Back Side of Albany

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Back Side of Albany

(The Traditional Tune Archive)
 Theme code Index    1547bL 3b511
 Also known as    Back Side Albany, Backside Albany, Boyne Water (1), Seige of Plattsburg (The)
 Composer/Core Source    
 Region    United States
 Genre/Style    Contra, Minstrel
 Meter/Rhythm    March/Marche, Reel (single/double)
 Key/Tonic of    E
 Accidental    2 sharps
 Mode    Dorian
 Time signature    2/4
 History    USA(Mid Atlantic)
 Structure    AABB
 Editor/Compiler    Gumbo Chaff
 Book/Manuscript title    The Complete Preceptor for the Banjo
 Tune and/or Page number    p. 8
 Year of publication/Date of MS    1851
 Artist    John McCutcheon
 Title of recording    Fine Times at Our House
 Record label/Catalogue nr.    Greenhays GR 710
 Year recorded    1982
X:1
T:Back Side of Albany
M:2/4
L:1/8
R:Reel
B:Gumbo Chaff - The Complete Preceptor for the Banjo (1851, p. 8)
N: A later edition of the earliest known banjo tutor, published in 1848.  It was written by Elias Howe, whose pseudonym Gumbo Chaff 
N:is taken from Thomas Dartmouth Rice's 1834 blackface character.  The 1851 edition was published in Boston by Oliver Ditson. 
N:In 1850 Howe sold some of his works to Ditson (this one among them) and agreed not to publish similar works for ten years.
Z:AK/FIddler's Companion
K:Edor
EB/B/ B/c/d/B/|A/G/F/E/ DE/F/|G/F/E/ B/A/G/F/|E2 Ee|
EB B/c/d/B/|A/G/F?E/ DE/F/|GE B/A/G/F/ |EE E2||
B>c de|dB A>A|Beef|edB>c|
d/c/d/e/ dB|A/G/F/E/ DE/F/|GE B/A/G/F/|E>F E2||
X:2
T:Back Side of Albany
M:2/4
L:1/8
R:March
S:Howe - 1000 Jigs and Reels (c. 1867)
Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion
K:Edor
EB/B/ B/c/d/B/ | A/G/F/E/ DE/F/ | GF/E/ B/A/G/F/ | E2 E z | 
EB B/c/d/B/ | A/G/F/E/ DE/F/ | GE B/A/G/F/ | E>E E2 :|
|: B>c de | dB A>A | (Be) (ef) | (ed) B>c | 
d/c/d/e/ dB | A/G/F/E/ DE/F/ | GE B/A/G/F/ | E>F E2 :||


BACK SIDE OF ALBANY. AKA - "Backside Albany." AKA and see "Boyne Water [1]," "The Seige of Plattsburg." American; Air, March or Reel. E Dorian. Standard tuning. AABB. The melody, one of numerous adaptations of the air used for a 17th century Irish ballad about the Battle of the Boyne Water (1690) {see note for "Boyne Water"}, was used for a dialect song written by an American, Micah Hawkins (1777-1825). Hawkins included it as a part of a play called The Battle of Lake Champlain, performed in Albany, New York, in 1815, a patriotic work that described a military event in the recently concluded War of 1812. Hans Nathan, in his Dan Emmett and Negro Minstrelsy (Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1962, pg. 35), says: "The comedian (who sang the song) was a 'Black Sailor' espousing the American cause. Here, for the first time, the Negro spoke no longer as a mouthpiece of the white man." "Backside Albany" was widely popular until at least the 1840's (according to William J. Mahar, American Music, vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 1988). It was first published in The Columbian Harmonist (Albany, 1815), and begins:

Back side Albany stan' Lake Champlain,
One little pond, half full a' water,
Platebug dare too, close pon de main,
Town small-he grow bigger do here-a-ter.
On Lake Champlain Uncle Sam set he boat,
And Massa M'Donough he sail 'em;
While Gen'ral M'Comb
Make Plat-te-bug he home,
Wid de army, who courage nebber fail 'em.

Micah Hawkins played piano, flute and violin, and was the uncle of Long Island painter William Sydney Mount. Mount was musically influenced by his uncle and was himself a fiddler who often depicted fiddlers in his paintings. "Backside Albany" was learned by 'revival' musician John McCutcheon from fiddler Lotus Dickey (Paoli, Indiana), who learned it from a brother who in turn claimed to have gotten it through a book from a Sears and Roebuck catalogue. The city of Albany, by the way, was originally settled as Willemstadt by the Dutch and renamed Albany by the English when they gained control of the Hudson, in honor of James, Duke of York and Albany.

Printed sources: Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; pg. 47.

Recorded sources: Greenhays GR 710, John McCutcheon - "Fine Times at Our House" (1982).

__NORICHEDITOR__