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Thread: What is a Hornpipe?

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    Default What is a Hornpipe?

    I may sound dumb, especially since I am mostly Irish...But just what is it that makes a tune a hornpipe or a reel or a jig?

    Thanks and feel free to joke about me lol

    rf37

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    writing about music
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by rf37 View Post
    I may sound dumb, especially since I am mostly Irish...But just what is it that makes a tune a hornpipe or a reel or a jig?

    Thanks and feel free to joke about me lol

    rf37
    Invitation taken...

    But seriously - not sure what "mostly" Irish means. If you grew up with the music you're supposed to know, if not you're not. Either or.

    I frequently get the impression that the Irish tend to forget their own music as something they leave behind after school, like their language. So very sad.
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    Dave Keswick Ravenwood's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by rf37 View Post
    I may sound dumb, especially since I am mostly Irish...But just what is it that makes a tune a hornpipe or a reel or a jig?rf37
    Maybe not as dumb as you think.

    As to the difference between reels/hornpipes and jigs, Mandroid's post should make it fairly clear.

    As to the difference between hornpipes and reels, however, the distinction is sometimes less clear.
    In many ways the distinction is a fuzzy one. They share the same meter (4/4), and depending on who you listen to, they can often sound very much alike. Some musicians put a lot of swing (sometimes called dottedness) into their reels and not as much into their hornpipes. In general, hornpipes tend to be slower than reels and have more swing. Phrases in hornpipes often end with three quarter notes, and hornpipes typically have more triplets. But, there really are no hard and fast rules. There are many hornpipes that don't end their phrases with three quarter notes, and there are many with no triplets. This is one of those cases where every time there is a rule there are lots of exceptions.

    There are some tunes you shouldn't have any problem distinguishing such as Fisher's Hornpipe and the Red Haired Boy. Others you may have to listen to very carefully, or ask about. The Fiddler's Companion website at http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/index.html
    can be a great help in this, and often will identify a tune as being played in both rhythms if that is the case or the source of confusion.

    My best advice is to listen to a lot of reels and hornpipes as they are played by different musicians. Eventually you will get a feel for which tunes are which. It does take time.

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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Growing up in Ireland i can safely assure you that Irish traditional music is not a cornerstone of Irish education or in fact sure fire part of an Irish upbringing. Sure enough you can find I.T. if you go looking for it and there are families which foster a strong involvement with 'traditional' Irish culture, but for the average Irish youth is more likely to be more familiar with American/British pop culture than anything eminanting from the Gaeltacht... yes, you could happily live your life in Ireland ignoring the presence of I.T. music, and i know many who have.

    In short i doubt that most Irish folks, even those who profess that their Irish from their curling red folicles to their freckled wee toes could tell you what a hornpipe is either.

    Besides, as far as i can tell there is nothing intrinsically 'Irish' about a 'Hornpipe'... tis about as Irish as the Polka.

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by M.Marmot View Post
    Growing up in Ireland i can safely assure you that Irish traditional music is not a cornerstone of Irish education or in fact sure fire part of an Irish upbringing.
    Where did I get that picture of elementary school children all playing penny whistles? Is that just a cliche?
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    if it has "hornpipe" in the title. . .

    After listening for awhile you might hear a different lilt to a hornpipe than a reel.
    Devils Hornpipe, Fiddler's Hornpipe, i don't hear what i hear in Fischer's. Then the Cuckoo's Nest, has a similar hornpipey lilt but most would call it a reel.
    Cyril Stinnett was a hornpipe fiddler. He thought in HP.
    my YT site dedicated to Cyril Stinnett
    i by no means wish to toot my own. But if you want to hear an HP fiddler, Cyril was the one. If you know the tunes but have heard them played by someone else, the key is in that difference.

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    Michael Culliton mculliton123's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Here is yet another link to Irish rythms:
    http://sites.google.com/site/irishmusicrhythms/

    Michael
    All the Best
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    The distinction of hornpipe and reel is a grey area - I have heard hornpipes played fast and flat like reels (which is a pity), and some like to play reels with a hornpipey punctuation. The one sure way is to know the tune and its official declaration, as farmerjones suggested.

    Another similar minefield is jigs and slides.
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Where did I get that picture of elementary school children all playing penny whistles? Is that just a cliche?
    Oh, you do get the odd tin whistle/recorder class for the kiddies, and might even learn to sing Baidin Fheilimi and the like, but these lessons are not usually systematic or widespread, more a cursory nod and a wink to Irish music culture... it really seems to depend on the reigning personalities and agendas at each given school just how much attention is spent on such lessons. More often than not if a child is pursuing an active interest in traditional music it is usually through family or associations outside of regular school time.

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by M.Marmot View Post
    Oh, you do get the odd tin whistle/recorder class for the kiddies, and might even learn to sing Baidin Fheilimi and the like, but these lessons are not usually systematic or widespread...
    Ok, the usual cliche based on anecdotal knowledge, then. What you describe reminds me of my own elementary school time, when one single motivated teacher organized a group for medieval instruments and Orff-type percussion; that's where I played my first instrument - a schmalzither (early and remote relative of the dulcimer). I would go back and thank him, if he was still alive.
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Ok, the usual cliche based on anecdotal knowledge, then. What you describe reminds me of my own elementary school time, when one single motivated teacher organized a group for medieval instruments and Orff-type percussion; that's where I played my first instrument - a schmalzither (early and remote relative of the dulcimer). I would go back and thank him, if he was still alive.
    Yep, that seems to be pretty much the general accepted attitude toward music and the arts in the average educational systems... these are subjects that are tolerated but not endorsed.

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Gave a traveler from Alabama then had Florida as his home state , a couch crash one night a couple years ago , said he was pure blood Irish heritage ,

    had to Inform him , that with centuries of Viking and other invasions, of Eire , there was slim likelihood
    there is any such purity .

    said he had Red hair just like my buddy, from Wisconsin , who has proudly announced his Norwegian heritage, repeatedly.

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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Meanwhile back to the question ..... lots of good stuff/references have been given. I like the use of the word lilt to describe hornpipes .... i've always thought of a reel as something you could only dance to .... with a hornpipe you could dance or skip.

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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    I liked Jimmy Gaudreau's take on it:

    "Nobody ever explained to me what a hornpipe was, so I figured I'd confuse a few more people" (on writing his composition Edsel's Tailpipe.)

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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Where did I get that picture of elementary school children all playing penny whistles? Is that just a cliche?
    Yeah, I always pictured Irish school kids playing a penny whistle with a pint o' stout on their desk.

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    MM Cole's 1000 fiddle tunes writes out
    lots of 2/4 reels .. jigs in6/8, some 9/8 etc..

    It's not all 4/4 ..
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    Plank Spanker outdoors4me's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    What is a Hornpipe?

    Something I don't play very well...



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    Unruly Crumudgeon Loretta Callahan's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    All 4/4 time sigs are not created equally it seems. Been struggling with the reel/hornpipe thing for a while now myself. I found this illuminating discussion:

    http://www.irishtune.info/rhythm/
    Just visiting.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    There is supposed to be a "bounce" to a hornpipe, with pair of quarter notes played sort of half-way between straight 4/4 and a dotted-quarter-eighth-note notation. But I was interested in Ravenwood saying that Fisher's Hornpipe was clearly distinguishable as a hornpipe; I've heard so many play it at top speed with no suggestion of "dottedness," that it might be called Fisher's Reel instead.

    I've been told that the Scots play hornpipes very fast, the Welsh very slow (the practice of dancing hornpipes while balancing a pair of lighted candles on one's palms, and not allowing the flames to flicker, would enforce a measured tempo!), and the Irish somewhere in between. The amount of "lilt" or "bounce" varies from player to player.

    Jigs are in 6/8, slip jigs in 9/8, as a rule. Personally, I like playing hornpipes at not-breakneck speed, or what I officiously call "hornpipe tempo." I've been at many a seisun where someone will take off at a gallop on Rickett's or Staten Island, though, and we all have to tag along as best we can.
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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    There is supposed to be a "bounce" to a hornpipe, with pair of quarter notes played sort of half-way between straight 4/4 and a dotted-quarter-eighth-note notation. But I was interested in Ravenwood saying that Fisher's Hornpipe was clearly distinguishable as a hornpipe; I've heard so many play it at top speed with no suggestion of "dottedness," that it might be called Fisher's Reel instead.
    Fisher's is sometimes learned as a fiddle tune by Bluegrass players, and they'll flatten it out because that's just the style (no knock on BG here).

    Another interesting comparison is the original (AFAIK) hornpipe version "The Jolly Beggarman" which became the "Red Haired Boy" in Americana music... flattened-out and played faster as a reel. It can be fun to play both versions back-to-back, start with the hornpipe where the notes are a little different from Red Haired Boy in the versions I've heard, and then kick it up into Red Haired Boy at a much faster pace.

    Here's a hornpipe (Liverpool Hornpipe) at a much different pace than the way most sessions play them, and showing the actual dance form... or at least a performance version of it. And speaking of "bounce".... dig the bouncy stage they're playing and dancing on...


  24. #22

    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Invitation taken...

    But seriously - not sure what "mostly" Irish means.
    Means I got some German in me to but just a little.

    Always liked the Celtic music but just now starting to learn to play it, Thanks for the responses. Keep em coming though and all opinions welcome

    rf37

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Here's a hornpipe (Liverpool Hornpipe) at a much different pace than the way most sessions play them, and showing the actual dance form... or at least a performance version of it. And speaking of "bounce".... dig the bouncy stage they're playing and dancing on...
    That's a nice example of how it's supposed to be. You still recognize the style in the much later productions of Riverdance, Feet of Flames etc. I guess the bouncy element is what you get when you try to dance on a soundboard - does it have tonebars or x-bracing?
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post
    Yeah, I always pictured Irish school kids playing a penny whistle with a pint o' stout on their desk.
    You forgot to mention their all-green school uniforms...

    Alright, make fun of me for finding it plausible that if the Irish school system encourages kids to learn a rare language (i.e. Irish) they might follow the same cultural path music-wise (if language shapes the way you think, music shapes the way you feel). Keep 'em coming
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    Dave Keswick Ravenwood's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a Hornpipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    But I was interested in Ravenwood saying that Fisher's Hornpipe was clearly distinguishable as a hornpipe; I've heard so many play it at top speed with no suggestion of "dottedness," that it might be called Fisher's Reel instead.
    Indeed so. And, as foldedpath said the same same is true of the Red Haired Boy. This really can be the source of the confussion for beginners. They hear so many performers and session players speed them up and flatten them out that they turn into reels. With both tunes though I think when beginners first play them it is really easy and almost natural at a slow speed for them to get the hornpipe bounce into it without having to really think about it (not implying that the OP is a beginner). Played well a hornpipe should always have the bounce IMHO, and if there is a distinguishing feature that should always help differentiate a hornpipe from a reel, it is the bounce. Unfortunately, it's something you have to learn to hear because you can't always get it from sheet music.

    For the OP, if you explore the Session.org website you can find some lively, often heated discussions about the differences between the two. Those discussions may or may not be helpful but I thought I should mention them as another source. Also, try playing the two mentioned tunes at different speeds and vary the degree of bounce. That may help you find the distinguishing features.

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