Chinese Breakdown (1)

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CHINESE BREAKDOWN [1]. AKA - "Chinese Rag." AKA and see "Beaver Valley Breakdown," "Georgia Bust Down," "Georgia Breakdown," "Tiger Rag." Old-Time, Breakdown; Canadian, Reel. USA; New Hampshire, Virginia, Georgia., Alabama, Arkansas. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Silberberg): AABB (Messer): AA'BB' (Miskoe & Paul). The origins of this tune are unclear, although it is widespread from the South to Midwest, the American North and Canada and even to England and Scotland. "Chinese Breakdown" was first recorded by the "Dixie String Band" in 1925, followed a recording in Atlanta in 1927 by the Scottdale String Band, a group named in honor of the mill village of Scottdale, near Atlanta, and home to the band members (Wayne W. Daniel, Pickin' on Peachtree, 1990). Their first recording was made for the OKeh studios on October 28, 1926, and between that date and 1932 the group recorded nearly thirty sides (all but two-released by Paramount-for OKeh). Bill Rattray wrote about the group in Old Time Music magazine ("Scottdale Boys," OTM, Summer, 1971) and said the group's records sold "well, or at least fairly well," and that "their instrumentation was profoundly different from that of the other, more well-known Georgia bands like the Skillet-Lickers and Clayton McMichen's band, and gave their music a more sophisticated sound that that of the 'rough North Georgia' school." The group's repertoire varied more than usual for string bands from the region, and included "a wider range of material including tunes used chiefly by the jazz bands...the more traditional breakdowns, songs and ballads are hardly featured at all." [quoted by Daniel]. It is possible that the tune was composed by Fred Roe of the Walker Mt. String Band (Joel Shimberg). "Chinese Breakdown" was recorded from Ozark Mountain fiddlers by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph for the Library of Congress in the early 1940's.

Sources for notated versions: Kyle Creed (southwestern Va.) [Brody]; Lyman Enloe (Oklahoma), who had it from a friend of his father's, Lee Carpenter (Eldon, Missouri) [Beisswenger & McCann, Phillips]; Arthur Mitchell (Concord, N.H.) via Omer Marcoux [Miskoe & Paul]; Vivian Williams (Seattle) [Silberberg].

Printed Sources: Beisswenger & McCann (Ozarks Fiddle Music), 2008; p. 28. Messer (Anthology of Favorite Fiddle Tunes), 1980; No. 19, p. 20. Miskoe & Paul (Omer Marcoux), 1994; p. 22. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; p. 49. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 21.

Recorded sources: Alcazar Dance Series ALC 202, Sandy Bradley - "Potluck and Dance Tonite!" (1979). Brunswick 221 (78 RPM), Jack Reedy & His Walker Mountain String Band (reissued on "Music From The Lost Provinces"). County 762 or CD-2707, Lyman Enloe- "Fiddle Tunes I Recall." Decca 5069 (78 RPM) {1934}, The Stripling Brothers (Ala.). Document Records 8021, The Spooney Five - "Georgia Fiddle Bands, vol. 1" (Reissue). Folkways FA 2492, The New Lost City Ramblers- "String Band Instrumentals" (1964. Learned from Earl Scrugg's older brother, Junie, and altered from then). Fretless 136, The Arm and Hammer String Band- "Stay on the Farm." Marimac 9000, Dan Gellert & Shoofly - "Forked Deer" (1986. "Inspired by an old McGee Brothers record"). Okeh 45103 (78 RPM), Scottdale String Band. QRS 9010, Hoke Rice. Rebel 1545, Curly Ray Cline- "Why Me Ralph?" Rural Records RRCF 252 (1970), Curly Fox (Ga.). Romeo 5345/Conqueror 8241 (78 RPM), Carolina Ramblers String Band. Rounder 1133/1134, Ed Hayley - "Grey Eagle, vol. 2" (a four-part version). Voyager 340, Jim Herd - "Old Time Ozark Fiddling." Victor Records (78 RPM), the Skillet Lickers (1934). See also listing at: Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1].

(((♫[2]))) George T. Jones & Matt Darnell, Poughkeesie, Ark. 1961. "Chinese Breakdown"


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