The Ton polka

Also known as Jessie’s Hornpipe, The Ton March.

There are 3 recordings of this tune.

The Ton has been added to 9 tunebooks.

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Five settings

X: 1
T: The Ton
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:B/c/|dg gd/c/|Bd dB/A/|GG AA|B/A/B/c/ BB/c/|
dg gd/c/|Bd dB/A/|GG AA|G3:|
|:B/c/|dg ec|dg ec|dB AG|A/G/A/B/ AB/c/|
dg ec|dg ec|B/d/B/G/ A/c/A/F/|G3:|
X: 2
T: The Ton
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:c/d/|ea ae/d/|ce ec/B/|AA BB|c/B/c/d/ cc/d/|
ea ae/d/|ce ec/B/|AA BB|A3:|
|:c/d/|ea fd|ea fd|ec BA|B/A/B/c/ Bc/d/|
ea fd|ea fd|c/e/c/A/ B/d/B/G/|A3:|
X: 3
T: The Ton
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:c/d/|ea ac/d/|ce ec/B/|AA B>B|c/B/c/d/ Bc/d/|
ea ac/d/|ce ec/B/|AA B/^A/B/c/|A2 A:|
|:c/d/|ea fd|ea fd|e>c Ac|B/^A/B/c/ Bc/d/|
ea fd|ea f>d|c/e/c/A/ B/d/B/G/|A2- A:|
X: 4
T: The Ton
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:c/d/|ea ae/d/|ce ec/B/|AA B>B|c/B/c/d/ Bc/d/|
ea/g/ ae/d/|ce ec/B/|AA B/^A/B/c/|A2 A:|
c/d/|ea fd|ea fd|e>c Ac|B/^A/B/c/ Bc/d/|
ea fd|e>a fd|c/e/c/A/ B/d/B/G/|Ac A||
c/d/|ee/e/ ea|ee/e/ ea|ee f/e/d/c/|B2- Bc/d/|
ee/4e/4e/ ea|ee/4e/4e/ ea|c'a b/a/g|ac' a||
X: 5
T: The Ton
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:B/c/|dg gd/c/|Bd dB/A/|GG AA|B/A/B/c/ AB/c/|
dg/f/ gd/c/|Bd d2|GG A/^G/A/B/|G2- G:|
B/c/|dg ec|dg ec|d>B GB|A/^G/A/B/ AB/c/|
dg ec|dg e>c|B/d/B/G/ A/c/A/F/|G2 G||
B/c/|dd dg|dd/d/ dg|dd e/d/c/B/|A2- AB/c/|
dd/4d/4d/ dg|dd/4d/4d/ dg|bg a/g/f|g2- g||

Twenty-six comments

The Ton (or Jessie’s Hornpipe)

A tune that’s sometimes played at one of my local sessions.

It’s a pleasant little tune, which somehow lifts the spirit when you play it. In spite of being a 2/4 polka, it has something of a hornpipe feel to it. Perhaps this accounts for its alternative name - Jessie’s Hornpipe.

It appears in volume 4 of Aird’s airs, c.1796 (No 111, p.44),as “The Ton”.

The date of the above publication would suggest it was not originally a polka, as that dance is reckoned to have originated around 1830.


I could have submitted the tune as a “syncopated tune in simple duple time” - but there is no such category here on the session.

In fact, the only way of submitting any 2/4 tune to this site is as a “polka”. That’s just a site limitation that we all have to live with.

And although it may be that the tune predates the invention of the dance called “the polka”, the fact remains that that you could dance a polka to it.

The “Recordings of a tune by this name” feature of this site has picked up three instances of a tune called: “The Ton”

1) Another Measure: Scottish Country Dance Music From The 1950’s, Volume 2 by Adam Rennie And His Scottish Country Dance Quartet
2) Jimmy’s Fancy by Jimmy Shand
3) William Winter’s Quantocks Tune Book by Robert Harbron, Nancy Kerr, Miranda Rutter, Tim Van Eyken

I have a copy of the William Wintour tunebok recording, and that’s an entirely different tune - although, also 2/4.

Is the tune that I posted the same one as on either of the other two recordings, do you happen to know?

It’s when you said “. In spite of being a 2/4 polka” that I assumed it was used as a polka in your part of the world.
I’ve seen it listed as a reel, and the tune is used for “The Selkirk Reel”, a relatively modern dance.

I’m not sure about those recordings, but I notice that the Jimmy Shand album also contains “Jessie’s Hornpipe” immediately before “The Ton” - possibly an error in the listing.

The version in Aird’s is virtually the same as yours.

The evidence so far would seem to suggest that the tune is Scottish in origin - although it doesn’t sound particulary Scottish to my ear.

Maybe member “ceolachan” can cast some light on the subject, as it was he who submitted the other two recordings.

I’ll send him an email …

Where’s the third part? 😉

Howdy Mix - this is quick and just before I read any comment and get distracted…

Yup! We used to play this one too. Now to read the comments.

“Jessie’s Hornpipe”

If memory isn’t failing me, “Jessie’s Hornpipe” was the name for an RSCDS dance that was mated up with this tune…

I’ll check the recordings…

Hi “C” - I’ll await your findings with interest …!

… and if indeed its the same tune, I’ve never heard a third part played for it.


“Jessie’s Hornpipe” - tune: “The Ton”

“Adam Rennie and his Scottish Country Dance Quartet”
Track 19: Jessie’s Hornpipe - “The Ton” / gan ainm / gan ainm

Yup! It’s the same tune, and just the two parts… He’s playing it in a set with a second and third tune, neither of which are familiar in an “I’ve played these before” sort of way… But I do remember a third part, or possibly a ‘trio’, or a variation on the repeat of the B-part? 😏 They are playing them in a very marchy way, or ‘slow polka’, around 108 bpm… No, the last one in the set is familiar. But, I’m left scratching my head.

It may take me awhile to see if I can chase up the digital copy of the Shand recording. We’re still stuck with our old computer woes. I’ll see if I can and, if possible, I’ll also do a transcription to add here.

While it’s in my head I’ll add the third part / trio / variant I know for this one.

Its inclusion in Aird’s is no verification of it being Scottish, as there are tunes from all over in those books. Nevertheless, it does sound Scottish to me - in a “Davie Davie nick nack/ East Neuk o’ Fife” kind of a way. There is a tune called “The Ton” in Christine Martin’s “Ceol na Fidhle” Volume 2, apparently in A (and listed as a march in some sources). I don’t have the book any more, so I can’t check it out.

It might have been Aird’s, but I’ve a suspicion I’ve come across this in some obvious place like one of the Playford collections. In fact, while I remember playing it for “Jessie’s Hornpipe” I get the feeling I’ve also played it for early English country dance too. Somewhere I’ve a database that might help suss that out further.

However, here’s the way we used to play this for the dance “Jessie’s Hornpipe”. Now I’ll have to chase that up and pull it out for the next time our dance group has a gathering the week of Burns Night…

X: 2
T: Ton, The
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
R: polka
K: Gmaj
|: B/c/ |\
dg gd/c/ | Bd dB/A/ | GG AA | B/A/B/c/ AB/c/ |
dg/f/ gd/c/ | Bd dB/A/ | GG A/G/A/B/ | G2- G :|
|: B/c/ |\
dg ec | dg ec | dB GB | A/G/A/B/ AB/c/ |
dg ec | dg ec | B/d/B/G/ A/c/A/F/ | GB GB/c/ |
dd/d/ dg | dd/d/ dg | dd e/d/c/B/ | A2- AB/c/ |
dd/d/ dg | dd/d/ dg | bg a/g/f | gb g |]

I think we may have played this up a step in A…

“Ceol na Fidhle, Volume 2 / Volume 1 & 2” - Christine Martin

“The Ton” - Yup!, and in both the individual and the combined, volumes 1 & 2, in A, and listed there as a march in 2/4, page 65 in the latter edition…


Many thanks for posting all that extra info, and also for your transcription of the tune with the third part.

“There is a tune called ”The Ton“ in Christine Martin’s ”Ceol na Fidhle“ Volume 2, apparently in A”

- There is a tune in the William Wintour MS called: “The Ton” which is set in Amaj. A good tune (IMHO), but entirely different from the tune that I posted above. When I’ve some time, I’ll do an abc transcription of it and post it here (assuming that the system allows me to post a tune carrying the same name). I’ll give you a “heads up” if I manage to do it!

- Regarding your transcription of *this* tune containing a third part, the first six bars of it are remarkably similar to the second part of a well-known tune that you probably know - Galopede.

Could it be someone’s “cobble on” variant perhaps?

Interesting though, as I was already thinking that the tune that I posted would sit quite well with Galopede … 🙂

I’d a suspicion that it was a cobbled job. I learned that version from an RSCDS Scots group and there is a tendency there to do such things. I was thinking I’d known that elsewhere and “Galopede” is it… Thanks for saving me the fretting of trying to remember. And guess who contributed that tune here. 😏 Yes, they make a nice pair. It’s also possible, the distance between now and when I last played these two, that it was my malfunctioning brain doing the cobbling. Considering recent events I wouldn’t be surprised… Personally I think I like them best as a set rather than a cobble. 😀

“The Ton” - giving it a go with some swing thrown in 😎

X: 3
T: Ton, The
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: hornpipe
K: Gmaj
|: (3ABc |\
d2 g>f g2 d>c | B2 d2 d2 B>A | G2 D2 A2 D2 | B>^AB>c (3=ABA B>c |
d2 (3ggg g2 d>c | B2 d>c d2 (3cBA | G2 D2 A2 D2 | G2 G2 G2 :|
|: Bc |\
d2 g2 e2 c2 | d>^cd>g e2 =c2 | d2 B2 G2 B2 | A>^GA>B A2 (3ABc |
d2 g2 e2 c2 | d2- d>g e2 c2 | (3Bcd B>G (3ABc A>F | G2 G>F G2 :|

B-part ~ |: B>c |\

Now I find myself playing it like a 4/4 barndance… 😉

“The Ton” - Try it in A Major!

Picking up on one of Ceolachan’s suggestions, I moved the tune up to AMaj, and I decided that I much preferred it in that key.

So here’s a setting of my initial transcription moved up to A Major:

T:Ton, The
|:c/d/|ea ae/d/|ce ec/B/|AA BB|c/B/c/d/ cc/d/|
ea ae/d/|ce ec/B/|AA BB|A3:|
|:c/d/|ea fd|ea fd|ec BA|B/A/B/c/ Bc/d/|
ea fd|ea fd|c/e/c/A/ B/d/B/G/|A3:|

parts of part2 sound like a polka-like ditty chanson singer Barbara used to sing: Le Petit Bois de Saint-Amand..

X: 2

My original transcription of this tune was in G-Maj, as that was how I heard it played at one of my local sessions. The session in question is attended by D/G melodeon players - who by necessity, always shift A-Maj tunes down to G-Maj

I subsequently discovered that the tune is supposed to be played in A-Maj. This setting merely shifts it up two semitones.

And to my ear, it sound much better in A-Maj anyway.