CHAPTER 4: Dulcimers in the British Isles since 1800 > Dulcimers in East Anglia

People - 4 of 13: Billy Cooper, 2 of 3

He knew "500 tunes, mostly songs", and his repertoire included: Golden Slippers, The Perfect Cure, Bluebell Polka, Jenny Lind Polka, Kafoozalum - 'Old Jerusalem' -, a variety of other polkas and schottisches, Irish Washerwoman, Rory O'More, Garryowen, St, Patrick's Day (these 'Irish' tunes being much more commonly played in England than across the water), the Four Hand Reel (a tune often thought to be exclusively from Dorset), Sailor's Hornpipe and so on; the cha-cha Wheels was his idea of an "ideal dulcimer tune", and his most characteristic tunes, from our point of view now, are the two step-dance hornpipes, Yarmouth Hornpipe and the English Breakdown, which he always played in sequence.


These tunes seem to be just about the only tunes that are played exclusively on the dulcimer, and Billy had a special reputation for his hornpipes, for he was known as the "Hornpipe King".

It is worth making the point that the Yarmouth Hornpipe seems to have originally been the name for the (step-) dance, so that any tune which was played for it could also be called by the same name; Billy Bennington's Yarmouth Hornpipe is the tune elsewhere known as the Flowers of Edinburgh, and similarly Walter Geary's Long Dance is the same as Garyowen, while the tune set to the Long Dance in Douglas Kennedy (28) is called there, and by Billy Cooper, The Perfect Cure: Billy is represented on two LPs, detailed in the Discography.

John and Kathleen Youngman described how Billy used to learn all the latest tunes from the radio, using the one-string fiddle - "he could make it talk" - and then transfer them to the dulcimer.