Hornpipe, Em, Traditional
TrailJams Tune of the Week for September 30, 2021
Jacky Tar (or Jackie Tar) is a traditional hornpipe played in Irish sessions. It has a lot of similarity to the tune The Cuckoo’s Nest, and it sometimes goes by that name. For accompanying contra dance, the tune is played at a faster tempo and with less of the distinctive hornpipe swing (in other words, it is played more like a reel). Jacky Tar or Jack Tar is an old nickname for sailors on wooden ships, where the sailor’s hands and clothes would be stained from the tar used on the ships. A hornpipe is traditionally a sailors dance, perhaps because it can be danced by one person in a small space.
- Video – Dale Russ: Jackie Tar and The Stack of Barley
- Audio – Olympia Traditional Music Sessions: Round the Horn, Jacky Tarr, from the album Round Tower. (Olympia, Washington, USA.)
Dots (Music Notation)
As always for traditional tunes, the musical notation and chords do not indicate the “right” way to play the tune, but are a useful reference.
Play from the Dots
These are the same chords as in the “dots,” except the bass notes are different as indicated by the “slash” chords.
Em – | G – | D D/A | D/F# D
Em C | G G/B | D D/A | E m
Em – | Em – | D – | D D/B
Em C | G G/B | D D/A | Em
Examples of sets that include this tune.
- Off to California / Jacky Tar
- Jacky Tar / The Rights of Man
- Chief O’Neill’s Favourite / Jacky Tar / The Plains Of Boyle
References and Resources
For those that want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.
- More Recordings
- Video – George Penk, Clyde Curley, and Susan Songer: Miss Gayton’s Hornpipe/Jacky Tar/Miss Thompson’s. From the album A Portland Selection 2: Contra Dance Music in the Pacific Northwest. (This version, for contra dance, is played at a faster-than-hornpipe tempo.)
- Video – Elan Chalford: Jackie Tar Hornpipe
- Video – Michael Kelly: The “Jackie Tar” Hornpipe Set – Michael Kelly, fiddle
- Book – Complete Irish Fiddle Player, by Peter Cooper (Mel Bay Publications)
- Book – The Portland Collection Volume 2
- Additional Resources
- Webpage – The Session: Jacky Tar (Hornpipe) – crowdsourced sheet music, comments, and more