Audio Recording Billy in the Low Land

About this Item

Billy in the Low Land
Contributor Names
Jabbour, Alan (Transcriber)
Jabbour, Alan (Collector)
Jabbour, Karen Singer (Collector)
Reed, Henry, 1884-1968 (Performer)
Created / Published
Reed family home, Glen Lyn, Giles County, Virginia, June 18, 1966
Subject Headings
-  Instrumental music
-  Fiddle tunes
-  Folk music--Appalachian Region
-  Breakdowns
-  Reels
-  Ethnography
-  Music
-  Field recordings
-  United States -- Virginia -- Giles County -- Glen Lyn
Field recordings
-  Meter: 4/4
-  Rendition: 1r-2r-1r-2r
-  Compass: 12
-  Key: G
-  Strains: 2 (low-high, 4-4)
-  Phrase Structure: ABCD QB'QR (abcd aefg qb'cd qb'f'g)
-  Stylistic features: Slurred bowing.
-  Related Tune(s): Shelving Rock
-  Henry Reed called this tune "the old Franklin County Billy in the Low Land." Franklin County, Virginia, lies along the Blue Ridge in an area from which not only his mother's family but some of his fiddling Monroe County neighbors had come in the nineteenth century. His musical lineage for the tune is borne out by the fact that it appears in Knauff's Virginia Reels (1839), called "Billy in the Low Grounds: A Virginia Reel," which reflects Southside Virginia tradition in the earlier nineteenth century. Another Virginia-North Carolina set with the same title is Person, A Collection of Popular Airs (1889), p. 14, and modern sets were documented by Jabbour from Joe Anglin in Martinsville, Virginia, and by Malvin Artley, The West Virginia Country Fiddler, p. 45, from central West Virginia. The Hollow Rock String Band recorded a version of this tune learned from Henry Reed (Rounder 0024), which has given the tune a bit of renewed contemporary circulation. The tune has the feel of an old British-American tune, but it cannot be traced clearly beyond its roots in the American Upper South. It always seems to be played in the key of G, and Henry Reed's comments cited above reflect in part his awareness that there is another "Billy," usually played in C, with wide circulation in America. In fact, he himself played a version of that other tune, calling it "Shelving Rock."
-  Performed by Henry Reed, fiddle.
-  Spoken: [before tune]/HENRY REED: Okay, let's see how this goes, now. I ain't never played this since I played it for Eugene.[after tune]/ALAN JABBOUR: Whew! That goes like the dickens!/KAREN JABBOUR: [Laughs]
-  Recording chronology: 026
-  Duration: 1 minute, 18 seconds
Audio tape
Call Number/Physical Location
AFC 1967/007: AFS 13033B18
Source Collection
Alan Jabbour duplication project, part 1
American Folklife Center
Digital Id
Online Format

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Photographs in this collection produced by Carl Fleischhauer, Karen Singer Jabbour, and Kit Olson are reproduced here with their permission. Mr. Fleischhauer does not object to additional use of the photos he created provided he is credited as the photographer. Persons contemplating other kinds of uses or use of the other photographers' work should contact the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Credit line

Please cite the source collection title, collection number, and repository, for example:

Alan Jabbour duplication project, part 1 (AFC 1967/007), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Alan Jabbour duplication project, part 2 (AFC 1969/008), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Fiddle tunes of the old frontier: the Henry Reed collection online presentation (AFC 1999/016), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Jabbour, Alan, Alan Jabbour, Karen Singer Jabbour, and Henry Reed. Billy in the Low Land. Reed family home, Glen Lyn, Giles County, Virginia, 1966. Audio.

APA citation style:

Jabbour, A., Jabbour, A., Jabbour, K. S. & Reed, H. (1966) Billy in the Low Land. Reed family home, Glen Lyn, Giles County, Virginia. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Jabbour, Alan, et al. Billy in the Low Land. Reed family home, Glen Lyn, Giles County, Virginia, 1966. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.