Written by John Clare,Poet,Helpston (1793-1864)
Is this just lifted from a collection, or is it actually you or a local session play it? If from a collection, please give it and those who worked on it the respect of credit…
~ actually ‘how’ you ~ (wasted from lost sleep!)
I got it from my playing partner, and I don’t know where she got it - I’ll ask her tomorrow. I found a different version using John Chambers’ Tune Finder, written in A. According to the notes, that one is from the 3rd Collection of Niel Gow’s Reels, 3rd ed.,pg. 26� (orig. 1792)
You’re probably right to attribute it to Niel Gow rather than John Clare. My copy of George Deacon’s "John Clare and the Folk Tradition", which contains the bulk of tunes from Clare’s collection, is gathering dust somewhere but I’m pretty sure that none of them are his original compositions.
Clare was a competent ear player and had no need to note down tunes that he learned from local musicians. He was, though, keen to learn the more fashionable tunes that drifted up the Great North Road from London so made a point of walking from Helpston to Drury’s bookshop in Stamford, where he copied out tunes that caught his eye in the dance collections. that Drury was offering for sale. I would guess that Kempshott Hunt is one of these.
The tunes that Clare notated by ear are usually easy to spot as he was fairly hazy about key signatures, bar lengths and note values so one has to be a bit creative when trying to make sense of them.
Hear Kempshott Hunt played as part of set here:
This is great, more connection. Thanks you two for giving it time… We’re short our full library or I would have chased something up myself. It’s also good to know it is alive and in good health, being played… And an audio link too, thanks Colin…
I asked Saskia where she got the tune, and she said it was taught to her about 5 years ago at a fiddle workshop run by "An excellent fiddler from Bampton Morris", but she could not remember his name.
BTW: How did this become a polka? I’m sure I submitted it as a reel…
She remembered! It was Mat Green who taught Saskia the tune. He is not only an excellent fiddle player, but also dances jigs with the morris.
If you submitted it as 2/4, well, by default, and the webmaster, that falls under that category here ~ ‘polkas’, though just about anything could be called a ‘reel’ in days of old… 2/4 marches also get filed under this same category…
Thanks for the bits of history between you and others and this tune. I love it, and leading back to Mat Green…
Pete Cooper includes it in his book of English fiddle tunes with the following information:
48-bar (i.e. three-part) polka in D. From the playing of fiddler Mat Green and Andy Turner (concertina), who adapted it from the version (in the key of A) in the John Clare collection (John Clare and the Folk Tradition, George Deacon, Francis Boutle, 2002).