brady

This traditional murder ballad also uses the melody from Ah! vous dirai-je, maman. The song is about the shooting of a policeman by a bartender. The song tells of the shooting in 1890 of police officer James Brady in the Charles Starkes Saloon in St. Louis, Missouri during a bar fight. Harry Duncan was convicted and executed for the murder. Duncan’s appeal made it all the way to the Supreme Court and was denied. Duncan hanged on July 27, 1894. Rumor has it that Charles Starkes later confessed to the murder on his deathbed.  The song was first recorded by Wilmer Watts & His Lonely Eagles in 1929.

The song begins with Brady, a policeman, riding around in an electric car, with a “mean look in his eye”.

Here’s the first part of the lyrics to give you the flavor:

Well, a twinkle, twinkle, little star
Well along comes Brady in his ‘lectric car
Well he got a mean look right in his eye
Gonna shoot somebody jus’ to see him die
Well, he been on the job too long…

Here’s the tabs in both DAD & DAA in case you don’t already have them in your mind:


0 0 4 4 5 5 4

3 3 2 2 1 1 0

4 4 3 3 2 2 1

4 4 3 3 2 2 1

0 0 4 4 5 5 4

3 3 2 2 1 1 0


3 3 7 7 8 8 7

6 6 5 5 4 4 3

7 7 6 6 5 5 4

7 7 6 6 5 5 4

3 3 7 7 8 8 7

6 6 5 5 4 4 3

David B <><

As always feel free to disregard the obligatory advertisement that follows

Alternate lyrics to an old tune

This reminds me of Lonnie Stewart.  I think you will recognize it when you see it.

Hard Tack Come Again No More

Speaking of hard tack this is interesting:

If you’re feeling froggy and want to see how to make this simple dainty:
How to Make Hardtack: A Cracker That Will Last A Century

Announcements & Schedule

David B <><


Dauphine Hunley

Update: Karen found Dauphine’s obituary https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/old-hickory-tn/dauphine-hunley-9123336

Louise just let me know that Dauphine Hunley went to be with the Lord this morning. One of their daughters said Ray is doing well. There will be a private service.

If you would like to send Ray a card here is his daughter’s address where they have been staying the last two years:

Ray Hunley
808 Harbor View Terrace
Old Hickory TN 37138

Here are a few photos of Dauphine.


David B <><




Mae Rose Chafin

From Louise Todd: Many of you already know this, many don’t. It is with much sadness that we let our dulcimer friends know of the death of one of our dulcimer family members, Mae Rose Chafin, on 5 January. Mae Rose and her husband, Delaine were campers who supported the dulcimer festivals all over the south. While Mae Rose was not a dulcimer player, she was known for her buck dancin’ and singing, “If That Isn’t Love.” She was loved and will be missed by her many friends.

Mae Rose Buck Dancing at Don Pedi dulcimer concert in 2011:

Obituary: https://www.timesdaily.com/obituaries/mae-chafin/article_000e5dd3-e3be-57cc-a403-cc4ddf38518c.html

scroll down for photos: https://www.morrisonfuneralhomes.com/obituaries/Mae-Chafin/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=autopost

If you would like to send a card:

Delaine Chafin
165 Co Rd 194
Waterloo, AL 35677