Alexander’s hornpipe

Also known as Alexander’s Favorite, Alexander’s Favourite, Alexanders, Ballymanus Fair, Byth Ar Y Sul, Goswick Kirn, The Sandlark.

There are 49 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

Alexander’s appears in 5 other tune collections.

Alexander’s has been added to 40 tune sets.

Alexander's has been added to 353 tunebooks.

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Six settings

X: 1
T: Alexander's
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
(3gfe|dAFA DFAd|fdcd FAdf|(3ggg ge (3fff fd|(3efe (3dcB A2 (3ABc|
dAFA DFAd|fdcd FAdf|gfge fefd|(3efe dcd2:|
AG|FAdA FAdA|GBdB GBdB|Acec Acec|dfaf (3gfe cA|
FAdA FAdA|GBdB GBdB|Aceg fefd|(3efe dcd2:|
X: 2
T: Alexander's
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
(3ABc|"D"dAFA "D"DFAd|"D"fdcd "A"Acef|"Em"~g3e "D"fdcd|"A"(3efe (3dcB "D"A2 (3ABc|
"D"dAFA "D"DFAd|"D"fdcd "A"Acef|"Em"~g3e "D"fdcd|"A"(3efe dc "D"d2:|
|:AG|"D"FAdA "D"FAdA|"G"GBdB "G"GBdB|"A"Acec "A"Acec|"D"dfaf "D"(3gfe dA|
"D"FAdA "D"FAdA|"G"GBdB "G"GBdB|"A"Acef "G"gecd|"A"(3efe dc "D"d2:|
X: 3
T: Alexander's
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:(3ABc|d>AF>A D>FA>d|f>dc>d F>Ad>f|(3ggg g>e (3fff f>d|(3efe (3dcB A2 (3ABc|
d>AF>A D>FA>d|f>dc>d F>Ad>f|(3ggg g>e (3fff f>d|(3efe d>c d2:|
|:A>G|F>Ad>A F>Ad>A|G>Bd>B G>Bd>B|A>ce>c A>ce>c|d>fa>f (3gfe c>A|
F>Ad>A F>Ad>A|G>Bd>B G>Bd>B|A>ce>f (3gfe c>d|(3efe d>c d2:|
X: 4
T: Alexander's
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
(3ABc|dAFA DFAd|(3fed cd A2 ef|gfed edcd|(3efe (3dcB A2 (3ABc|
dAFA DFAd|(3fed cd A2 ef|gfge cABc|(3dcd fe d2:|
AG|(3FGA dA (3FGA dA|GBdB GBdB|Acec Acec|dfaf dfa2|
(3FGA dA (3FGA dA|GBdB GBdB|Acef (3gfe cA|(3dcd fe d2:|
X: 5
T: Alexander's
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
(3gfe|dAFA Ddcd|edce Adef|~g3e fdcd|(3efe (3dcB A2(3gfe|
dAFA Ddcd|edce Adef|~g3e fdcd|(3gfe dcd2:|
AG|FAdA FAdB|GBdB GBdc|Acec Acec|dfaf (3gfe dA|
FAdA FAdB|GBdB GBdc|Acef gecd|(3efe dcd2:|
X: 6
T: Alexander's
R: hornpipe
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
(3gfe|dAFA DFAd|fdcd Acef|g2 ge fdcd|(3efe (3dcB A2 (3gfe|
dAFA DFAd|fdcd Acdf|g2 ge fdcd|(3efe dcd2:|
AG|FAdA FAdA|GBdB GBdB|Acec Acec|dfaf (3gfe (3dAG|
FAdA FAdA|GBdB GBdB|Acef gecd|(3efe dcd2:|

Twenty-one comments

A nice common one that sounds nice.

Different A part

I learned it(3 ABc) insted of (3gfe).
Also,I ornament it in the B part by making the FAdA FAdA into triplets 3FGA dA 3FGA dA.I hope I wrote that right.I haven’t done much(any) of this ABC writing.

Alexander’s Hornpipe

Does anyone know if this is the same tune as is on John Skelton’s album, One at a Time? The tune certainly starts different but I am not sure if it might be the same later on.

haha. future alert!

Posted by .

Liam o’Flynn’s version

(3ABc|“D”dAFA “D”DFAd|“D”fdcd “A”Acef|“Em”~g3e “D”fdcd|“A”(3efe (3dcB “D”A2 (3ABc|
“D”dAFA “D”DFAd|“D”fdcd “A”Acef|“Em”~g3e “D”fdcd|“A”(3efe dc “D”d2:|
|:AG|“D”FAdA “D”FAdA|“G”GBdB “G”GBdB|“A”Acec “A”Acec|“D”dfaf “D”(3gfe dA|
“D”FAdA “D”FAdA|“G”GBdB “G”GBdB|“A”Acef “G”gecd|“A”(3efe dc “D”d2:|

To hell with it!

this hornpipe bears the number 666, this says it all!

Re: Naming

Ballymanus Fair is a different tune altogether!


…and it’s certainly not “Never On A Sunday”. It’s been given 4 different titles without any justification whatever.

Posted by .

Alexander’s Hornpip

Known in the Northumbrian tradition as Goswick Kirn. Don’t know what it means but recorded by Cheviot Ranters in 1972

Posted by .

“…Goswick Kirn. Don’t know what it means…”

It will be related to a “kirn supper” that took place in Goswick, Nae doot.

A shindig to celebrate the bringing in of the corn harvest.


When I was at school, the word “kirn” was often used by my mother to describe my room - ie, a mess. [ Mind you, that was NE Scotland usage, not NE England ].

Posted by .

Kirn also means “churn” of course (from the Nordic languages) - as in “kirn milk” ( buttermilk, best for bere bannocks) which is also the term in Scandinavia. The “kirn” in “kirn supper” is reckoned to have the same root. A “kirn” of cream is said to have been traditionally presented, as part of the festivity.
The festival is also called a “kirn” in southern Scotland.

“Bright now the shortening day, and blithe its close,
When to the Kirn the neighbours, old and young,
Come dropping in to share the well-earned feast.
The smith aside his ponderous sledge has thrown,
Raked up his fire, and cooled the hissing brand. “ p.175.

Not sure of the origin when used for a “mess”, but possibly related.

Possibly related to “kirning” milk - shoogled about.

KIRN, n.2 Also kern.

‡1. A celebration with feasting and dancing, to mark the conclusion of cutting the corn or the end of harvest, a harvest-home (Sc. 1808 Jam.; m. and s.Sc. 1960); a festivity held at the end of the fishing season, a Foy; “any private jollification” (Kcb. 1941).

It is, as far as Matt Cranitch’s playing and naming is concerned the same tune (with a little change of emphasis and variations in the second part) as Ballymanus Fair.

I’ve been working on learning it from Harry Bradley’s recording ala John McKenna, I’m adding it as a setting here (I think #4).

I’d appreciate it if someone could provide a second opinion on the next to last measure, even slowing it down hasn’t really helped me get a bead on what Bradley is doing.

Alexander’s, X:4

My transcription of Harry Bradley’s recording trying to emulate John McKenna’s recording (as “The Sandlark”) of this tune.

Re: Alexander’s

@Yooval, Of course you’re very welcome to play this any way y’d like but when I start this as “(3gfe” instead of “(3ABc”, I find meself drifting into “Rickett’s” rather than “Alexander’s”… But then I do drift a lot.. 😉

Re: Alexander’s

Mick Moloney playing tenor banjo, pairs it with Fairies Hornpipe on his album with Eugene O’Donnell.