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Hornpipe

The famous 'Newcastle Hornpipe'
The famous 'Newcastle Hornpipe'

In older forms hornpipes were written in 3/2 time, later in 2/4 and more recently in 4/4. Hornpipes have been in recent times played with a swing feel (dotted hornpipe). This form is typified by frequent triplets groupings. Older forms can be played un-dotted.

The picture above shows one of the most famous hornpipes from the region, ’The Newcastle Hornpipe’ by James Hill.

As with many traditional music forms there is a distinctive Northumbrian style of playing the hornpipe. When played on the fiddle this involves back-bowing and according to W.C. Honeyman " the student must play with the upper third of the bow only; playing the leading notes, immediately before the bar, with an inversion of the rules of bowing - that is, with a strongly accented down bow. The first note in the bar is then played with an up bow, the short note after it being then crisply caught with a quick down stroke. It must be played vigorously and with great spirit. No written description can convey any idea of the neat sprightliness of this style of bowing".

On this recording we hear Northumbrian piper Joe Hutton playing a set of three hornpipes - Marquis of Lorne, Proudlock’s Hornpipe and The Friendly Visit.

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