Here we have that rare bird, the fiddle tune in the key of B flat. This is one I found in an old book entitled “Original Dances, Waltzes & Hornpipes for the Violin, Composed by M. Higgins.”
I found a reprint edition of this book years ago at Hobgoblin Music in Red Wing, MN. This reprint, which was published as a nice chapbook by the Missouri State Old Time Fiddler’s Association, looked like it had been in Hobgoblin’s bins for a quite a while.
It was dusty and mis-shelved and kind of mysterious. And if it’s dusty, mis-shelved and of uncertain origin, chances are, I will pick it up and give it a look. And so I did.
The imprint on the inside cover tells us it was originally published by Firth & Hall in New York in 1829. There’s no information on just who M. Higgins was, whether he was fiddler, a composer or what. We just have his surname and the initial M.
It’s a pretty good collection of tunes. If I were to judge by the style alone, I would say they’re in the New England style, more or less — mostly reels, slip jigs and waltzes, most of which have a distinctly Celtic vibe.
In addition to a scan of the original version, I’m posting two audio files for those who prefer to learn tunes by ear. These are slow-ish and have been posted just for learning purposes (recorded on my iPad, so please forgive the lo-fi nature of these performances).
Yankee Hornpipe (click to enlarge):
Yankee Hornpipe audio: