The most common form of the hornpipe found today is a dance tune often notated in 4|4 time and sometimes notated in 2|2 time. The distinguishing features are a “dotted rhythm”. That is a dotted eighth-note followed by a sixteenth note. This rhythm yields the characteristic swing of a hornpipe. The earliest known reference to the hornpipe dance dates to 1522.
The hornpipe has a slower tempo than a reel. A tempo in the range of 110 to 120 BPM usually works. The hornpipe dance tempo must be set to the needs of dancers. If played in a session, the tempo simply depends up how fast the musicians can play the tune accurately.
Classic Irish hornpipes are The Boys of Bluehill and Harvest Home. In the U.S. A. President Garfield’s Hornpipe is popular. In England Sailors Hornpipe is a standard.
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