Tune of the Day: The Sailor's Hornpipe
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”.