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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 11/23/2012 Marmaduke's Hornpipe / Cricket on the Hearth

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vrteach - Posted - 11/22/2012:  19:39:34

This weeks TOTW is Marmaduke's Hornpipe, also known as Cricket on the Hearth, and a few other titles. We play it once in a while in our local jam, and I also have played along with it when I go over to play with the Champaign/Urbana crowd. 

The Fiddler's Companion has a good bit of information on Marmaduke's Hornpipe, and particularly has a pretty long list of tunes which are similar or alternate titles. Some of the tunes mentioned don't sound much like Marmaduke to me. But still, there are a number of tunes which share phrases that make up the B part. That is, B part as I play it. There are a good number of people who play the two parts in the other order.

Everyone who writes about this tune uses phrases like "Missouri Old-Time Fiddle Anthem" to describe it, and it must have been a super common tune at contests and dances. Howard Marshal has an article in the Missouri folklore society journal, but I didn't have time to hunt down a copy of this. He does, however, mention it a few times in his excellent biography of R.P. Cristeson in the most recent Old-Time Herald.

And now a few examples:

As Marmaduke's Hornpipe

YouTube: Gary Sizemore

Fiddle Hangout: Sizemore2000 (I suppose the same person?)

Fiddle Hangout: modon (also a member of Banjo Hangout)

As Cricket on the Hearth

Don Stover (Banjo) and Chubby Anthony (Fiddle) Amazon and Smithsonian Folkways

Kenny Baker (fiddle) Amazon

A search of the banjo hangout only turned up two copies, the one I just put up and one from a few years ago by strokestyle. It is also mentioned in a couple of topics, including the first TOTW I presented (Straw Bonnet) because the text from the Chirps Smith version on the Delta Creek Boys album comments on the similarity of B parts of Marmaduke's and Straw Bonnet

Both titles that I list here are interesting. Cricket on the Hearth is the title of Charles Dickens novellla. Similar to the Christmas Carroll, it is a sentimental story with a Christmas theme. Here is a plot summary from Wikipedia:

John Peerybingle, a carrier, lives with his young wife Dot, their baby boy and their nanny Tilly Slowboy. A cricket constantly chirps on the hearth and acts as a guardian angel to the family. One day a mysterious elderly stranger comes to visit and takes up lodging at Peerybingle's house for a few days.

The life of the Peerybingles intersects with that of Caleb Plummer, a poor toymaker employed by the miser Mr. Tackleton. Caleb has a blind daughter Bertha, and a son Edward, who traveled to South America and was thought dead.

The miser Tackleton is now on the eve of marrying Edward's sweetheart, May, but she does not love Tackleton. Tackleton reveals to John Peerybingle that his wife Dot has allegedly cheated on him and shows him a clandestine scene where Dot embraces the mysterious lodger who is in disguise, a man much younger than he actually seems. John is cut to the heart over this as he loves his wife dearly, but decides after some deliberations to relieve his wife of their marriage contract.

In the end, the mysterious lodger is revealed to be none other than Edward who has returned home in disguise. Dot shows that she indeed has been faithful to John. Edward marries May hours before she is scheduled to marry Tackleton. However Tackleton's heart is melted by the Christmas season, like Ebenezer Scrooge, and he surrenders May to her true love.

Whether that has anything to do with the tune--I don't know.

When it has the title of "Marmaduke's Hornpipe", as it generally does in the Midwest, it probably refers to John Sappington Marmaduke, a Confederate general and later governor of Missouri.

Marmaduke was born in Saline County, Missouri and attended several schools including both Yale and Harvard, and then the United States Military Academy. He was in the U.S. Army from 1857 to the spring of 1861, when he received word (erroneous) that Missouri had seceded from the Union. The Missouri Governor at that time (Marmaduke's uncle) was pro-secesionist, and appointed him to the Missouri State Guard. He was ordered into a battle with a larger and better prepared Union force in the Battle of Booneville, which did not go well for the Missouri forces.

Marmaduke then resigned his commission in the Missouri State Guard, and joined the regular Confederate States Army. He served in a good number of battles, mostly with distinction, from late 1861 until he was captured in 1864. After the war he returned to Missouri and eventually entered politics. In 1880 he lost his first bid for Governor against former Union general Thomas Crittenden, but then defeated Crittenden four years later. He died in office in 1887. There is a good bit more information on Wikipedia, and elsewhere.



Whew! This is getting long. So I'll end with my two attached recordings. I did the audio version first, pretty soon after I actually began working it out for solo playing early last week, or maybe the week before. Then last weekend I played it with a fiddler friend who was just beginning to memorize the tune, and I noted that she was having some problem in hearing the melody from what I was playing (you know that look that fiddlers get when they are trying to figure out what the heck a banjoist is playing?) I realized that part of the problem was that I was playing the A part higher than the B part--opposite of fiddlers generally do. So in the video I do the A part once on the lower strings.

I hope you folks give it a try, if you haven't already done so. That B part is fun, and the whole tune has a nice difference between the notey B and the not-so-notey A part.

Edited by - vrteach on 11/22/2012 19:55:42

Marmaduke's Hornpipe

VIDEO: Marmaduke's Hornpipe
(click to view)

aeroweenie - Posted - 11/23/2012:  10:39:09

Nice pick for TOTW & great write up!  I've heard this tune a few times but never knew what it was called.  I'll work on it later today.

R.D. Lunceford - Posted - 11/23/2012:  16:35:56

Nice job...
Good to see an old Missouri warhorse in circulation.
I did a tab of "Marmaduke's" way back in Jan '96 for
one of my very first BNL columns.

When my Dad was a boy (1920's) he recalled a fellow
doing a solo dance in wooden soled shoes in between
square dance sets. The fiddler always played a special tune
for him. As he was from England, I wouldn't be surprised
if he was doing a British-style hornpipe which would be slower
and bouncier than its American counterpart.

My Dad was from Missouri's "Little Dixie", General Marmaduke's
native region, and where the h/pipe bearing his name is, as has been
mentioned, very popular.

Califiddler - Posted - 11/24/2012:  05:39:48

I read somewhere that Thomas Jefferson played Cricket on the Hearth. I think it was in the liner notes to Kenny Baker's Master Fiddler CD.

aeroweenie - Posted - 11/24/2012:  09:18:02

ok, here is my take on the tune.  Its kind of rough, but I found the tune easy to learn and fun to play.  Definitely a keeper.

Marmaduke's Hornpipe


R.D. Lunceford - Posted - 11/24/2012:  17:49:54

Nice work Paul.

vrteach - Posted - 11/24/2012:  19:01:01

aeroweenie: Very nice version (took me a while to listen because I'm at home on dial-up).

califiddler: That would be a cool connection between Thomas Jefferson and this tune.

I've been searching, but Google can find all sorts of things, like: Joseph Jefferson, a famous 19th-century actor and great-grandson of a Thomas Jefferson who was a comic actor in England) played a part in a play based on Dickons' "Cricket on the Hearth" in 1857. Also, Hans Conreid (actor) played the voice of Thomas Jefferson in the Disney short "Ben and Me" and also provided the voice for some character in one of the many animated versions of "Cricket on the Hearth". 

I've been doing some searching, but I don't find any scanned or transcribed copies of the liner notes for "Master Fiddler" but I'll keep looking.

R.D. : I figured you would be VERY familiar with the tune.

Califiddler - Posted - 11/25/2012:  18:00:55

I dug out my copy of Kenny Baker's "Master Fiddler". The liner notes say "Older classics, such as Cricket on the Hearth (which Thomas Jefferson played) ... ."

That's the only mention of TJ's playing of that tune in the liner notes.

vrteach - Posted - 11/26/2012:  08:23:31

Thanks for looking that up. I wonder where their source was.

I also have found that "clawhammer mike" (Michael Sawyer) had done Cricket on the Hearth as one of his Clawhammer tunes of the day.

Don Borchelt - Posted - 11/26/2012:  10:04:01

A great choice for tune of the week, Erich.  I've been meaning to learn this for awhile.  Very fine picking, too.  Moves right along, smooth as can be.  Great fiddling by Mo' Don.  He has played this several times in the BHO Chatroom.   Nice playing by Paul (aeroweenie), very well done.  I worked up a version of this a couple of days ago, it's still a little rough.   The low part of this tune sounds to me very close to the low part to Hell Among the Yearlings.  I am three finger picking my semi-fretless tubaphone in open D tuning (aDF#AD).


Edited by - Don Borchelt on 11/26/2012 10:04:35

vrteach - Posted - 11/26/2012:  11:06:49

Geeze, Don, that's gorgeous.

As you play the low part (my B part) I'm reminded of Quince Dillon's High D! A connection that I had not made before.

Edited by - vrteach on 11/26/2012 11:13:04

vrteach - Posted - 11/26/2012:  11:24:09


Originally posted by vrteach

Geeze, Don, that's gorgeous.

As you play the low part (my B part) I'm reminded of Quince Dillon's High D! A connection that I had not made before.

Correction-- should say (my A part)

and: Geeze, Don, that's really gorgeous.

Edited by - vrteach on 11/26/2012 11:25:09

JanetB - Posted - 11/27/2012:  19:11:50

These have been great posts of Marmaduke's Hornpipe.  I went ahead and learned it from Kenny Baker's fiddling of Cricket on the Hearth.  He switches the A and B parts.  I also listened to the Don Stover and Chubby Anthony version--they have a funny little cricket sound on the fiddle.

Cricket on the Hearth


RG - Posted - 11/27/2012:  21:27:10

Janet-that is a real nice version of this tune!

Don Borchelt - Posted - 11/28/2012:  00:05:24

Fine job, Janet.  I wasn't happy with my first attempt, so I deleted it and redid it.

VIDEO: Cricket on the Hearth
(click to view)


vrteach - Posted - 11/28/2012:  07:20:19

Great version, Janet. Don, I liked your first one, but I like this one better.

aeroweenie - Posted - 11/29/2012:  20:08:22

Really nice variations on the tune!  This is one of the things I love about OT music.

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