Annotation:Rickett's Hornpipe

Find traditional instrumental music

X:1 T:Danced by Aldridge M:2/4 L:1/8 B:McGlashan - A Collection of Scots Measures (c. 1781, p. 35) N:Earliest appearance in print of Rickett's Hornpipe N:The 3rd measure in McGlashan's collection is garbled, and the N:fourth measure is missing altogether. The abc's below have been N:corrected. The 3rd measure in the collection goes: d/|e/d/c/B/ A/G/e/d/| Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Bb F/G/A/|B/A/B/F/ D/F/B/d/|c/B/A/G/ F/A/c/e/|d/e/f/d/ g/f/e/d/| c/B/A/G/ F/F/G/A/| B/A/B/F/ D/F/B/d/|c/B/A/G/ F/A/c/e/|d/f/d/B/ c/e/c/A/|BBBz:| |:f/d/d/B/ B/d/d/f/|g/e/e/c/ A/c/c/e/|f/d/d/B/ g/e/c/B/|A/B/G/A/ F/e/d/c/| B/A/B/F/ D/F/B/d/|c/B/A/G/ F/A/c/e/|d/f/d/B/ c/e/c/A/|BBBz:|]

RICKETT'S HORNPIPE. AKA and see "Manchester Hornpipe (1)," "Merthyr Hornpipe," "New College Hornpipe (1) (The)," "One Eyed Fiddler," "Quadrille de Berthier 3ème partie," "Raker's Hornpipe," "Sailor's Hornpipe (2),” “Texarkana Hornpipe,” “Tomorrow Morning,” “Yarmouth Hornpipe." English, Irish, American; Hornpipe, Breakdown. USA; Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, West Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, New England. Canada, Ontario. D Major (most versions): C Major (Hardings). Standard or ADae (some Southern versions, e.g. Tommy Jarrell) tunings (fiddle). AABB.

John Bill Ricketts, aka, Breschard, the Circus Rider, by Gilbert Stuart

The particular Rickett honored in the title was a circus promoter, one John Bill Ricketts [1] (1769-1800), a Scottish immigrant who came from England in 1792 and flourished in America through the 1790's until his Philadelphia enterprise was destroyed in a fire on Dec. 17, 1799. He reportedly delighted his audiences by dancing hornpipes on the backs of galloping horses [Ivan Tribe], and toward the end of his career hired another famous American hornpipe dancer, John Durang, to produce pantomimes for him. Alan Jabbour (in "American Fiddle Tunes") says that circuses under his name appeared in New York City, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Charlestown, Albany, Boston, Hartford, and Montreal.

Rickett's Circus, Philadelphia, on the corner of Market and 12th St.

The earliest appearance of the melody is in Alexander McGlashan's Edinburgh-published Collection of Scots Measures of 1781, with the title "Danced by Aldridge," a reference to the great Irish-born dancer of the late 18th century Robert Aldridge (see note for "Aldridge's Hornpipe"). Unfortunately, McGlashan's 3rd measure in the first strain is garbled, and the fourth measure is missing altogether in the printed version (making the first strain only seven measures long). The tune was popular in Britain under a few titles, chiefly "Manchester Hornpipe" and "Yarmouth Hornpipe." Imported to America, it became a very popular melody in all regions and genres; in the Appalachians it was one of the imported hornpipe tunes that survived relatively intact, and was only slightly less common among fiddlers than "Fisher's Hornpipe," which is easier to play. In the South the tune lost all connections with the hornpipe dance, and is often played at the same pace as a breakdown. Not everywhere, however, for as Mike Yates (2002) remarks, “the tune was actually more popular in the northern cities and is one of the few tunes that is played in the south as a hornpipe.” Collector Samuel Bayard (1981) agreed that the hornpipe was an "exceedingly well-known" piece whose title was almost invariably the same, and he found it as popular among fifers in his collecting region (southwestern Pennsylvania) it was with fiddlers. "Rickett's Hornpipe" was also popular with northeastern U.S. fiddlers, notes Bronner (1987), who writes that by the 1850's it was a common selection for fiddle-tune collections. It retained its popularity into the 20th century and was cited as having frequently been played for country dances in Orange County, New York, in the 1930's (Lettie Osborn, New York Folklore Quarterly).

Western North Carolina fiddler Bill Hensley (1873-1960) learned "Rickett's Hornpipe" from Jim Anderson, a Major in the American Civil War[1]. Hensley told one interviewer that Hugh and his brother "came over from England" and that they were both fiddle makers. Hensley also attributed the tune "Georgia Belle" to Bell. In the mid-20th-century it was one of the tunes often in the repertories of amateur fiddlers throughout the country, as, for example with Buffalo Valley, Pa., region dance fiddlers Ralph Sauers and Harry Daddario. Patrick Bonner, a fiddler from Beaver Island, Michigan, recorded the tune on 78 RPM for the Library of Congress. Bonner was the youngest son of immigrants from Arranmore Island, County Donegal (Beaver Island was destination for a number of Arranmore families), and the Donegal fiddle tradition can be heard in his playing. It was even recorded on a 78 RPM by the Irish-American group Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band. The tune was recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph from Ozarks Mountains fiddlers in the early 1940's, for the same institution by Herbert Halpert from Mississippi fiddler Stephen B. Tucker (b. 1859) in 1939 (under the title "Raker's Hornpipe"), and in 1937 from the playing of Luther Strong (Hazard, Kentucky). It was played by R.L. Stephens of Camp Hill, Alabama, at a contest in Columbus, Georgia, according to the Columbus Enquirer of December 10 & 12, 1926 (Cauthen, 1990). One Georgia band heard on mid-1920’s radio playing “Rickett’s Hornpipe” consisted of a pair of uncles and a pair of nephews; the uncles were fiddlers Newt and Ed Tench, aged sixty-four and sixty-one years of age, who claimed to have been playing the fiddle for forty-five years or more. According to the newspaper the Atlanta Journal, they had “an enviable reputation as musicians in the mountain districts of Georgia,” and they had fiddled together so long that “harmony between the two is merely a matter of second nature.”[2]

Versions of “Rickett’s” are still quite common among traditional musicians in southern England, where it’s usually called “Pidgeon on the Gate” or “We'll Sit upon the Gate.” Cumbrian (northwest England) musician William Irwin entered a very similar hornpipe in his c. 1850 copybook under the title "Orton Hornpipe." County Cork cleric and uilleann piper Canon James Goodman's mid-19th century music manuscript collection (vol. iii, p. 97) contains a version of "Rickett's" called "Merthyr Hornpipe." Cecil Sharp collected a version he called "Six Hand Reel" from Oxfordshire concertina player William Kimber on 17.4.1908 (Full English Digital Archive Reference: CJS2/10/1658). In fact, there have been many titles in use over the years for the tune entered here as "Rickett's", as synthesized by Rebecca Dellow in a footnote in her PhD thesis Fiddlers' Tunebooks (2018)[3]:

A discussion on the online tune discussion forum, ‘The Session’, shows the numerous titles and the confusion this can create.‘Cerimatho’ [sic] posts: “’Manchester hornpipe’ in Swansea, it’s used to dance ‘The Gower reel’, and Phill Tanner who dowdled the music for dancing, called the tune ‘The Liverpool hornpipe’. The rest of Wales call it ‘The Wrexham hornpipe’, (Wrexham not being that far from Liverpool). Variations were played in Wales but under different names – ‘The Spanish hornpipe’, ‘Seven’, and ‘The Aldridge’ amongst others. ‘The Aldridge hornpipe’ is known in England but is a number of different tunes. Also in England the tune is used by the Bampton Morris, in Oxfordshire as a jig, called ‘The Fool’s jig’. Aldridge is near Birmingham but Mr Aldridge was a dancer who had several dance tunes including hornpipes and allemandes composed for him in the eighteenth century. As if that weren’t confusing enough, there is another tune called ‘The Wrexham hornpipe’ in Wales, which the people around that area in North East Wales call ‘The Swansea hornpipe’, which is near Gower.” A subsequent participant, ‘Ceolachan’[sic] lists the Welsh names by which it is also known: ’Pibddawns Wrecsam’, (‘The Wrexham Hornpipe’); ‘Y Bibddawns Sbaenig’, (‘The Spanish Hornpipe’); ‘Saith’, (‘Seven’); ‘Pibddawns Aldridge’, (‘The Aldridge Hornpipe’). The Session, 'Rickett's Hornpipe', The Session (No date) <> [accessed 1 February 2015].

A four-strain version of "Ricketts Hornpipe," retaining the exact title, was printed in J.A. Boucher's Le Répertoire du Violoneux[2] (1933, No. 62, p. 35). The first two strains of Boucher's hornpipe are faithful to the original tune, while the third strain is a variation of the the first strain. However, the fourth strain is 'crooked' or irregular and introduces new (but compatible) melodic material.

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Evans (Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma) [Thede]: Frank George (W.Va.) [Krassen]; Pop Weir, 1960 (New York State) [Bronner]; ten southwestern fiddlers and fifers [Bayard]; Warren Smith via Frank Maloy [The Devil's Box]; Dawson Girdwood (Perth, Ottawa Valley, Ontario); Kerry Blech (Seattle) [Silberberg].

Printed sources : - Adam (Old Time Fiddlers Favorite Barn Dance Tunes), St. Louis, 1928; No. 10, p. 6. Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 165A-J, pp. 107-111. Bégin (Fiddle Music in the Ottawa Valley: Dawson Girdwood), 1985; No. 13, p. 26. J.A. Boucher (Le Répertoire du Violoneux), 1933; No. 63, p. 35. A.S. Bowman (J.W. Pepper Collection of Five Hundred Reels, Jigs, etc.), Phila., 1908; No. 83, p. 19. Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; p. 229. Bronner (Old-Time Music Makers of New York State), 1987; No. 26, p. 111. Cazden, 1955; p. 43 (2nd tune). Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 89. Stephen F. Davis (The Devil's Box), vol. 22, No. 4, Winter 1988; p. 52. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 50. Hardings All-Round Collection, 1905; No. 174, p. 55. Hardings Original Collection (1928) and Harding Collection (1915), No. 30. Hopkins (American Veteran Fifer), 1905; No. 111. Howe (School for the Violin), 1851; p. 38. Howe (Diamond School for the Violin), 1861; p. 43. Howe (Musician's Omnibus, No. 1), 1863; p. 43. Jarman, (Old Time Fiddlin' Tunes); No. or p. 23. Kennedy (Fiddlers Tune Book, vol. 1), 1951; No. 10, p. 5 (appears as "Manchester Hornpipe"). Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; p. 43. Krassen (Appalachian Fiddle), 1973; p. 80. Lowinger (Bluegrass Fiddle), 1974; p. 23. Miller & Perron (New England Fiddlers Repertoire), 1983; No. 138. O'Malley, 1919; pg. 17. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 169. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 2), 1995; p. 220. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 159 (appears as "Manchester Hornpipe"). Edward Riley (Riley’s Flute Melodies vol. 3), 1820; No. 257, p. 81. Robbins Music Corp. (The Robbins collection of 200 jigs, reels and country dances), New York, 1933; No. 68, p. 22. Ruth (Pioneer Western Folk Tunes), 1948; No. 38, p. 14. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 124. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 130. Sweet (Fifer’s Delight), 1965/1981; p. 47. Sym, 1930; p. 11. Thede (The Fiddle Book), 1967; p. 118. Thomas & Leeder (The Singin’ Gatherin’ ), p. 151. White's Excelsior Collection, 1907; p. 51 (2nd tune). White’s Unique Collection, 1986; No. 95, p. 17.

Recorded sources : - Columbia 15682 (78 RPM), The Skillet Lickers (1931. Appears under the title "Tanner's Hornpipe"). County 745, John Ashby - "Down on Ashby's Farm." Document DOCD 8060, Gid Tanner & the Skillet Lickers (reissue). Folkways FA 2381, "The Hammered Dulcimer as played by Chet Parker" (1966). Dot Records 1233 (78 RPM), Tommy Jackson (1955). Folkways FA 2472, Roger Sprung - "Progressive Bluegrass, vol. 3." Gennett 5613 (78 RPM), The Tweedy Brothers (1924. West Virginia). Green Mountain 1061, Wilfred Guillette - "Old Time Fiddlin'" (1977). Marimac 9017, Vesta Johnson (Mo.) - "Down Home Rag." Marimac 9064D, Lauchlin Shaw & A.C. Overton - “Sally with the Run Down Shoes” (1996). Mountain 310, Tommy Jarrell - "Joke on the Puppy" (1976). Musical Traditions MTCD0231, Sam Connor (Copper Hill, Floyd County, Va.) – “Far on the Mountain, vols. 1 & 2” (2002). Rounder 0004, Clark Kessinger - "Old-Time Music." Rounder 0084, Bill Keith - "Something Bluegrass." Rounder CD 0326, Benton Flippen. Rounder CD 1518, Luther Strong (originally recorded 1937). Rounder CD1518, Various Performers – “American Fiddle Tunes” (1971. Played by Patrick Bonner). Traditional Crossroads CD 4284, Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band. Dutch Cove String Band - "Sycamore Tea."

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [3]
Alan Ng’s [4]
Hear east Ky. fiddler John Salyer's 1941/42 home recording of the tune at Berea Sound Archives [5]

Back to Rickett's Hornpipe

(0 votes)

  1. David Parker Bennett, 1940 dissertation "A Study in Fiddle Tunes from Western North Carolina", p. 21. [6]
  2. quoted by Wayne W. Daniel, Pickin’ on Peachtree, 1990, p. 54.
  3. Rebecca Emma Dellow. Fiddlers’ Tunebooks’ - Vernacular Instrumental Manuscript Sources 1860-c1880: Paradigmatic of Folk Music Tradition?, PhD Thesis, Univ. of Sheffield, June, 2018, p. 242