Annotation:Morpeth Rant (1)

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MORPETH RANT [1]. AKA – "Morepeth Rant." AKA and see "Morpeth's Hornpipe," "Clark's Hornpipe (1)," "Ivy Leaf Hornpipe," "Jim Clark's Hornpipe," "Lady Ancrain's Hornpipe," "Lord Morpeth's Hornpipe," "Miss Baker's Hornpipe (2)," "New Sailor's Hornpipe (The)," "Prince of Wales' Hornpipe," "Princess of Wales' Hornpipe," "Shield's Hornpipe," "West's Hornpipe," "Wood's Hornpipe." English (originally), Scottish, Irish, New England; Reel. England; North-West and Northumberland. D Major (Barnes, Brody, Hall & Stafford, Karpeles, Kennedy, Miller & Perron, O'Neill, Phillips, Raven, Sweet): G Major (Campbell, Harding, Knowles): B Flat Major (Howe, Phillips/1995). Standard tuning (fiddle). ABB' (Hardie): AABB (most versions): AA'BB' (Phillips/1994).

William Shield (1748–1829)

The composition is often attributed to William Shield [1] (1748–1829), a popular 18th century musician and composer originally from Swalwell, near Gateshead, Northumberland. However, as Barry Callaghan (2007) and others have pointed out, Shield often appropriated traditional or folk melodies, and "Morpeth Rant" may not be original to him. The town of Morpeth [2] is in Northumberland, a market center on the River Wansbeck serving the surrounding rural areas and the villages of the Northumbrian coalfield (Graham Dixon). It evolved around a Norman fortress called Morpeth Castle, one of several guarding the east coast routes to Scotland.

Market Square, Morpeth. Unknown artist, 1892.

The Morpeth Rant was the name of a dance that has been performed for over almost two centuries, and numerous tunes and tune variants were played in accompaniment to it over many years; thus there are a number of tunes called "Morpeth Rant" or "Old Morpeth Rant" that have varying degrees of similarity. One version is also used as a morris dance tune. The title appears in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes ("The Northern Minstrel's Budget"), which he published c. 1800. "Older versions of the tune are generally in B Flat, sometimes G, and have a wider range in the 'B' part than the version usually played nowadays" (Seattle)—see note for "Annotation:Morpeth Rant (2)" for more on these. Callaghan notes that the Kerr publication (c. 1880's) of the tune (generically titled "Hornpipe") includes the 'new' version of the 'B' part, and it is perhaps from this source that the version most often heard today came from. This version, explains Callaghan, was picked up in the EFDSS's Community Dance Manual No. 1 in 1949 and cemented with subsequent recordings, such as the by Jack Armstrong in 1950. "Old Morpeth Rant" is similar in the first strain, with a different second strain, but there are several tunes with this title with varying degrees of similarity. The first strain of "Morpeth Rant (1)" is shared with "Lady Ancrain's Hornpipe" although the second strains diverge.

"Morpeth Rant" was one of the "missing tunes" from William Vickers' 1770 Northumbrian manuscript. The older form of the tune can be found in the music manuscript collections of C.J. Surtees (Tyneside, 1819), Joshua Jackson (north Yorkshire, 1798), Rev. Robert Harrison (Brampton, Cumbria, c. 1815, as "Princess of Wales' Hornpipe"), John Moore (Shropshire, 1830, as "New Sailor's Hornpipe") and in a manuscript by an unknown hand in the Vaughn Williams Memorial Library (as "West's Hornpipe" with an added eight bars). Gloucestershire fiddler Henry Sturch played a simplified version under the title "Double Figure Eight" for collector Cecil Sharp.

The tune and several variation sets was published by the Edinburgh music publishing firm of Nathaniel Gow and William Shepherd in a volume entitled A Collection of Entirely Original Strathspey Reels, Marches, Quick Steps &c., "by Ladies resident in a remote part of the Highlands of Scotland, as corrected by Nath. Gow." Unfortunately, the composers names are not given. The Leeds antiquarian Frank Kidson (1854–1926) penciled a note in his copy of the volume that the composers were, or included, “the Misses Whyte,” and modern researcher Charles Gore thinks “the Misses Whyte” may possibly be a Miss White and a Miss Brocky, of Morayshire, east Highlands.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Blackman (A Selection of the most favorite Hornpipes for the Violin), c. 1810-22; No. 17. Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 197. Callaghan (Hardcore English), 2007; pp. 95–96 (includes several versions). Campbell (New and Favorite Country Dances, Book 10), 1795; p. 10. Carlin (English Concertina), 1977; p. 30. Gow & Shepherd (Collection of entirely original strathspey, reels, marches, quicksteps etc.), 1796; pp. 20-21. Hall & Stafford (Charlton Memorial Tune Book), 1956; p. 50. Hardie (Caledonian Companion), 1986; p. 12. Frank Harding (Harding's Original Collection), 1897; No. 151, p. 48. Elias Howe (Second Part of the Musician’s Companion), 1843; p. 61. Karpeles & Schofield (A Selection of 100 English Folk Dance Airs), 1951; p. 6. Kaufman (Beginning Old Time Fiddle), 1977; p. 42 (includes a harmony part). Kennedy (Fiddler's Tune-Book, vol. 1), 1951; No. 19, p. 10. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1875; p. 26 (appears as "Hornpipe"). Knowles (Northern Frisk), 1988; No. 113. Laybourn (Köhler's Violin Repository, vol. 1), 1885. MacDonald (A Third Collection of Strathspey Reels), c. 1792; p. 8. Miller & Perron (New England Fiddler's Repertoire), 1983; No. 73. O'Neill (O'Neill's Irish Music), 1915; No. 363, p. 175. John Offord (Bonny Cumberland), 2018; p. 37. Petrie (Second Collection of Strathspey Reels), 1796; p. 17. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 157. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 2), 1995; p. 209. Preston (Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1793), No. 213, p. 86. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; pp. 162 & 76. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 300 (listed as a hornpipe). Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964/1981; p. 67. Wilson (A Companion to the Ballroom), 1816.

Recorded sources : - EFDSSCD13, Our Northern Branch – "Hardcore English" (2007. Various artists). Firebird FBR01, Phoenix – "After the Fire." Folk Legacy FSI-74, Howard Bursen – "Cider in the Kitchen" (1980). Front Hall 08, Alister Anderson – "Traditional Tunes" (1976). June Appal 014, John McCutcheon – "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" (1977). Meadowlands MS1, "Allan Block and Ralph Lee Smith." Rounder Select 82161-0476-2, "The Wind That Shakes the Barley: Hammered Dulcimer Music" (reissues, orig. released 1977). Topic TSCD 669, Jim Rutherford (et al) – "Ranting and Reeling: Dance Music of the north of England" (1998. Fiddler Rutherford was born in 1892 and lived near Rochester, Northumberland). Wild Goose WGS 320, Old Swan Band – "Swan-Upmanship" (2004).

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [3]
Alan Snyder's Cape Breaton Fiddle Recordings Index [4] [5]
"Core Tunes" at FARNE [6]

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