Harvest Home is a cool Irish Hornpipe. When I first heard it on the Jay Ungar and Molly Mason CD, Harvest Home, I thought, “Wow, that really sounds a lot like Cincinnati Hornpipe, and there is no doubt. They are pretty similar tunes.
This is a recording of Steve Eulberg and I performing it at the Rocky Mountain Irish Festival.
I will let you compare the two and comment on the difference. 🙂
Harvest Home according to Fiddler’s Companion
HARVEST HOME  (Deire an Fogmair/Baile an Fhómhair). AKA and see “Cincinnati Hornpipe ,” “Cliff Hornpipe,” “Cork Hornpipe ,” “Dundee Hornpipe,” “Fred Wilson’s Clog,” “Free Round Trip,” “Granny, Will Your Dog Bite?” (Pa., floating title), “Harvest Time,” “Higgins’ Hornpipe,” “Kephart’s Clog” (Pa.), “Kildare Fancy,” “O’Higgin’s Hornpipe,” “Ruby Lip,” “Sailor’s Stampede Clog,” “Snyder’s Jig” (Pa.), “Standard Hornpipe,” “Uncle George’s Hornpipe,” “Wilson’s Clog ,” “Wilson’s Hornpipe,” “Wooden Shoe Clog,” “Zig-Zag Hornpipe/Clog.” British Isles, America; Hornpipe. USA; New England, New York, Ohio. D Major. Standard tuning. AAB (Martin): AA’B (Mitchell): AABB (most versions): AABB’ (Hardie): AA’BB’ (O’Malley): AABC (Kerr). In Ohio this tune goes under the name “Cincinnati Hornpipe,” as well as by any sources who learned it from Ryan’s Mammoth Collection. Irish sources call it the “Cork Hornpipe.” See also the related “Higgin’s Hornpipe” and other titles above for more-or-less related melodies. “Harvest Home” is often paired with “The Boys of Bluehill” by Irish musicians. Ciaran Carson, in his book Last Night’s Fun (1996), describes a late-summer’s night playing out-of-doors with a group in Garrison, on the Leitrim/Fermanagh border. They are rather quietly and politely listened to until someone calls for “Harvest Home,” and when the tune is played two old souls emerge from different parts of the crowd into the space before the stage and begin to dance:
Their hands accompany the dance in little wristy arcane movements,
thumbs alternating with their digits. Their feet are hardly off the
ground as they hell and toe and tap, till it seems there is a skim of
twilight shimmering between their boots-soles and the black wet
tarmac. Loose change jingles in their pockets as they waver gravely
in the pre-determined and formal quarter-bows, catching one another’s
little fingers on occasions, sometimes going for a full hand-clasp, instantly
and rhythmically released. They doppelgänger one another. Nods and winks
are witnessed as they undergo the subtle dramas of the ceili house. They
reinvent the past and all their past encounters; then the pattern comes
to its conclusion. Four feet stand on terra firma for one instant, then they
break apart and take the gait of normal human beings. Everyone’s relaxed
now… (pg. 111).
In America the tune was known since at least the 1840’s. It appears as an untitled hornpipe (in the key of A major) on a page of the music manuscripts of Setauket, Long Island, painter and fiddler William Sydney Mount (1807-1868), along with “Roscommons Hornpipe” and an untitled country dance (ms. at the Long Island Museum).
William Sidney Mount (1807-1868). The Power of Music (The Force of Music), 1847.
The melody was played by old fiddler William “Jinky” Wells for the Bampton Morris Dancers in Oxfordshire, although it is not a morris tune and is seldom heard for morris dancing nowadays. In parts of the British Isles a ‘Harvest Home’ was synonymous with a community dance, similar to what New Englanders might call a ‘Kitchen Junket.’ In English sessions, however, “Harvest Home” is considered to be somewhat of a ‘beginner’s tune’. Kieth Chandler, in his essay “Musicians in 19th Century Southern England” (General Introduction, part 3), finds reference to such an event in a private house at Swalcliffe Park, Oxfordshire, the residence of Henry Norris, probably in the late 19th century:
…At the end of the summer, when the hay and the harvest had been gathered
in, Mr. Norris gave a ‘Harvest Home’ to the people he employed…The dancing
was in the courtyard of the house, on the clean stone floor and a local fiddler
supplied the music on his fiddle…At Christmas there was sometimes a dance
in the kitchen. A story goes, that on one occasion when the room was very full,
the little old fiddler was hoisted on to the dresser where a chair had been placed,
to put him out of the way…
(see also note for “Around the House and Mind the Dresser” for a similar anecdotal conservation of space in Ireland).