On his birthday, local fiddling sensation John Specker performs in the Okemo Valley TV studio. According to the Traditional Tune Archive: HANGMAN'S REEL . Old-Time, Breakdown. USA, southwestern Va. A Major. AEae or AEac# tunings (fiddle). AABB: ABCD (Silberberg): AABCCDD (Songer): AABBCCDD (Kuntz): AABBCC'DD (Phillips). The origins of the tune are somewhat obscure. It was in the repertoire of Albert Hash, a traditional fiddler of Whitetop or Rugby, Va. and identified by him as originally a British Isles tune, though stylistically that provenance is doubtful. Susan Songer and Clyde Curley (1997) report that New York fiddler Judy Hyman (of the Horseflies) believes it originally derived from the Québecois tune "Reel du Pendu" (Hanged Man's Reel) and that it was rendered in a Southern old-time style by younger upstate New York fiddlers. According to Hash's nephew, Albert learned "Hangman's Reel" (and "Old Sport (2)") from a 1968 recording by Texas fiddler Bill Northcutt (1935-1992), still remembered as a top-notch musician. Whether the tune was a Southern traditional tune or a "revival" processing, it has since become a very popular "festival tune" among younger old-time fiddlers and frequently heard at square dances. See the related melody "Rattlesnake."
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