Hare in the Corn (1)

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HARE IN/AMONG THE CORN [1] ("An Gearrgiad Annsa Arbar" or "Gearrfhiadh 'San Arbhar"). AKA and see "Absent Minded Man (The)," "Fox Chase (2) (The)." English, Scottish, Irish, American; Jig. England, Northumberland; USA, Massachusetts. G Major/Mixolydian (O'Neill, O'Sullivan/Bunting, Vickers): A Major (Johnson, Kerr). Standard or AEae tuning (fiddle). AB (O'Sullivan/Bunting): AA'B (Kerr): AABB (O'Neill, Vickers): AABBCCDDEEFGGHHIIJJ. Another double-entendre title. David Johnson (1983) believes "Hare in the Corn," which was often played in scordatura tuning, to be very old, and says there is a short set of it in the Scottish (George) Skene Manuscript of c.1630–1640. It also appears in Riddell's Scotch, Galwegian and Border Tunes (1794). In America, the somewhat simplified version of the melody was copied into Whittier Perkin's violin MS (Massachusetts, 1790). The variations in Johnson are from the Trotter Manuscript and were probably composed later than 1760, based on his stylistic analysis. Flood (1906) indicates it was a dance tune popular in Ireland at least as far back as 1779, as its playing is mentioned by Beringer in an account of a "cake" dance (where the prize was a cake) he participated in while on a visit to Connacht. Bunting (1840) identified the piece as "an ancient tune for the pipes, in which there is an imitation of a hunt, including the sound of the huntsmen's horns, the crying of dogs, and finally the distress and death of the hare." The pipes, he thought, were the only instrument that could musically render all these elements, particularly the dying cry of the hare.

English versions of the melody and dance under this title appear in dancing master (Daniel) Wright's Compleat Collection of celebrated country Dances (London, c. 1740, published by John Johnson), John Walsh's Third Book of the Compleat Country Dancing-Master (London, 1735 and the subsequent edition of 1749), and James Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion, vol. 7 (1760, p. 12). It can be found as well in the music manuscript collections of William Vickers (Northumberland, 1770) and Thomas Hammersley (London, 1790).

Cork guitarist Paul de Grae came across "a bit of doggerel that adorns an old postcard showing the North Kerry piper Tom McCarthy, who for 65 years played regularly on the Castle Green, Ballybunnion:

I like to hear Tannhauser on a fine orchestral band
Or listen to Paderewski when he's playing on a grand,
But there's something more enchanting to the heart that is Irish-born,
To hear old Tim [sic] McCarthy playing "The Hare among the Corn".

McCarthy was remarkable, like the harper Denis Hempson, for having lived in three centuries--in McCarthy's case, 1799-1904. He was a distant relative of the English singer Martin Carthy, who invented the guitar tuning that I use for playing tunes like "The Hare among the Corn" at our regular North Kerry session (which sometimes just *seems* like it's been going for 65 years...).


Sources for notated versions: Trotter Manuscript (1780, p. 44) [Johnson]; an unknown piper in the year 1800 [Bunting]; William Vickers' 1770 Northumbrian music manuscript collection [1] [Seattle].

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 5), c. 1790; p. 25. P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs, vol. 2), 1859; No. 103, p. 47. Holden (Most Esteemed Irish Melodies, vol. 2), No. 35. Hughes (Gems from the Emerald Isle), c. 1860's; No. 91, p. 21. Johnson (Scottish Fiddle Music in the 18th Century), 1984; No. 42, pp. 100–101. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 3); No. 230, p. 26. Kinloch (100 Airs), c. 1815; vol. 1, no. 48. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 766, p. 143. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; Nos. 49 & 254 (appears as "The Absent-Minded Man"). O'Sullivan/Bunting (Bunting's Ancient Music of Ireland), 1983; No. 146, pp. 203-204. Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion, vol. 7), 1760; p. 12. Riddell (A Collection of Scotch, Galwegian & Border Tunes), 1794; p. 22. Seattle/Vickers (Great Northern Tune Book, part 2), 1987; No. 390. Walsh (Caledonian Country Dances), 1794; p. 22. Walsh (Caledonian Country Dances), c. 1745; p. 50. Wright (Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances, vol. 1), c. 1740; p. 4.

Recorded sources:

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [2]
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [3]




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