September 2013 - "Fisher's Hornpipe"


One of David Schnaufer’s signature arrangements was of a tune called "Fisher's Hornpipe. In spite of the name, David never played this tune in the style of a hornpipe, but rather as a straight-ahead, driving fiddle tune. His first recording of it was with the Nashville-based alternative country rock band "The Cactus Brothers", of which he was a member from 1991 to 1993. The Cactus Brothers were one of the earliest country bands to embrace video and cable television as a way to reach an audience. Here’s a link to their 1992 music video of “Fisher’s Hornpipe”, which took third place in the prestigious Worldfest competition that year:

The tune "Fisher's Hornpipe" is one of the most popular, widespread and frequently published fiddle tunes in the world. On the subject of the title, several writers have speculated on who the 'Fisher' might have been.  The most prevalent belief is that it is based on a classical composition by the German composer Johann Christian Fischer (1733-1800), a friend of Mozart's.  The tune in its current form was first published in "A Collection of Cotillions, Minuets and Hornpipes" in 1780.   The tune became widely popular in a short span of time. It was already known as "Fisher's Hornpipe" in both England and the newly independent United States when it was written out by the American John Greenwood in his copybook for the German flute in 1783.

The arrangement presented here has 3 parts - the melody (my rough transcription of David's playing), along with bass and backup parts.   Enjoy the tune, and as David would say, keep on pickin'!

Tull Glazener