the origins of folk music is often difficult.
Italian Waltz appears
to be a tune that originated in North Carolina during the period
between 1840-1850. This was an era marked by the beginning and first
flush of popularity of blackface minstrelsy in America. About the
only tangible reference to the music itself appeared in an 1889
booklet of 15 tunes, entitled A
Collection of Popular Airs and Plantation Melodies,
by Mrs. Joe (Alice) Person, Kittrell NC.
Many of the compositions in her book were those
of well-known authors that included Stephen Foster and Dan Emmett. Italian
Waltz listed neither composer nor date of publication.
players in the Carolina region have passed down the music over the
years in true folk tradition. Heidi Cerrigione mentions that her
group learned the tune from a teacher of old-time music named
Charlie Gravel. He in turn, had learned it from older players named Lauchlin Shaw and A.C. Overton. In their
recording, they credit a fiddler named Dougal Campbell of Harnett
County, NC as their source.
should be mentioned that Alice Person’s version of Italian
Waltz is her own,
written from memory as an arrangement for the piano. In this early
version, the music has a distinct flavor of ragtime. Readers
interested in hearing her arrangement and learning more history may
log on the links below.
is an accomplished player of both the mountain and hammered
dulcimers, as well as the autoharp. She is also an instructor,
performer, recording artist and music arranger. She and her husband,
John, live in Connecticut, and have recorded two albums to date. One
of these is Winter’s
which includes a lively rendition of Italian
as an arrangement for hammered dulcimer, guitar and accordion.
interest in the mountain dulcimer deepened when she and John first
met Neal Walters, whose flat-picking style of playing was one that
made her really want to learn it too. She got her first dulcimer
from Keith Young and lessons from Neal, later acquiring a baritone,
dulcimette and a banjomer. She says her first exposure to the 1-3-5 tuning was an
arrangement by Neal, called Victory
Rag. She played
it on the banjomer….”I was looking to get the sound of a
major III chord, and the 1-3-5 tuning was the way to go”. *
In the diatonic scale, only the I, IV and V chords are major. The
chords off the second, third and sixth notes are minor, and are designated as ii, iii, and vi.
A major III chord appears in Italian
Waltz in the first line, where we see the C# chord (C#/E#/G#). The E#(or F)
is made possible by using the “power” of the 1-3-5 tuning in
adding chromatic notes to the fretboard.
to Italian Waltz
Italian Waltz Text.pdf
John & Heidi’s web page:
to Italian Waltz