Back to Almack's Hornpipe
ALMACK'S HORNPIPE. AKA and see "Empire Hornpipe," "English Clog Hornpipe," "Friendly Visit (1) (The)," "Sailor's Hornpipe," "Whittee Deem Hornpipe," "Whittle Dene." English, Hornpipe. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. A popular hornpipe in several genres. It was printed by Glasgow publisher James S. Kerr as "English Clog Hornpipe," and by Thomas Craig in Edinburgh as "Empire Hornpipe." Francis O'Neill printed a version as "Friendly Visit (1) (The)." In England it can be found in Northumbrian tradition as "Whittle Dene," as "Sailor's Hornpipe" (Cecil Sharp), and (in Kerr) as "English Clog Hornpipe."
The tune can be used for a clog dance, says a note in Ryan's Mammoth Collection (1883). The origin of Ryan's title, "Almack's Hornpipe," is unknown, but probably derived form Almack's Assembly Rooms (popularly known as 'Almack's'), King Street, St. James's, London, one of the most exclusive establishments of latter Georgian and Regency society and a center for fashionable popular dancing and entertainments. The rules were strict and entry was as guarded as any exclusive modern nightclub-the doors were manned by the manager and a well-known doorkeeper, Willis, and they closed at eleven-thirty promptly. Admissions vouchers had to be shown upon entry (Thompson, Dancing Through Time, 1998, p. 131). The name Almack's derived from its owner, William Macall, who reversed the syllables of his last name because he thought his real name sounded too Scottish, and thus unfashionable. The rooms (which consisted of a ballroom, supper rooms and game rooms) opened in 1765 and continued to be a center of social life through the mid-19th century. The doors were finally closed in 1863. Ryan's tune may refer to the original Almacks, or any one of a number of establishments that used the name in imitation.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 112. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 150. White's Unique Collection, 1896; No. 140, p. 25.