Listening Log – [Pt. III]- John Locke- Hornpipe- Mad Moll of the Cheshire Hunts ( 11H64 2432) 1909
Listening Log – [Pt. III]- John Locke- Hornpipe- Mad Moll of the Cheshire Hunts ( 11H64 2432) 1909. In February 2020 (Youtube streaming) to : ”MAD MOLL OF THE CHESHIRE HUNTS‘‘ the Old Swan Band’s 2011 version of their ‘Swan for the Money’ record published by WildGoose (uploaded to Youtube on Jan 14th 2017 and John Kirkpatrick’s accordion version off his Sheepskins album released on Squeezer in 1988 (uploaded to youtube on Sep 20, 2014).
While listening to and reading the score of Handel’s Water music I came upon a dance movement with a dance unfamiliar to me called the Hornpipe/Clog. I became curious to know a bit more and decided to listen to a few hornpipes. My research told me that this is an English, Irish and Scottish folk dance similar in many ways to the Irish Slip jig and to this day it is still used in Morris dancing. Cecil Sharpe collected several examples, one of them being from the ‘gipsy fiddler’ John Locke of Leominster, Herefordshire called ‘MAD MOLL OF THE CHESHIRE HUNTS‘.
Although some hornpipes use time signatures of 9/8 and 9/4 and incorporate a lot of syncopation ‘Mad Moll of the Cheshire Hunts’ is in a straightforward 4/4 time signature and the key of G Major with a very simple chord progression and an AB structure.
On February 5th 2020 I listened to the Old Swan Band’s 2011 version of their ‘Swan for the Money’ record published by WildGoose (uploaded to Youtube on Jan 14th 2017 (see below).
The tune starts with a anacrusis on the fiddle, bass drum coming in on the down beat with syncopated closed hi hats marking the off beats. The rhythmical feeling is a little bit of the oompah variety. There’s a cheerful first theme stated in the fiddles the first four bars being answered by a variation in bars 5-8 with a cadential lines in the fiddle marking the end of the section/phrase. The entire 8 bar section is then repeated before the contrasting section B starts at bar 17. Section B consists of a new theme in bars 17-20 answered by a 4 bar theme from section A. Similarly to the previous section there is a strong sense of cadence at the end of the phrase. These entire 8 bars are then repeated again. At around 1min 54 sec there’s a new section with ‘clippety cloppety’ percussion added. The underlying music remains the same and this ‘percussion’ section is also repeated twice. The whole tune is approximately 4 min long.
Having listened to the above version I decided to listen to a more traditional rendering and turned to John Kirkpatrick’s accordion version off his Sheepskins album released on Squeezer in 1988 and uploaded to youtube on Sep 20, 2014 (see below). His version is much livelier at a brisker tempo with the percussive elements solely provided by key clicks of the accordion. The intro is played by one accordion before a second one joins in and there’s a final solo section. Otherwise the tune remains the same as the one above. structurally and chord-ally as the Old Swan’s Band’s version.
Simple as it is I find this jig a lot of fun and very infectious. I am still unclear on how exactly Hornpipes became popular dance movements in Baroque Classical music since they have less of a ‘court music’ flavour than many of the other dances. such as ‘Minuets’. Perhaps it was an attempt at incorporating a bit of an English flavour in the music.