Monday, July 07, 2008

The Hornpipe

The hornpipe is another style of fiddle tune. It's in 4/4 time and is played as shown above where each of the four beats consists of two parts: the first note being 3/4 of the beat (or a 3/16 note) and the second being 1/4 (or a 1/16 note). The rhythm is rather obvious in the above score; you play it just as it's written. However, it's often not written like that.

Instead, you'll see it written as it is below : a string of 1/8 notes with no dots or sixteenths showing. Except for a few minor variations, such as a pickup to begin, the two versions (above and below) are the same. The three bars above are the same as bars 2 - 4 below. You see, a player is expected to know how a hornpipe goes (ie the dotted rhythm) and play it accordingly.

Of course, this beginner fiddler did not always know that and learned to play several songs as written — as equal 1/8 notes. In fact, I have recently discovered that two of the tunes that I know best, I have been playing incorrectly — in other words as written and not as intended. Silly me. Very often, as directly above, the title doesn't even tell you that it's a hornpipe. Oh well.

Here's how it sounds if someone competent plays it. Like the jig, there's usually both a part A and a part B that are repeated.


Janet said...

I love hornpipes. That's so interesting about the rewriting of the music!

Dale said...

A joyous sound, to be sure. When Meagan was little, she'd request The Rankins from the back seat of the car.
"Happy fiddles, Daddy. Put on happy fiddles."
And I'd happily oblige.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

You remind me of my painful efforts to learn to play the alto recorder. We played many dance tunes but from the 16th Century: gavottes, gaillards, minuets, sarabands. This no talent person had to drop out as I was holding the rest of the consort back.

Judy said...

I hate it when I memorize something wrong. I can never seem to get it right after that although I try, valiantly.

There is one particular piece I play wrong every single time, but I never catch it until after I've played it.


So much of my life is like that.