President Garfield’s Hornpipe

President Garfield’s Hornpipe from Sean Ryan’s

Being an election year, and the race for President being more interesting than usual, here is a blast from the past. This tune, President Garfield’s Hornpipe was first published in Sean Ryan’s Mammoth Collection of fiddle tunes, not long after the unfortunate assassination of the man elected by the people of this country.

Later almost the whole collection was republished as 1000 Fiddle Tunes by M.M. Cole. Of the two, Sean Ryan’s has the tunes in a slightly larger format, but not much. Either one is good for tracking down the oldest usable version of a common tune, as well as finding gems that have been left behind.

This hornpipe is in the key of Bb, a good key for fiddle but not found all that often. The second part of the tune is especially melodic. The descending figure over Eb, then Bb is intriguing. Maybe it’s not easy, but then it’s a hornpipe. You don’t have to play at lightning speed.

The bar that follows those two suggests an F7 chord. To me this lick feels just a little awkward. And yet the sound is completely compelling!

For printing, I recommend the President Garfield pdf. This will print better than the jpeg image.

Remembering James A. Garfield

Three quarter profile of James A Garfield
President for about 200 days.

About President garfield, the Wikipedia article says, “[He] advocated agricultural technology, an educated electorate, and civil rights for African Americans.

My belief is that he was the last elected President in favor of an educated electorate. If you think about it, a change in our culture to be supportive of an educated electorate would be a revolutionary change.

Also, I’ve read articles online that cast President Garfield into the role of an opposition to the central banking class. That position wins no popularity contests, as you probably know.

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