College Hornpipe (The)

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X:1 T:Colledge Hornpipe [sic] M:C L:1/8 R:Hornpipe S:William Clark of Lincoln music manuscript collection (1770) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion N:Filed at The Traditional Tune Archive K:Bb BA|B2 B,4 FE|DF B4 (3dcB|c2C4 cB|Ac f4 ga| bagf gfed|ecde BAGF|GBAc Bdce|d2(B2B2):| |:FE|DFBF DFBF|G2E2 E2 GF|EGcG EGcG|A2F2F2 ed| ef (g2 g)fed|ecde BAGF|GBAc Bece|d2 (B2B2):|]



COLLEGE HORNPIPE. AKA and see "Duke William's Hornpipe," "Jack's the Lad (1)," "Lancashire Hornpipe (1)," "McNeile's Hornpipe," "Reel des matelots," "Sailor's Hornpipe (1)."

English, Scottish, Irish, Canadian, American; Hornpipe. D Major (Ashman, Colclough, Huntington, Mattson & Walz): G Major (Johnson, Perlman): C Major (Ditson, Harding, Howe, Raven): B Flat Major (Athole, Burchenal, Cole, Cranford, Emmerson, Honeyman, Howe, Hunter, Kerr, Mackinstosh, McGlashan, Skinner, Vickers, Wilson). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Wilson): AABB (most versions): AA'BB' (Cranford).

A country dance and tune which was extremely popular both in England and in America. In the latter country it appears, for example, on page 28 of a dance MS of the Pepperell, Massachusetts, maid Nancy Shepley, c. 1766, and in the music manuscript copybook of Henry Livingston, Jr. (as "Colledge Hornpipe," set for the German flute). Livingston purchased the estate of Locust Grove, Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1771 at the age of 23. In 1775 he was a Major in the 3rd New York Regiment, which participated in Montgomery's invasion of Canada in a failed attempt to wrest Quebec from British control. An important land-owner in the Hudson Valley, and a member of the powerful Livingston family, Henry was also a surveyor and real estate speculator, an illustrator and map-maker, and a Justice of the Peace for Dutchess County. He was also a poet and musician, and presumably a dancer, as he was elected a Manager for the New York Assembly's dancing season of 1774–1775, along with his 3rd cousin, John Jay, later U.S. Chief Justice of Governor of New York. Carr published in America the tune in Philadelphia publishers Benjamin and Samuel Carr's Evening Amusement (p. 15) about August, 1796, and a version was entered into the music manuscript copybook of musician M.E. Eames, frontispiece dated Aug. 22nd, 1859 (p. 39). Some fifty years following Eames, the tune was still popular for New England dances. Burchenal (1918) printed another contra dance of the same name to the tune, as Howe (c. 1867) did earlier. A variant is familiar to most modern people as the theme to the mid-20th century cartoon "Popeye the Sailor Man." See also note for "Sailor's Hornpipe (1)."

In England, musicologist William Chappell's editor concluded that it could not date from earlier than the second half of the 18th century, however Hornby finds a version in the music manuscript collection of Edward Winder dated as 1746, where it appears as "Sailor's Hornpipe"[1]. Chappell himself believed that the tune was an old sailor's song called "Jack's the Lad." The melody became particularly associated with the nautical hornpipe type of dance which became popular solo step-dance on the stage at the end of the 18th century, and, in fact, it is popularly known as "The Sailor's Hornpipe" today. One of the earliest publications of the tune appears in a volume entitled Compleat Tutor for the German Flute, published by Jonathan Fentum, London, c. 1766, the same year as Nancy Shepley's American dance MS. Another early British printing appears (as "Colledge Hornpipe") in Thompson's Compleat Collection of 120 Favourite Hornpipes (London, Charles and Samuel Thompson c. 1764–1780.) and the title was entered at Stationers' Hall in 1798 by J. Dale, London, as "The College Hornpipe." William Vickers included the tune in his music manuscript collection under the title "Old Lancashire Hornpipe," and the tune is contained in the 19th century Joseph Kershaw manuscript (it appears twice, as "Duke William's Hornpipe" and "Collidge Hornpipe"). Kershaw was a fiddle player who lived in the remote area of Slackcote, Saddleworth, North West England, who compiled his manuscript from 1820 onwards, according to Jamie Knowles. Ken Perlman (1996) dates the tune to the 17th century or earlier and states that it was used by Henry Purcell (c. 1658–1695) in his opera Dido and Aeneas. Perlman does not cite any substantiating data, nor where he obtained this information, and at present his assumption seems unlikely.

There is, or was, an English country dance called College Hornpipe. Some years after novelist (and musician) Thomas Hardy's book Under the Greenwood Tree was published, a man wrote to Hardy about the country dances that Hardy used as a setting for his characters. Hardy replied (c. 1925): I am interested to hear that you have been attracted by the old English dances, which gave me so much pleasure when I was a boy. The dance I was thinking of in Under the Greenwood Tree must have been The College Hornpipe, as that is the only one I remember beginning with six-hands-round. I am sending you the figure as nearly as I can recall it sixty years after I last danced in it. This and other such figures have been revived on the stage here by 'The Hardy Players' (as they call themselves) since they began making plays out of my stories. Only very old country people remember the dances now. I have many such figures in old music books. The figures Hardy sent are as follows, "as formerly danced in Wessex":

  • (First strain). Top three couples six hands half-round and back again to places.
  • (First strain repeated). The same three couples, one hand joined of each, promenade full round to places
  • (Second strain). Two top couples down the middle and up again, to places.
  • (Second strain repeated). The three couples whole pousette (both hands joined) leaving second couple at the top. (Tune ends).
  • (Tune begins again). The original top couple being now in the third place, do the same with the original fourth and fifth couple. (Tune ends, the original top couple being in the original fourth couple's place).
  • (Tune begins again). At the same time that the original top couple starts the figure again with the original fifth and sixth couples, the original second couple, which has been idle at the top, starts the same figure with the original third and fourth couples standing below them, so that the figure is now going on in two places, and later, if the line is a long one, in as many places as there is room for.
The original top couple at last finds itself breathless at the bottom of the dance; but gradually works up to the top as succeeding couples dance down and take places below.

"The College Hornpipe" was mentioned in an account of one of the old pipers of County Louth, a man named Cassidy, as recorded by William Carleton in his Tales and Sketches of the Irish Peasantry, published in 1845. Breathnach (1997) believes the first name of this piper was Dan, and that he was blind. Carleton, born in 1794, was a dancing master who taught in the 1820's, and was engaged to teach the children of the 'dreadful' Mrs. Murphy. It seems that Carleton:

...having spent several nights at piper Cassidy's house weighing up the local dancers ...was impelled by vanity to show them how good a dancer he was himself. He asked one of the handsomest girls out on the floor, and, in accordance with the usual form, faced her towards the piper, asking her to name the tune she wished to dance to. Receiving the customary reply, 'Sir, your will is my pleasure,' Carleton called for the jig Polthogue. He next danced Miss McLeod's Reel with his partner, and then called for a hornpipe, a single dance, this is, one done without a partner. It was considered unladylike for girls to do a hornpipe. The College Hornpipe was his choice for this dance. (p. 59)

Breathnach, however, adds that the tune piper Cassidey played for Carleton may not have been the one we now associate with the title "College Groves." It may have been the "Cork Hornpipe" (known usually under the title 'Harvest Home'), which was the name often used for the 'ubiquitous piece' in county Longford. He thinks it more likely, though, that the tune was "Jack's the Lad" which, around Derrylin in Fermanagh was also known as 'The College Hornpipe' (p. 68). It is an interesting tie-in with Chappell's assertion that the tune was originally called "Jack's the Lad" in England. The melody was entered into the mid-19th century music manuscript collection of County Cork uilleann piper and Church of Ireland cleric James Goodman under the title "McNeile's Hornpipe."


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Adam (Old Time Fiddlers' Favorite Barn Dance Tunes), 1928 (as "Sailor's Hornpipe"). Ashman (Ironbridge Hornpipe), 1991; No. 75, p. 31. Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 310A–G, pp. 261–264. W. Blackman (A Selection of the most favorite Hornpipes for the Violin), c. 1810-22; No. 2. Burchenal (American Country Dances, vol. 1), 1918; p. 45. Cazden (Reels, Jigs and Squares: 200 Dance Tunes), p. 47. Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, vol. 2), pp. 740–741. Colclough (Tutor for the Irish Union Pipes), c. 1830; p. 15. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 87. Cranford (Winston Fitzgerald: A Collection of Fiddle Tunes), 1997; No. 22, p. 8. Oliver Ditson (The Boston Collection of Instrumental Music), c. 1850; p. 57. Emmerson (Rantin' Pipe and Tremblin' String), 1971; No. 88, p. 164. Harding's All Round Collection, No. 6. Honeyman (Strathspey, Reel and Hornpipe Tutor), 1898; p. 51. Howe (Complete Preceptor for the Accordeon), 1843; p. 12. Howe (Musician's Omnibus, No. 1), 1864; p. 45. Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; p. 80. Hunter (The Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 336. Huntington (William Litten's Fiddle Tunes, 1800–1802), 1977; p. 19. Jarman (Old Time Fiddlin' Tunes); No. or p. 29. Johnson & Luken (Kitchen Musician No. 8: 28 Country Dances), 1988; p. 3. The Joseph Kershaw Manuscript, 1993; No. 54 (appears as "Collidge Hornpipe"). Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; No. 28, p. 46. Laybourn (Köhler's Violin Repository, vol. 1), 1881; p. 44. J. Kenyon Lees (Balmoral Reel Book), Glasgow, 1910; p. 26. Robert Mackintosh (A Fourth Collection of New Strathspey Reels, also some Famous old Reels), 1804; p. 7. Mattson & Walz (Old Fort Snelling: Instruction Book for the Fife), 1974; p. 56. McGlashan (Collection of Scots Measures), c. 1780, p. 33. McGee (Old Time Jigs and Reels for the Violin), 1906; p. 45. Perlman (The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island), 1996; p. 65. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 163. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 120. Seattle/Vickers (Great Northern Tune Book, part 3), 1987; No. 439. Skinner (The Scottish Violinist), 1900; p. 44 (with variations). Skinner (Harp and Claymore), 1904; pp. 136–137. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 299. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964/1981; p. 43. White's Unique Collection, 1986; No. 96, p. 17. Wilson (A Companion to the Ballroom), 1816; p. 133.

Recorded sources : - Edison 51382 (78 RPM), Jasper Bisbee, 1923. Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers' Association, Cyril Stinnett (1912-1986) – "Plain Old Time Fiddling."

See also listing at :
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [3]
Hear Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald's recording at Juneberry 78's [4] (lst tune in medley with "Hiawatha" and "Jimmy Linn's Hornpipe").



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  1. Hornby, The Winders of Wyresdale, p. 149.