Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

"Where does the word ‘hornpipe’ come from? Any ideas?"

# Posted on December 6th 2006 by Maryland Highlander

Alright gang, stirring up the muck from the bottom again, where’s Nox & Button & the rest of ye? But please, be civil, or at least more that way than the other. What about HORNPIPES? What kind of representation do they get in your sessions or with your band or with dancers you play for? What do you think of this family of tunes? How do you like to play them? ~ if at all? What are your favourites? What sets of them do you find happening in your neck of the woods? What are your favourite recordings of Hornpipes, or any other member of the family? ~ your favourite players of hornpipes?

I don’t need to tell you my biases, but for those who might not already know ~ I love swung tunes, which includes hornpipes, and I was just playing "The Banks", alias "Mrs. Taff" (was she Welsh do you think?) ~ when someone, ‘Maryland Highlander’, posed the question above, and which I’ve now extended… Hey, let’s not forget the 3/4 hornpipes while we’re chatting…

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Well, for dancers the answer is simple, if you play for example for the Caledonian set (which would be the one danced in Clare although you get the odd instance where the Plain set is danced) the last figure is to hornpipes. Cronin’s/Plains of Boyle is the easy way out for that around here although we take different ones occasionally

Posted .

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

At sessions I have been to over the years, there have not been many hornpipes played. I think that this may be due to the fact that hornpipes such as The Boys of Bluehill, The Harvest Home and Off to California are belted out with gusto (and not often with great proficiency) by learners, thus, unfairly, stigmatising the hornpipe in general.

This of course says more about the people I play with than about hornpipes in general. In the hands of a master/mistress hornpipes can be a great success.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Cenn Faeled the three Hornpipes you name are 3 out of 5 that I know the other two being The Liverpool and An Paistin Fionn which is taken from an air. I just don’t take well to Hornpipes, Reels and Jigs on the other hand are practically second nature. At the sessions I have been to, there are not too many Hornpipes played the common ones already mentioned (along with the Home Ruler) and maybe a couple others. One of my favorite Hornpipe set is the one that Danu plays on "The Road Less Traveled" it is a set of The Wonder/The Impish. I like the way they sound sometimes, but I don’t really like playing them.

Posted by .

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Just recently, my interest started to switch from jigs and reels (still reels being the preferred type of tune) to hornpipes and germans. First, I started to play them on the flute - initially as means for practicing "punching" - and then went on to the guitar backing - and I really started to like them.

We do play some horpipes during our sessions. They are far from domination (2 or 3 sets altogether), but they are there. They make for a good change of mood once in a while.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Tinwhistle player? You had me going for a moment, Laitch. I have enjoyed hornpipes since I first learned a couple from the playing of Michael Gorman and "the other" Margaret Barry. I love the rhythm and bounce. I only know a few, but a couple of players seem to think I’m a hornpipe specialist. That must be because they don’t know any!
I’ve never seen a hornpipe danced, and would certainly like to.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

"3/4 hornpipes", ceolachan? Tell me more!

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I have always loved the ‘Happy One-Step’. Unfortunately, there aren’t many others. Well, the Hut on Staffin Island and Like You Would, but that’s all I can think of.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I usually play reels and a few jigs, but have just discovered the Galway which is really nice at a slower tempo, although probably completely wrong - please don’t shoot me! Is there any rule as to which tempo hornpipes should be played at? The one in the clip is quite fast so I’m guessing the dancing must be at quite a pace. Is that right?

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

It varies in all uses ~ sets of quadrilles, solo, couple, trio, foursome and other group dances. There are differences over time, and between the countryside and the cities ~ though the later have proved ‘invasive’ and influential. Adrenalin tends to push the speed, and this has especially been the case since the 80s. It has gone from leisurely, with room for play, to a toe breaker and another source for RSI… Back in the 70s, as one example, dancing the hornpipe in Clare, Kerry, Tipperary or Donegal and in ‘some’ places in Dublin was markedly different. The likes of Chris Droney and others in Clare and elsewhere, in the sets of quadrilles and other dances, took it at a nice lovely and leisurely walking pace. Some venues in Dublin steam rolled it, but what’s new, eh? Find recordings or players who draw you in and make you want to emulate them ~ and do just that… That means there’s something for everyone, including the speed demons.

Sources for my comments and bias ~ I have seen traditions change in an area under the growing influence of what they call ‘come-from-awayers’ in Cape Breton. I remember great social dances in the countryside in Eire, avoiding naming any single place, that once they became tourist destinations for the Irish and others ~ and the tempos rose, became more and more folks from outside or a younger more competitve group, and less considerate and patient ~ while I saw the older and more experienced local dancers less willing to get up on the floor to be bashed about…

On the 3/4 hornpipes, I’m bugging a couple of others to come here and give the better explanation I know they are capable of… There were some older discussions on the topic, I’ll check for them and if I succeed in finding them I’ll post the links here.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I remember an English reviewer doing his write up of an Irish recording, by one of the acknowledged masters of their instrument and tradition ~ and he commented that the hornpipes were pleasant but only for listening, that the tempo was too slow for dancing… He obviously hadn’t a clue. They were just right, at the tempo this person used regularly to play for dancers in his area ~ at least weekly… I’d had that pleasure… They were just right, but this person, maybe under the influence of the set dance craze as it manifests itself in some places, manic ~ was convinced the musician in question was not playing it at a danceable tempo…

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

On the D/G melodeon, hornpipes are the hardest rhythm on which to play the basses right (I’ve no excuse for not practising this more). In a busy session one can just play the tune and (largely) ignore the basses, but that’s rather cutting corners. So I’ve inclined to play them more on whistle. In my local sessions they do get pushed aside by the reels and jigs.

That Margaret Barry clip was most impressive.

Not being a dancer, I’ve no idea of the tempo(es) at which hornpipes are played for that purpose in Ireland - though a ceilidh band CD I have could give me an idea.

In the 1840’s or so, in the time of fiddler / composer James Hill, 4/4 hornpipes were cutting-edge entertainment in Newcastle pubs: requests for tunes would be written and handed to the front, and Hill would play them in turn. A hundred+ years later, when Newcastle would have been int Rhythm and Blues, Hill’s tunes were still being played by Billy Pigg etc. out in the countryside. I gather hornpipes remained popular in the NE for solo step dancing.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Ceolachan, I can’t agree with you more on Hornpipe speed. I love playing them slower with lots of swing. Even though I don’t play that many I rarely start them at sessions because the speed demons always pick up the speed and run with it. BTW, remembered that I know 6.

Posted by .

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I’m wondering if there’s any relation here to the ancient Horn Dance………where the pagan men used to dance about the fire with animal-horn hats on their heads?
That might make an interesting session, wouldn’t it?

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I love hornpipes and generally play them briskly and without much emphasis on the swing. I’ve learned to play them this way after listening to the Irish approach, and because I often play for sets. At the sessions I’ll play them the same way if I’m starting them, but a lot of folks around here prefer them slower and swingier. They’re ok for listening to like that unless it’s too slow, but if you play them like that for experienced set dancers you won’t be asked back.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

ceolachan, are you thinking of the 3/2 hornpipe? I learned a Northumbrian 3/2 hornpipe called "Rusty Gulley" from Nancy Kerr a few years back. I see it’s here: https://thesession.org/tunes/1208
As you might expect, the dots do a lousy job of conveying the proper bounce.

Hornpipes (of the Irish variety) are actually pretty popular at our local session, though as often as not they’re those flashy Scottish showpieces that feel like they are the fiddle players’ way of telling the rest of us to bugger off. Despite that, after years of being not terribly fond of the form, I’ve learned a good handful I like this year, and wrote one as well.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Hornpipes have gotten under my skin for the last few months; I’m in favor of more of them played

Posted by .

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

The epitome of the hornpipe for me is on the "Come West along the Road" DVD by RTE where Sean O’Cearbhaill of the Tulla Ceili Band plays the Liverpool for a solo dancer. Beautiful phrasing and rhythm, played lovingly.

Posted by .

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Can you post it on YouTube?

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

i too love hornpipes, though it was an acquired taste. i have a violent allergy to the g-major ‘pipes i think of as the "jolly old salt" or "old spice shaving cream commercial" hornpipes. but once i got a load of the minor/modal hornpipes, i was hooked. "humours of tullycrine." "tuoamgraney castle." "her lovely hair was flowing down her back." "sean o’dhiur an gleanna." "poll ha’penny." sigh.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I really like hornpipes and have played them for highland dancing though my main influence and repertoire is from the bagpipe tradition some of my favourites being Crossing the Minch, Clumsy Lover, Willies Brogues, Tam Bains Lum, Joe McGanns Fiddle, Ina McKenzie, Duncan Jonhstone,Pumpkins Fancy and Calum Beag. Some of these i’ve seen some of these on this site though seem to have had the range stretched beyond the pipe scale, i think most can be found in the Ceol Na Fidhle collections.
Pipe bands i think are abusing hornpipes for use in their medley sets and almost need a new name like marchpipes or hornmarch.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Morningstar - The Horn-Pipe was actually an old instrument, a pipe with the narrow end of a cow-horn fitted to the bottom end, the wider end opening out like a trumpet or something, presumably to increase its volume. According to Wikipedia it had a "free reed" - though that’s a term I’ve associated with squeeze-boxes rather than pipes. I think they are supposed to have been a traditional instrument in Wales particularly, and have been re-created there; I’ve also seen a pic of a very sleek and stylish Highland version (no cow-horn in sight, there…).
But why a dance or rhythm was given that name, I’ve no idea.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I too love to play hornpipes… they are great to play on a mandolin and they all follow on so nicely from each other. We play a number of sets of hornpipes and when feeling particularly exuberant, string them all into one long set. (I realise the thought of this might have you running for the exit). Cronin’s and Home ruler are 2 favourites, but there’s loads besides - can’t get enough of them.
Re 3/2 hornpipes - these are from the english tradition. Check out Speirs and Boden at http://www.spiersandboden.com/throughandthrough.html#Threetwos

Interesting note on the baroque roots of hornpipes (in 3/2 and 3/4) on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hornpipe
Seems 3/2 hornpipes mutated into slip-jigs.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I always understood that the hornpipe was associated with the military, specifically British army and navy in Ireland but maybe this is a myth. But is it not the case, that hornpipes were frowned upon by the ‘saviours’ of taste in ITM i.e. the establishment until the last couple of decades, precisely because they were associated like soccer with the British oppressors - ‘garrison games’ … ‘garrison tunes’?
Myself, I like hornpipes but I do find at the session I go to, that they are destroyed for me at any rate by the speed they’re played at .. a fast reel tempo. I suppose the antidote to this is not to play the common ones everyone knows but start up something more obscure - but then you’re playing on your own.

Posted .

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

In the Northumbrian tradition, there may be more hornpipes than tunes in any other single genre. Sometimes one could get the impression that there are more hornpipes in Northumberland than there are feet, and they keep coming. Some are, IMO, brilliant, many are okay, many more are dull or uninspired. Some sound much better on the Northumbrian pipes than they might on other instruments.
Two I like in particular are: Rowley Burn,
The Burn Deviot.

Both are in the Tunes database. They are good whistle tunes, with the typical Northumbrian features of note-jump sequences and a long range (Low D to top b).

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Irish musicians insist on playing hornpipes like some sort of slow reel, with horrible accents on the offbeat. They make it sound like a nursery rhyme or a theme tune to a children’s TV program. I loathe this sound with a passion, and when I hear it in sessions, I never feel inspired to join in. In fact, it’s like chalk on a blackboard for me, and I get a panic attack and feel as though I am in a living hell and that I’m trapped and can’t escape. Lately, however, thanks to Michael Gill, I have discovered that I like the way Frankie Gavin plays hornpipes, and for that I am very grateful. Maybe there’s hope for the future of hornpipe playing in Irish sessions.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

PS it doesn’t help that the Irish repertoire hardly has any decent hornpipes. Most of them are *crap*!

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Uh oh, the cats are out of the bag, but not at the same time. First we had Button, and now it’s Nox. Why so harsh Nox, did yousum have a bad day and are itchin’ for a fight?

Carrying forward from the earlier link, here are two lovely takes on hornpipes, whistle based, again courtesy of Roger Millington’s site, for your listening pleasure:

Roger Millington Publishing
http://www.rogermillington.com/
Tunes on whistles ~ notation & mp3s
http://www.rogermillington.com/tunetoc/index.html

Donncha O’Briain ~ The Golden Eagle / The Blackbird
http://www.rogermillington.com/tunetoc/goldeneagle.html

Micho Russell ~ Harvest Home / Homebrew
http://www.rogermillington.com/tunetoc/homebrew.html

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

The ‘cornpib’, and that’s a ‘c’ that sound ‘k’, like in ‘corn, are in tons of museums, including the Horniman Museum in London:

http://www.horniman.ac.uk/

I’ve come across them in collections all across Europe and into the far East. ‘Free Reed’ is a good way of describing the earlier reeds, cut out of ‘reed’. The single reed is just one tongued that vibrates to create the sound. Picture the tube the reed is, open on one end, closed on the other. You cut two parallel slits and then cut across one end of those, that’s the tongue or ‘free reed’. To increase life expectancy they are sometimes tied, also to fit the smaller reed into a larger pipe which has the finger holes. The use of horn for decoration and for the bells of instruments wasn’t confined to the Welsh, or to this island. They still use them in the Carpathians for their ‘sacpip’ or bagpipes, and you find them used also in the Middle East.

The volume these instruments are capable of makes for a good basic rhythm and melody for dance. The transfer, which happens in traditions still, of one name for another thing, was natural, so dancing to a cornpib or hornpipe was soon called by the instrument, a ‘hornpipe’.

3 (3/4/ & 3/2/) and 4 (4/4) count ~ it was nice to see those additions I was expecting. I see that Nox hasn’t commented there yet? Yes, the slip jigs are related, of course. It is my understanding that the old 3 count hornpipes were heavily swung, like slip jigs ~ 9/8 ~ | A2 D F2 d cBA | ~ … Slip jigs also get the ‘slip’, and are also a blast to play. They used to be used regularly in group dancing too, not just solo, and still are in some areas… 😉

On the question of swing, there is good reason why ‘triplets’ are the prevalent variation for hornpipes… Sessions however, divorced from the dance, have tended to push them more into a second cousin to reels. On their own, taken for what they are, they aren’t second cousins to any other valued form, part of the wealth of variety the music presents…including it’s close family ~ set dances, Germans, schottisches, highland flings, etc…

~ & slip jigs, of course… 🙂

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

If we punctuated our music making with more relaxed tempos, and the likes of hornpipes and slip jigs, etc. ~ we’d have less problems with our shoulders, wrists, forarms, fingers and the like ~ RSI or otherwise… Variety, in tempo too, is a spice I welcome…

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I have to say I’d want a lot more proof before I bought the 3/2 hornpipe / slip jig connection. I certainly cannot imagine confusing the 3/2 hornpipes I’ve heard with slip jigs — yes, both are in three, but the internal rhythms are very, very different.

Having said that, I admit my experience with the form is pretty limited, and I guess it’s conceivable they were both the same hundreds of years ago and mutated in very different directions.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Irish ones…Haven’t acquired many. (I don’t think even the Bothies recorded any, bar The Blackbird.) My list includes:

Harvest Home, Boys Of Bluehill, Kitty’s Wedding, Home Ruler, Fisher’s;

Off To California, Cronin’s, Bantry Bay, Stack Of Barley (or whatever);

Poll Ha’penny, The Cuckoo’s Nest, Pride Of Petravore, Love Will You Marry me, Byrnes’;

Rights Of Man; and, classiest on my list IMO, Eleanor Neary’s.

Also the set dances The Blackbird, The Ace And Deuce Of Piping, and The Hunt, as well as the odd barn-dance like the Bluebell Polka and The Irish Barndance. I find the barn-dance rhythm, though similar to a honpipe, more fun to play on the melodeon.

What I’ve heard of Highland Scottish tradition hornpipes, some of which I like, I haven’t been able to tell from tunes in the dotted 2/4 pipe march tradition, though the range of some tunes moves outside the bagpipe’s range.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Have to disagree with Noxious that "most Irish hornpipes are crap". There are some great melodies out there like Cronin’s, O’Callaghan’s, Home Ruler, the Galway, Sonny Murray’s, kit O’Mahoney’s just to name a few. Have to admit though that they are the "poor relation" at our sessions and like with polkas, slides, barn dances, etc. a conscious effort has to be made to include them.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Poll Ha’Penny here. Unfortunately nobody else knows it. We get the standard BOBH and HH set, which I kind of really hate because they sound like theme music to a poor knockoff of a Disney movie.

I also love the Blackbird.

From the GHB repertoire, John McKenzie’s Fancy rocks.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

"old 3 count hornpipes were heavily swung, like slip jigs ~ 9/8 ~ | A2 D F2 d cBA | "

I don’t think so, ‘c’, not like that, at least not until they actually *became* hop jigs (not slips btw). The swing would have come between the 8ths like this: |A2D2 F2d2 c>BA2|, and |a4 e2f>g a>gf>e| etc. Most of the time I’ve heard them played pretty straight though.

I do agree with you though that a lot of the 9/8s derived from old 3/2 tunes. That’s a fact. It’s easily proven by looking at old manuscripts of tunes that are still played. The Dusty Millar is a fine example. Can’t be bothered to think of others.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Sol Foster, RE: proof of 3/2s changing to hop jigs, do a search for "Dusty Miller" at this site http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/cgi/abc/tunefind, and find the old English version in 3/2. The more modern 9/8 hop jig version appears in O’Neill’s which you’ll also find amongst the downloadable files. There are many more tunes like this.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I wouldn’t like a whole night of hornpipes, but they are fun to play, and we generally play a set or two in the evening. Our publican is fond of the Boys of Bluehill and Harvest Home, so we often play them for him. My current favorite hornpipe is Alexanders, now that I have gotten the runs and arpeggios to come out nice and crisp on my harmonica.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Talking of arpeggios Al, I forgot to mention the Belfast (or Sweep’s) hornpipe which is another great one.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

FInally, I knew if I made a few ignorant stabs at an idea ol’ Nox would show to clear the way… I only know the old 3 count hornpipes from early music, and that was questionable and many years ago. I haven’t one recording of one here at the moment… All my vinyl is in the care of friends who can appreciate them in my absence… So resources are slim, even more so when the hard disk went belly up and took a load of material I’d been collecting with it… I depend on others to help me work against ignorance.

You’re being lazy Nox, so what recordings would you recommend? 😏 ~ and what are your favourite recordings or musicians for playing hornpipes, the 3’s or the 4’s? Come on, give us more. You’ve wound up some folks with your blanket condemnation of Irish hornpipes. Give us more, what are your favourites???

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Mark (Dow/NB) comes from the discussion by ad hominem school of music. We know he prefers English or Northumbrian styles, but he has to trash the Irish styles to promote his preferences.

The hard drive fiasco ~ tons of WAV files, music I had digitized, cleaned, edited and filed, including a database… 🙁

Damn, I’m blessed, the both of you in almost the same instance… I know you take it with a grain of salt Button, but notice that his session, the one he started up in Sydney and is responsible for, is ALL IRISH!!! ~ including the hornpipes.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Here’s Nox’s list of basic hornpipes and set dances everyone should know for his session:

HORNPIPES & SET DANCES

The Boys Of Bluehill
Harvest Home
Off To California
The Rights Of Man

King Of The Fairies

Slim pickings…

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

The sessions here in SF are Irish as well, but I’m not going to tell people how to play hornpipes, or that their hornpipes are crap. If they ask me for my opinion I’ll tell them what I know, but I’m openly pursuing the Irish style — because I like it. But that’s just me.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I’m not sure what’s up with Nox… I actually think you both may be very similar in basic appreciation, respect and consideration for others…and the music…

Out of curiosity though, how much of session time there is occupied with hornpipes and related forms? I gather you play them for the sets regularly. Do you have favourites, tunes and sets? What kind of tempos do you take them at?

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

My favorite horpipes include:

The Boys of Ballisadare
The Galway hornpipe
The Blackbird (all three)
Callaghan’s
Poll Ha Penny
Leitrim Fancy
Chief O’Neill’s Favorite
Tailor’s Twist

(I can’t remember the names of the others I like, but I play a bunch more)

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I’m playing them at a tempo that relates to the human body and gravity on Earth. I want people to be able to go *step step step hop* if they care to. Some hornpipes like a little swing, others less, but I never over do it. We play hornpipes at our sessions. I’d say they come up at least twice during a 3 or 4-hour night. Sometimes there will be more, and occasionally we’ll go the entire night neglecting them, but they’re played regularly.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Good list of hornpipes Jack. Our session tempi and approach sounds about the same, though we typically get 3 or 4 sets of hornpipes a night. We play most of your list, plus:

The Wicklow (aka Delahanty’s)
Walsh’s
Kitty’s Wedding
Hangman’s Noose (goes well after Cheif O’Neill’s Favorite)
Boys of Ballycastle
Stack of Wheat
Staten Island (really fun pipe setting)
Belfast (our whistlers love it)
Dance of the Honeybees (a great one for flute)
Golden Castle
Humours of Tullycrine
Rights of Man
The Goodnatured Man
Trip to Durrow (works very well as a h’pipe, though we also play it as a reel)

Posted .

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

You know how you can get a sense of a person from the books on their shelves, the same I think is true of music, and maybe also just the hornpipes one frequents ~ that’s a nice list for a start Button, off the top of you head ~ like the comfort of well worn denim. Thanks for the fresh air…

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Bannerman, Yeah, the Sweeps is a great hornpipe because of those tricky parts, but that also limits the number of people who want to play it (I only know of one fiddler locally who does).

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

The trick is to do something fresh with it, something not expected ~ but also damned difficult when everyone else knows it one way, that way… I’ll never think of James Galway as a whistle player… What he used to do with it always made me wince…

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

One of the things I enjoy about a good hornpipe is that there’s usually an unexpected turn somewhere in it. That turn happens in a way where you might skid around the corners if you played it at a reel’s tempo. You have to be cruising at a comfortable speed to keep the car in your lane.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

~ but moving at a pace that there is still excitement at the turns, a bit of adrenalin, and skill needed, but not so heavy footed that you lose control and miss the turn altogether and launch off into the wilds or out into air and straight down from there…

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I said, "comfortable" not boring. We don’t want to fall asleep at the wheel now do we?

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Okay I take that back, there are quite a few nice hornpipes in the Irish repertoire, but the way they’re played has me falling asleep at the wheel. ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz. I’m losing the will to live just thinking about it. I’d much rather watch a kiddies TV program. It’s much more inspiring than hornpipe set dancing.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I got an idea for something regarding Irish hornpipes that wouldn’t put you to sleep and would provide us all with great entertainment. Get a video camera and book yourself and a friend on a flight to Ireland. Then have your friend film you as you travel around Ireland going to music pubs and telling Paddys their hornpipes are "crap" and you think they "play them like a nursery rhyme or a theme tune to a children’s TV program." Then, after you get out of the hospital, you can post it on YouTube and we’ll all have a laugh… whadaya say?

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Meh.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

The Smell of the Bog
Mulqueeneys
Golden Eagle
Dunphy’s
The Fly in the Night
The High Level

Are some of my favs at the mo.
Also there are two distinct styles of playing - one for step dancing (much slower and stressful) and the more jaunty one for sets.

Can we talk about step set dances (long dances) in hornpipe time now?
Maybe I should just shut up now.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Welcome Greenwiggle. By the way, I like the name, it reminds me of those little green worms hanging from trees by their silk..

I like your choice, and I did also mean set dances in the same vein…

There are more than the two ways, and even several ways for step dancing, depending on the stepdancer, whether they are ‘Coimisiun’ in the old sense, or ‘Sean Nos’, or ~ anyway, not just the one tempo and way with it.

For old-time ceili bands, for certain dances, they even varied the rhythms, a tease for the dancers. For example, they might start out relaxed and in steps get manic, just for the penultimate take, and then they might finish, after everyone is tied in knots and sweaty, with once through again at the original relaxed pace. It is fun either side of that, as a musician teasing dancers or as a dancer being teased / goosed by the music…

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I don’t mean to be a Doubting Thomas on this 3/2 hornpipe and slip/hop jig thing, but it seems to me that showing tunes have been converted from one to the other doesn’t really tell you anything about the history of the two forms of tune. I mean, I know hornpipes that have become reels, jigs that have become reels, and jigs that have become waltzes. But I don’t think those transitions tell you anything meaningful about the history of the respective tune types.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

I think that in NE England anyway the 3/2 hornpipe was definitely superseded as a fashionable form by the 4/4, before or after 1800. On the musical side, the extended range of the fiddle and the keyed Northumbrian bagpipes was probably seen by players as an interesting advantage - in indoor entertainment, anyway - over the limited range of the early Northumbrian and the Border pipes, the latter of which fell out of use. To generalise vastly, 3/2 tunes can fairly easily be devised to fit within an octave or nine-note scale - it’s harder to compress a 4/4 hornpipe thus, although the Highland bagpipe tradition has to.

(To what extent musical fashions led dance ones, or vice versa, is another and interesting question.)

I’ve practically never heard a 3/2 in Irish music, though The Bothy Band start a track with one on "Old Hag You Have Killed Me".

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

At our sessions we don’t play many, but when we do, it’s what I would call the standards -
Off To California
The Boys Of Bluehill
Harvest Home
The Rights Of Man
King Of The Fairies [which I hadn’t realised before was one!!]

I have only ever played the first on my D/G melodeon but it’s not a great success and if it’s played fast I haven’t a hope! I usually accompany them on the guitar and like playing that rhythm for a change. I find it depressing when someone starts them at breakneck speed, because even as "just" the accompaniment I can put a lot more into it if it’s a bit more restrained - such a pity to lose that catchy rhythm!

I think my favourite is Galway Hornpipe but only one fiddle player here half knows it and she’s usually out of tune……I can play it myself on the fiddle but only at home!!

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

When accompanying hornpipes on guitar, I always put my pick down, and fingerpick, thumb on basses (root and fifth generally), and three fingers playing the chord all at once—oom pah oom pah, etc. I myself find it fits the hornpipes much better than strumming—and kind of gives things a nice old-fashioned piano accompaniment sound. And the quieter tones of the fingerpicking fits nicely with the more relaxed pace….

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Hornpipes lend themselves particularly to the "Shetland Swing" (jazz) style of accompaniment. I wouldn’t want to listen to it all the time, but it’s lively, and it seems to me that one has to be pretty clever to do it at all.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

That’s my favourite accompaniment, with hornpipes and with set dances like "King of the Fairies" ~ finger picked, and even more to the heart when the guitarist takes the melody as well… I’ve had the pleasure of that in a number of places, including Cape Breton Island. The finger picked guitar makes a lovely melody instrument, and a grand accompaniment…as also does the mandolin…

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Crasdant does a nice "walking bass" style guitar background to the hornpipe "Tatws Penfro". I love the way that works.

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

At East Durham (Catskills), perennial flute/whistle teacher Mike McHale (originally from Co. Roscommon) is an ardent proponent of hornpipes, and has taught many of them over the years. My favourites have been two Sean Ryan compositions, The Lonely Fireside and The Ballyoran

I also enjoy playing O’Donnell’s (learnt from Catherine McEvoy’s first record), and Delahunty’s (Wicklow), mentioned by Will above. I can play these at my local session and most folks will join in.

Personally, I need a lot of work on hornpipes. I don’t breathe comfortably in them — primarily because I haven’t logged the necessary mileage on them…

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

Just as a pleasant aside on this thread, some of the music I’ve been enjoying repeatedly this week ~ here are a couple of tracks by a fine melodeon player, sweet stuff, lovely tunes, nicely swung too:

"John Brosnan: The Cook in the Kitchen" ~ hornpipes
track 4: "An Comhra Donn" / "Pretty Maggie Morrissey"
track 12: "Her Golden Hair Was Curling Down" / "The Derry"

Chris Droney & hornpipes ~ "The Cuckoo Hornpipe", "The Flowing Tide", etc… Great stuff…

Re: Hornpipes ~ poorly represented, badly misunderstood and abused?

"a conscious effort has to be made to include them" you’re so right Bannerman, but in the meantime, allow me to HATE hornpipes!
People who shun the ceili dancing scene tend to blame it on the giant accordonion which seems to have found its niche there. But what could this death-dealing machine achieve without its favourite ammunition: a heavy load of baneful hornpipes? Unfortunately, the hornpipe has leaked and spread from the dance hall uncontrollably and many a promising, appetising trad. session is now irremediably drownded in ‘HP’ sauce, while many an otherwise brilliant CD track is ruined by the insertion of a corny cornphíopa!
There are, to be true, very tuneful and beautiful hornpipes: the more noticeable for their exceptional quality! (Most A-mixolydian hornpipes are in that category but unfortunately they are few and far between).
Surely, there is no shortage of unappealing jigs or reels either, but the oh so square, predictable hornpipe is essentially evil! (Is this how it got its ‘horn’?) The majority of hornpipes are boring to a cringe, the rest sound, often cringingly, silly: Is this last ‘quality’ a redeeming feature? Certain sessions could do with a pinch of silliness, but is playing hornpipes a helpful recourse? Launch into a hornpipe set on your next 1st of April gig and see how many people fail to get the joke!

And just in case you don’t know what I’m on about, here’s a hornpipe with aggravating features to finish (literally!):
Spellan’s Inspiration (The cheek in that name!) https://thesession.org/tunes/8260
This one will pay for them all: Death to Hornpipes!!