Silver Belle

contributed by Amy Colburn

Silver Bell, also called Silver Belle, was composed in 1910 by Percy Wenrich, and was published with words by Edward Madden. Wenrich was from Joplin, Missouri but went to music school in Chicago and then on to New York. His biggest hit was probably “Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet” in 1909, though he composed many tunes and scored stage productions as well. You can read more about Percy and see the cover of the sheet music for this tune, featuring a beautiful Native American maiden and her suitor, in the article found here:
Here is the chorus:
“Your voice is ringing,
My Silver Bell.
Under its spell,
I’ve come to tell
You of the love I am bringing,
O’er hill and dell.
Happy we’ll dwell,
My Silver Bell.”
I first became acquainted with this tune by hearing Chip Arnold play the Will Keys two- finger index-lead version of the tune in double D tuning. I learned the three finger version in this video from Pete Peterson of the Orpheus Supertones. I like both versions very much. Bluegrass people also play this tune, and change keys somewhere along the line. I’m playing this one in the key of D with the banjo tuned in Drop D (aDAC#E).
Many thanks to Tim Rowell for his supportive guitar playing!