Monday, February 22, 2010


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GEORGE. What music did George listen to? Well ~ I didn't find any reference to his personal preference but I did find a LOT of information about music in early America. Early settlers brought their hymns and traditional music to the new world keeping the music in their heads and hearts as they established their communities and churches. The Ainsworth Psalter, which dated back to 1612 was "imprinted" in Amsterdam. The Bay Psalter, the first book published in Colonial America, was adopted in 1667. Benjamin Franklin wrote and published a book of Ballads. The Trinity Psalter is a book of Psalm hymns. The familiar hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" is an example of an early hymn. A comic opera, The Disappointment, had a version of Yankee Doodle in it. (The opera was about searching for Blackbeard's treasure- 1762).

Wikipedia says: YANKEE DOODLE WAS PUBLISHED IN THE 1770's. That would seem to indicate that the 1762 version was not published. Many different versions have been written one of which was by Doctor Richard Shuckburgh, a British Army surgeon. The word "doodle" comes from the German word"dudel" which means "simpleton". "Macaroni" was a fashionable wig which became slang for "foppishness". Obviously, the British thought the Colonials were foolish fops trying to look smartly fashionable.
The British had another version, mocking a man who was tarred and feathered for attempting to buy a musket in Boston: "Yankee Doodle came to town,
For to buy a firelock.
We will tar and feather him,
And so we will John Hancock."

On February 6, 1778, Massachusetts ratified the Constitution by a vote of 186 to 168. to booming cannons, ringing bells, and delegates trooping out of Brattle Street Church. This version is 13 verses, but I am only printing the last two, which I think
pay a nice tribute to Yankee independence:
The 'vention did in Boston meet,
The State House could not hold 'em
So then they went to Fed'ral Street,
And there the truth was told 'em ...
And ev'ry morning went to prayer,
And then began disputing,
Til oppositions silenced were,
By arguments refuting.

No politicians of all kinds,
Who are not yet decided,
May see how Yankees speak their minds,
And yet are not divided.
So here I end my fed'ral song,
Composed of thirteen verses;
May agriculture flourish long
And commerce fill our purses!

SO - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GEORGE - no foolish fop were ye!

Colonial America - the 17th Century - produced such songs as "The Girl I Left Behind Me", "When First I Came To This Land" and "Soldier, Soldier Will You Marry Me"

As the country grew and people arrived from far and wide, and millions of West Africans were brought in to replace the white indentured servants, African drums joined Irish fiddle tune, and Scots Highland bagpipes, and other instruments and sounds. Both the Americans and the British created new patriotic songs; i.e.: "The British Grenadiers"; "The Battle of the Kegs"; "Free America"; "Hail Columbia". And then from the War of 1812, "The Eighth of January"; "The Noble Lads of Canada"; "The Hunters of Kentucky". You can hear some of these by going to, or Colonial and Revolution Songs.

Music endures, as proven by the number of songs which we are familiar with from these early compositions. One of my favorite pastimes is browsing through my stash of old music. I wish I could share all of it with you, but there is just too much of it. I will pick away at in future blogs.

Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.


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