Yeah, Baby. Hiawatha Hornpipe is another of my favorite Bb Hornpipes, and if you’ve been watching my Fiddle Tune a Day project for a while, you know that I love Hornpipes, especially in flat keys.
I’m pretty sure that Danita (Rast) Gardner is the first person I heard play this song. She can play hornpipes like NOBODY’S Busines.
I’ve played Bee’s Wing, Good for the Tongue, Mountain Ranger, and even Nimrod, but Hiawatha has to be the most difficult hornpipe I know. The A Part isn’t super tricky, but the B Part is truly a beast.
It’s not for the faint of heart.
Hiawatha Hornpipe according to Fiddler’s Companion
HIAWATHA. American (originally), Canadian; Hornpipe or Clog. B Flat Major. Standard tuning. AABB. It is possible this tune has some connection with the 1880 opera Hiawatha, by Edward E. Rice (music composition assisted by John J. Braham), composer of the earlier Evangeline. Rice was the Cambridge agent for the Cunard Company who attended a musical burlesque in Boston starring the popular actress Lydia Thompson, along with a bevy of scantily clad females called the British Blondes. The burlesque was but a vehicle for a rather prurient performance by the Blondes, who were the first to bare their legs and display their ample figures on stage. Rice and a friend, Cheever Goodwin, wagered they could make a better burlesque that would be free from vulgarity, and took the Longfellow poem Evangline as the basis for their first work. It was not critically well received, but after some reworking it hit a chord with the public, and was successfully run and revived for some 20 years. Rice next tried a piece cast in the same mould, Hiawatha, but it was not only a critical flop, but failed to gain popular support as well. A scene of the work was produced by the Apollo Club of Boston in 1886, for male chorus, solo and orchestra. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; pg. 90. Cranford (Jerry Holland’s), 1995; No. 43, pg. 13. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; pg. 124. Rounder Records, “Jerry Holland” (1976).
Tom Knowles says
Nice Hornpipe. But if you want a really difficult tune, try Doc Harris Hornpipe from Howdy Forrestor. I've been working on this for years and still can't play it up to speed.
Vi Wickam says
Thanks, Tom. Doc Harris is a good one for sure. For me, Nimrod is the trickiest one I know.