Ida, Sweet As
Music: Eddie Munson
Arr: Merv Rowley
The year 1903 was prominent in America's history; Teddy Roosevelt was President, the Wright brothers made their historical flights at Kitty Hawk, NC, it was the first year of baseball's World Series, both Enrico Caruso and John Barrymore made their debuts on the American scene and the first
full-length feature movie film, The Great Train Robbery, was shown.
This song was the brainchild of Eddie Leonard, near the end of his
career as a blackface minstrel performer. In fact, vaudeville
had largely taken over the entertainment business and Leonard was about to lose his job with the Primrose and West minstrel agency. He performed Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider onstage, against the orders of his employer. Its reception was tremendous, and over a million copies of sheet music were sold the first year. Apparently, Leonard had some help with the musical score from his friend, Eddie Munson, who is credited as the composer of the music.
Ida never really lost its popularity over the years. This was due, in part, to its "adoption" by singer Eddie Cantor, who performed the song in vaudeville, radio and then on television. Cantor's wife was named Ida!
The musical structure consists of alternating five-beat and three-beat counts, giving the music and lyrics their syncopated tempo. There are no new chords here, but the arrangement is in the key of A in order to "center" the music on the dulcimer fretboard. This is something the 1-3-5 tuning allows us to do.
Using a capo at the first fret is not absolutely
necessary (there are no really long chord stretches),
but handy to allow for some open chords. If you don't
want to use a capo, you can fret the 1's - simply change
all the 0's in the tab to 1's.
This music is usually played with a "lilt" that is a bit too fast for playing chord/melody
style; you will probably want to use a pick on this one.
Bear in mind that it originated with a minstrel, and probably to the sound of a banjo. This one
may take some practice.
contains only the familiar chorus. Like so many songs of
this era, the verses are not so well known, and folks
begin to think that the chorus by itself is the entire
song. If you are interested in seeing the verses, a link
to the sheet music is posted under Historical Links.
Here is a link to the sheet
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