Audio Recording Old Joe Clark

About this Item

Old Joe Clark
Contributor Names
Jabbour, Alan (Transcriber)
Jabbour, Alan (Collector)
Reed, Henry, 1884-1968 (Performer)
Created / Published
Reed family home, Glen Lyn, Giles County, Virginia, August 27, 1966
Subject Headings
-  Instrumental music
-  Fiddle tunes
-  Folk music--Appalachian Region
-  Breakdowns
-  Reels
-  Ethnography
-  Music
-  Field recordings
-  United States -- Virginia -- Giles County -- Glen Lyn
Field recordings
-  Meter: 4/4
-  Strains: 2 (high-low, 4-4)
-  Stylistic features: Slurs in bowing.
-  Key: A
-  Compass: 11
-  Rendition: 1r-2r-1r-2r-1
-  Phrase Structure: ABAC QRQC (abac abde qrst urde)
-  Performed by Henry Reed, fiddle.
-  Spoken: ALAN JABBOUR: That's it.
-  Recording chronology: 060
-  Duration: 1 minute, 9 seconds
-  "Old Joe Clark" seems, from the vantage point of the later twentieth century, to be one of the most widely known of all Southern fiddle tunes. Indeed, it is one of those Southern tunes that has to a degree become part of the national repertory. One may hear it in bluegrass jam sessions, old-time fiddle sessions, and country dances throughout the United States. But though it may date back into the nineteenth century, one cannot find sets older than the turn of the century. It is possible that it circulated first in children's tradition and in play-parties--which might account for its playful and sometimes outlandish verses--then erupted into the fiddle and banjo world. Henry Reed's set shares with most old-time fiddlers from the Upper South the movement of the melody to the high octave (A) by the third phrase of the high strain, and the drop of the melody to the lower dominant (E) in the second phrase of the low strain.For other song and instrumental sets, compare Perrow, "Songs and Rhymes from the South," Journal of American Folklore 25, p. 152 ("sung by E. Tenn. Whites, 1905"); Brown, The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore vol. 5, pp. 65-66 (#89 and 990); Bennett, "A Study in Fiddle Tunes from Western North Carolina," p. 72, played by Fiddlin' Bill Hensley, near Asheville, North Carolina; Sharp, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, vol. 2, 259 (#183), Beechgrove, Virginia; Thede, The Fiddle Book, pp. 28-29; Lomax, American Ballads and Folk Songs, p. 277; Thomas, Devil's Ditties, pp. 106-107. Additional discussion and citations may be found with a Louisiana set in American Fiddle Tunes (Library of Congress, AFS L62).
Audio tape
Call Number/Physical Location
AFC 1967/007: AFS 13035B04
Source Collection
Alan Jabbour duplication project, part 1
American Folklife Center
Digital Id
Online Format

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Credit line

Please cite the source collection title, collection number, and repository, for example:

Alan Jabbour duplication project, part 1 (AFC 1967/007), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Alan Jabbour duplication project, part 2 (AFC 1969/008), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Fiddle tunes of the old frontier: the Henry Reed collection online presentation (AFC 1999/016), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Jabbour, Alan, Alan Jabbour, and Henry Reed. Old Joe Clark. Reed family home, Glen Lyn, Giles County, Virginia, 1966. Audio.

APA citation style:

Jabbour, A., Jabbour, A. & Reed, H. (1966) Old Joe Clark. Reed family home, Glen Lyn, Giles County, Virginia. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Jabbour, Alan, Alan Jabbour, and Henry Reed. Old Joe Clark. Reed family home, Glen Lyn, Giles County, Virginia, 1966. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.