The High Level hornpipe

Also known as High Level, The High Level Bridge.

There are 62 recordings of a tune by this name.

The High Level has been added to 109 tunebooks.

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Four settings

X: 1
T: The High Level
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
d>c|:(3BdB G>B D>G B,>D|G,>B,D>G B2 A>B|c>AF>A D>AF>A|d^cd>e d>=cB>A|
G>AB>G D>GB,>D|G,>B,D>G B>G D2|E>FG>A B>c^c>d|1e>cA>F G2 d>c:|2e>cA>F G2A>G||
F>AD>A F>AD>A|F>DF>A d>AF>A|(3BdB G>c (3BdB G>c|B>GB>d g>dB>d|
^c>eA>e c>eA>e|^c>Ac>e a>ec>e|d2 e>f g>e^c>e|d>^cd>e d2 (3=cBA|
G2 D>G B2 G>B|d2 e>d c>BA>G|F2 D>F A2 F>A|d>ef>e d>cB>A|
G2 D>G B2 G>B|d2 c>B c>BA>G|E>FG>A B>c^c>d|e>cA>F G2 d>c||
ABC
X: 2
T: The High Level
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Fmaj
|:(3def|g2dg ecAF|GdBG D2GF|EcEc DBDB|(3ABA FA GFEc|
DBGF EcAF|GdBG D2GF|EGce dBGB|ADFA G2:|
|:dc|BdFB DFBd|fbdf Bdc=B|ceAc FAce|gf=ef gf_ec|
BdFB DFBd|fbdf BdcB|GABc de=ef|gf_ec B2:|
|:cB|Afcf Afcf|AFAc fcAc|dfBf dfBf|dBdf bfdf|
egcg egcg|eceg bgeg|fefa gbeg|fefg f2:|
ABC
X: 3
T: The High Level
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:FA|BdFB DFBd|fbdf BdFB|ceAc FACE|AFcA ecAF|
BdFB DFBd|fbdf BdFB|G=Bcd egf_B|AFGA B2:|
|:cB|Afcf Afcf|AFAc fcAc|dfBf dfBf|dBdf bfdf|
egcg egcg|=eceg bgeg|fcaf =ecge|1 f=efg f2:|2 f=efg f_edc||
ABC
X: 4
T: The High Level
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmin
|:(3FGA|BdFB DFBd | fbdf BdcB | ceAc FAcB | AFAc fedc | BdFB DFBd | (3faf df BdcB |
GABc defg | (3agf (3edc B2 :| cB | Afcf Afcf | AFAc fcAc | dfBf dfBf | (3dcB df bfdf | egAg egAg |
eceg bgeg | fefa gbeg | fefg f2cd | (3ABc fc (3ABc fc | AFAc fcAc | dB (3BAB FB (3BAB | (3dcB df bfdf |
ec (3cBc Gc (3cBc | eceg bgeg | fcaf gbeg | fefg f^fga |: bfdf gecA | BfdB F2BA | GeGe FdFd |
Ec (3cBc dcAF | G^FGA BecA | BfdB F2BA | (3GGG eG (3FFF dF |1 (3EEE cA B2 (3fga :|2 (3EEE cA B2 |
ABC

Twenty-five comments

The High Level Hornpipe

Someone requested this,so here it is.It was written by James Hill,the great Tyneside fiddler.It’s usually printed in F in collections,but it sounds better in G on the fiddle.

The high level hornpipe

The tune as given is a compilation the first 16 bars are Hill’s origional, origionally I think in F. But the next 8 bars are the
*A *music from Robert Whinham’s "A New High Level"…. (see "Remember Me" Graham Dixon’s biography of Robert Whinham.) I will try to write out Whinham’s Tune asap. I first heard these tunes joined by the "High Level Ranters" in the 60’s it was their signature tune.

The High Level Hornpipe

As stated above, by the great James Hill. It is usually printed in Bb and it sounds best in that key. A tune from Koehler’s Collection.

Graham Dixon’s first book was a collection of Hill’s tunes. Now out of print, but I actually have a stack of about 10 copies in my office….

The New High Level also appears in one of the Northumbrian Piper’s tune books (can’t remember offhand which one) - in G there because it is intended for the pipes. You can also see this variant attributed entirely incorrectly to Andrew Rankine in the "black book" - Ho-ro-gheallaidh

The High Level Bridge

Some versions on the net seem to have a 3rd part that goes along the lines of:

|:(3def|g2dg ecAF|GdBG D2GF|EcEc DBDB|(3ABA FA GFEc|
DBGF EcAF|GdBG D2GF|EGce dBGB|ADFA G2:|

There’s a similar setting from Paddy Keenan. Does anyone know where this part comes from? Is it part of another hornpipe?

My setting only has 2 parts and is really straightforward, apart from the fact that I play it in the original key of Bb :-)

K:Bb
|:dc|BdFB DFBd|fbdf Bdc=B|ceAc FAce|gf=ef gf_ec|
BdFB DFBd|fbdf BdcB|GABc de=ef|gf_ec B2:|
K:F
|:cB|Afcf Afcf|AFAc fcAc|dfBf dfBf|dBdf bfdf|
egcg egcg|eceg bgeg|fefa gbeg|fefg f2:|

I think it sounds much nicer in Bb, although it’s often played in G in Northumberland to cater for the pipes, and if the pipes are pitched down towards F, you could find yourself having to play in that key, or maybe tune down.

Here’s a version which appears in some of the older manuscripts. I don’t think the A-part’s quite as interesting with its non-stop arpeggios but I like the way it’s rounded off with that Bnat thrown in. The B-part is also different in that the C chord is minor for a while:

K:Bb
|:FA|BdFB DFBd|fbdf BdFB|ceAc FACE|AFcA ecAF|
BdFB DFBd|fbdf BdFB|G=Bcd egf_B|AFGA B2:|
|:cB|Afcf Afcf|AFAc fcAc|dfBf dfBf|dBdf bfdf|
egcg egcg|=eceg bgeg|fcaf =ecge|1 f=efg f2:|2 f=efg f_edc||

“Fly By Night” / “The Low Level Hornpipe” ~ sometimes makes a set

Submitted on June 6th 2004 by kjlowe.
http://www.thesession.org/tunes/3122

I have also come across this tune mistaken and mistitled for "The High Level Bridge" / "The High Level Hornpipe"…

bowing ‘the high level’

i’ve been playing (trying to play) this great hornpipe (i play it in G) for a couple of years now, with lots of slurs to smooth it out and allow some speed, and it _always_ sounds sloppy to me, last night, on a whim, i tried single bowing almost every note. it sounded a little like a violin lesson, but at least every note came out clear. is there a happy medium, or is it, maybe, best to single bow jumpy tunes like this one. and if i single bow it enough, will it smooth out and sound more natural? i know there’s no ‘right’ answer to this, just looking for opinions/guidance. thanks.

Re: bowing ‘the high level’

It will only "smooth out and sound more natural" if you make it so. If you single bow it with the aim of being jumpy, it will stay jumpy, if you single bow it with the aim of being smooth, it will be smooth.

There is a "happy medium" of sorts, namely, what you are most comfortable with, both in terms of ability and sound.

Re: bowing ‘the high level’

Try a mixture of singles and pairs.

Posted .

Re: bowing ‘the high level’

Try it in B flat. That is where it is usually played. You may find the fingering a little more difficult, but the bowing may be easier. B flat is a good key on the fiddle

Re: bowing ‘the high level’

thanks for these replies, all. the tunes section here has it in key of G, and i’ve heard it that way, but maybe i’ll try Bb too. this guy solves the issue by playing it in about EVERY key:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWJBgNkVN24

Re: bowing ‘the high level’

singles and pairs - YES! thx again.

Re: bowing ‘the high level’

You’ll be pleased to know I’ve submitted your link of your man Vernon to:

http://www.gearchange.org/

I hope it makes the top of the list.

Posted .

Re: bowing ‘the high level’

heh, yeah, i know, that one toward the end is pretty horrendous, but i think he’s aware. and if you can’t smile at a hornpipe, what CAN you smile at?

Re: bowing ‘the high level’

There is nothing more in the world that can turn an agreeing smile into a grimace more than a hornpipe

Posted .

Re: bowing ‘the high level’

i suppose that was inevitable.

Re: bowing ‘the high level’

Good clip of McKillop there. He mostly uses single bows, but also does pedal bowing (one down bow followed by three notes on an up bow, crossing strings), particularly in the B part of the tunes where the notes alternate between the E and A strings. Pedal bowing is a common enough approach to such passages, but McKillop does it as well as anyone there.

Posted .

Re: bowing ‘the high level’

yes, thanks Hup, the comhaltas setting is great, lots of variation, and very visible bowing - i’ll study it.
jim, i had seen that youtube ‘high level’, but didn’t get much from it, except very clearly played notes; and the ‘auld fiddler’ is one i’ve heard ali bain play, and will save for when i grow up. (i’m 62, but don’t know how that reckons in fiddle years) watching the players, as opposed to audio-only, makes the tune seem more accessible though, and i may give it a spin…
I’ll have to get my fiddle and see about that pedal bow too.
thanks to you all.

High Level Hornpipe

For such a popular tune it’s surprising no one’s provided much historical background on this tune, so here’s tunearch.org: http://tunearch.org/wiki/Annotation:High_Level_Hornpipe_(1)

Contrary to what’s stated there Lad O’Bierne did play 3 parts of this tune on a home recording from the late 40s or 50s, but only two parts on commercial recordings in duet with fiddler Louis Quinn, recorded in the 30s. Just the other day some 1924/1925 sides from accordion player Patrick Lynch became available: http://irishfest.com/Music-Archives/Digital-Material/Patrick-Lynch-Accordion.htm He plays the High Level as a solo tune and also as part of medley; in both instances he plays 3 parts. Lynch played with Louis Quinn so there’s an obvious connection. O’Bierne also emigrated in 1928, after these sides were laid down, which makes for more of a mystery about who composed that third part. Lynch plays it much as O’Bierne did; Brian Conway and Tony D’Marco copy his setting note-for-note on their Apples in Winter LP, if you want to hear it played verbatim.

Popular…?

Is it still "popular" ? Alistair Anderson was yer man for it, certainly in the 1970s, a total virtuoso piece of concertina playing by him, and no-one I’ve heard has ever played it better since, but I would have to disagree that it’s "popular" over the last 30 years, in my experience, at least in Scotland and Ireland. I would sincerely hope it’s still popular around Newcastle and the North-East of England, as it’s a major part of their tradition, but anywhere else, I’m not so sure, but of course, I could be wrong.

Posted by .

High Levels

Well, I see how Jesse Smith and the Kane Sisters have recorded it, so it’s not forgotten by youngsters. It’s obligatory for anyone following in the footsteps of Paddy Keenan, who takes his cue from Johnny Doran here. You can hear Paddy going to town on it at the NPU source website, it’s video from 1978, much fiercer than how he played it on his first album.

I’ve a recording of Billy Pigg playing the variations on it - and one of Richard Butler playing stuff that’s even more ambitious. I assume you know these fellows play(ed) the Northumbrian pipes, sorry if that goes without saying! Billy picked up a lot of music from Tom Clough and there’s a book of the Clough family’s transcripts, hundreds of variation sets, and the High Level is almost certainly in there. That’d be where Alistair got his set - I’m guessing - don’t have a recording of him playing it.

No surprise, Sean Maguire really triplet-ed it up on this tune too, on his On Two Levels record.

And Bobby Gardiner made it the title track of his 2010 CD! But yeah, it mostly seems to have been played way back when. I’m always launching into it, regardless of fashions. Seems to still have a following in Quebec, too, judging from all the French names that show up on YouTube.

High Level Hornpipe

X:4 from Martin Mullvihill’s collection, much as recorded by Lad O’Bierne and Conway/DeMarco.

High Level Ranters

If I remember rightly, the High level ranters used to do this with the clarinet break from High Society in the middle. That has to have been the brain child of Johnny Handle.