Lorena

July 1, 2017 8:38 AM

Lorena is a song from the Civil War era written by Joseph Philbrick Webster.

From what I read, Lorena was popular on both sides during the Civil War. The lyrics are a sad tale of unrequited love. I played it while I was practicing and thought I'd post it. I found the music on flutetunes.com

There are video performances on YouTube. I think my rendition is at a slower, more mournful, tempo.

posted by SemiSalt (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Thanks for posting this. I think the solo flute does feel more mournful, and I think the slower tempo works better. (Admittedly, I'm biased because I first heard the version recorded by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason and Matt Glaser from The Civil War documentary by Ken Burns; they used a slow tempo too.)

I hope you continue to keep playing it -- it's a lovely melody.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 12:50 AM on July 3


rangefinder, maybe you can answer a question for me. I got to wondering about the source of Jay Unger's music. I guess it falls under the general description of "traditional American music" (whose tradition?) or "regional American music" (what region?). Is it possible to narrow it down?

I thought I might find out something by looking up Jay Unger, but his Wikipedia article says he was born in New York and had a fairly conventional music education until he found his niche.

One always suspects that anything "traditional American" survived the longest somewhere in the Appalachian mountains, but this music could actually be just much at home in Iowa or Montana to name two places picked at random.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:45 AM on July 3


Is it possible to narrow it down?

I'm not sure it is. They play in a bunch of styles, all of which influence each other within their playing. There are definitely Appalachian influences, and Scots-Irish, Klezmer, Cajun, Country Blues, Swing, early Jazz... If I had to pick a single descriptor, I'd probably call them "contemporary old-time" or "New England contra music". Which is, really, another way of avoiding the question, since "old-time" itself is a disputed term, and pretty much anything can be contra dance music. But there's a particular flavor of it which comes from New England, and they match it pretty well, to my ear.

(Funny thing about the term "traditional"; it's often used to mean "not classical, not pop", but bits of classical and pop keep making it back into the folk traditions...)

Nice playing!
posted by hades at 12:35 PM on July 3


Yeah, I can't really add much more to what hades said. I'm not an expert on traditional/folky music or Jay Ungar, but I would agree that it's hard to narrow down a specific region, unless of course we're talking about a specific song with a specific history that may have been drawn from. Ungar and Mason's biography page references a few music traditions that align with hades' comment. I think "traditional American music" or "contemporary old-time" or "New England contra music" all sound totally fair.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 12:58 AM on July 5


Thanks to both of you for your comments. Following up with Google, etc has introduced me to things that are all around me but of which I was not aware. Square dancing, I'm aware of. Contra dancing, not so much. I guess I should get out more. In my stack of music from the internet Ashokan Farewell is back-to-back with Tom Anderson's Da Slockit Light. I guess that's reasonable.

The bio line supplied by rangefinder refers to the "American acoustic music scene". That sounds pretty inclusive.
posted by SemiSalt at 12:03 PM on July 5


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