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amateur history

W. L. Hayden revealed

The author of Centennial Grand March and arranger of Celebrated Shoo Fly Galop and Must I, Then turns out to have been a music teacher and equipment dealer in Boston.

What catches my eye is that he was both a musician and a businessman in the music industry, selling instruments and equipment but also composing and teaching. It’s like Guy Hands of EMI putting out his own CDs.

I ran across this ad in C. F. Martin and His Guitars, 1796-1873, which is a great book about American music history.

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Centennial Grand March

This is a recording of an 1876 tune called “Centennial Grand March”. It’s a bit tricky, and when I first tried it on stage about a year ago it scared the hell out of me. Now that I’ve got it down it’s a lot of fun to play. I love the chromatic melodies, the way the parts tell a story, and the mood.

This is my third recording of work by W. L. Hayden, the composer. I did a couple pieces from Hayden’s Star Collection of Guitar Music, from which I learned Celebrated Shoo Fly Galop and Must I, Then.

MP3: Lucas Gonze – Centennial Grand March

FLAC: Lucas Gonze – Centennial Grand March

Sheet music: at the Library of Congress web site.

Feel free to share and remix per the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 unported license.


Technical notes

I got rid of the high pitched background whine in my first video by using an external iSight video camera rather than the one built into my laptop. To use an external camera you have to use iMovie 06 rather than the more recent 08 version, so I switched to 06, and it turned to be a lot better and easier to use.

Also, I got a more full and punchy sound by switching from the built-in mic to an external one, a Sure SM81.

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acoustic guitar audio guitar mymusic

Celebrated Shoo Fly Galop

This post is a recording of Celebrated Shoo Fly Galop by W.L. Hayden, which was published in 1877.

MP3: Lucas Gonze — Celebrated Shoo Fly Galop

Ogg Vorbis: Lucas Gonze — Celebrated Shoo Fly Galop

I like the way this rocks out. It’s a fun uptempo dance tune. Also I dig the idea of the celebrated shoo fly, which reminds me of a Mark Twain story called “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County:”

In compliance with the request of a friend of mine, who wrote me from the East, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired after my friend’s friend, Leonidas W. Smiley, as requested to do, and I hereunto append the result. I have a lurking suspicion that Leonidas W. Smiley is a myth; that my friend never knew such a personage; and that he only conjectured that, if I asked old Wheeler about him, it would remind him of his infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore me nearly to death with some infernal reminiscence of him as long and tedious as it should be useless to me. If that was the design, it certainly succeeded.

So what kind fly is a shoo fly, anyway? There is no such thing. It’s a folksy expression along the same lines as like flies to shit or keg flies. For example, the shoo flies in this 1915 recipe for shoo fly pie don’t mean the pie is made of bugs, they mean it’s sticky and sweet:

shoo fly pie recipe

How does shoo fly pie taste? According to this person who made it, your mileage may vary:

To me this pie did not smell good or look good but Darrell’s co-workers seemed to like it.

holding a shoo fly pie


The dance is something called a galop. I come across a lot of galop music and references to the galop, so it must have been popular. The Polka History of Dance explains it this way:

The popularity of the polka led to the introduction of several other dances from central Europe. The simplest was the galop or galoppade which was introduced into England and France in 1829. Dance position was the same as for the waltz or polka, with couples doing a series of fast chassés about the room with occasional turns. Music was in 2/4 time, often merely a fast polka. The galop was particularly popular as the final dance of the evening.

And wikipedia says:

In dance, the galop, named for the fastest running gait of a horse (see gallop), a shortened version of the original term galoppade, is a lively country dance, introduced in the late 1820s to Parisian society by the duchesse de Berry and popular in Vienna, Berlin and London. In the same closed position familiar in the waltz, the step combined a glissade with a chassé on alternate feet, ordinarily in a fast 2/4 time. The galop was a forerunner of the polka, which was introduced in Prague ballrooms in the 1830s and made fashionable in Paris when Raab, a dancing teacher of Prague, danced the polka at the Odéon Theatre, 1840.

The galop was particularly popular as the final dance of the evening. The “Post horn Galop” written by the cornet virtuoso Herman Koenig was first performed in London, 1844; it remains a signal that the dancing at a hunt ball or wedding reception is ended.

There are mistakes left in the recording. Unedited solo acoustic instrumentals on guitar are an unforgiving form, and I’m not yet good enough to get a perfect take within a reasonable amount of time and labor. The medium is like watercolor painting in the sense that no corrections are possible. The hardest part for me is the tradeoff between passion and correctness. I can do a version with no ugly mistakes pretty reliably, and I can do something which is passionate and musical any time I’m in the right mood, but I can’t consistently do both at the same time. At the same time, the sonic clarity of 1-track real-time acoustic playing means that I can’t avoid a hard phrase by mumbling it or cover it up by emphasizing whatever is on other tracks.

I learned this song from David Allen Coester‘s digitization of “Hayden’s Star Collection of Guitar Music.” There is no composer in the original publication, and Hayden is credited as the arranger rather than the composer, but I gave Hayden the composition credit by default. Here is the sheet music:

http://www.meantone.com/MusicDownloads/StarCollection/StarCollection.html

These recordings are released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license per my boilerplate licensing statement.

Categories
acoustic guitar audio guitar mymusic

Must I, Then

This post is a recording of the composition Must I, Then? by W.L. Hayden, which was published in 1877.

MP3: Lucas Gonze — Must I, Then?

Ogg Vorbis: Lucas Gonze — Must I, Then?

The title of this song is my favorite part of it. There are about 100 silly questions you could make up for the request this person is responding to. “Ebenezer, please walk the cow to the auto show.” Etc. Fill in your own.

This song is a bit too pretty for me to be comfortable with, but then again that’s the 19th century for you. It’s just the esthetic of the time. Irony was far in the future, as relevant to them as 22nd century art is to us.

The source is an 1877 book entitled “Hayden’s Star Collection of Guitar Music.” The book was kindly digitized and hosted by a guy named David Allen Coester. Coester is an independent musician who just happens to be bringing primary historical materials on the internet.

There is no composer listed, and Hayden is credited as the arranger, not the composer. I gave him the composition credit by default.

I like the lines in this composition. The phrases aren’t broken up neatly, instead they stretch out into long run-on sentences. The result is that the song is really just two lines.

It’s surprisingly hard to play. This tiny bit of music took me a long time to master, and even now I make a lot of mistakes. There is an easy way to play it but it sounds cramped. To let the notes breathe I picked fingerings which use open strings rather than fretted ones whenever possible. This enables them to ring for longer and gives them a woody resonance. Using open strings rather than fretted ones is tricky when you’re up above the first position, because it effectively means that you’re playing in two positions at the same time. Another difficulty is that the note after an open note can’t be on an adjacent string, because then my finger on the adjacent string will accidentally lean over and stop the ringing note. The requirements aren’t hard to meet on a physical level, but there are mental gymnastics that I can only pull off when I’m in a state of deep concentration.

I have heard this style of fingering called “harp picking” because the overlap of ringing open strings gives a shimmering quality similar to a harp. I don’t really lay on the shimmering sound, though. It sounds like you’re trying too hard when you hit people over the head with it.

http://www.meantone.com/MusicDownloads/StarCollection/StarCollection.html

These recordings are released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license per my boilerplate licensing statement.