Golden Eagle

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X:1 T:Golden Eagle M:4/4 L:1/8 R:Hornpipe K:A cB | AA,CE cEAc | eAce ac'ba | gfe_e dBGE | AcBA GEcB | AA,CE cEAc | eAce ac'ba | gfe_e dBGB | A2c2A2 :: c'2 | c'cea c'bag | fefg fga^a | bBdf bagf | (3efe ^df e2 bc' | d'bge defg | agab c'cba | gBfe dEcB | A2c2A2 :||



GOLDEN EAGLE. American, Irish; Hornpipe, Reel. USA; New York, New England, Missouri, Texas. G Major (most versions): A Major (McGuire & Keegan). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (most versions): AA'BB' (Bohrer/Kibler, O'Malley, Phillips). Several ideas have been posited about the tune and title origin and provenance. Al Smitley suggests the tune may possibly have been named for the clipper ship Golden Eagle[1]. More likely is it was taken from the American Gold Eagle coin, first minted in 1795 in a $10 denomination, the largest until 1850, when the 'double eagle' (worth $20) was introduced. The 'A' part music is reminiscent of the 'A' music of the James Hill tune "Proudlock's Fancy" and being very much in his style may be another of his works. Hill lived on Tyneside, UK, and named most of his tunes after racehorses and pubs, so the title here may refer to the Golden Eagle pub at 42 Scotswood Road, Newcastle, which still exists and is now called simply The Eagle.

New England flute player Newt Tolman opined that the tune was a "degenerate period" piece, explaining that it is an example of a highly arpeggiated and ornamented composition of the latter half of the 1800's, "almost a parody" of traditional music. The tune is in the repertoire of Missouri fiddler Kelly Jones (b. 1947), who, having the ability to read music learned this and similar tunes from Cole's 1000 Fiddle Tunes, as older mid-western fiddlers had learned tunes from both Cole's and its direct predecessor, Ryan's Mammoth Collection (1883). The hornpipe also shows up in Glasgow piper Pat McNulty's small collection of the dance music of Ireland, although McNulty or his source may also have obtained the tune from a copy of Cole's 1000 or Ryan's Mammoth. The second part of the tune has a high 'c' note, which has to either be played by fiddlers with either a quick shift of the fingers, a change in position or with some notes transposed down (which Philippe Varlet reveals is what Irish fiddler Frankie Gavin did).


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Bohrer (Vic Kibler), 1992; No. 14, p. 14. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 89. Cranford (Jerry Holland: The Second Collection), 2000; No. 192, p. 72. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 104. Mallinson (100 Enduring), 1995; No. 76, p. 31. McGuire & Keegan (Irish Tunes by the 100, vol. 1), 1975; No. 78, p. 21. McNulty (Dance Music of Ireland), 1965; p. 25. Miller (Fiddler's Throne), 2004; No. 285, p. 170. Mulvihill (1st Collection), 1986; No. 3, p. 87. O'Malley (Luke O'Malley's Collection of Irish Music, vol. 1), 1976; No. 137, p. 69. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 2, 1995; p. 194. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 122. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 53. Taylor (Music for the Sets: Blue Book), 1995; p. 7. Tolman (Nelson Music Collection), 1969; p. 22.

Recorded sources : - Green Linnet SIF 3051, Frankie Gavin - "Frankie Goes to Town" (appears as part of "The Humours of Galway" set). Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers' Association, Kelly Jones (b. 1947) - "Authentic Old-Time Fiddle Tunes" (Learned from Cole's 1000).

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]



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  1. see American Clipper Ships 1833-1858 by Howe and Matthews