Roxburgh Castle hornpipe

Also known as Blanchard’s, McCarthy’s, Roxborough Castle, Tom Billy’s.

There are 23 recordings of a tune by this name.

A tune by this name has been recorded together with Alston Flower Show (a few times), Bonny North Tyne (a few times), The Fairy Dance (a few times), The Hesleyside (a few times) and The High Road To Lyon (a few times).

Roxburgh Castle has been added to 7 tune sets.

Roxburgh Castle has been added to 85 tunebooks.

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Four settings

X: 1
T: Roxburgh Castle
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
(3EFG|AGAc ecAc|dcdf ecAc|d2fd c2ec|BABc BdcB|
AGAc ecAc|dcdf ecAc|eagf edcB|c2A2 A2:|
|:(3efg|aece fece|aece fece|d2bd c2ac|BABc BdcB|
AGAc ecAc|dcdf ecAc|eagf edcB|c2A2 A2:|
X: 2
T: Roxburgh Castle
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
In most collections, the 2nd couple of bars of each part go |agaf edcB|c2A2 A2:|, or less frequently |agbg afed|c2A2 A2:|.
X: 3
T: Roxburgh Castle
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|: ec | A3c cBAc | dcdf ecA2 | d2fd c2ec | B2B2 afec |
|A2Ac ecAc | dcdf ecA2 | d2(3cdf afec | B2A2 A2 :|
|: (3efg | aece Aecf |aece Aece| d2fd c2ec | B2B2 afec |
|A2Ac ecAc | dc (3def ecAc | d2(3cdf afec | B2A2 A2 :|
X: 4
T: Roxburgh Castle
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|: dB | G3B BAGB | cBce dBG2 | c2ec B2dB | A2A2 gedB |
G3B dBGB | cBce dBG2 | c2(3cde gedB | A2G2 G2 :||
|: (3def | gdBd GdBd |gdBd GdBd| c2ec B2dB | A2A2 gedB |
G3B dBGB | cB (3cde dBGB | c2(3cde gedB | A2G2 G2 :||
# Added by JACKB .

Six comments

Roxburgh Castle

This is an old tune from the Scottish Borders. In its original form it would have been a sailor’s hornpipe, which is like a cross between a hornpipe and a reel (played fast and straight like a reel, but with bouncy hornpipe part endings). Nowadays I’m guessing it would only really played this way in Scotland and England, although it could also be used as a rant. It is slowed down a bit and played as a normal hornpipe by morris musicians, often in Gmaj. It appears in O’Neill’s as "McCarthy’s Hornpipe", and in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection as "Blanchard’s Hornpipe" (both in Amaj).

In most collections, the 2nd couple of bars of each part go |agaf edcB|c2A2 A2:|, or less frequently |agbg afed|c2A2 A2:|.
The part endings are slightly different in the setting submitted here, which is my own take on a version that was taught to me by my teacher when I was at school.

For info on Roxburgh Castle, go here: http://www.kelso.bordernet.co.uk/history/roxburgh-castle.html and here: http://www.discovertheborders.co.uk/places/6.html.

Roxburgh Castle

I agree with what Dow says here. Its a popular tune amongst Northumbrian musicians but they tend to play it flat out as a session tune. its actually quite hard to make it work as a rant if one is used to playing it fast.

Of course, as the name suggests, it is really from the scotish side of the border and probably wasn’t conceived as a rant when it was composed..
Noel
Angels of the North

Roxburgh Castle tune-type

This was one of the first tunes I ever learned; I had to because the Morris side I was learning to play for needed it; but I never really liked it. It sounded very stiff to me played as a ‘Sailor’s’ hornpipe or rant. But one day I tried it in broken rhythm, ‘Newcastle’ -style, and it suddenly worked a treat. Obviously I’m not suggesting people give up the standard way of playing it if that’s what suits them, and certainly not if they’re playing for dancers, but try this way out anyway, it may work for you as a solo-piece as it works for me.

Yeah it’s quite nice like that too, actually.

Tom Billy’s X:3

I have this hornpipe from my great grandfather, who learned it in turn from the Ballydesmond fiddle master Tom Billy Murphy. He plays it after the Rose of Drishane (https://thesession.org/tunes/2844). Interestingly enough, it doesn’t seem to have shown up in the repertoire of other Sliabh Luachra musicians but certainly would affirm Tom Billy’s having a lot of Northumbrian/Scots tunes. I can only speculate on his own source for them — was it the tunes he collected from the locals, or a vein that was passed on from other traveling musicians like Graddy? Nonetheless, it’s a nice hornpipe kind of thing. He plays it quite briefly here at about the 1:10 mark: https://soundcloud.com/thady-quill/rose-of-drishane-owen-osullivans-hornpipes?in=thady-quill/sets/john-osullivan-music-from

I don’t know enough about the hornpipe rhythms of other traditions to be able to make a determination on his own style, but hope that sharing it can clue others into learning more about how these tunes made their way to North Cork.