2020-09 Bonaparte Crossing the Geographic Feature

  1. HonketyHank
    The Tune of the Month for September, 2020, is Bonaparte Crossing the Rockies. Or is it the Alps? or the Rhine? Or as David Mold suggested in the SAW thread , His Legs? Or the Street? Anyway, there are two very similar tune titles in the Fiddlers' Fakebook: "Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine" in D Major and "Bonaparte Crossing the Rockies" in A minor. The problem is that they are so often confused with each other that both tunes can be found by both titles (plus "the Alps"). In fact they are pretty much the same tune if you take the one in D Major and recast it into Dorian or Aeolian mode. Add confusion with Bonaparte's Retreat and you start to get the picture.

    So, pick whichever tune for "Bonaparte Crossing Some Geographical Feature" you like best and have at it.

    The two tunes in Fiddlers' Fakebook are both variants of Child Ballad #56, "Dives and Lazarus". Other more or less familiar cousins of "Bonapart Crossing the Whatever" include "Gilderoy", "The Star of County Down" and "Sherman's March to the Sea". Classical music fans may recognize it as the basis of Ralph Vaughn Williams's "Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus". It has been used for a hymn and for a Christmas carol.

    One tune that is NOT related is John McCutcheon's "Bonaparte in a Mexican Restaurant". Thank goodness for that, even though my curiosity is piqued.

    Here is a link to my google drive to an abc file containing five different settings of tunes having four different titles but which correspond to one or the other of the Fiddlers' Fakebook versions. I collected them from the Fiddler's Companion section of ibiblio.org. You can download it and then do what you will with it.

    Here is a video of somebody I don't know (youtube username is ThatTharJonsey) making a very basic looking mandolin sound really good with the major key version.


    And here it is in the minor key version played on a plectrum banjo (I don't remember ever seeing one of these actually being played). This video was recorded for the SAW thread but apparantly got lost. A plectrum banjo is the length of a five string but has only four strings. It could be tuned just like a five string but I think here it is tuned in fifths. I include it, in part, because I am in awe of his picking. Watch that fluid right hand! And sorry, I don't know who this is either except that his youtube name is themerryblacksmith.

  2. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Just for grins and giggles, here is what The Session lists as other titles for this one:

    "Also known as Battle Call Of The Fianna, The Battle Of Waterloo, Bonaparte Crossing The Alps, Bonaparte Crossing The Rockies, Bonaparte Crossing The Rocky Mountains, Bonaparte’s March, Bonnie’s March, Caledonian March, Fare Thee Well Sweet Killaloe, Hot Asphalt, Johnny Get Up, Let Mr. Maguire Sit Down, Listowell, Mick Maguire, Mr Maguire, Mr. Maguire, Napolean Crossing The Alps, The Old Cuckoo, Rohallion, Shermans Maech, The Star Of Columbia, Sweet Killaloe."
  3. HonketyHank
    Here is a video I just discovered. Jeremy Keith, founder and chief poobah of TheSession.org playing Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine on his mandolin. He has nearly 200 videos on his youtube channel.


    I get so many tunes from thesession.org, I thought it would be nice to feature him in this thread.
  4. bbcee
    Here's an iconoclastic version of this tune, in G, right at the beginning of the month. I was inspired to work on it after finishing Beaumont Rag, it seemed like a nice tune to slow down and play on mandola ... then suddenly this electric tenor guitar is in my hands and I'm leaning on the tremolo bar!

    Seriously, it's an inspiring instrument on tunes with some space in them, as you're playing with the amplifier and its settings as well as the actual instrument. The trem bar makes certain notes ring out, and the melodica combined with them nicely in certain phrases.

  5. HonketyHank
    Tremolo bar? Where can I get one to fit my Weber?

    I must hand it to you. That is the absolute best electric-tenor-guitar-melodica duet of a tune centered on Napoleon that I have ever heard!

    Actually, I like it. It has a nice clean sound. And of course, you nailed the tune. WaWa on, bbcee!
  6. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Now I'm even more confused about this tune, bbcee. Your version has a vein of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" running through it, I swear. Nice job, good arrangement and use of an unconventional pairing of instruments.
  7. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    This is a fascinating tune. As HonketyHank points out, it keeps showing up across countries and cultures. It has been used as an English folk tune, a classical piece, an Irish ballad with countless verses praising the allure of a young woman, and a hymn in the Mormon church. And that's just the beginning. You can't keep a good tune down!

    I fell in love with the Vaughn Williams setting, Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus, a piece I hadn't before heard. It was not available in IMSLP—still under copyright—but I did find a fantasia on the tune, written for two violins by a contemporary composer. I stole the tune and first variation from that piece and found a way to make it fit with "Bonaparte Crossing the Rockies."

  8. HonketyHank
    Louise, I loved it. Good work with Dives and Lazarus and fantastical variant plus Bonaparte X-ing the Front Range. All three of 'em. I think you and that mandolin were made for each other. I know it is capable of sounding good, but you do make the good sound come out of it, for sure.

    By the way, I knew there was a tune somewhere in our Tune of the Month archives that is related this one and I finally remembered which one - Little Beggarman (Red-haired Boy) is also derived from Dives and Lazarus.
  9. Round2
    Oooh I am enjoying listening to these tunes! I'm so impressed by you all! I did skip over the banjo after a brief listen--it was a bit like being served a nice slice of lemon meringue when you had your mouth all set for fresh peach, if you know what I mean. And I understand he's an unknown, anyhoo, so hopefully I'm not giving offense to anybody here in the group.

    Goals. All y'all are giving me goals.
  10. bbcee
    Really nice arrangement & transition, Louise. I too love that Pava!! It seems like it inspires you to play.
  11. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Thanks for the kind words, Hank, Round2, and bbcee. I'm really glad I bought that mandolin. Kind of an impulse splurge, right at the beginning of the lockdown, and it has been a nice Covid companion.

    Round2, banjo-bashing is considered good sport among mandolinists, even by those who play the noisy things themselves.
  12. HonketyHank
    Doggone it, Louise. Ever since you mentioned the Battle Hymn of the Republic, whenever my attention drifts as I try to get this tune down, out it comes. Right about where "... bopped her on the bean with a rotten tangerine" comes in. Anyway, I do plan on having a video before the end of the month. I have decided on what to play and convinced my fingers they can do it. Now I just have to practice it enough times to get thoroughly sick and tired of it. Maybe I can do it with a genuine Otto pick.
  13. HonketyHank
    Here it is. Ragged and almost right. Sorry for the flub. I started a do-over and flubbed that one worse. But what the heck. I am a Newbie, not an Oldie. Well, except for years on this planet.


    ps: the beard is getting rather tiresome. But I want to see it flap in the breeze before I give it the chop. Or better yet, when the current health emergency is over if sooner than that.
  14. bbcee
    Henry, that was excellent! I think that ding was worse for you than the listener, you didn't let it affect you (except for that brief eye-rolling moment).

    The transition was a nice surprise! The B part of the second tune reminds me of June Apple a bit.

    All in all, well done! Nice, brisk tempo, much jauntier than a march.
  15. bbcee
    PS - the beard is quite the thing ... it gives you folk cred.
  16. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    This sounds really good, Hank. I like the juxtaposition of the two tunes. Again, they're related but different. I never would have noticed the little flub if it hadn't been circled.

    This has been one of the most fun TOMs ever. Who else has a video to post?
  17. HonketyHank
    Thanks, guys. As an encore my brother in law has suggested Bonaparte Crossing His Eyes and Dotting His Tees.
  18. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    What a cool bunch of performances.

    Bruce, very nice playing, nice sound & effects with that rig, too. That was a new tune to me, much different from the Napoleonic Traversing tune I’ve been playing.

    Louise NM, it was a pure joy to hear you on that Pava, and a nice medley arrangement, I especially enjoyed the Napoleon part because it is the one most familiar to me. Loved it.

    And Hank, likewise, the little “flub” was meaningless, my playing is chock full of them at all times, and anyway it was the second tune that shines for me because I love that version and it was a real treat to both you and Louise NM playing it!

    i play this tune (and have for a few years now) as part of a medley, at the very end, with an AAB format. The medley consists of Loch Leven Castle/Santa Ana’s Retreat/Bonaparte’s March. I attempted to play Bonaparte’s March here for y’all divorced from the medley setting, and was only mildly successful. At any rate, I love the tune in that medley setting, and hadn’t played it in a while.

    I titled the video “Napoleon Crossing His Eyes” having been inspired by Hank, and possessing no sense of humor of my own, I just rudely ripped off the title!

  19. HonketyHank
    Nice job there, Mark. I like your hammered triplets. Nice and smooth.

    It sounds breezy where you are. Kinda nice late summer / early fall background.
  20. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin

    Four great versions this month - all very different.
    We used to play Bonaparte crossing the Rhine in my mandolin group using an arrangement by Georgia Nettleton for melody, harmony and bass. I have played these parts on mandola, mandolin and mandocello respectively.
  21. Spragster
    Hey all, its been a bit since I've posted anything but I managed to slop something together tonight for this month. Ive gotta say I'm seeing a ton of progress from all you old regulars I remember! Sounding awesome one and all.

    I hope I posted this correctly...its been quite a while
  22. HonketyHank
    There's no deadline for entry, folks, so keep 'em coming in!

    Two quite different videos from maudlin and spragster but they both show very good rhythmic co-ordination among the three instruments being played.

    Spragster, welcome back. I didn't know (or maybe I did but forgot) that you played fiddle, too. I think your picking has gotten smoother since your last video. And I think I see a few new grey hairs in the beard.

    Maudlin, I like the arrangement you use. Can you post a copy? I think it is interesting. having both melody and harmony lines.

    Thirty days has September, April, June, and November ... So that means I have to get the thread for next month started tomorrow. But like I said, it's never too late to post a video.
  23. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Good multi-instrumental work, Maudlin & Spragster. Really cool to see you back, Spragster.
  24. Spragster
    Thanks guys. Yes I have a bit more grey up front there for sure Hank. It adds to the mystery. And to say I play the fiddle is generous hah. I took some late life lessons and a shoulder injury forced me to look at other options for a while (insert mandolin) but im back at it, still pickin the mando, and messin with that zouk and some fingerpickin classical guitar. Its way too much to master but im havin fun
  25. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    All three of youse guys sound great! It's been awhile since we've heard from either Mark or Spragster.

    Mark, I'm not surprised you like the version of Bonaparte I used—if I remember correctly, I got it from you! I think we were talking about the tune here a couple of years ago and you shared a PDF of it.
  26. bbcee
    It's a surge to the goal line! Three great, distinct submissions.

    Mark, nice to see you posting! Good version (which I didn't know until Louise posted her vid), played well, of course, and that Ibanez (wait, Aria?) sounds excellent. Good snag!

    MM, I too would like a copy of that arrangement, if you can make it available. I love the harmony + mandocello parts.

    Spragster, I'll join in & say how nice it is that you posted. I wish I could play fiddle that bad!! mandolin + fiddle = perfect sound combination. Don't be a stranger!
  27. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin
    HonketyHank and bbcee - I have scanned and uploaded the arrangement to my blog. Unfortunately I cannot work out how to link it to this thread - if you know how please let me know.
  28. HonketyHank
    maudlin, unfortunately, the sub-forum software makes it less than easy to post attachments if they are not photos. Shoot, even posting a photo is not easy. (Please don't report me to the webmaster for saying that.)

    I think there are some ways to get it done, but maybe the easiest would to send you a private message with my email address. Then you could send me the attachment outside the forum software and I could forward it to bbcee (I have his email address). Will send you a PM after I hit "Post" for this reply.
  29. HonketyHank
    Actually, maudlin mandolin, I just now realized that your blog could be a mandolin cafe blog and lo and behold, I found it. With your attached scans. So if anybody is looking for the three part piece mm played last month, go to his profile, then click the "blog" tab. Thanks for posting them.

    The cafe blogs are a piece of this website that I had not explored. Now I'm going to start looking up folks' blogs. I may even put something in mine.

    Thanks for alerting me to this feature.
Results 1 to 29 of 29