Hundred Pipers (A)

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HUNDRED PIPERS (An A', An 'A), THE/A. AKA - "One Hundred Pipers," "Wi' a Hundred Pipers." AKA and see "Durham Reel," "Hair Fell Off My Coconut (The)." Scottish (originally), English, Irish, Canadian, American; Jig or Waltz. USA, New England, Pennsylvania. A Major or A Mixolydian (most versions): G Major (Sweet): D Major (Ross). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Kennedy, Kerr, Raven, Ross, Songer, Sweet): AA'BB (Miller & Perron): AABB' (Cranford/Fitzgerald): AB (Karpeles). The title comes from words written to the tune (which Anne Gilchrist ["The Rochdale Rush-cart and Morris Dance", Journal of the English Dance Society No. 1, 1927, p. 27] was of the opinion was an 18th century country dance tune) and generally credited to Caroline Oliphant, Lady Nairne (1776–1845), and published in 1851, though it has been said to have been a Jacobite song and that the music was an old Scotttish 'catch'; the whole only adapted by Lady Nairne (whose family had been 'out' in the rising of 1745, and who had been raised steeped in Jacobite sympathies). Some writers also credit the soprano Elizabeth Rainforth (1814–1877) (who performed the song) solely or in conjunction with Lady Nairne. The Jacobite origins of the song are based on the tale of Bonnie Prince Charlie's entry into Carlisle on the march south after his victory at Prestonpans, preceded into the city by the famed 100 pipers and followed by an army of 2,000 Highlanders. They crossed the stream with water up to their shoulders and "the pipers struck up, and they danced reels until they were dry again" (quoted in Fuld). More than a tale, the van of pipers is documented in the Chronicles of the Atholl and Tullibardine Families (vol. 3, p. 95), which contains the entry, "Monday, the 18th November 1745: His Royal Highness made his entry into Carlisle seated on a white charger and preceded by no less than a hundred pipers" (Collinson, 1975). Since then a mass of one hundred pipers playing the "Hundred Pipers" is a mark of distinction for an event, as, for example, when such a group played it at the 1955 opening of the Canso Causeway (joining Cape Breton Island with mainland Nova Scotia). David Murray, in his book Music of the Scottish Regiments (Edinburgh, 1994) also points out the song mentions crossing the River Esk, which for part of its course marks the boundary between Scotland and England. Tradition has it that Bonnie Prince Charlie's Highlanders waded the flood, and, upon reaching the other side turned to face Scotland and raised their broadswords in farewell salute.

Musically, it is an example of the form Scotch Jig, or a jig in Scotch measure rhythm (see Emmerson, 1971, p. 159), however Cape Breton and Irish fiddlers have employed it as a waltz. The 'A' part resembles the tune "Mill Mill O (The)," which Bayard (1981) says he cannot for sure say if it was an ancestral melody or not. Fuld (1966) believes the first part of the melody to be very similar to "Lea Rig (The)," published in Oswald's 1758 The Caledonian Pocket Companion (vol. VIII, p. 20) and Johnson's 1787 The Scots Musical Museum (vol. I, p. 50). In County Kerry the melody is sung as the ditty "Hair Fell off My Coconut (The) (So How Do You Like Me, Baldy?)" The British army employed the tune as a march past for the 2nd Battalion Cheshire Regiment, raised in 1858, until 1881 when it was replaced by "Wha Wadnae Fecht for Charlie." "Wi' a Hundred Pipers" then became the regiments assembly march, "along with an old Cheshire folk song 'The Miller of Dee', both tunes being 'good going' 6/8 marches" (Murray, p. 208). Similarly, it was introduced into the repertoire of the 50th (The Queen's Own) Regiment in 1869 by their new Colonel, replacing the Irish "Garryowen."

Grace Orpen printed the melody in her book The Dances of Donegal [1] (1931) as the vehicle for the dance Waves of Tory. A version of "A Hundred Pipers" called "Southport Morris and Maypole Tune" was noted from the playing of an old fiddler at Lord St., Southport, Lancashire, in 1902 by Anne Gilchrist.

Source for notated version: Hiram Horner (fifer from Westmoreland and Fayette Counties, Pa.) [Bayard]; Winston Fitzgerald (1914–1987, Cape Breton) [Cranford].

Printed sources: Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 546, p. 488. Cranford (Winston Fitzgerald), 1997; No. 217, p. 86. Jarman (Old Time Fiddlin' Tunes); No. or p. 16. Karpeles & Schofield (A Selection of 100 English Folk Dance Airs), 1951; p. 9 (appears as "Durham Reel"). Kennedy (Fiddlers Tune Book), vol. 2, 1954; p. 36. Kerr (Merry Melodies), vol. 1; No. 8, p. 31. Miller & Perron (New England Fiddler's Repertoire), 1983; No. 42. O'Brien (Irish Folk Dance Music), 1952; No. 100. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 104. William Ross (Ross's Collection of Pipe Music), 1869; No. 49, p. 78. Songer (Portland Collection), 1997; p. 103. Spadaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; p. 24. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964/1981; p. 21.

Recorded sources: F&W Records 2, "F&W String Band 2." Folkways FW8827, Arbuckle, Mikkelson & Clifton - "Old Time Couple Dances" (1961). Kicking Mule KM216, Arm & Hammer String Band - "New England Contra Dance Music." Wild Asparagus - "In Season" (1985).




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