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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.
Baskervill, Charles R., The Elizabethan Jig and related song drama, Chicago, 1929
Cannon, Roderick D., and Goodacre, J., eds., Out of the Flames - Studies on the William Dixon Manuscript, LBPS, 2004
Chappell, W. Popular Music of the Olden Time, 2 vols., London, 1859
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
Pulver, Jeffrey, “The Ancient Dance Forms, second paper, The Gigue”, in Proceedings of the Musical Association, 40th session, 1913-44
Seattle, Matt, The Border Bagpipe Book, 1995
_________, “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
Ward, John, “The Lancashire Hornpipe” in Essays in Musicology; a tribute to Alvin Johnson, American Musicological Assoc., 1990
Wright, Thomas, Songs and Ballads chiefly of the reign of Philip and Mary, 186