What’s the Horn?

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The bagpipe is a musical instrument with a cylindrical center section and a cone-shaped bell. It is used to play dance music, including the Sailor’s Hornpipe, historically linked to British sailors. The dance is also performed in the Highland Games and has variations in different countries.

Bagpipe can refer to dance music or the instrument used to play it. The musical instrument called a bagpipe dates back to at least the 1500s and has a cylindrical center section with holes for finger placement. The bagpipe is a single-reed instrument like the clarinet or saxophone, but has more of a bagpipe-like buzz. The end opposite the mouthpiece has a cone shaped bell which is traditionally made from animal horn – hence the name horns.

The bagpipe dance is historically linked to British sailors who performed the active, spirited dance as a way to keep fit and optimistic on ship. Shuffles, backflips and roundabouts are just some of the dance moves that are part of the bagpipe. The hornpipe is very similar to the Irish jig, with the one major difference being that it tends to include more types of stomping or clogging.

The Scots have turned the Sailor’s Hornpipe into a caricatured type of highland dance. The dance can be performed by men or women and a nautical costume is worn. Movements such as pulling the rope with the hands, climbing with the legs and holding the hand over the eyes as if looking out to sea are incorporated into the Sailor’s Hornpipe. This caricatured bagpipe dance is usually included in the Highland Games. The Highland Games are festivals of highland dancing, drumming and drumming, and can also include sports.

The Sailor’s Hornpipe song is also known as the College Hornpipe. The horn is danced as a single or in doubles. The double version has more difficult footwork. The American versions of the British, Irish and Scottish bagpipe dance tend to be more like a whirlpool. A whirlpool, hornpipe and jig often appear similar to the untrained eye, but the timing and rhythm can differ markedly between these three types of folk dance.

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