cal sensation John Specker performs on the banjo in the Okemo Valley TV studio. According to the Library of Congress: "Forked Deer" is a quintessential fiddle tune of the old frontier. It is old and widely distributed, yet it cannot be traced to the Old World or the northern United States. "Forked Deer" begins with and gives greatest emphasis to the high strain of the tune. And it is fiddled with a fluid bowing style using slurs to create complicated rhythmic patterns, in the manner of the old Upper South. Its title both evokes the forest and (though few fiddlers in the Appalachians realize this) names a river in West Tennessee. An 1839 printed set from Southside Virginia (Knauff, Virginia Reels, vol. 1, #4 "Forked Deer") establishes the tune's longevity under that title in Virginia.It found its way onto the nineteenth-century stage and into tune collections as a "jig": see Brother Jonathan's Collection of Violin Tunes (1862), p. 26 "Gas Light Jig"; Coes, George H. Coes' Album of Music, p. 6 "Forkedair Jig," pp. 34-35 "Come and Kiss Me." But that did not give it circulation beyond its home region in the Upper South, where it turned up in many twentieth-century sets; see Thomas, Devil's Ditties, pp. 131-133 (compare Victor 21407B, played by Jilson Setters (James Day)); Ford, Traditional Music of America, p. 45 "Old Pork Bosom"; Morris, Old Time Violin Melodies, #31 "Forkadair"; Thede, The Fiddle Book, p. 135 (Oklahoma).Henry Reed plays a third strain, as do some other fiddlers, composed of the low strain recast an octave higher. He once mentioned that another old title for "Forked Deer" was "Hounds in the Thorn Bush," but he considered "Forked Deer" its proper name. He also mentioned it as one of the tunes in Quince Dillion's repertory.
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