Fiddlin' Around
On The Way To A Revolution

Folk Music In Colonial America

In Colonial America, folk music, especially fiddle music and folk dancing was a very popular form of entertainment. In fact, both Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry were fiddlers and as you can see from the references below, both were involved with performances at festivals and social events in their younger days.

We have arranged and recorded a collection of well known early American fiddle tunes with guitar accompaniment and prepared this collection as MP3 files now available for download at the link below.

New - 4 PDF ebooks with a collection of Early American fiddle tunes...


Quotes About Fiddling In Early America

The rare events of country life were seized upon in the recurring seasons and enjoyed to the full Seed time and harvest husking and cider pressing house raising and vendues shooting matches sleighing and Christmas sports were always the occasions of social gatherings There was a good deal of drinking and still more dancing and in every hamlet the fiddler was an important personage.
A History of the United States By William Coligny Doub

The violin called by its old fashioned name of the fiddle king of instruments was almost the only one generally known in the back countries of the colonies. In Virginia when Jefferson and Patrick Henry were merry lads together both of whom played the fiddle it appears that almost every farmhouse which had a boy in it could boast a fiddle.
Life of Thomas Jefferson Third President of the United States By James Parton


Thomas Jefferson who came immediately after Adams and was eight years President of the United States from 1801 to 1809 was as much a contrast to Adams as Adams was to Washington. Not a military man he was essentially a horseman. When he was a lad he not only played the fiddle but doubtless took a part in more than one of the rustic races in his neighborhood. Twenty horses were to run a three mile course for a prize of five pounds no one to put up a horse unless he had subscribed for the entertainment and put up half a pistole. Then a violin was to be played for by twenty fiddlers no person to have the liberty of playing unless he bring a fiddle with him.
Anecdotes of Public Men By John Wien Forney


That a violin be played for by 20 Fiddlers no person to have the liberty of playing unless he bring a fiddle with him. After the prize is won they are all to play together and each a different tune and to be treated by the company.
From the number of competitors on the violin each bringing his own violin the genius for that instrument must have been widely diffused as well as highly appreciated at that day in Virginia and when it is recollected that Jefferson and Henry were both ready performers it would seem contrary to the notion of Themistocles that a man might play on the fiddle and be at the same time capable of raising a small to be a great State..
History of the Life and Times of James Madison By William Cabell Rives


........had been saved We know that he used to play violin duets with Patrick Henry with his sister Jane and with the pretty Widow Skelton who afterwards became his wife His biographers assure us that he was a fine performer upon the king of musical instruments but grandmothers in Virginia who heard the truth from the preceding generation tell us the contrary and quote an early authority as saying that Patrick Henry was the worst fiddler in the colony with the exception of Thomas Jefferson
The True Thomas Jefferson By William Eleroy Curtis

When Jefferson was introduced to Patrick Henry he thought him a very rough looking fellow but he soon found that he was the best fiddler the best story teller and the jolliest joker in the company
Four American Patriots Patrick Henry, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant; a Book for Young Americans By Alma Holman Burton


After the supper came the dancing There was no music save the fiddles of Castor and Pollux but was that not enough Have ever feet tripped more merrily than to the rollicking scrape of some inspired old wool thatched fiddler swaying to his own strains and calling out the figures in clear rich tones that harmonized with his wild dance measure as only his could do The closing dance which always began at midnight was perhaps brought from Holland by the first settlers Mr Codwise said that it was thought to be very old in his time and considered to be the proper termination of festivities on all evening occasions I am not aware of any existing description of it save his own as I took it from his lips It was called the Fire Dance and if possible was always danced around a chimney
Colonial Days & Ways as Gathered from Family Papers A Gathered from Family Papers By Helen Evertson Smith

Folk Tunes from Early America
4 PDF Collections of music notation prepared for easy printing on standard size paper.

1. Captain George Bush

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Captain George Bush was an officer in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. As he traveled in the service Bush carried his fiddle and began to enter music, dance figures and song lyrics into a small pocket notebook. He wrote some tunes out by ear, but others he copied from a now lost fife tutor printed in 1776 in Philadelphia which included "Yankee Doodle", the first American printing we know of before 1794.

16 tunes from the notebooks of Captain George Bush

2. William Sidney Mount

William Sidney Mount (1807-1868), was a man of many talents. As well as being a fine artist, he was also a musician, composer and collector of the folk music of early America. And if that is not enough to impress......, he also invented a type of steamboat paddle wheel, a unique two-hulled sailboat, a traveling painting studio on wheels and a hollow back violin, named the "Cradle of Harmony".

15 tunes from the notebooks of
William Sidney Mount.

3. Colonial American Folk Music

22 tunes from the time of the American Revolution.

Thomas Nixon, Jr.

Thomas Nixon, Jr. (1762-1842), from Frmingham Massachsetts, joined the Continental army in 1775 at the age of thirteen. Although now considered to be a quite young age to be in military service, it was common for teenage boys between fourteen and sixteen to join as fifers and drummers.
Thomas saw action at Lexington and Concord in April of 1775.
He went on to serve in more battles, and along the way added many pieces of music to a tune book....

24 tunes from the notebooks of Thomas Nixon, Jr. Note: These 25 Thomas Nixon tunes have the addition of a basic keyboard or harp accompaniment, along with guitar chords. You can use these basic arrangments as the basis of your own creations.

After your payment is processed you will quickly be sent by email the download link.

Price - $4.50


Downloading A Collection of Colonial American Folk Music MP3

You can download a collection of MP3 files (22 pieces) in the form of a "zip" file (28 megs).
After your secure Paypal or credit-card payment is processed, you will be immediately emailed the download link.

Note - This collection is made up of MP3 example arrangements of Colonial American folk music such as the two pieces linked below. The tunes used in these MP3 files are public domain and you may feel free, to listen, rearrange, and learn to play and perform the tunes yourselves....

MP3 Samples
Guardian Angel


Download Colonial American Folk Music -
22 pieces of music
Credit-Card or Paypal - $7.00


New - 4 PDFs with a collection of Colonial American tunes...

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