Randall’s Hornpipe – Fiddle Tune a Day – Day 361

Most of you know by now that I love Bb Hornpipes, and the twistier they are the better. Not only is Randall’s Hornpipe in Bb, but the B part of the tune totally puts you on your head because the arpeggio patterns start out in one direction, and then they flip backwards. It really plays with your head. If you listen closely, you will also hear a phrase in the A Part that sounds almost like Good for the Tongue.

A couple of weeks ago, I put out a request for tunes that were so important that I really needed to have them as part of Fiddle Tune a Day.  Chris Ricker, an excellent Canadian fiddler suggested that I should play Randall’s Hornpipe (along with Snowflake Reel). And, since Randall’s is a twisty Bb hornpipe, it was a no-brainer for me to work it up.



Randall’s Hornpipe According to Fiddler’s Companion

RANDALL’S HORNPIPE. American, Hornpipe. B Flat Major. Standard tuning. AABB. Source for notated version: Benny Thomasson (Texas) [Phillips]. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; pg. 95. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 2, 1995; pg. 217. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; pg. 131.

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  1. says

    Comments About Hornpipes: My understanding is, while hornpipes are seldom noted as such, I have always been under the impression that a properly played hornpipe is executed with a dotted-eigth + sixteenth rhythm rather than with straight eight-notes. Having played for Irish dancers, I learned the hornpipe has to be played at relaxed or moderate tempo because the dance involves leaping or hopping steps. These hopping steps are impossible to do if the tempo races off and the dotted rhythm is smoothed out like a reel. For a non-dance performance, hornpipes make really great show pieces, especially so if you can keep the essence of the dotted rhythm going even while playing at a faster tempo.

    FYI I also love the Bb Hornpipes, and for some reason find they lay nicely under fingers, for a key that I don’t find so friendly when playing other tunes. Currently I’m working on a set of three hornpipes that I put together based on a common subject: Birds of Prey Set–The Golden Eagle (Key G), The Hawk (Key D), and the The Grey Eagle (Key A).

    • says

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Charles. My understanding is that there is a range for tempos of these types, with clogs being slower and more stilted rhythmically, hornpipes in the middle, and reels the most straight. Some hornpipes tend more toward a clog tempo, and others tend more toward a reel tempo. Generally, the Dotted 8th/16th pattern is too extreme of a swing for a hornpipe, but there should be some lilt to it. I In Ryan’s Mammoth Book of Fiddle Tunes, there are a number of hornpipes noted with the dotted rhythm, while most are notated with the straight rhythm. Some of them are also noted that they can be played as a clog. Even with reels, there is a range of tempos that dancers will want to step dance to them.

      These are definitely good things to keep in mind when we are playing. Also, I like your idea of doing a set of related tunes. Going up a 5th with each tune is also a fun modulation.

      Yesterday, I heard a TED video (on youtube) of Natalie McMaster and Donell Leahy playing that I think you would enjoy. Donell does an amazing job with the Banks, and at the end of the video he does a set of A tunes that ends with Devil’s Dream, that is borrowed liberally from Jean Carignan also very well done.

  2. says

    Vi, thank you so much for recommending the TED video with Natalie and Donell… what outstanding playing!
    Frankly, I am a bit stunned by the virtuosity of playing displayed by Donell’s spicatto bowing and then the left-hand pizzacato licks he borrowed from Jean Carignan’s outstanding version of Devil’s Dream. Whew!

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