Old Lancashire Hornpipe

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OLD LANCASHIRE HORNPIPE. AKA - "Lancashire Hornpipe (2)." AKA and see "Reed House Rant." English, "Old" Hornpipe (3/2 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCC. The melody was printed by Playford in 1669 ("A Jigg Divided 12 Ways") in Apollo's Banquet, and by London publisher John Johnson in his edition of Wright's Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances, vol. 2 (London, 1742, p. 12). The hornpipe was often printed with variation sets, as was the practice with such pieces which were essentially a ground for improvisations. Barry Callaghan (2007) opined "Surely one of the great tunes of the tradition." Northumbrian musician Henry Atkinson's "Rood/Reed House Rant" (c. 1695) is a closely related tune. See also "Lancashire Witches (2)" for another version of "Old Lancashire Hornpipe."

John M. Ward is of the opinion that Johnson's tune is not a true Lancashire hornpipe but is rather a country dance [1], noting that Johnson's tune is barred in 6/4 which is not a Lancashire hornpipe meter. "Moreover," he writes, "the tune begins with a half-bar anacrusis, something equally alien to the genre." Ward builds a case that Lancashire hornpipes were folk dances and that period descriptions of them indicate they were energetic and freeform, with considerable latitude for individual creation, whereas many of the dances in London dance collections were "always" accompanied by proscribed directions for a dance.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Callaghan (Hardcore English), 2005; p. 77. Offord (John of the Green Cheshire Way), 1985; p. 38. Raven (One Thousand English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 11 (appears as "Lancashire Hornpipe" set in 3/4 time).

Recorded sources: BGOCD 354, Albion Country Band - "Battle of the Field (1997 reissue of 1976 Island recording). Island Records HELP25, Albion Country Band - "Battle of the Field" (1976). Fellside FECD192, Spiers & Boden - "Tunes" (2005). Ominum Records, John Kirkpatrick - "Force of Habit" (1996). Tomcat Music, Pauline Cato - "New Tyne Bridge" (2005. Appears as "Reed House Rant").

Back to Old Lancashire Hornpipe[edit]

  1. John M. Ward, "The Lancashire Hornpipe", Essays in Musicology: A Tribute to Alvin Johnson, 1990, pp. 140-173