Fisher's Hornpipe | Bowing Down Home
About this tune
Fisher’s Hornpipe has been played on PEI for generations (accounts published in the Guardian newspaper inform us that the tune was performed by competitors at the Great Fiddle Contest of 1926). To be fair, it also should be noted that the wide circulation of Fisher’s Hornpipe on PEI in recent decades is partially owed to a popular recording released in the 1950s by Cape Breton fiddle great Winston “Scotty” Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald recorded the tune following Archie Menzies in medley, a pairing that has been maintained in most of the selections here.
The tune is usually played in F in the Scottish tradition, but in D in the American and Irish traditions. Almost all Island fiddlers follow the Scottish practice.
Fisher’s Hornpipe has been attributed by some sources to an 18th century composer named John Christian Fisher (1733-1800); another candidate is one James A. Fishar, a musical director and ballet master at London’s Covent Garden during the 1770's. In any event, the earliest cited publication date (for a tune referred to merely as Hornpipe #1 by J. Fishar) is 1778. An early Scottish publication that mentions Fisher’s in the title is John Anderson’s A Second Selection of the most Approved Highland Strathspeys [&] Country Dances [. . .] (1791). In 1794, it appears as Fisher’s Hornpipe in a publication by Rhode Island dancing master John Griffith called A Collection of the newest and most fashionable country dances [. . .]. Some subsequent publications that feature Fisher’s are Kerr’s Merry Melodies (1875), Ryan’s Mammoth Collection aka 1000 Fiddle Tunes (1882), and O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903).
Notation for this tune as played by Dennis Pitre is in Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island.