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KEYS AND TUNINGS FOR EDDEN HAMMONS TUNES
Notes:

The chart presents title, key, tuning – thus, Sandy Boys A EAEA.

“Key” is an abstract concept.  In a couple of lively tunes, the tonal center oscillates between A and D.  
Furthermore, the different cuts show evidence of retuning to different pitch levels, probably over a multi-day
period.  Thus the different “G’s” are actually different pitches.  And thus to describe a tune as tuned “up” to high
bass and counter, or “A tuning,” is to describe an abstract set of pitch relationships between the strings, not a
set of concrete pitches.

Tunings are listed from highest to lowest pitched string.  Thus standard violin tuning is EADG.  This simplified
tuning guide does not specify which octave of A or D is intended, but players of the instrument will have no
trouble interpreting it, with the possible exception of DADD, which actually includes three different octaves of D
(high, middle, low).

For the convenience of users, I have followed the order of the CD releases rather than the original recordings.

For those interested in the overall pattern of Edden Hammons’s use of tunings, here is a summary:
EADG        23        (17 in the key of G, 4 in C, 2 in F)
EADA          9        (5 in the key of A, 4 in D)
DADD          5        (1 march in D, 4 slow song airs in D)
EAEA        12        (10 in A, 2 oscillating between A and D)
C#AEA          1        (key of A)

Miscellaneous observations about tunings:

> EADG is by far the commonest tuning, and it is used for 3 different keys – mostly G, but also C and F – but
never for tunes in D or A.

> EADA, which is often thought of as the tuning for the key of D, is actually used slightly more often for A than for
D.

> DADD, which is often thought of as the “Bonaparte’s Retreat” key, is used for one march, but also four airs, all
of which are associated with the older British-American song repertory.  Other tunings used for song airs or
hymns are EADG (2 in the key of F and 1 in G) and EADA (1 in A).  The two hymns in F are curious – perhaps
from playing with an organ or piano, perhaps because of the vocal range of someone with whom he played.  But
overall it is interesting that the favored tuning for airs (especially the old-style airs) is DADD.

For those interested in the use of keys (or tonal centers), here is a summary:

18 in A -- 12 tuned EAEA (including 2 oscillating between A and D), 5 in EADA, 1 in C#AEA
17 in G – all 17 tuned EADG
9 in D – 4 tuned EADA, 5 in DADD
4 in C – all 4 tuned EADG
2 in F – both tuned EADG

So A and G predominate, and D is also strongly represented; C is a smaller sample, and F is a very
specialized niche.

Edden Hammons I

1. Washington’s March                   D        DADD
2. Fine Times at Our House           A        EADA
3. Arkansas Traveler                       D        EADA
4. Big Fancy                                     A/D    EAEA
5. Love Nancy                                  A        EADA
6. Sandy Boys                                  A        EAEA
7. Shaking Off the Acorns               A        EADA
8. Mississippi Sawyer                     D        EADA
9. Queen of the Earth and
Child of the Skies                          D        DADD
10. Falls of Richmond                     A        EADA
11. Waynesboro                              G        EADG
12. Forked Deer                              D        EADA
13. On My Way to See Nancy         D       DADD
14. Digging Potatoes                     A/D     EAEA
15. Old Greasy Coat                      A        EAEA

Edden Hammons II, Disc 1

1. High up on Tug                          G        EADG
2. Wild Horse                                G        EADG
3. Old Joe Clark                            A        EAEA
4. Soldier’s Joy                             D        EADA
5. Birdy [“Birdie”?]                        C        EADG
6. Mary [of?] the Wild Mere         G        EADG
7. Casey Jones                            G        EADG
8. Irish Washerwoman                 G        EADG
9. Schottische [a waltz]                C        EADG
10. Buffalo Girls                           G        EADG
11. Patty on the Turnpike            A        EAEA
12. Sugar in the Gourd                A        EAEA
13. Three Forks of Cheat            A        C#AEA
14. Jake’s Got the Bellyache      A        EADA
15. Old Drake                               A/D     EAEA
16. Old Black Cat Shit
in the Shavings                           G        EADG
17. Round the Old
Church Ground                             F        EADG
18. Cumberland Gap                  G        EADG                

Edden Hammons II, disc 2

1.  Katy Hill                                     G        EADG
2.  Cackling Hen                           G        EADG
3.  Shelvin’ Rock                           G        EADG                        
4.  Wild Wagoner                          C        EADG
5.  Old True Lovers                       D        DADD
6.  Big Hoedown                           A        EAEA
7.  Turkey in the Straw                  C        EADG
8.  Sourwood Mountain                A        EAEA
9.   Pop Goes the Weasel           G        EADG
10.  Silver Bells                             G        EADG
11.   Fisher’s Hornpipe                G        EADG
12.   Whistling Rufus                     G        EADG
13.   Clucking Piece                     A        EAEA
14.  Will There Be Any Stars        F        EADG
15.   Let’s Hunt the Horses          A        EAEA
16.  Tugboat                                  G        EADG
17.   Little Sparrow                        D        DADD








Alan Jabbour
April 28, 2005