Today, I stopped into Gib’s New York Bagels, and thought, “This would be a great place to play my fiddle tune a day.” So after grabbing a half-dozen chocolate chip bagels, I asked the girl at the counter if she minded if I recorded my fiddle tune a day there. Of course, she said sure, and turned down the overhead music so that I could get a good recording. Since Gib’s is a “New York” Bagel shop, I thought it only fitting to play Staten Island Hornpipe.
I heard this tune a few years back, and the C chord in the b part really caught my attention. I’m a big fan of songs that give you something that is a little out of place to jar your ears a bit. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
History of Staten Island Hornpipe from the Fiddler’s Companion
STATEN ISLAND (HORNPIPE). AKA and see “The Arranmore Ferry,” “Burns’ Hornpipe,” “None So Pretty .” Scottish, English, Irish, American; Hornpipe. USA; New England, southwestern Pa. Ireland, County Donegal. D Major. Standard tuning. AABB (most versions): AA’BB’ (Harker/Rafferty). “Staten Island Hornpipe” was first printed in James Aird’s Selection of Scotch, English, Irish, and Foreign Airs (vol. II, 1782), printed in Glasgow, identical to version played today. I suspect that the title may have associations with the large contingent of British troops that were stationed on Staten Island during the American Revolution, and, since period army references abound in Aird’s period collection, he may have obtained it from British military sources. Others have convincingly argued that the title refers to Isla de los Estados, located just east of Tierra del Fuego off the coast of Argentina, a welcome landmark to sailors which marked a successful passage of Cape Horn and the beginning of the last leg of the journey home. The island was first claimed by the Dutch in the 16th century and named after their governing state council, hence Staten Island (the same rationale for New York’s Staten Island). There is even a State Island in the Atlantic Arctic region, mapped in 1695, and it is possible (though much more unlikely) the title derived from it. A version appears in the 1823-26 music manuscript book of Lincolnshire musician Joshua Gibbons under the title “Scotch Hornpipe.”
“Staten Island Hornpipe” appears in a few musician’s manuscripts from North England in the 19th century, though none predate Aird. It was reintroduced I in traditional circles during the 1960’s “folk revival” in the United Kingdom (and America, for that matter), largely through the playing of English fiddler Dave Swarbrick. Burchenal (1918) associates the tune with the New England contra dance The Haymakers, or The Merry Haymakers, and indeed, in the intervening years the tune has gained strong associations with American contra dance music, so that it is often mistaken for an American tune. From contra-dance musicians it has even been imported into American “old-time” repertoire, and has been even called an “Appalachian standard,” which it by no means is. Any associations to the Staten Island ferry (e.g. the ‘c’ natural notes in the ‘B’ part being likened to the toots of a steam whistle) are spurious. Bayard (1981) sees a general resemblance to “The Athole Volunteers March” printed in McDonald’s Gesto Collection.
In Donegal the tune is known as “Arranmore Ferry,” although it has been absorbed into Irish repertoire under its usual title in modern times. Irish versions tend to differ from Scottish and American versions, sometimes centering in the mixolydian rather than major mode (see Mike Rafferty’s version, for example), and sometimes being played as a reel. Sources for notated versions: Hiram Horner (fifer from Westmoreland and Fayette Counties, Pa., 1960) and Hoge Ms (a fife MS from Pa., 1944) [Bayard]; Danny Gardella [Phillips]; Stephanie Prausnitz [Silberberg]; the 1823-26 music mss of papermaker and musician Joshua Gibbons (1778-1871, of Tealby, near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire Wolds) [Sumner]; New Jersey flute player Mike Rafferty, born in Ballinakill, Co. Galway, in 1926 [Harker]. Aird (Selection), vol. II, 1782; No. 83, pg. 30. Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 318A‑B, pg. 274. Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; pg. 266. Burchenal, 1918; pgs. 4‑5 (appears as “Haymakers” ). Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; pg. 97. Harker (300 Tunes from Mike Rafferty), 2005; No. 255, pg. 78. Honeyman (Strathspey, Reel and Hornpipe Tutor), 1898; pg. 46. Hunter (Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 314. Jarman (Old Time Fiddlin’ Tunes); No. or pg. 30. S. Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 4: Collection of Fine Tunes), 1983 (revised 1991, 2001); pg. 14. Johnson (A Further Collection of Dances, Marches, Minuetts and Duetts of the Latter 18th Century), 1998; pg. 2. Kennedy (Fiddlers Tune Book), vol. 1, 1951; No. 5, pg. 3. Kerr (Merry Melodies), vol. 1; No. 8, pg. 21. Miller & Perron, 1983; No. 129. Phillips (American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 2, 1995; pg. 226. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; pg. 172. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; pg. 133. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; pg. 150. Spandaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; pg. 3. Sumner (Lincolnshire Collections, vol. 1: The Joshua Gibbons Manuscript), 1997; pg. 60 (appears as “Scotch Hornpipe”). Sweet (Fifer’s Delight), 1965/1981; pg. 56. Tolman (Nelson Music Collection), 1969; pg. 18. F&W Records 1, “F&W String Band.” Front Hall 05, Fennigs All Stars‑ “Saturday Night in the Provinces.” June Appal 014, John McCutcheon‑ “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” (1977. Learned from Richard Blaustein). Kicking Mule 209, Hank Sapoznik‑ “Melodic Clawhammer Banjo.” North Star RS0009, “The Wind in the Rigging: A New England Voyage” (1988). Rounder Select 82161-0476-2, “The Wind That Shakes the Barley: Hammered Dulcimer Music” (reissues, orig. released 1977).