A Comparative Analysis of Durang's Hornpipe
Date of Graduation
Master of Music
music, fiddle, folklore, Ozarks, meme
Fifty-three versions of the same traditional fiddle tune, "Durang's Hornpipe," have been collected and transcribed into musical notation for comparison. The objective is to determine how this tune has evolved since its composition in 1785 to the present day, in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of the nature of tune transmission in general. It was observed that musical passages of varying lengths herein referred to as "memes" have either survived of been forgotten, often replacing entire sections of the original tune. Some of the surviving memes have been successful at propagating themselves in the minds of musicians over centuries, while others have not been so successful. As a result, the tune known as "Durang's Hornpipe" survives not as one tune known to all, but as a multitude of variations, by virtue of this evolutionary process. By comparing the notes that fall on strong beats between different versions, then comparing the results as percentages of the notes shared in common, a preliminary conclusion is that "Durang's Hornpipe" shares common features according to regional identity.
© Mark Earl Bilyeu
Bilyeu, Mark Earl, "A Comparative Analysis of Durang's Hornpipe" (2007). MSU Graduate Theses. 2666.