I learnt thie tune from my father who played Northumbrian Pipes. It was written by James Hill - a Scottish musician resident in Northumberland. Its a very simple hornpipe but good to play nonetheless.
This setting in G that you’ve posted is the one that’s played commonly today, although I hear most people playing the part endings as |cAFA DFAB|A2G2 G2…
I think the original key was probably Bb, and it sounds nice in that key. There’s a nice setting from a mid 19th century manuscript where it goes by its alternative title, "The Underhand Hornpipe". Apart from the fact that this setting is in Bb, there are a few other differences to the posted version. The melody has a greater range and leaps about a bit more, which I think adds to the tune:
|:FB|dBAB DFBc|dBAB F2cd|ecAc FAce|gf=ef d2Bc|
dBAB DFBc|dBAB F2cd|ecAc FecA|c2B2 B2:|
|:(3fga|bfdf FBdf|bfdf B2cd|ecAc FAce|gf=ef d2 (3fga|
bfdf FBdf|bfdf B2cd|ecAc FecA|c2B2 B2:|
Oops I should have written the key header K:Bb in there. Never mind!
Anyone remember Simon and Garfunkel?
We sometimes call this the Underhan and play it frequently with lots ofsilly, jazzy chromaticadditions to the runs.
Anyone remember Simon & Garfunkel? There is a little snippet of Louis Killen playing this tune on English Concertina on one of the tracks on Bookends. It comes immediately after the memorable spoken line "Hello Mr Leach, have you had a busy day? I can remember the concertina but not the song into which it was spliced. Paul Simon was into using recorded sounds at one point - and this is in the days before sampling.
Alastair Anderson once told me that after Bridge over Toubled Water, Dave Swarbrick had arranged for the pair of them to session on S&Gs next album but the duo folded so the album never happened.
I would have liked to have heard what they produced.
Thanks, Noel. I’ll have to listen to that track. 🙂
If you drive from Northern England to Edinburgh via the A68, you conclude your journey through Northumberland with a drive up the long, remote valley of Redesdale, terminating at the pass of Carter Bar which is the border with Scotland (and which on a good day offers really good views over the Scottish border country).
One wonders why James Hill would name a tune after Redesdale - seems a little out of his way, unless he travelled that road to revisit Scotland. (Or maybe there was a Tyneside pub called that…)
Before Hill’s time, Redesdale was a classic habitat of "reivers" - clans on both sides of the border who habitually rode out to steal sheep and cattle. (Among them ballads were composed, including "The Death Of Parcy Reed", a grim tale whose setting is the head of Redesdale near Carter Bar.) They were practically uncontrollable till the Union of the Crowns, when James I of England / James VI of Scotland was able to suppress them. Many from these places subsequently came to work on Tyneside. I wonder if any of them named a pub, or knew James Hill?
The Underhand or Redesdale
I have heard that the Underhand was re-named the Redesdale when it was to be used as a test piece for a piping competion. Tom Clough objected strongly to the idea of changing the composers origional concept i.e.Transposing to G and swopping the A and Bs just to make the tune easier to play. Graham Dixon gives a very similar version to that of Dows in "The Lads Like Beer"
Bc| dBFB DFBF|dBAB F2 cd| ecAF EAce|gf=ef d2 Bc
|dBFB DFBF|dBAB F2 cd| egec AecA|c2 B2 B2:||
(3fga|bfdb FBdf|bfdf B2 cd| ecAf EAce|gf=ef d2 (3fga|
|bfdB fBdf|bfdf B2 cd| ecAF EecA| C2 B2 B2:||
Pipers will often add a variation with an octave leap on G, like this gdBg G… I’ve transcribed Jack Armstrong’s setting which includes a couple of Scotch snaps too.
T: The Redesdale
(3def|:gdBd GB (3def|gdBg G2AB|cAFA DFAc|ed^c<d B2 (3def|
gdBd GB (3def|gdBg G2AB|cAFA DFAB|1 A2G2 G2 (3def:|2 A2G2 G3A||
|:BGFG DGFG|BGFG D2AB|cAFA DFAc|ed^c<d B2GA|
BGFG DGFG|BGFG D2AB|cAFA DFAB|1 A2G2 G3A:|2 A2G2 G2 (3def||