Staten Island Hornpipe
X:2 T:Staten Island M:C L:1/8 S:John Rook manuscript (Wigton, Cumbria, 1840) K:D AG|FDFG A2A2|defd c2 Ac|B2 GB A2 FA|G2E2E2 AG| FDFG A2A2|defd c2A2|d2d2 efge|f2d2d2:| |:fg|a2 fa g2 eg|f2 df e2c2|=c2c2 efge|=c2c2 efge| a2 fa g2 eg|f2 df e2A2|d2 d2 efge|f2d2d2:|
STATEN ISLAND (HORNPIPE). AKA and see “Arranmore Ferry (The),” "Burns's Hornpipe," "None so Pretty (2)," "Stringer's Hornpipe." Scottish, English, Irish, American; Hornpipe. USA; New England, southwestern Pa. Ireland, County Donegal. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (most versions): AA’BB’ (Harker/Rafferty). “Staten Island Hornpipe” was first printed in James Aird’s Selection of Scotch, English, Irish, and Foreign Airs vol. II (1785), printed in Glasgow, identical to version played today. I suspect that the title may have associations with the large contingent of British troops that were stationed on Staten Island during the American Revolution, and, since period army references abound in Aird’s period collection, he may have obtained it from British military sources. Others have argued that the title refers to Isla de los Estados, located just east of Tierra del Fuego off the coast of Argentina, a welcome landmark to sailors which marked a successful passage of Cape Horn and the beginning of the last leg of the journey home. The island was first claimed by the Dutch in the 16th century and named after their governing state council, hence Staten Island (the same rationale for New York’s Staten Island). There is even a State Island in the Atlantic Arctic region, mapped in 1695, and it is possible (though much more unlikely) the title derived from it.
“Staten Island Hornpipe” appears in a few musician’s manuscripts from England in the 19th century, though none predate Aird. A version appears in the 1823-26 music manuscript book of Lincolnshire musician Joshua Gibbons under the title “Scotch Hornpipe,” and, as a variant called "Stringer's Hornpipe" it was entered into the music manuscript collections of working-class poet John Clare (1793-1864, Helpstone, Northamptonshire) and William Clark (1858, Feltwell, Norfolk). It was reintroduced in traditional circles during the 1960’s “folk revival” in the United Kingdom (and America, for that matter), largely through the playing of English fiddler Dave Swarbrick. Burchenal (1918) associates the tune with the New England contra dance The Haymakers, or The Merry Haymakers, and indeed, in the intervening years the tune has gained strong associations with American contra dance music, so much so that it is often mistaken for an American tune (with associations to New York's Staten Island). It was imported into American “old-time” repertoire from cross-over contra dance musicians, and has been even called an “Appalachian standard,” which it by no means is. Any associations to the Staten Island ferry (e.g. the ‘c’ natural notes in the ‘B’ part being likened to the 'toots' of a steam whistle) are spurious. Bayard (1981) sees a general resemblance to "Athole Volunteers March (The)" printed in McDonald's Gesto Collection.
In Donegal the tune is known as “Arranmore Ferry (The),” although it has been absorbed into Irish repertoire under its usual title in modern times. Irish versions tend to differ from Scottish and American versions, sometimes centering in the mixolydian rather than major mode (see flute player Mike Rafferty’s version, for example), and sometimes being played as a reel.