June 12, 2010

The English Hornpipe; The College Hornpipe Sheet Music

Hornpipes were a type of dance that were traditionally danced by English sailors in the late 1700s, as a means of exercise aboard ships. The Sailor's Hornpipe (also known as The College Hornpipe, and Jack's the Lad,) is a popular tune that was originally published in 1798. (It is the tune that the Popeye the Sailor Man theme song is based on.) It is said that each move of the dance mimicked a chore sailors would have to perform on ship. It was normally danced on a ship without a partner, barefooted.

In the 1800s songs written in the same style became collectively known as "hornpipes." Hornpipes also became a "country dance" and new routines were created for group dances.  

By the 1890s, dancing the hornpipe became stereotypical of sailors, although publications at the time were more than willing to admit that they never met a sailor who actually could dance a hornpipe. (They also wrote of how vile sailors really were.) 

The dance moves are complicated. Can you imagine teaching this to a bunch of hardy seamen? "Double shuffle, heel, toe. Whirligig!"

Unfortunately I am trying to learn it myself! The traditional dance routines have been said to be lost. But I am going to try and research the individual dance moves listed in the instructions above and see if I can't put at least a little of it back together. I think it will be fun to try and get exercise like one of Nelson's crew. Dancing a hornpipe reminds me of the scene in the Horatio Hornblower series where the tyrannical Mr. Midshipman Simpson orders Horatio to dance just to demonstrate his power aboard the ship.

P.S. Blogger has changed a bit so I can't figure out how to get the formatting just right. Please bear with me. It's driving me nuts!    


  1. Sophia, I hope so! There are plenty of dance manuals around hopefully I can get more of an insight on the individual moves.

  2. Hi Steph, I'm really hoping we can see you guys this Thursday before we leave.

  3. Did you get my email address okay
    let me know please

  4. Jodi, I hope so too. You guys must be so excited.

  5. Zara, I still didn't get an e-mail from you. I'll try to e-mail you.


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