Our balalaika orchestra just got an arrangement of this alleged minstrel tune, set by Aaron Copland (but not for balalaikas, domras, bayans etc.). Any of you guys play it? I searched here before asking -- but didn't excavate my own collection of songsters and instruction books. Found rewritten text online as used by Copland, presumably because the original text was racist.
Just refreshing this dormant thread, since I have looked elsewhere and w/o success. About all I could get off the web, apart from the cleaned-up text provided by Copland, was a hint that the original (with which he had taken liberties, at least textually) was something he saw in the Harris collection (noted for songsters and broadsides) at Brown University.
Anyway, it occurred to me that a few people here, who go through old tutors and other tune sources, might recognize this piece by its original (but perhaps wildly different) title, if they heard it. The Copland setting is easily found on YouTube, etc. It's been in the repertoire of community and high school choruses for nearly sixty years. I'd like to find something with more of the ring of truth to it. Preferably something that sounds more like an actual banjo than a bunch of teenagers singing "chingaringaring chingchaw," and so on.
Have you seen this. http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=82185#1504624
Thanks very much. It's about as horrible as I had expected. However, the whole thing purports to be a sort of African-American idealization of Haiti, along the lines of the Big rock Candy Mountain; and that in itself is pretty interesting. If not necessarily accurate.
It was published in Baltimore, apparently two years after the Nat Turner revolt, a time when many jurisdictions were clamping down on black people both slave and free; perhaps Haiti did look pretty good, by comparison. At least, to people who had never been there. Not much of this repertoire really originated in the black community, but some of it did, and it would be interesting to know if this item had any such background. I'm inclined to think, usually not, unless some other contrary evidence is out there. Picayune Butler, or the Snowdens in Ohio... that sort of thing.
I'm still curious whether anyone among our little circle has played it. Seems to have possibilities. My skill level on this kind of banjo is pretty minimal, but I guess it's worth a shot.