Staten Island hornpipe

Also known as Staten Island Ferry, The Staten Island Ferry, The Staten Island.

There are 34 recordings of this tune.
This tune has been recorded together with

Staten Island appears in 3 other tune collections.

Staten Island has been added to 88 tune sets.

Staten Island has been added to 486 tunebooks.

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Five settings

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Thirty-one comments

A well-known tune from the New England Fiddler’s Repertoire.


This is one of those tunes like “The De’il Amang the Tailors” which gets played as a reel in Scotland and England, and a hornpipe in Ireland. I guess that since hornpipes were originally unswung, that style would be how it was originally played.

Trevor, I don’t mean to be rude or ungrateful (though I will be blunt), but I’m starting to seriously question the value of posting tunes from this New England sourcebook you cite. Staten Island Hornpipe is a widely known session tune, but this setting doesn’t do it justice, at least not in the context of Irish dance music. If someone were to learn it from the setting you give here, they’d be hard pressed to pass it off at most sessions I’ve been too--it would mark them as unfamiliar with the Irish tradition. And it’s not just a matter of simplifying the life out of it, because to my ear the Irish trad structure has been stripped out of this version as well.

Given that Jeremy started this site to concentrate on the dance music of Ireland, I for one would prefer to see settings from more credible source materials--preferably trad players themselves. While there’s nothing stopping me from posting what I think is a “better” version, the fact is that the first setting posted is the one that shows up as sheet music and a sound file, so it becomes the de facto official setting. In my mind, that begs us to be selective about the tunes we post—they ought to be playable, session-ready settings. Variations, idiosyncratic settings, simplifications, highly embellished versions, and historically or geographically interesting settings are all well and good, but better off in the comments section, as addenda to the main setting. Ideally, I think, the main setting here should be recognizably close to what’s commonly played at sessions by musicians familiar with the tradition. Of course, this is just my opinion, and perhaps a minority one. But I’m concerned about the quality of the tune archives we’re building here as a tool for people hoping to learn tunes for sessions (hence the site’s name, eh?).

As an example, I’ll post here a version of Staten Island I learned off a session-wise uillean piper. If I were to post Staten Island, it would look more like this, perhaps with some of the triplets left out (but included as variations in the comments section).

T: Staten Island Hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: Hornpipe
K: D maj
AF|:DEFG (3AAA FA|dfec dcBA|GABd AFDF|G2 E2 E2 AF|
|DE (3FFG ADFA|dfec dcBA|(3GGG Bd efge|1 eA (3cBA d2 AF:|2 eA (3cBA d2 (efg|
|:a2 fa g2 eg|fedf ecAB|=c2 c2 efge|=cBcd efge|
|(3aaa fa (3ggg eg|fedf ecAc|(3ddd fd efge|1eA (3cBA d2 (3efg:|eA (3cBA d2 AF|

Posted .

Ooops…sorry about all the word processing garbage (honest, I’m not cussing at anyone 🙂. And I didn’t mean to sound as harsh as it came out…I have nothing against Trevor or anyone posting their tunes here. Was just hoping out loud that we could be careful and selective, even asking others for more developed and “streetwise” settings of tunes.

Or maybe I’m just being elitist…if so, I apologize.

Posted .

I agree Will, one should do a little more research rather than just plucking a tune out of a book. It’s obvious that some people don’t understand that.

To me, posting a tune straight out of a book without first making it your own by playing it on your instrument for a good long spell is akin to playing the same tune straight from the book at your local session. In most circles, you’d be booted out the door. I don’t want to boot anyone out the door, but I’d like to see more discretion in how tunes are posted here.

Posted .

This is a commonly played Scottish setting for the tune.

Now a discussion in a thread near you…

This seems to be going off the topic of Staten Island, so I’ve started a Discussion called “The Real Tune?” In the interests of keeping this chat to Staten Island, let’s continue there.

Meanwhile, Will, there’s a problem with your second ending for the A section; it’s missing a 3 before the efg. Also there’s a
problem in the ending for the B section; I don’t think the final AF should be there. This isn’t an aesthetic thing; it’s just to round it off.

---Michael B.

Yep, Michael, I missed the 3 for that efg triplet. As for the AF at the end of the B part, I’m following one standard way of doing music notation, where the pick up notes are given both in an anacrusis *before* the repeat symbol at the start of each part, and to fill out the internal timing of each last bar. Sure, there are other ways to show this, but my way works as well, including in the music transcription software I use. It’s just habit now, a convention I’m accustomed to. Sorry if it throws you off.

Posted .

Thanks Trevor for posting this tune. Your trad version in the original Scottish style is the only one I have ever heard at sessions in my area.

New England Swings like a pendulum do - meaning without the ‘skip’

Old time New England, playing ‘hornpipes’ for contras and quadrilles, this would be played straight, no ‘skips’, and at a leisurely 120 beats a minute, ‘approximately’, to avoid that stinky old bowser ‘dogma’…

Staten Island Ferry - origin of title - tune?

Recently, someone told me this is an Irish tune and that there is a Staten Island in Ireland. I had always assumed it was an American tune named after the American Staten Island ferry. I didn’t think there was a Staten Island in Ireland, but because I really don’t know everything I was reluctant to accuse my informant of BS-ing me.

I went to Irish sessions in Chicago for years and never heard the tune played, but heard it played in performance by a band that did both Irish and American music, so just assumed it was one of those American tunes that had it’s roots in the British Isles or Ireland.

So I thought I’d check on the Good Old Session site to see if anybody else has discussed this. Does anybody know if this can really be considered an Irish tune?

This tune appears in the middle of Great Big Sea’s recording of “Lukey” on their album “Up”, but transposed down a string, in G major.

I play this set
De’il among the taylors/Staten Island/Mrs McLeod’s (in A)

^^hey that’s mine!

Posted .

^^No, it’s mine!!!

I’ve never played Staten Island with you!!! Or De’il among the tailors!! I nicked this nice little set off a kiddy at my school who went to a scottish fiddling summer school in the outer hebrides. So there, Mr DJF. Maybe it’s just a good set.

Didn’t you hear me play the set when we played in front of the Tate in London???

It is a good set 🙂

Posted .

I remember you playing Mrs McLeod’s but not the first two. How funny…we must play this set next time I see you!
(saw Lucas yesterday, ran away from a school trip in London to meet him at the Angel, haha)

Aah I remember now..I played Mason’s Apron. Saten Island then Mrs Mcleod’s in A!
But it’s usually De’il Among the Taylors, Staten Island, Mrs Mcleod’s (In A) for me

I think it’s in a book by Edward Huws Jones…the Ceilidh Collection I think?

Posted by .

Oh my god! So true!!! That kid must have got it out of the book!
Mystery solved?

(and I think you may have just mistakenly revealed your true identity?)

Like we didn’t guess already 🙂

Dow = Sherlock Holmes

Posted .

Sherlock Holmes = Dow
woD = semloH kcolrehS

(is my maths correct?)

Staten island

Jimmy Shand (of White Heather Club fame) recorded an eightsome reel set consisting of the The de‘il amang the taylors, Staten Island, Speed the plough, The wind shakes the barley in that order. It would have been recorded about 1958 and became the best known eightsome reel set that would have been played by most schools for the next 20 years. This probably explains the popularity of the tune in Scotland and its connection with De’il amang the taylors.

Re: Staten Island

I found this interesting.
Jack Campin transcribed Aird’s Airs (originally published in 1780) at
I know it’s a Scottish collection, but there are many Irish tunes in it.

Volume 2 includes Staten Island Hornpipe, and it’s very similar to the first posting here. (I think there are either a few notes wrong or just a few odd spots though)

It’s a little odd, after having read the discussions here about versions, to find one noted so long ago that it is so similar.

I’m off to go see if I can find a scan of the original book.


T:Staten Island Hornpipe.
I: || ::
Z:Jack Campin * * 2009
AG|FDFG A2A2|defd c2Ac| B2GB A2FA|G2E2 E2
AG|FDFG A2A2|defd c2A2| d2d2 efge| f2d2 d2 ||
fg|a2fa g2eg|f2df e2A2|=c2c2 efge|=c2c2 efge|
a2fa g2eg|f2df e2A2| d2d2 efge| f2d2 d2 :|

Re: Staten Island

You know, it might just be that Staten Island is not originally an Irish tune.
The first setting, which was criticised at the time of posting for not being in an “Irish” style, is pretty much how I would expect to hear this being played in Scotland. Why play it the same way for over two hundred years? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

Re: Staten Island

Ryan’s MC has a setting (#770) which differs in one crucial aspect from the settings here: there are no C naturals in bar 11 or 12, which come out as |dcdf edeg | fdfa e2fg| Arguably this completely changes the hornpipe. Or did the change to C nat occur after 1883?