Following on from the previous article, which showed how to add effective bowing to the hornpipe Jim Boulton’s Fancy, here’s another look at the same tune.  This version moves on by showing a few ideas for ornamentation and variation.  Explanations are below.

1         This third version of Jim Boulton’s Fancy begins with a triplet.  Hornpipes in a major key often start this way – particularly those that start on D (run will be A-B-C#-D), G (D-E-F#-G) or A (E-F#-G#-A – as seen on this tune).

2         This high note of this run (F#) is accentuated by the use of an ornament – a cut in this case.

3         Here’s a way of approaching triplets that works particularly well in hornpipes.  The slur from F# to G is on an up-bow (F# is the first note of the triplet so this reverses the usual down-up-down way of bowing a triplet).  When slurring these two notes, put a little emphasis on the G because it occurs on the accented 4th beat. Do this by moving the bow a little faster in the second half of the slur.

4         The A-B-C#-A pattern is changed again here with an echo of the technique used in the last point.

5         Doing the variation in point 4 has meant a change in bowing is necessary – here adding the slur across the barline.

6         Triplets are very useful when making variations in hornpipes.  In particular those that occur on three different notes, as opposed to same note triplets which are more common in reels.  When you have two adjacent notes that are two steps apart, like A-C# or F#-D, or B-G#, it is possible to convert them into triplets by adding the middle note making A-B-C#, F#-E-D, or B-A-G#.  This has been done here to create two triplets towards the end of the A part.

7         Triplets have also been added here, as described in the last point.  Care needs to be taken with these, though as the triplet notes aren’t all on the same string.  The slower tempo of a hornpipe allows for these types of variation, whereas a reel would be too fast.

8         Here is another way of approaching the A-B-C#-A pattern.  The way hornpipes are constructed means that there is a lot of repetition, especially of the music in the first two bars.   Having some variations for these sections will make the music sound more alive.

9         A different way to deal with the high note of the tune.  This makes it really stand out by pausing.  As in the last tune, you can do this by resting on the string or taking the bow off altogether.

Notice the endings of each part.  The three crotchet A notes in the previous article sound more English.  The endings above are more Irish sounding.

Remember that hornpipes, although slower dance tunes, should have a real swing and be full of life.  Keep it bouncy!

My ideas on bowings and variations are just one way of making a tune work.  There are countless ways to approach a traditional tune. Try out my suggestions, but also look elsewhere for inspiration.