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6. Durang's Hornpipe

The tune was written in 1785 by German composer, one Mr. Hoffmaster, a dwarf from New York specifically for Philadelphia actor and dancer John Durang (1768-1821). Hoffmaster gave the thespian violin lessons. In his memoirs Durang speaks of hearing the tune in the cities as well as in the land over the Blue Mountains (Pennsylvania's). Durang became a famous acrobatic dance performer, able to dance a hornpipe on 13 eggs blindfolded without breaking a one. (Kuntz) Actually he danced among 13 eggs. (Blech) Our setting comes from Kentucky fiddler Jake Phelps (1885-1977) from Todd County near Elkton, recorded in 1973. Phelps learned many of his tunes, including this one, from local fiddler Will Stegall (b.ca.1869) who had learned his tunes in the Purchase Section of Western Kentucky. Other Todd County fiddlers, particularly African American George Holland, supplied more of his extensive repertory of unusual tunes. (Titon: 32, 213). The A part of the tune is standard, but the B part is modal, following an unusual melody line not found in other settings. Phelps came from an area heavily influenced by Black musicians. (Greene) What effect that may have had on the melody is speculative.

Mark's Strad GDAE
Chris' gourd banjo aDADE