This is an online fiddle lesson for the fiddle tune "Soldier's Joy."
Genre: Old Time, Bluegrass
Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Key of D
You may download and use any of the MP3s and tablature for your personal use. However, please do not make them available online or otherwise distribute them.
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Video #1: Here is a video of me playing the fiddle tune "Soldier's Joy." I play the beginner break first, then the two intermediate breaks.
"Soldier's Joy" is a fiddle tune, classified as a reel or country dance. It is popular in the American fiddle canon but traces its origin to Scottish fiddling traditions. It has been played in Scotland for over 200 years, and Robert Burns used it for the first song of his cantata 'The Jolly Beggars'. According to documentation at the United States Library of Congress, it is "one of the oldest and most widely distributed tunes" and is rated in the top ten most-played Old Time Fiddle tune. According to the Illinois Humanities Center, the tune dates as early as the 1760s. In spite of its upbeat tempo and catchy melody, the term "soldier's joy" has a much darker meaning than is portrayed by the tune. This term eventually came to refer to the combination of whiskey, beer, and morphine used by Civil War soldiers.
Like many pure tunes with ancient pedigree, the melody of Soldier's Joy has been used as a basis for construction of songs, which, unlike pure tunes, have lyrics. Robert Burns wrote lyrics for the tune in which a dismembered, homeless veteran sarcastically recounts his delight with battle. The tune came to represent pain killers during the Civil War.
Gimme some of that Soldier’s Joy, you know what I mean
I don’t want to hurt no more my leg is turnin’ green
Twenty-five cents for whiskey, twenty-five cents for beer
Twenty-five cents for morphine, get me out of here.