Inspired by Mark O’Connor’s definition of a breakdown in the infamous thread on the Facebook Fiddler’s Association that began with my post of Cumberland Gap asking the question, who is your favorite breakdown fiddler. I should have known better than to ask a question like that to 200 ravenous fiddlers. 😉
I think I had read through DeGolyer’s Hornpipe a couple of times in Cole’s 1000 Fiddle Tunes, but I hadn’t ever “played it” until tonight. The variations are impromptu, and I really just worked them out in the 5 minutes before I recorded it, so don’t expect any serious polishing of the arrangement. It is rough, and I enjoyed every minute (all 5 of them) of making it happen.
I hope you enjoy it too, and it has a cool story if you read below.
DeGolyer Hornpipe according to Fiddler’s Companion
DE GOLYER. American, Hornpipe. B Flat Major. Standard tuning. AABB. The melody is attributed to “Garfield” in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection (1883), apparently a joke as the De Golyer paving-contract scandal was one of two involving President James Garfield (1831-1881). At the time Garfield was a Republican congressman, and had prepared a brief arguing the merits of a certain pavement, which he argued before a congressional committee. When, later on, the contract was found to be fraudulent, political opponents made much of Garfield’s involvement, yet he seems to have had nothing to do with the contractual arrangements, and only received a fee for his preparation and delivering of the brief on what was considered a superior product. Garfield was assassinated early in his first term by a low-level bureaucrat who had been spurned for a patronage position (and two years prior to the publication of Ryan’s Mammoth Collection). Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; pg. 89. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; pg. 124.