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.
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..
Angels of the North
“Roxburgh Castle Hornpipe” / “Fool’s Jig” (any wonder?)
~ a couple of other ways with this melody… Foolish and otherwise…
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.
Re: Roxburgh Castle
I had a go at Roxburgh Castle today on Hammered Dulcimer & English Concertina.
It starts at 2 Mins in this video.