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THIS ESSAY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THREE EXTRAORDINARY COLLECTIONS (Stewart, 2007) which contained editions of three early 18th century publications of fiddle music, Thomas Marsden’s Collection of Original Lancashire Hornpipes (1705), Daniel Wright’s An Extraordinary Collection of Pleasant & merry humours etc. (1713) and John Walsh’s Third Book of the most Celebrated Jiggs, Lancashire Hornpipes etc., (c. 1730; the ‘First’ book, advertised in 1705 is now lost, as is any 'Second')

.For many years this article has contained an error in para. 3 line 9; I have now corrected it ...

The first thing about Marsden’s collection that will be unfamiliar to today’s traditional musician is the announcement on the cover that the tunes come ‘with divisions on each’. However, although something of a lost art today, the making of divisions was once second nature to country musicians. William Chappell (Chappell, 1895, II, 797) tells us that
”Country fiddlers and pipers perhaps thought more of their bases than of their tunes, trusting to their facility in making divisions or variations for the latter”.
These ‘bases’ were what art-music calls ‘grounds’. They might be chord progressions, in which case they would be chosen from a number of named forms such as the ‘bergamasca’ (I-IV-V-I, A-D-E-A), which Thurston Dart, without, it seems, much real justification, called ‘The Hornpipe’ ground) or they might be simple melodic lines; either way the ground would be repeated throughout the performance, even if only in the mind of the solo player, while divisions and variations were developed above it. Charles Simpson, in one of several manuals on the playing of divisions published during the 17th century, claims to teach how they can be played ‘ex tempore’ that is, improvised.
Simpson’s manual also makes clear the distinction between ‘Divisions’, that is the expanding and elaborating of intervals in the ‘Ground’ or repeating bass-line, and ‘discants’, that is the creating of melodic lines above the ground. It was this latter technique that the ‘old fiddlers’ used, as exemplified by Marsden (the only example in these collections that includes the bass is ‘Sgr Geminiani’s Minuet’). Marsden’s ‘grounds’ are so simple, consisting in the main of two notes only, that his ‘divisions‘ are better seen as variations on his ‘discants'. It is worth noting that the ground of Aston’s hornpipe, which is written out in the manuscript and which Ward gives as AAGG, is a ‘melodic’ ground’ (strictly speaking it is a ‘tenor’); though it appears to be a ‘double tonic’ sequence, the harmonic structure is an orthodox I-V-I, IV-II-IV sequence, whereas Marsden’s are all true ‘harmonic’ two-note sequences of the type that has become known as a ‘double-tonic’ ground. The difference is significant, since this kind of structure is often said to have been derived from a bagpipe chanter with ‘flat’ leading notes (G natural in A, producing a Myxolodian scale). The effect is thus to generate two ‘tonics’ a tone apart (either G and A or A and B in the case of a bagpipe in A, one of which acts as the ‘home’ tonic and the other of which supplies a ‘substitute dominant’; when played against the drone this produces a ‘cadence’ equivalent to that of the more orthodox V-I (E-A) progression.
Given this harmonic parsimony, few structures are possible, especially taking into account another feature of hornpipe music, its consistent use of four-bar measures, each made up of two-bar ‘rhyming’ phrases. (Martha Curti (Curti, 1979) pointed out that this feature was so consistent that it must reflect something about the nature of the original dance.) If we use Matt Seattle’s notation (Seattle, 1995, 2003), in which X stands for a bar of the ‘home’ tonic and Y for a bar of the ‘substitute dominant’, then Marsden’s 25 tunes are made up from only three basic forms, XXXY, XYXX , and XXYY, though this last can also appear as YYXX.
A further striking feature of the hornpipes in the current collections compared to those most familiar today is their rhythm. For more than a hundred years the hornpipe has been understood, with only a few exceptions, as a dance tune in common, 4/4 time, whereas, with only three exceptions, Marsden’s are all in 3/2 (the exceptions are all in 9/4), as are almost all the other hornpipes here. This Appendix aims to trace the history both of this music and the dance it accompanied.
When we look at the earliest mentions of both the jig and hornpipe, it is clear that they are to be distinguished from other dances; thus Thomas Morley, having described the Pavan, Galliard and Volto as a sequence of decreasingly grave dances mentions “other kinds of dances (Hornepypes, Jygges and infinite others) which I cannot nominate unto you”. Subsequent commentators seem to agree that these two dances belong amongst the ‘common dancing’ with which a gentleman should have no truck.
This is borne out by the earliest mention of the hornpipe in literature, which occurs in the 15th century morality play now known as ‘Mind, Will and Understanding’ which calls for music to accompany the vices. The character of ‘Will’ calls the hornpipe “a sprynge of lechery”:
‘Your mynstrell a hornpipe mete/ That fowl ys in himself but to the erys is swete’.
It is surprising therefore, that the first mention of music calling itself ‘hornpipe’, though it comes from the same era, appears in a very different context. It is contained in an expense account kept by one George Chely, who in 1474 paid Thomas Rede, “harper of Calles” (Calais being at that time an English town) 4s. 10d “for to learne xiij daunsys and an horne pype on the leut.” (notice that even here the ‘hornpipe’ is kept separate from the ‘daunsys’).
This record marks the beginning of an art-music relationship with this ‘sprynge of lechery’ which was to last for at least three hundred years (Thomas Arne wrote a triple-time hornpipe for the 1760 production of The Beggars Opera). Throughout this period it could be both a cultivated performance on salon instruments and a symbol for all things licentious, as Shakespeare used it in Act IV of A Winter’s Tale (1611): "There is but one Puritan amongst them, and he sings psalms to hornpipes". Indeed, it was on this ambivalence that the American musicologist John Ward based his authoritative study of the subject (Ward, 1990). For Londoners in the 17th century, he says, the hornpipe ‘was a name to conjure with’ and he bases his work on a quote from a play from 1605 where a character exclaims ‘Oh Master Maybery! Before you Servant to daunce a Lancashire Horne-pipe ...”
This quote also reveals that at this time the hornpipe was regarded as peculiarly Northern in origin. Ward gives another quote that bears this out, from a description of life in Virginia published in 1609 in which the author, speaking of the dancing of American Indians, likens it to “our darbyshire Hornepipe, a man first and then a woman, and so through them all, hanging all in a round”. Similarly Ben Jonson talks of “the hornpipes here, of Nottingham and Darbyshire” (see p. 64). In fact, the same could be said for the jig; in his study of the Elizabethan jig (Baskervill, 1929), Charles Baskervill says “the adjectives Scottish or northern are so frequently linked with the word jig in its earliest occurrences as to suggest that the attention of the London public was first attracted by a type of song with dance which came out of the north”. However, he does add that “to the metropolis, this term probably meant little more than rustic or provincial”.
Although it is sometimes suggested that the word ‘jig’ refers to the narrative song-and dance act, often of a bawdy nature, that was performed as an after-piece at the theatre in the late 16th century, Baskervill says that “by the middle of the 16th century a variety of dance or song and dance acts were current among the people, taking the name jig from the type of dance most characteristic in them” and that these ‘acts’ were taken up by comic actors such as Tarlton and introduced into the theatre. He suggests that the jig may well have been a dance-song like the ‘carol’. Though the details are not at all clear, some kind of relationship seems to have existed between the jig and the hornpipe, as suggested by Baskervill, quoting a poem by Robert Chester (c. 1600) which describes the shepherds entertaining their ‘lord’:
“ A homely cuntry hornpipe we will daunce A sheapheards pretty Gigg to make him sport”


That the hornpipe dance was first and foremost a ‘round’ is confirmed by a number of quotes which I have included amongst the music here. It would seem that little else could be said, either about the hornpipe or the jig, if indeed they could be distinguished one from the other, for at least 150 years after the hornpipe’s first mention. However, one remarkable record has survived which provides us with much more. It appears in a collection of poems compiled by a mid-16th century minstrel named Richard Sheale, a resident of Tamworth in Derbyshire, a retainer to the Earl of Derby, ‘one who carries the harp’, according to his own description. The manuscript, which is now in the British Library, was edited by Thomas Wright (Wright, 1926) who dates its contents between 1554 and 1558. The dance description appears in the poem ‘Our Jockey sale have our Jenny, hope I’, written by John Wallys, whose other works in the collection are mostly satires about women. Surprisingly, elements of this poem also survived into the late 18th century, a Scottish version being published by David Herd in 1769; again, it seems to come ‘from out of the north’. I printed excerpts from Wallys’s long poem in Robin with the Bagpipe (Stewart, 2001) and more in The Day it Daws (Stewart, 2005) along with the matching excerpts from Herd’s version; I make no excuse for reprinting the dance description in full, since it does not appear in the Herd version and the manuscript source is not easily accessible. It remains the only real evidence we have for the nature of the dance in the 16th century.


Our Jockey sale have our Jenny, hope I

Then Jocky, when dynner was done,
Begane hyme selffe to advance,
And sayd, "let pypar pype up sone,
For, be our Lord, I wyll go dance.
Jocky took Jenny faste be the hand;
Then pypar lafte the trace;
He playd so myryly the cold not stand
But the dansyd all apace.
The pyper pypte tyll his bally grypte,
And the rowte began to revell;
With that lowde myrth he browth many forth,
Then upstart carll and kevel.

"Now play us a horn pype," Jocky can say;
Then todle lowdle the pyper dyd playe.
Harry Sprig, Harry Spryg, Mawde my doughtare,
Thomas my sone, and Jone cum after.
Wylkyn and Malkyn and Marryon be nam,
Lettes all kepe the strock in the peane of shame.
Torn about, Robyn; let Besse stand asyde;
"Now smyt up, mynstrell," the women cryde.
The pyper playd with his fynggars and thommes;
Play thick and short, mynstrell; my mothar commis.
"I wyl dance,' said one "and I for the wars;
Dance we, dance we, dance we!"
"Heighe!" quoth Hogkyne, "gyrd byth ars,
Letts dance all for compayne."
"Halfe torne, Jone, haffe nowe, Jock!
Well dansyde, be sent Dennye!
And he that breakys the firste strocke,
Sall gyve the pypar a pennye.

In with fut, Robsone! owt with fut, Byllynge!
Here wyll be good daunsyng belyve;
Daunsyng hath cost me forty good shyllynge,
Ye forti shillynge and fyve.
Torn rownde, Robyne! kepe trace, Wylkyne!
"Set fut to fut a pas," quod Pylkyne;
"Abowt with howghe let us wynde"
"No, Tybe, war, Tom well," sayd Cate;
"Kepe in Sandar, hold owte, Syme.
Nowe, Gaff, hear gome abowt me mat;
Nyccoll, well dansyde and tryme."

"A gambole," quod Jocky, "stand asyde;
Let ylke man play his parte.
Mak rom, my mastars; stande mor wyde;
I pray youe with all my harte."
Hear ys for me wightly whipte,
And it wear even for the nons;
Now for the lyghtly skypte,
Well staggeryde on the stonnys.
"Be sweat sent Tandrowe, I am weary." quoth Jennye,
"Good pypar, holde thy peace;
And thaw salt have thy bryddes penny."
Then the pyper began to seas

(‘Our Jockey sale have our Jenny, hope I’, written by John Wallys, c. 1556)

breughel dance

Detail from ‘Village Wedding’ by Jean Brueghel, c.1550

What is even more remarkable is that we not only have a picture from the same era, of what appears to be this dance, in Breughel’s ‘Village Wedding’, we also have the music to accompany it, although this again comes from a continental source, this time from Paris; Guillaume de Morlaye’s 2nd guitar book contains the ‘Hornepipe D’Angleterre’. (The piece appears later in a number of lute manuscripts.)

Hornpipe d’Angleterre (G. de Morlaye, 1553)

morlaye hornpipe

Putting these three elements together should yield an idea of the nature of the hornpipe-jig in the mid16th century. The poem however, offers some challenges to the lexicographer. Guided by the quotes which John Ward supplies, I offer the following comments on the more obscure terms.
Strocke: ”When they were in their dance they kept stroke with their feet just one with another, but with their hands, heads, faces, and bodies, every one of them had a severall gesture.” (Samuel Purchas, Purchass His Pilgrames, 1625).
The Scottish version of the poem has ‘stot’ here, an accepted term for a ‘step’ in a dance. This quote reveals as much about the expectations of a literary observer as it does of the customs of the dancers observed, since Mr Purchas was clearly familiar with the noble dances where gesture and posture were an integral art of the dance movements.
Kepe trace: The trace had been a dance, or an element of a dance, since the late 13th century. I have dealt with this term in detail in The Day it Daws (Stewart, 2005). Ward quotes; ‘the tracing of this round required in the middle thereof a conge’ (John Grange, The Golden Aphroditis, 1577).
Gambold: ‘Such feats of agilities, … leaps, skips, springs, gambauds, soomersauts, caprettes & flyghts’ (Robert Laneham, A Letter, 1575). Gavin Douglas, in his translation of Virgil’s Aeneid, describes dancers who ‘gan do dowbill brangillys and gam batis’ (c. 1512). Cotgrave’s Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (1611) translates ‘gambader’ as ‘to turn heeles over head … shew tumbling tricks’ and he translates moulinet as ‘A morris dauncers gamboll’. See also the quote on page 26. Today, gambolling is largely the preserve of little lambs.
Wightly Whipte: ‘to move briskly’. ‘Wight’ in Scots implies vigour and strength.

It all sounds a pretty rumbustious affair. There are twenty-six people named as participants (counting Jocky and Jenny themselves) and though the general form does seem to be a round, ‘kepe trace’ suggests the whole company moving as a line, with occasional turns (‘Torn round, Robyne!’). I suspect that ‘churchye pege’ means ‘keep in line’ and the phrase ‘Abowt with howghe let us wynde’ surely describes the hey, the interweaving of the line by one or more dancers, as described in Gavin Douglas’s Aeneid, written at the close of the 15th century, which has ‘dansys and roundis tracyng mony gatis [‘ways, directions’]/ athir throu other reland ’ [‘one through another reeling’ i.e. a ‘hey’.] In general we seem to have a description of typical medieval peasant dance figures, a description of which is given by Cotgrave as a translation of brawl; a dance “wherein many (men and women) holding by the hands sometimes in a ring and otherwise at length, move together”.
We might well ask, what makes the dance Wallys describes a hornpipe? Clearly, ‘’Now play us a horn pype’ is a call to the musician for music for a particular type of dance, but how specific was Jocky being? He could have called to the company ‘Menstrallis blaw up ane brawl of France’, as his more or less contemporary in Scotland did (Lyndsay, Ane Satyre of the Thrie Eastatis (?1530/1550), but there seem to have been few other alternatives available to the mid-16th century rural dancer, to whom the refinements of the Pavane or the Basse Danse were barely dancing at all; they were basically the Rounddance and the Line-dance, although something described as ‘the country dance’ is referred to by Thomas Morley towards the end of the century. What makes this hornpipe distinctive is the reference to solo stepping (“A gambole … stande aside”), a feature which the dance has retained into the present, having at some point abandoned all the other figures. Such stepping was clearly a feature of some round dances in the past; Breughel’s painting shows a couple who appear to be stepping to each other in this way, and the same can still be seen in Sardinia, where round dances (to the music of the launeddas, the Sardinian triple-pipes) include the breaking away of groups of two or three to perform stepping figures.
The nature of this stepping is described in several texts; taken together they create the impression of energetic exertions far removed from the stately and refined dances of the court. The Puritan, Northbrooke, in his Treatise against Dicing, Dancing etc., (1577) says it is ‘a hell to see, howe they will swing, leape and turne when the pypers and crowders begin to play” and his confederate Stubbes adds “some have broke their legs with skipping, leaping, turning and vawting”. Meanwhile Shakespeare (in A
Winter’s Tale, IV, iii) has a group of herdsman whose ‘dance is a gallimaufry of gambols”. From the poet Keats’s description of dancing he saw in Ireby in Cumberland two hundred years later, one gets the impression that not much had changed regarding style of performance:
“They kickit and jumpit with mettle extraordinary, and whiskit and friskit, and toed it and goed it, and twirl’d it and whirl’d it, and stamped it and sweated it, tattooing the floor like mad …” (Keats, 1818; quoted in Ward, 1990)
The only direct description I have traced of a hornpipe step from this era is in Robert Greene’s James IV, (1592), in which the clown Slipper says ‘one hornpipe further, a refluence [reverence?] backe, and two doubles forward; What, not one crosse-point against Sundays?’ and though I presume that this is in some way a description of a hornpipe step, it is not easy to see how it relates to any music we have. In fact, Thomas Morley, having described the Pavan and Galliard, Almain, Courante and French brawls, says that “knowing these the rest [the “Hornpipes, jigs, and infinite more”] cannot but be understood as being one with some of these which I have already told you”, a remark which seems to justify looking at the steps for dances which seem related. Judging by Morlaye’s tune these would be the Galliard and the Bransle Gay. According to Arbeau (L’Orchesographie, 1589) the Branle Gay is danced with a pied en l’air for each of the first three crotchets of a 6/4 bar, with the fourth crotchet having a further pied en l’air followed by a pause. Thus, the step always begins on the same foot, and requires great agility to do at any speed. The Galliard is similar, except that it fills the pause with a jump and a posture, where the weight is carried by both feet, thus allowing a reprise from the other foot. It is also done plus haut et plus virilement. Both these steps are to 6/4 type rhythms. That this is related to the hornpipe is borne out by John Hawkins (Hawkins, 1776) who speaks of the hornpipe’s ‘six crotchets in a bar four whereof are to be beat with a down and two with an up hand”.
To happily dance such a step in 3/2 it seems necessary to shift the jump to the fifth crotchet, a suggestion that seems to confirm Roderick Cannon’s suggestion to me that the hornpipe should be seen as a ’syncopated jig’, that is to say a jig with the bar-line moved one crotchet to the left. This easily falls into the standard ‘rant’ with two extra steps added, or more simply, LR LR Lhop. This relates closely to the suggestions made by John Offord (Offord, 1985). Solo stepping interludes, as described in Wallys’s poem, might involve the kind of ‘shuffle’ used in hornpipe steps today, with special features introduced to augment the ‘hop’ such as ‘gambolds’, whatever they might be which might, as suggeted above, include ‘tumbling’, or even ‘head over heels’.
After the Restoration the hornpipe seems to have caught the imagination of dancing-masters, including visiting ones from the Continent. They encouraged their pupils to give demonstrations of the elaborated steps that they devised at the dances they organized, as a means of marketing the services they were offering; the result was the display dance that is mentioned increasingly towards the end of the 17th century to be seen in music-booths at fairs and at interludes in theatrical performances, danced by professionals often with high levels of skill, ‘to the admiration of all’. Indeed, some actors became renowned for particular dances; George Daniel in his Merrie England in the olden time mentions in particular the actor Doggett who was probably responsible for the popularity of the Cheshire Rounds. The social dances that were set to 3/2 tunes and which appear in considerable numbers in the first half of the 18th century, were all of the ‘longways for as many as will’ type, where, if the ‘hornpipe step’ were called for, it would be a simple ‘double step’ or combination of singles and a double. At the same time elaborate dances which included ‘hornpipes’, based on French baroque styles were devised, chiefly for court balls and birthday celebrations.
The first hornpipe music that appears in Britain, that by Henry Aston (c. 1485-1558?), actually predates Morlaye’s ‘Hornpipe D’Angleterre’ by about 20 years. It looks at first glance to be a very different kind of piece. Ward takes the rhythm of it to be a ‘broad 3/2’. However, it seems to me that this is strictly a 6/4 piece written with double note lengths; halving the note lengths and re-barring in 6/4 results in a rhythmic structure similar to Morlaye’s. Aston’s hornpipe has 53 variations, (the last 75 bars of which have note values halved, giving 3/4 if we take the first section as 3/2). Martha Curti tells us that Aston was born and brought up in Lancashire, so it is possible that he was familiar with the local idiom; his variations, however, are carefully contrived into a formal structure, which, if Marsden’s ‘divisions’ are to be taken as representative, was not the case with ‘country fiddlers’. I have given the opening strains of Aston’s music here with note values halved, as I have with William Byrd’s hornpipe; this reveals the close connection with Morlaye’s and with that in the Ballet Lute book (c. 1597). The Ballet lute book contains a good deal of popular music and seems to confirm that both art-music and country hornpipe music were at that time closely related to the music of the Galliard. This implies that at some time during the 17th century changes occurred which led to the emergence of the 3/2 rhythm which prevails in the current collections. It is far from clear how and when this transformation took place, but I would suggest there was more than one route travelled, with discernibly different results.

A Hornepype (H. Aston, c. 1530)

aston hornpipe

A Hornpipe (Wm. Byrd, c. 1590)

byrd hornpipe

The Hornpipe (Ballet Lute Book c.1590)

ballet hornpipe

In fact, some evidence does survive, not only of the old Lancashire music but of a change in fashion that occurred during the first half of the 16th century. This comes in a remarkable ‘song’ preserved in the note-book of William Blundell of Crosby in Lancashire, who was a noted soldier in the Royalist forces. It is ascribed with the date 1641, and titled ‘A country song remembering the harmless mirth of Lancashire in peaceable times; to the tune of ‘Roger o’ Coverley’. It describes how six couples ‘Tired out the bagpipe and fiddle with dancing the hornpipe and diddle’. To this gathering are added ‘the lads’ from several of the surrounding villages;

‘The lads of Chowbent were there
And had brought their dogs to the bear
But they had no time to play
They danced away the day
For thither then they had brought Knex
To play Chowbent hornpipe, that Nick’s
Tommy’s and Geffrey’s shoon
Were worn quite through to the tune’
(Gibson, who edited the notebook, says that ‘Thomas Knex was a noted piper’.)

By good fortune a tune called ‘Chow Bente’ survives in two lute manuscripts from the period. This one is extracted from the tablature in Jane Pickering’s lute book (which carries the date 1616 though some of it may date from 1630-1650). The lute setting ranges widely over two and a half octaves, but the tune seems to be (as Ward suggested) a form of the ‘English Hunt’s Up’ (see Ward, 1979). I have included the closing cadence which is not strictly part of the tune but which displays the rhythmic concept. The tune also seems to be required for a ballad in a play performed in 1639 to the words ‘the great Choe bente/ the little Choe bente/ Sir Piercy leigh under the line/ God bless the good Earl of Shrewsbury/ for he’s a good friend of mine” (Ward, 1979). It is a ‘galliard’ of the simplest type, which Arbeau calls ‘tourdion’.

Chow bente

chow bente

Here we have the familiar 16th century hornpipe rhythm, which Hawkins described as six crotchets, ‘four with a down, two with an up hand’ (see above), and which is clearly related to the Galliard’s four steps and a pause. However, Blundell’s poem has more to tell us:

“The Lads of Latham did dance
Their Lord Strange hornpipe, which once
Was held to have been the best
But now they do hold it too sober
And therefore will needs give it over
They call on their piper then jovially
‘Play us brave Roger o’ Coverley’.

This ‘too sober’ tune must be the ‘Lord Strange’s Galliard’ that appears in two different versions in lute books from the 1590’s.1 This is the version from the Ballet lute book where it is called ‘Squire’s galliard’; more or less the same music appears in the Wickhambrook manuscript as ‘My Lord Strange’s Galliard’. The version of ‘Roger of Coverley’ here is the one printed by Playford in The Division Violin.

Lord Strange’s Galliard

 lord stranges

 Roger of Coverly

roger of coverly


In his Popular Music of the Olden Time, Chappell says that he possesses a MS. version of this tune called ‘Old Roger of Coverlay for evermore, a Lancashire Hornpipe’, and in The First and Second Division Violin (in the British Museum Catalogue attributed to John Eccles, and dated 1705) another version of it is entitled ‘Roger of Coverly the true Cheishere way’. If we join this to Blundell’s reference to it then we have the oldest named ‘Lancashire Hornpipe’ so far, appearing as an innovation around 1640. A 9/4 hornpipe ‘called the Bag-pipe Horne-pipe other-wise The Knave of Clubs’ appears in the ‘Leycester Manuscript’ (in the Cheshire Records Office, MS DLT/B31, c. 1659). The music is directly related to another piece in a manuscript in Manchester Public Library (BRm/832Vu51) entitled ‘Lancashire-pipes’. Both pieces are printed in Robin with the Bagpipe (and in Common stock, June 2011). This latter piece is concluded with ‘An Upstroke’ in 6/4; the second section of Blundell’s song, which is also in jig-rhythm, is set to a tune called ‘the Upstroke’.

So it seems that in the first half of the 17th century the 9/4 hornpipe was in vogue. The process whereby this could lead to a 3/2 version is displayed in the 1670 edition of Playford’s Apollo’s Banquet, which includes what Martha Curti points out is perhaps the first collection of published hornpipes. It contains seven hornpipes, at least two of which are by Matthew Locke, and three of which include the word ‘Jigg’ in their title. One of these is titled simply ‘A Jigg Horn Pipe’; it has the C.3 time signature in the original, but looks as if it should be 9/4, and is attributed to Matthew Locke. This tune is revealing since it also appears in a manuscript now in the New York Public Library (Drexel 3976, no title). with a second voice added which carries slurs between pairs of crotchets at one bar, indicating very clearly a 3/2 rhythm. This is perhaps the first unambiguous published evidence of this rhythm for hornpipes.

A Jig Hornpipe

a jig hornpipe


If one were to play this last version according to the principles set down by Hotteterre for pointing crotchets, making the first long and the second short, it would become more or less a 9/4 tune.
Another important example of the link between the two time signatures, and how they are related, appears in the divisions on ‘Tollet’s Ground’ included in Playford’s Division Violin of 1684. The ground and the majority of the divisions are in 9/4 but there are two interludes one in 6/4 and one in 3/2. The first I give here followed by the matching bars in 9/4. Despite being marked 6/4, the tied repeated notes suggest strongly that the first interlude should also be read as 3/2; its last strain certainly should; this music is reminiscent of Walsh’s ‘Black Mary’s Hornpipe’. The second excerpt is marked in 3/2, perhaps the first appearance in print of the ‘Lancashire’ hornpipe format which dominates Marsden’s collection.

tollets ground

These are ‘divisions’ on a ground written in 9/4, three dotted minims to a bar. The composer of these 3/2 divisions has changed this to three minims, to be played in the same time. In fact, the opening strain of the original bears a strong resemblance to another 9/4 hornpipe that Playford was to publish three years later which he called ‘A Scotch hornpipe’ and which is the same music as Wright’s ‘A North Cuntry Tune’ (better known now as ‘the Soutars of Selkirk’).
Another intriguing example of the relationship between the 9/4 hornpipe and the 3/2 version is described in Jeremy Barlow’s paper ‘Grounds, Hornpipes, Dumps, Marches and a Jig; English Vernacular Keyboard Style, 1530-1700’ given at a National Early Music Association conference in 1993. (I am indebted to Jeremy Barlow for supplying a rare copy of the published papers from this conference). The music comes from ‘Elizabeth Rogers Hir Virginall Booke’ (Ed. Charles J. F. Cofone, 1975). The date of this manuscript is 1656.2

Hornpipe (Elizabeth Rogers’ Virginal Book 1656)

elisabeth rogers hornpipe

Marsden’s collection includes three hornpipes in 9/4, and one of these re-appears in a 3/2 version; similarly, both his ‘Old Spand’ and ‘Altringam’ might be compared with Wright’s ‘Rolling Hornpipe’ and the Cheshire Rowling Hornpipe in Walsh (in 9/4, wrongly barred in 6/4), and Wright’s version of ‘John of the Green’ relates to the later versions of David Young and John Clare.
The passage from 9/4 to 3/2 is, I would suggest, one path by which the 3/2 hornpipe appeared. Two further paths might be delineated, both of which are developments of different forms of the Galliard. The first is related to the form of Galliard such as the ‘Lord Strange’ and to that on which the Ballet hornpipe is based. The following is from Gervaise’s Sixieme Livre de Danseries.

Galliarde V (Gervaise, 1555)

galliarde gervaise

The process whereby this form acquired a 3/2 rhythm is mirrored in the publications of Playford in the second half of the 17th century. His first hornpipe, ‘The Cavaliers Hornpipe’ appeared in Musick’s Recreation on the Lyra-Viol in 1652. Five years later he included one in the Dancing Master (1657) entitled ‘Lady Banbury’s Horn Pipe’, the first hornpipe to be published with dance instructions (a complex dance for ‘as many as will’) but it has a very different kind of ambiguity, since it is designated as in common time (4/4). As Martha Curti (Curti, 1979) points out, it makes much more sense re-barred in triple time. Curti assumes 3/2, but it seems to me that 6/4 is a better interpretation, since, though some bars make sense as 3/2, the rhythm of others immediately suggests a piece in the tradition of the Morlaye hornpipe

Lady Bunbury’s Hornpipe

lady bunburys hornpipe

This ambiguity between 6/4 and 3/2 was actually built into the notation of English music until the latter part of the 17th century, since the time signature of C.3 could mean either duple compound (6/4, what Playford in 1670 calls ‘Tripla time by 3 crotchets”) or simple triple (3/2, Playford’s “Tripla Time by 3 minims”). It is an ambiguity that even the 16th century composers of Galliards and the like had exploited but nowhere is this more fully explored than in the Courante, a dance which arrived in England from France. Playford published many of them, of which this is one of the more elaborate.

Curant de la Moor (Playford, 1657)

crant de le moor

It is not too difficult to see how such developments might have an effect on other 6/4 music. If we combine these ideas with a galliard such as Gervaise’s it might easily lead us to the tune that appears in the collection of hornpipes that Playford published in 1670 that includes the ‘Jigg Horn Pipe’ described above. This is ‘A Jigg Divided 12 Ways' a tune that Johnson published in 1742 as ‘Old Lancashire Hornpipe’ and of which John Ward said ‘it is not a hornpipe’.

 A Jigg Divided 12 Ways

jig divided 12 ways

Strains 3, 4, 5 and 11 carry 3/2 characteristics, but the remaining strains all seem to hark back to the 6/4 hornpipes of the 16th century, and Pulver unhesitatingly described it as in ‘triple time’ (Pulver, 1914). The same tune appears in the Henry Atkinson manuscript in 1694 titled ‘Reed House Rant’ and this is the title it has in the version included in the Vickers’ manuscript in 1760, though the tune has undergone some major rhythmic changes by then. Vickers also supplies us with ‘The Dusty Miller’, written out in a way which might be understood as a descendant of this form (the original is in 6/8), although this is not the only possible interpretation. In fact, one of only two copies of the 1670 edition of Apollo’s Banquet, now in New York Public Library, has ‘The Dusty Miller’ written by its former owner in the margin beside the ‘Jigg Divided 12 Ways’. (The other copy of the 1670 edition of Apollo’s Banquet is in the Wighton Collection in Dundee Public Library.)

The Dusty Miller (Vickers MS., c. 1773)

dusty miller

One further path remains whereby the 6/4 galliard may have become the 3/2 hornpipe and it is a revealing one. This is a development of the simplest kind of galliard, one which is echoed in the Chow Bente tune. One example is the hornpipe that appears in Jane Pickering’s lute book and probably dates from c. 1630. On its own it would seem to imply a 3/2 rhythm, but when related to the Chow Bente rhythm it could still be read as 6/4. The same could be said for the second tune here which comes from a keyboard manuscript dating from the first quarter of the 17th century.

A Hornpipe (Pickering MS, c. 1630)

pickering hornpipe
A Hornpipe (c. 1625)

hornpipe 1625

This tune occupies a crucial place in the history of the hornpipe since it seems to be the first appearance of the name joined with a characteristic melodic pattern quite separate from the other hornpipes we have seen suggested so far. Here is what may well be one of the oldest surviving traditional tunes of this type, if the story of its origin is to be believed.3

Adam Glen

adam glen 

It is immediately obvious that this piece has inherited its thematic material from the earlier one, as it has its ‘harmonic’ pattern, which we might describe as XXXY. I propose to call this form the ‘Border’ hornpipe. Both this melodic shape and the harmonic pattern appear repeatedly in tunes from the Borders during the 18th century. However, only five of Marsden’s tunes fit this harmonic pattern and only one of these really fits this rhythmic pattern. All the rest are of the form XYXX or some variant of it, most include the crotchet-minim motif, and all have the rhythmic structure of the ‘Old Lancashire’, characterised by the three opening minims or three pairs of crotchets in sequence and first seen in the 3/2 section of ‘Tollet’s Ground’, apparently a development from the 9/4 hornpipe tunes. I will refer to these as ‘Lancashire’ hornpipes, though the terms should not be regarded as geographically exclusive, nor are they rigid divisions; hybrids do occasionally appear.
These two forms are classically displayed by the two tunes recorded in Scotland with the title ‘Welcome Home My Dearie’; the ‘border’ form is from John Rook’s 1760 collection; the ‘Lancashire’ form is from Neil Stewart (1761). Notice how strain 2 of Rook’s version accommodates the words ‘Long stay’d away, welcome home my dearie’, whereas in Stewart’s version the ‘Lancashire’ form has the title ‘You’ve been long away, welcome home my dearie’.

Welcome Home My Dearie (John Rook)

welcome home rook

Welcome Home My Dearie (Neil Stewart)

welcome home stewart

In 1695 Playford published his first hornpipe with the unambiguous 3/2 time signature, Mr. Eaglesfield’s. In the same year Purcell published his own hornpipes in a similar format (one from The Fairie Queen of 1692 and two from the music for Abdelazar, 1695, amongst others). However, like those of John Ravenscroft included in Walsh’s collection, these are rather different compositions to either of the two forms identified so far. Whilst they take their inspiration from the ‘traditional’ material, particularly that of the ‘Lancashire’ type, the dominant influence here is that of the baroque style which was sweeping the art music world. They are the result of a cultured city’s ‘conjuring’ with the irresistible force of ‘Northern musick’. Court dancing masters such as Isaac went on to compose elaborate dances to hornpipe music of this sort, with elaborate steps taken from the French baroque dance vocabulary; the notation of the floor-patterns and steps for these dances are works of art in themselves.

Mr Eaglesfield’s New Hornpipe (Playford, 1695)

eaglesfields hornpipe

Tracing the history of the hornpipe has taken us through a wide range of music, along paths which are sometimes more overgrown than we might choose; indeed, other paths might well be laid. The marvel is that so much that might be considered ephemeral has survived. This is chiefly thanks to those few musicians who included popular music in their lute books. One of the most remarkable pieces is preserved in two collections. The first is in Jane Pickering’s book, where it is titled ‘The Scots Huntsuppe’; it is a medley that comprises what seem to be the roots of Border music. The full setting was published in Out of the Flames (Cannon, Goodacre 2004), and a ‘bagpipe way’ is in The Day it Daws (Stewart, 2001). Here is the section which seems to be related to the ’Border’ hornpipe music, together with similar music from the Mynshall lute manuscript (c. 1595). Another medley, again titled ‘Scottish Hunts Up’ and made from the same material, is in the Holmes lute manuscript (c. 1590); in addition to the material in Pickering’s setting, Holmes includes what looks like the earliest suggestion of the ‘Lancashire’ type. The two pieces are very similar, but do not appear to be directly related. It would be extremely interesting to know something about their sources, since between them they give more than a hint of a very different path for the development of hornpipe music. In speaking of the border hornpipe, James Allan maintained that this "peculiar measure originated in the borders of England and Scotland" and William Stenhouse claimed, in his Illustrations of the Lyric Poetry of Scotland, that these ‘old tunes’ had been played in Scotland "time out of mind”; both these claims seem to be borne out by the glimpses we get here of this ancient music.

Scottish Huntsuppe (Pickering Lute Ms, 1640 excerpt)

hunts up holmes

Scotch Huntes suppe (Mynshall Lute MS, 1595 excerpt)

hunts up mynshall

1 Greg Stevens, in reviewing the original publication of this essay, claimed that this reference to ‘Lord Strange’s Hornpipe’ implied the tune which appears some 100 years later in a manuscript from the north-west of England and which is the same as that in Marsden’s collection entitled ‘Lon Sclater’. I cannot agree with this, since Blundell’s ‘too sober’ description does not seem to be appropriate, implying as it does a tune from a much earlier era.
2 Speaking of the broken chord figurations in the right hand, Barlow says ‘Such figures form a stock in trade in the volumes of divisions on popular tunes published towards the end of the[17th] century for violin and recorder.’ Notice also the ‘grace notes’ in bars 1 and 2; are these early ‘bagpipe’ imitations?
3 From McLachlan’s The Pipers’ Assistant, 1854. McLachlan says Glen, who is said to have composed it, was 90 when he died at Sherrifmuir in 1715.
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Curti, Martha, “The Hornpipe in the 17th Century” in Musical Review, Vol. 40, No.1, Feb., 1979 Offord, 1985
Herd, David, Ancient Scottish Songs, Vol. II, 1769
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_________, “Harmonic Proportion” in Common Stock, Journal of the Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society, Vol. 18, No. 1, June, 2003
Stewart, P., Robin with the Bagpipe; The English Bagpipe and its Music, 2001
________, The Day it Daws, Piping in the Scottish Lowlands, 1400-1715, 2005
________, Three Extraordinary Collections, Hornpipe Music, 2007
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Wright, Thomas, Songs and Ballads chiefly of the reign of Philip and Mary, 186