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THE TRIPLE TIME HORNPIPE

from 1550 to 1800

Pete Stewart
The Triple-time Hornpipe

O
f the 145 tunes in these three collections, 67 are named as hornpipes, and another 16 are of the
same format; in addition 19 tunes are named as ‘Jiggs’ and another 14 are of the ‘jigg’ format.
Thus, between them, these two forms make up almost 80 percent of the total. Whilst the
general format of the ‘jiggs’ may be more or less what today’s musicians might expect, the hornpipes
are not. So what can be said about this music, and what kind of dance did it accompany?
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, GCDG),
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’,
#145). 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 (F
natural in G, producing a Myxolodian scale). The effect is thus to generate two ‘tonics’ a tone apart
(either F and G or G and A in the case of a bagpipe in G), 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 (D-G) 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 (e.g. #2), XYXX (e.g. #3), and
XXYY (e.g. #7), though this last can also appear as YYXX (e.g. #1).
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 15 th 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 (pp. 70, 74, 76). 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.
"Heighe!" quoth Hogkyne, "gyrd byth ars,
Letts dance all for compayne."
Then Jocky, when dynner was done, "Halfe torne, Jone, haffe nowe, Jock!
Begane hyme selffe to advance, Well dansyde, be sent Dennye!
And sayd, "let pypar pype up sone,
And he that breakys the firste strocke, Sall
For, be our Lord, I wyll go dance.
gyve the pypar a pennye.
Jocky took Jenny faste be the hand;
In with fut, Robsone! owt with fut, Byllynge!
Then pypar lafte the trace;
Here wyll be good daunsyng belyve;
He playd so myryly the cold not stand
Daunsyng hath cost me forty good shyllynge,
But the dansyd all apace.
Ye forti shillynge and fyve.
The pyper pypte tyll his bally grypte,
Torn rownde, Robyne! kepe trace, Wylkyne!
And the rowte began to revell;
"Set fut to fut a pas," quod Pylkyne;
With that lowde myrth he browth many forth,
"Abowt with howghe let us wynde"
Then upstart carll and kevel.
"No, Tybe, war, Tom well," sayd Cate;
"Now play us a horn pype," Jocky can say;
"Kepe in Sandar, hold owte, Syme.
Then todle lowdle the pyper dyd playe.
Nowe, Gaff, hear gome abowt me mat;
Harry Sprig, Harry Spryg, Mawde my Nyccoll, well dansyde and tryme."
doughtare,
"A gambole," quod Jocky, "stand asyde;
Thomas my sone, and Jone cum after.
Let ylke man play his parte.
Wylkyn and Malkyn and Marryon be nam,
Lettes all kepe the strock in the peane of Mak rom, my mastars; stande mor wyde;
shame. I pray youe with all my harte."
Torn about, Robyn; let Besse stand asyde; Hear ys for me wightly whipte,
"Now smyt up, mynstrell," the women cryde. And it wear even for the nons;
Now for the lyghtly skypte,
The pyper playd with his fynggars and
Well staggeryde on the stonnys.
thommes;
Play thick and short, mynstrell; my mothar "Be sweat sent Tandrowe, I am weary." quoth
commis. Jennye,
"Good pypar, holde thy peace;
"I wyl dance,' said one "and I for the wars;
And thaw salt have thy bryddes penny."
Dance we, dance we, dance we!"
Then the pyper began to seas

Detail from ‘Village Wedding’ by Jean Brueghel


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 2 nd guitar book
contains the ‘Hornepipe D’Angleterre’. (The piece appears later in a number of lute manuscripts.)

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

Putting these three elements together should yield an idea of the nature of the hornpipe-jig in the mid-
16th 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 13 th 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-16 th century rural dancer, to whom the
refinements of the Pavane or the Basse Danse were barely dancing at all; they were basically the Round-
dance 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’ (see p. 51). 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 (see p. 68). 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 (see p. 104).
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)

A Hornpipe (Wm. Byrd, c. 1590)

The Horne Pipe (Ballet Lute Book, c. 1590)

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 16 th 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 (Gibson, 1880) 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

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

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

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.
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. 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 Jigg Horn Pipe

Untitled (A Jigg Horn Pipe)

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’ (#97). The second excerpt is marked in 3/2,
perhaps the first appearance in print of the ‘Lancashire’ hornpipe format which dominates Marsden’s
collection.

Divisions on Tollet’s Ground2

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

2
Playford, The Division Viol, 1684.
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’ (#45 and concordances).
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. 3

Hornpipe (Elizabeth Rogers’ Virginal Book, 1656)

Marsden’s collection includes three hornpipes in 9/4 (#4, 8, 12), and one (#8) of these re-appears in a
3/2 version (#1); similarly, both his ‘Old Spand’ (#4) and ‘Altringam’ (#12) might be compared with
Wright’s ‘Rolling Hornpipe’ and the Cheshire Rowling Hornpipe in Walsh (#107, in 9/4, wrongly barred
in 6/4), and Wright’s version of ‘John of the Green’ (#32) relates to the later versions of David Young
and John Clare (#157, 158).
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)

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 Banbury’s Horn Pipe

3
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?
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 16 th 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)

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


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)

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)

A Hornpipe (c. 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.4

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 (#9,
#16, #20, #23, #24) and only one of these really fits this rhythmic pattern (#16). 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’ (#2), characterised by the three opening minims or three pairs of
crotchets in sequence (‘Spotland’, #13), 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 such as
‘R. Key’s’ (#23) 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 My Dearie (Neil Stewart)

In 1695 Playford published his first hornpipe with the unambiguous 3/2 time signature (Mr.
Eaglesfield’s, #249). 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 (see p.14).

4
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.
Mr Eaglesfield’s New Hornpipe (Playford, 1695)

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 huntsupe (Pickering; excerpt)

Scotch Huntes suppe (Mynshall; excerpt)

Scottish Hunts Up (Holmes; excerpt)


Notation for ‘The Richmond’, a hornpipe by Mr Isaacs, published in 1706. The notation is in the
‘French’ baroque style, using steps based on the vocabulary published in 1700 by Feuillet in Paris and
by Weaver and Siris in England in 1706. One of six surviving dance notations of this form, this is the
only one composed for the theatre, the others being for royal birthday balls.

(from ‘The Hornpipe, our national dance?’ a paper by Madeleine Inglehearn presented to the NEMA conference
‘The Hornpipe’, 1993)

References
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
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
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, 1860