Mockingbird Hill (Livit i Finnskogarna) – Fiddle Tune a Day – Day 88

Wow! I am amazed yet again. So many of these songs that I thought I knew the origins of are much older than I knew. Mockingbird Hill is a tune I learned from my dad as a kid, and played quite back then, started as a Swedish Waltz many years before it became an American Pop hit (with some new words.) Some other ones that I have seen that have similar stories, Aura Lee, Westphalia Waltz, Maiden’s Prayer, and The Battle of New Orleans.

Who knows how old some of these tunes really are. Classical Composers are known for frequently “borrowing” melodies from folk tunes to use in their compositions. Aaron Copeland, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Bartok, and more. I guess this just goes to show that good music keeps coming around.



Mockingbird Hill according to the Fiddler’s Companion

MOCKINGBIRD HILL. See “Life in the Finnish Woods” (Livet i Finnskogarna).

LIFE IN THE FINN/FINNISH/FINLAND WOODS (Livet i Finnskogarna). AKA – “Livet I Finnskogen.” Swedish, Waltz. G Major {Matthiesen}: D Major (‘A’ and ‘B’ parts) & G Major (‘C’ part) {Phillips}. Standard tuning. AA’BB (Matthiesen): ABB’CC (Phillips). Original versions appear to have a ‘C’ part. The tune was at one time locally popular among the ethnic northern Wisconsin ethnic Slovak and Croation populace, and is also popular with Scandinavians in general. It has been a popular waltz among fiddlers in eastern Canada and the north-east United States. The title, however, is Swedish and refers to that part of the woods of Sweden where a Finnish population settled. The melody, with lyrics appears in a 1938 Swedish tune book entitled Jularbos Basta, published in Malmo, Sweden, and is a composition by Swedish accordion virtuoso Carl Jularbo (1893-1966). It was recorded in 1915 and was a quite popular piece of music of its era, which accounts for its wide dissemination outside of Sweden. Tom Paley thinks another Swedish 3-part tune, “Moeckelmyrvalsen,” was a source tune (a vesion by Jon-Erik Oest is structured AABBACC). Pattie Page used the first two parts of the three-part melody in the 1950’s for her hit “Mocking Bird Hill.” The first two parts were also recorded by Irish fiddler Seán Ryan on his first album, Siúil Uait, under the title “Seacht bPreab.”

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