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Sheet Music: The Sailor's Hornpipe

TitleThe Sailor's Hornpipe
Alternate titlesThe College Hornpipe
Jack's the Lad
ComposerTraditional
InstrumentationFlute solo
KeyD major
RangeD4–D6
Time signature4/4
Tempo180 BPM
Performance time0:45
Difficulty levelintermediate
Download printable scorePDF Sheet Music (44 kB) (preview)
Download audio tracksMIDI (2 kB) (change tempo) MP3 (538 kB)
Date added2009-09-21
Last updated2009-09-21
CategoriesDance tunes, Hornpipes, Traditional/Folk

Performances

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Monday 21 September 2009

Tune of the Day: The Sailor's Hornpipe

Traditional dance tune

This dance imitates the life of a sailor and his duties aboard ship, like the hauling of ropes, rowing, climbing the rigging and saluting. Sailors from the Royal Navy are believed to have invented the solo dance, as an exercise aboard ship. Due to the small space that the dance required, and no need for a partner, the dance was popular on board ship. Accompaniment may have been the music of a tin whistle or a fiddle.

Samuel Pepys referred to the hornpipe in his diary as “The Jig of the Ship”, and Captain Cook, who took a piper on at least one voyage, is noted to have ordered his men to dance it in order to keep them in good health.

The tune was played in the animated Popeye cartoons beginning in the 1930s, usually as the first part of the opening credits theme, which then segued into an instrumental of “I'm Popeye the Sailor Man”.