The Eclipse Hornpipe for the Solar Eclipse 2017
You remember the solar eclipse on August 21st last year? It carved a swath across the United States of America and astrologically signified the changes from Donald Trump as President. While it was active i was playing Eclipse Hornpipe. (♫ Nothing’s Gonna Change My World.) But, tell you what, that was one powerful eclipse.
The Eclipse Hornpipe—comes from Cole’s 1000 Fiddle Tunes, which comes from Sean Ryan’s Mammoth Collection. Including this tune gives me a chance to nag everyone to swing the eighths in a hornpipe. (I realize few fiddlers would agree with me unless they play Irish tunes, or Scottish.)
To Swing or Not to Swing
I was confronted by this issue when I attended to first Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camp. In a session led by Liz Carroll, I started playing Ships Are Sailing with a pronounced swing, just as I had many times before. Liz stopped me and said, “Oh, Elan, you don’t swing the eighths on a reel.”
When she said that I could feel several pieces of furniture being moved in my subconscious. And I’ve been intensely aware of to swing or not to swing ever since.
Now, if you don’t swing the eighths when you play a reel, when do you swing the eighths? For me that would be hornpipes and certain other dance tunes like Kilnamona Barn Dance, not to mention many swing tunes and blues pieces.
In the case of hornpipes there is a divide between how Celtic players swing then and how most American players do not. In Texas contest style you will hear any hornpipe played with straight eighths, just like a breakdown. At least, I don’t hear any difference.
You’ll hear lots of variation and triplet ornaments, but no swing. And played very quickly with a pace that is about equal to the breakdowns. If they played hornpipes with a swing it would slow them down. Maybe that’s why that part has been left behind.
Some fiddlers will swing the eighths in a waltz. I’ve heard Ashokan Farewell played that way, and I have been so bold as to counsel against it.
Waltzes have a built in swing, having a 3-4 time signature. With the strong beat on the one, and the next two beats weaker, the rhythm is good for a swing feel if speeded up enough. When it’s slow, as in Southern country waltzes, you don’t get that swing.
Faster, especially when accelerated to the degree of a Viennese waltz, you definitely feel a swinging lift to the rhythm.
I favor straight eighths in waltzes most often, but for hornpipes I favor swung eighths, even for such chestnuts as Sailor’s Hornpipe, which is often made into a race. I’ve heard it said that a hornpipe should have a swagger to it.
The pdf file for the Eclipse Hornpipe will print nicely.
One more thing: the sign up form is new. I changed email providers. If you sign up again you will receive my big incentive: The Suzuki Violin Tunes, Vol 1, in tablature. It’s just straight ahead tabs, no text. get it now before I add text and feel I have to sell it.