MUCH has been said about Walter Muir Whitehill. One thing is certain. He was truly an enlightened human being. He had an ever curious mind and an insatiable appetite for knowledge. He was open to new concepts, even when they had the potential to contradict his own. He took especial delight in assisting younger persons. He would charge them with a task—the bigger the better—and then continue his generous support by giving freely of his encouragement. He was and continues to be an inspiration to those of us who were privileged enough to know him.

    Throughout his life Walter Whitehill had a passion for music. At one time he had been engaged in a debate over whether secular music was practiced by the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He and the majority of those involved had reached a negative conclusion. But in an examination of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century probate records of Suffolk and Middlesex Counties, the editor of the present volume came across citations of a substantial number of musical instruments. Further research demonstrated that most of these instruments had been in the hands of Puritans. Walter Whitehill characteristically was delighted with the discovery of evidence contrary to his previous position. At his suggestion, the third conference of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts became the forum for reevaluating the prevalence and practice of music in early Massachusetts. I was invited to organize the conference and greatly benefited from Walter’s advice and close cooperation.

    Two prior requests were made of the conference participants: that the papers be based on primary sources, and that the content focus upon the role of music in the lives of the people. Greater consideration was given to secular music during the conference because of the previous emphasis on the sacred. Nine papers were presented, organized into three categories according to the locale in which the music usually had been heard: public places, private quarters, and religious settings. In conjunction with the conference, two concerts of colonial music were performed in eighteenth-century locations. One of primarily secular music was presented in Faneuil Hall; the other of sacred was given in King’s Chapel (see Appendix B). In addition, a complementary exhibition, “Early Music in Massachusetts,” was held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from May 16 through September 2, 1973, and sponsored by the Society. It was researched and organized by myself with able and welcome assistance from Cynthia Adams Hoover. The exhibition consisted of musical instruments, printed and manuscript music, paintings and prints which depict musical subjects, diaries, letters and newspapers which record musical events, and probate documents which cite the existence of musical instruments.

    After more than one metamorphosis, the published record of the conference has emerged as a two-volume work. The first volume incorporates the studies on music heard in public places. The intimate forum of the conference generated a spirited discussion following each of the presentations. The exchange of knowledge and ideas, coupled with subsequent research, served to transform the original papers. The essays found herein reflect the authors’ knowledge and thinking as of 1975, with the exception of Carleton Sprague Smith’s contribution, which was completed in 1979. Furthermore, three of the four studies are practical in nature. They provide music, texts, and/or dances which require little or no additional editing for performance.

    One of the conference papers on music in public places does not appear here. The contribution by Joy Van Cleef and Kate Van Winkle Keller has been substituted for one delivered which was outside the concern of the conference. It was fortunate that Mrs. Van Cleef, dance historian and member of the National Council of the Country Dance and Song Society of America, and Mrs. Keller, co-director of The National Tune Index, were then in the midst of examining surviving dance manuals used in colonial New England. Their work proved particularly congenial to our endeavor, and demonstrates that dancing was as widespread among the New England colonists as among their British brethren. Mrs. Keller’s contribution, accompanied by profuse reproductions of original dance tunes and instructions, can even serve as a guide to replicate the colonists’ practice, and further documents the social history of dance reconstructed by Mrs. Van Cleef. Their study suggests new avenues of research. For example, we know little of the dancing masters: why were some peripatetic, others sedentary; and what was their relationship to one another, let alone their status among the various social and religious groups?

    Raoul Camus, Professor of Music, Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York, discusses an extremely important development of the musical life of colonial Boston; namely, the impact of the bands of musicians who accompanied the British military escalation immediately prior to the American Revolution. In his Military Music of the American Revolution, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 1976, a year after his completion of this essay, he expanded the scope of his military investigations from the Bay State to the thirteen American colonies. Future research is required to reveal the precise interrelationship between these British groups—both the regular fife and drum corps, and the musician-retainers of the aristocratic officers—and the increasingly rebellious Americans.

    One hitherto little explored facet of music has been that which was produced commercially for popular enjoyment in the form of verses of songs on broadsheets from the first years of the colonies, and in newspapers from their initiation in the beginning of the eighteenth century. These verses were meant to be sung to popular tunes of the day. Some verses specify the tune, others give clues to the tunes, for example, by their titles, first lines, or refrains. However, in some cases only the ballad meters confirm that the verses were to be sung because the tune is no longer affiliated in an identifiable way. Two contributors explore this rich and diverse terrain: Arthur F. Schrader, music historian and currently an NEH Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society, and Carleton Sprague Smith, Professor of Music, Douglass College, Rutgers University.

    Arthur Schrader sought first to trace the major political verses of the American Revolution, and then to identify the tunes to which they were originally sung. The verses were unearthed primarily from Massachusetts newspapers with the odd exceptions of a single sheet folio or where Connecticut newspaper sources revealed the earliest extant version. The tunes were taken from sources contemporary with the verses; Mr. Schrader’s particular forte is locating a tune when previously only its name had been known. In the present chapter—a mere fragment of his larger research—fourteen pairings of text with tune are examined. Mr. Schrader gives the historical and bibliographical background of each text and tune, and then presents the earliest or most important version of each pair.

    Carleton Smith’s eight chapter-like sections bring together sixty-two broadside verses and seventy-one tunes to which he has set the verses. His material is drawn from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and from a large portion of colonial Anglo-America. The verses range widely in subject, from politics and war to morals and humor. Where possible, Mr. Smith matches these verses to their contemporary tune settings. Otherwise, he presents alternative tunes, most taken from oral tradition, and some of a more recent origin (which he justifies by their similar character with the text and their use of the same meter as the poetry to which they are paired). Smith’s study provides a wealth of material that should inspire further research. For example, the broadside texts were purchased primarily by middle-class colonists, and can provide unusual insights into their clients’ attitudes towards Indians, women, religion, economic issues, and crime.

    Messrs. Schrader and Smith demonstrate contrasting solutions to the problems of fitting text to tune. However, an effort was made in both of these contributions to present verses and tunes on facing pages in an attempt to create a kind of “performing edition.” Thanks to the fine quality of Meriden Gravure’s reproductions, even the smallest print can be read with the aid of a magnifying glass!

    editorial procedure

    Although considerable time and effort were given to minimize the inconsistencies of style from paper to paper, it was felt that each author’s individual preferences should be respected whenever possible. Thus the reader will discover certain inconsistencies of style which should perhaps be pointed out at the onset in order to avoid confusion.

    Unquestionably the contribution which presented the greatest challenge was that of Carleton Sprague Smith. Because of its grand scope and numerous illustrations, this study probably deserves a separate volume. The paper tripled in size following its initial presentation in 1973.

    Confusion often arose as to whether the author referred to a tune or a broadside text. It was decided to distinguish tune names by placing them in lowercase except for an initial capital of the title and of all proper names. This style, then, was adopted throughout the first volume. In the paper on dance, for instance, tune names appear in lowercase while the names of dances (figuration) appear in modern capitalization. The only deviation from this style appears in the second volume in Richard Crawford’s contribution “Massachusetts Musicians and the Core Repertory of Early American Psalmody,” where the convention of referring to hymn tunes in large and small capitals has been followed.

    Because of the large number of broadsides dealt with in the first volume and the manner in which they were used, special attention was given to the orthography of broadside titles, preserving the original capitalization, punctuation, and lineation, in order to facilitate identification and comparison among fairly uncommon sources. However, in the second volume the sources given in the checklist of American songsters by Irving Lowens appear in modern library style, since these songsters have been made available through the Evans microfilm series published by the American Antiquarian Society.

    In the two papers in the first volume which deal with song texts and their tunes, the musical transcriptions have been given in two different styles. In Mr. Schrader’s contribution the small notes above the staff indicate the original rhythmic groupings as they appear in the source, giving a clear account of the alterations, if any, made in putting tune to text. Presumably here no alterations in pitch or melody have been made.

    In Mr. Smith’s paper, however, the music deviated from the source more frequently and often involved pitch or melodic as well as rhythmic alterations. Here the problem was one of format: how to reconcile the desire for authenticity and a scholarly approach with the desire for a clear and legible page which could be used for performance. Because the established format of the Colonial Society’s volumes dictated the space considerations, it was impossible to reproduce the original notes showing the author’s alterations from the source. For this reason the editor felt it necessary to point out through special terminology those tunes in which substantial changes had been made in order that the reader might refer to the source, which is carefully documented in the “List of Figures” at the front of the book. When a tune was specified on the song text, the text was said to be set to the tune. When no tune was specified on the song text, but the author chose a likely tune, the text was said to be matched to the tune. And, finally, when no tune was specified and the author chose a tune which underwent alteration, the term matched and fitted was used.

    It is hoped that the reader will not be impeded by the variations in style encountered in these two volumes, but rather will find it interesting to compare the various scholarly approaches here propounded.


    Grateful acknowledgment is due the following persons who contributed to this publication: Shari West for photography and typing; E. Lindsay Davidson, Elizabeth Compton Eichenfield, Frances Yost Knight, Carole Greenleaf, and Edith Schmidt for help with organizational details, some research, and mountains of typing; Kathleen Chase for preparing the index; the tunesmiths Jack Langstaff and especially Paul Cole for reviewing, in some cases researching and supplying, and transposing melodies in the Smith contribution; and Sinclair Hitchings for his leads and advice and for his ready willingness to help whenever called upon.

    My appreciation for their faithful assistance and cooperation is extended to many libraries, historical societies, and records archives and their staffs, especially the American Antiquarian Society and in particular Georgia Bumgardner, the Baker and Houghton Libraries of Harvard University, the Boston Athenæum, the Bostonian Society, the Essex Institute, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Massachusetts State Archives, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and the Registries of Probate for Suffolk and Middlesex Counties.

    Heartfelt thanks are also due Frederick S. Allis, Jr., for his patient assistance in helping to tie up the final details of this volume. And finally, the editor is most indebted to Walter Muir Whitehill for his confident, unerring support, Donald Hindley for his encouragement and helpful hand, and Margaret Sue Ladr for her constant attention to every detail, for her ability to keep track of and follow up on loose ends when my attention was frequently diverted to museum matters, and for her yeomanry far above and beyond the call of an assistant.

    Barbara Lambert

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    October 1979