2021-04 Tune of the Month - The Staten Island Hornpipe

  1. HonketyHank
    The tune of the month for April, 2021, is "Staten Island Hornpipe". The Song-A-Week thread on this tune is here: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/gr...#gmessage17970 .

    I was not familiar with this tune but from the title I assumed it was a relatively modern composition from the United States. So I listened to a few renditions from the SAW thread and reassured myself on that assumption - after all, you can hear the horn from the Staten Island ferry blast away in the B part and everything sounds really busy like heavy traffic. Imagine my surprise when I learned that this tune was first published in 1782 (by James Aird, in Glasgow, Scotland), long before there was a ferry or even heavy traffic on New York's Staten Island.

    "Staten Island" is an anglicization of "Staaten Eylandt", which is an old Dutch geographical phrase indicating an island owned by the Dutch parliament. There were probably multiple islands designated as "Staaten Eylandt". In fact, the New York Staten Island is one of two "Staaten Eylandts" which seem most likely to be the locale for which the tune is named.

    The case for New York's Staten Island is that there were thousands of British troops stationed on Staten Island and surrounding areas for most of the American revolution. Thus the tune could well have been composed in commemoration of that experience. The timing of its publication makes this conjecture seem about right. And although the tune is most likely not Irish, it has been adopted into the Irish Traditional music repertoire, complete with lyrics that support an American revolution provenance.

    The other Staaten Eylandt which is a strong contender is a formerly Dutch (now Argentine) island at the southeastern tip of South America currently known as Isla de los Estados. Dutch "Staaten" = Spanish "Estados". Ships sailing between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans had to choose between a very hazardous passage through the Strait of Magellan or a less hazardous, but significantly longer, route around Cape Horn. The confluence of the cold Atlantic with the warmer Pacific make both the weather and the seas extremely rough in this region. Eastbound sailors taking the Cape Horn route regarded the first sight of this Staaten Eylandt as a signal for celebration of a safe passage "around the horn".

    I happen to believe the Isla de los Estados is the inspiration for the tune. Whatever the provenance, the tune is unusual in that it comes down to us in a form that is very nearly identical to its original published notation.

    This video by fiddler Mark Gunther (yes, I picked this one because of the name) shows how the tune has been embraced by modern American old time string bands. I really like the clawhammer banjo backup in this, too.

    And here is David Mold (Old Sausage) from the SAW thread.

    So it looks like the Staten Island ferry and New York City traffic have nothing to do with this tune, except in the presentation by modern musicians who tend to emphasize those unexpected (dissonant?) C naturals in the B part. And even though this tune is definitely a hornpipe, many modern renditions play it "straight". So it will be interesting to hear how it comes out in our videos.

    Here are two versions I copied from Fiddlers' Companion at ibiblio.com (I corrected a few minor structural errors in X:1).

    T:Staten Island Hornpipe, The
    AG|:FDFG A2Bc|defe dcBA|B2GB A2FA|G2E2 E2AG|
    FDFG A2Bc|defe dcBA|d2d2 efge|1 f2d2 dBAG:|2 f2d2 defg|
    |:a2fa g2eg|f2df e=cAB|=c2=c2 efge|=c2=c2 efge|
    a2fa g2eg|f2df ec (3ABc |d2d2 efge|1 f2d2 defg:|2 f2d2 dBAG||
    T:Staten Island
    S:John Rook manuscript (Wigton, Cumbria, 1840)
    AG|FDFG A2A2|defd c2 Ac|B2 GB A2 FA|G2E2E2 AG|FDFG A2A2|
    defd c2A2|d2d2 efge|f2d2d2::fg|a2 fa g2 eg|f2 df e2c2|=c2c2 efge
    |=c2c2 efge|a2 fa g2 eg|f2 df e2A2|d2 d2 efge|f2d2d2:|

    There are two versions in the Mandolin Cafe TablEdit library: https://www.mandolincafe.com/te/sear...rder=A&submit=
  2. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    A hornpipe belongs to what genre?
  3. HonketyHank
    I think generally Celtic or English.
  4. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Thanks, Henry. I don't see this coming up in a jam. Think I'll keep working on All of Me. Not that, with all those chord changes, I think it's good for jamming.
  5. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Henry, you probably answered this question before, but what is the format of that music you posted above? Are we supposed to import it into a program, or, God forbid, read it directly ?
  6. vonbiber
    It's an abc notation. There are a number of music programs that can import it
    and output a music sheet.
    You could also copy it and paste on some online tools such as the one below
    and it will display the music sheet.

    There's an option to produce a tablature as well

    You can then download the result as a pdf file.

  7. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Thanks, Mark, that's very cool!
  8. HonketyHank
    I know abc notation is not highly popular in the US, but there are quite a few folks at www.thesession.org (THE source for Irish Trad tunes) who prefer it over tabs or standard notation. The main advantage to me is that its format allows relatively easy transfer and manipulation in a computer. Some also feel it is easier to learn than standard notation. I understand the format but I don't really read it well enough get much idea of how the tune goes just by looking at it. But it is easy to copy and paste to Notepad, then rename the file to have an extension of ".abc", then import into TablEdit (or MuseScore).

    I'll add that I do use TablEdit -- a lot. I paid for the full version and I find it to be very useful. MuseScore is also very good (and free), but I have found that there is a lot more music that interests me available in TablEdit format than in MuseScore format. Plus a lot more users of TablEdit in the mandolin community than users of MuseScore.

    If you want to be able to manipulate ABC directly, there are lots of ABC editors available. I use EasyABC.
  9. phb256

    It took a while, but I'm starting to get the hang of this one.
  10. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Finally a Newbie posts the April tune! Thoroughly enjoyed it! That's a mandola, right? Love the sound.
  11. phb256
    That's a mandocello. It gives the pinky quite a workout.
  12. HonketyHank
    That's really nice, Paul. You are getting good service from your pinkie finger, too. This tune really works it hard on a long neck instrument. In my exercise of playing this tune (on a mandolin) in E, in closed position, my pinkie is refusing to work as well as yours appears to be working. I also noticed the F natural in the B part. I can't decide whether to play an F# or an F natural there. I like it both ways. The F natural complements the preceding C natural and helps it not sound dissonant, but the F# fits with the overall key signature and makes the C natural stand out even more.

    I noticed your video of Autumn Child and listened to that too. I had not heard that tune before but I like it a lot. I may try to work that up on mandola using mandolin fingering to bring it down a fifth. I think the resonance of the mandola might be a positive factor. I notice the ABC's are available at www.thesession.org .
  13. phb256
    I think I found the notation in the TablEdit library, and it had the F natural. It didn't feel right at first so it gave me a little trouble, but I like the surprise of it now.
  14. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    You're getting a great sound out of that 'cello! Nice clean version of "Staten Island" too.
  15. NDO
    Great job Paul, clean sound and I’m envious of your spatial awareness- I’m embarrassed by how often I need to look at the fretboard.
  16. phb256
    Thanks. I'm embarrassed by how often I have to look at the sheet music.
  17. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Hey Paul, that sounded really cool! I love the sound of the mandocello, and that one sounds great! I wouldn't have even noticed you looking at the music if you hadn't mentioned it

    Also, I admire your nice even playing even with those long finger stretches.
  18. bbcee
    Here's my submission. Pretty straight ahead - I challenged myself to learn it quickly and play it as fast as I could manage instead of ornamenting or creating a medley.

    My new Rigel plays the first melody, with the Ludewig playing a rhythm guitar-like part, with open chords and leading notes. The Ludewig then plays the second melody, with the Rigel a' choppin' away, as you can see Mr. iReal is playing bass.

    Not being the historian Hank is, and having lived many years in New York (seems like a lifetime ago), I went straight for the cliched images of "our" Staten Island. Many would argue that the last image, the Freshkills Landfill, may be the most famous landmark of the borough. No, wait, don't throw things at me!

    Hope you enjoy.

  19. NDO
    Wow bbcee that is fantastic! Nicely edited and a great performance.
  20. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Love it! Great job putting together the different parts!
  21. phb256
    That's great. I like the way you put the parts together.
  22. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Very nice, Bruce!
  23. bbcee
    Thanks very much! hoping this finds you all with your hornpipe hats on and working on your versions!
  24. HonketyHank
    I'm working. Jeez, am I working! My poor pinkie is screaming and threatening to go out on strike.

    I love the A/B comparison between the Ludewig and the Rigel. I am a little surprised even. They both have a modern tone but very different. I like them both. My somewhat unreliable ears tell me that the Rigel is "brighter" and the Ludewig is "moodier". Does anybody else hear that?

    bbcee, your playing and video production both hit homers again.
  25. HonketyHank
    I posted this over in my March Project thread. But just to show that I have not abandoned the TOM activity, I'll post it again here. All I can say is that with practice I hope to make a lot more of the notes come out clean and clear. All I have to do is make sure that my second finger does what my first finger used to do, my third finger do what my second finger used to do, and my pinkie do what my third finger used to do. No problem, right?


  26. bbcee
    The work is paying off, Hank. I like the arrangement a lot, and you nailed the hornpipe swing. Too bad that mandolin sounds so awful. I think i say that every time you post. :D Good job!
  27. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Nice playing, bbcee and Honkety. Hank, you are getting that fourth finger under control!
  28. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    My o my, that is an awesome accomplishment in my book, Henry, playing that tune wholly in closed position. Bravo! Your work on the pinky is obviously paying off. Be sure to take it slowly to avoid any tendonitis; don't ask how I came by that advice.

    Bruce: Man, what an awesome performance, brother! TBH, I haven't been interested much in learning reels and hornpipes lately, I've been immersed in studying blues and some Norman Blake old-timey stuff. Didn't care for this hornpipe listening to a few video performances - until I saw yours! You really do this tune justice, and I love it!
  29. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Now I've gone back and seen that I missed phb256's performance when it was posted, and I have to say it too was an awesome feat in my opinion. I'm impressed with the timing and the ability to play on such a long scaled instrument. Also, the melodic arrangement is similar to Bruce's ... I like it much better than the one played by Old Sausage, for example.

    Glad I popped in this morning to hear these renditions. Kudos to each of you.
  30. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    I started working on this at the beginning of the month, went on to other things, and the all of a sudden it was the 30th. Rising out of the ashes of the Fresh Kills Landfill, here is not a phoenix but "Staten Island."

  31. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Very nice, Louise! Which instrument is that?

    Would be nice to see your face.
  32. NDO
    Great job Louise!
    I can see that I really need to start working on some of these tunes to get better at my melody picking skills. It’s just so dang hard to get time for real practice, I continue to settle for just playing songs (chords and singing) for an hour or two each day, learning a new one every week, but not really practicing basic skills to get me to the next level. This week I had a couple of days where I was lucky to get twenty minutes and had to stay up past bedtime to do it.
  33. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Nice pickin' Louise! And a fine looking/sounding mando as well!
  34. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin

    At the last minute, this arrangement is from Matt Settle's "Airs for Pairs".
    Pbh kudos for playing this on a mandocello - I found it hard enough on the mandola.
    Bbcee great playing and video productionwish I had your technical capabilities.
    Henry congratulations on playing in closed position. I bought Ted Eschlmann's book on jazz mandolin to learn how but never got round to it.
  35. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin
    Louise - I meant to say well played and what a nice looking two point instrument you have. What make is it?
  36. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    maudlin mandolin, I'm working on "Liberty" on the mandola, so I know what you mean. Your arrangement sounds great. Is it two parts on mandola, or are you playing a mandolin as well?
  37. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    I like the duet, Maudlin, particularly the exceptionally dissonant chord in the B part—it's so unusual for this type of music, and it really makes the piece. Well done.

    The mandolin in my video, for those who asked, is a 1918 (?) Lyon & Healy Style B. It's a great old instrument, and I'm lucky to have it.
  38. NDO
    MM, that was great. I’m really impressed with all the versions posted on this song. Yours is excellent.
    Where is the picture from? I happen to run a mine right now so seeing a pit mine is a cool visual.
  39. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin
    Sue - both parts were played on mandola. I think these arrangements were written to be played by two of the same instrument - the first part is a slightly simplified melody and the second a low harmony.
  40. HonketyHank
    Louise - Your confident right hand technique really makes that L&H sing.
    MM - I am impressed with your ability to put together a duet in short order. And well done, too. I am curious about the quarry too.
  41. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Nice, Maudlin!
  42. bbcee
    Well done, Louise, nice choice of notes and really in the horn pipe swing. That L&H is perfect for this.

    MM, great version choice! I’d love to get a glimpse of your music book library, you constantly choose interesting versions. BTW, my talent mostly consists of persistence past the point of politeness and pots of coffee.
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