Hornpipe, A Mixolydian
Also known as: Garraí Na Bhfeileog; The Garden of Butterflies; Molly Halfpenny; Paul Halfpenny
This savory hornpipe is full of sly fun. It is a “modal” tune that invites pitch sliding and out-of-scale notes to add to its playful intrigue. The tune is in A Mixolydian mode (in this setting), but part of its charm is that it does not stick to that scale: the C note in the scale is sometimes C-sharp and sometimes C-natural.
The illustration above is of the Ha’penny Bridge, officially known as the Liffey Bridge, built in 1816 over the river Liffey in Dublin, Ireland. A ha’penny is, of course, a coin with a value of a half-penny, which was the toll charged to walk across the bridge. All of which may have little or nothing to do with this tune, which is content to go by many other names including “The Garden Of Butterflies.” It is a traditional Irish tune, and was among those collected in O’Neill’s The Dance Music of Ireland, published in 1907, where O’Neill categorized the tune as a set dance.
- Video – Chris Smith: Poll Ha’Penny/The Old Bush/Within a Mile of Dublin – played on tenor banjo and fiddle. From the album Coyotebanjo, Irish Traditional Music from America, Chris Smith with Roger Landes and Randal Bays.
- Audio – Stephen Ducke: Poll Ha’penny (Hornpipe) – played on D tin whistle. From the book Irish Music – 400 Traditional Tunes.
- Video – Concertinette: Poll Ha’penny (hornpipe) – played on concertina
Dots (Sheet Music)
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. Watch out for that C note in the tune — it is sometimes C-sharp and sometimes C-natural.
About the chords: playing A5 chords in place of the A chords makes the harmony less dense and gives more latitude for melodic variation. (To play A5 chords, or “A omit 3,” leave the C or C# out of the Am or A chord.) The D5 and G5 chords are also “omit the third” chords that leave more harmonic ambiguity and more latitude for melodic variation.
About the C-sharp and C-natural notes: The A Mixolydian scale has a C-sharp, not a C-natural. In this tune though, there is a tradition of playing some of the C notes as C-natural. Various players play no C-natural notes, others play a quite a few, and fiddlers have the ability to play notes “a little sharp.” That’s why it is important to omit the third on A chords in parts of this tune — so that the melody players have room to play with the melody. (Read this article for a friendly explanation of Mixolydian and other modes.)
Play from the Dots
Examples of sets that include this tune.
- Poll Ha’penny (A Mixolydian) / Tuamgraney Castle (A Dorian) / Kitty’s Wedding (D)
Jump to the Ha’penny Hornpipe Set
- Poll Ha’penny (A Mixolydian) / Tuamgraney Castle (A Dorian)
References and Resources
For those who want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.
- More recordings
- Video – Wensaas, Rossebø, Lillebo: Poll Ha Penny – played on bouzouki, tin whistle, and baglamas by (respectively) Espen Wensaas, Anders Lillebo, and Olav Christer Rossebø. (A baglamas is a 6-string Greek instrument.)
- Video – Grey Larsen: Poll Ha’penny/Lark on the Strand/The Windy Gap – played in F Mixolydian on a B-flat tin whistle made by Michael Copeland.
- Video – Mary Bergin: Cornphiopai (Hornpipes) Garrai Na Bhfeileoig Miss Galvin – played in F Mixolydian on a Bb tin whistle. From the album Feadóga Stáin.
- Video – Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band: Poll Ha’penny / Tuamgrainey Castle (Hornpipes) – from the album Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band 50th Anniversary
- Video – Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill: Paul Ha’penny/The Garden Of Butterflies/The Broken Pledge/The Mother And Child Reel… – played as a slow air; fiddle with guitar.
- Lesson – Shannon Heaton: Poll Halfpenny (Hornpipe) – #NameYerTune – Played on flute; broken down phrase-by-phrase.
- Lesson – Matt Heaton: Poll Halfpenny Chords – Backer Corner with Matt Heaton -detailed advice on playing guitar backup to this tune and deal with its quirks
- Book – Shannon Heaton: Oil for the Chain, Traditional and Original Irish Music – with audio tracks of the tunes played on flute; no chords.
- Book – Stephen Ducke: Irish Music 400 Traditional Tunes – with audio tracks of the tunes played on tin whistle.
- Book – Grey Larsen: Down the Back Lane, Variation in Traditional Irish Dance Music – with audio tracks of the tunes played on flute or tin whistle.
- Book – Grey Larsen: 150 Gems of Irish Music for Tin Whistle – with audio tracks of the tunes played on tin whistle
- Book – O’Neill: The Dance Music of Ireland: O’Neill’s 1001 – Francis (Cpt.) O’Neill,1907
- Articles & other resources
- Article: Dorian, Mixolydian, Oh My: Modes in a Nutshell, by Jonathan Lay, TrailJams
- Article – Wikipedia: Ha’penny Bridge
- Web page – The Session: Poll Ha’Penny Hornpipe – crowdsourced sheet music and information