Tunes: more information:
In order to present in a short (and affordable) book, as many tunes as possible from what Pete describes as the ‘richly mongrel’ English fiddle tradition, source notes are presented in the book in a skeletal form. Detailed notes on CD tracks, individual tunes and English fiddlers are available below.
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16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45
46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54
Click next to title:
Abbots Bromley Horndance
The Blue-Eyed Stranger
Buy Brooms Besoms
Chip and Rant
Dance To Your Daddy
Dance To Your Daddy 2
Devil In A Bush
Dribbles of Brandy
Drive The Cold Winter Away
The Dusty Miller
Flaxley Green Dance
Fred Pidgeon’s No 1
The Gloucester Hornpipe
Heel and Toe Polka
The High Level Bridge
Hod The Lass
The Hurling Boys
Jack of the Green
Jenny Lind Polka
Johnny’s So Long At The Fair
John of the Green the Cheshire Way
Just As The Tide Was Flowing
The Keel Row
Lads and Lasses
Lemmy Brazil’s No.2
Long Room In Scarborough
Lord of Lyme
Michael Turner’s Waltz
The Month of May
Off She Goes
Old Molly Oxford
Old Morpeth Rant
Old Tom Of Oxford
Our Cat Has Kitted
The Peacock Followed The Hen
Phillibelula All The Way
Pop Goes The Weasel
The Queen’s Delight
The Radstock Jig
Rochdale Coconut Dance
The Savage Hornpipe
Scan Tester’s Country Stepdance
Scan Tester’s No 1
Scan Tester’s No 2
The Seven Stars
Sir Roger de Coverley 1
Sir Roger de Coverley 2
Sir Sydney Smith’s March
Small Coals and Little Money
Sweet Jenny Jones
Ted Smith’s Hornpipe
Trip To Cartmell
Walter Bulwer’s No 1
Walter Bulwer’s No 2
Walter Bulwer’s Off She Goes
William And Nancy
Willie Is A Bonny Lad
John Playford’s collection of tunes and dance instructions for English country dancing, The Dancing Master, appeared in eighteen editions between 1651 and 1728. This tune, and those that follow on Track 2, appeared in the first edition.
1 Drive The Cold Winter Away
Jig in Dm - Aeolian mode. Time signature changed from original 6/4.
Popular for a long time, appearing in every edition of Playford (1651 to 1728), this is the tune of a drinking song for the Christmas season, All Hail To The Days. Recorded by Douglas Wootton (with Pete Cooper, fiddle) on a 1993 CD by the Taverner Consort, directed by Andrew Parrott, The Carol Album-2, EMI Records CDC7 54902-2
All hayle to the dayes that merite more praise
Then all the rest of the yeare!
And welcome the nights that double delights
As well for the poore as the peere!
Good fortune attend each merry man’s friend
That doth bat the best that he may,
Forgetting old wrongs with carols and songs
To drive the cold winter away.
Read more on John Playford
Two more ‘Playford’ tunes from 1651, both in ‘cut’-time, i.e. two beats to the bar
Dm - Aeolian mode. Taking the ‘1651’ date of that historic publication as their band name, Mark Emerson (violin), Tim Harries (double bass) and Andy Cutting (button accordion) play an attractive, semi-improvised version on: 1651, Cast A Bell (Beautiful Jo Records BEJOCD 33, 2001) Read more on John Playford
3 Maiden Lane
Key of G.
Another one recorded by 1651 (see above); and (in the key of D) by Cooper and Bolton, The Savage Hornpipe (Big Chain BC 103). In the 1600s Maiden Lane, near Covent Garden, London, was a narrow alley, notorious for criminality. Round Court at the western end was described as ‘one of the Rookeries, full of town-Pyrates and a hotbed of Robbers’. The Lane’s basement ‘Cyder Cellars’ became famous in the 1800s for musical evenings, their clientele here described by William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-63):
"Healthy country tradesmen and farmers, in London for their business, came and recreated themselves with the jolly singing and suppers at the back kitchen, squads of young apprentices came here for fresh air doubtless.... dashing young medical students, handsome guardsmen, and florid bucks..."
And today? According to www.coventgarden.uk.com, ‘Maiden Lane is as dynamic as it has ever been in its 370-year history. The only Canadian pub in London, The Maple Leaf, inhabits the Bedford Head of 1740. On Canada Day the lane is given over to festivities. All nationalities are welcomed for beers and live music at the Aussie Outback Inn. The Hungarian Cultural Centre is buzzing with artists and musicians, forming a community meeting point. On the site of an antique bookshop, Mexican bar La Perla is five years old this month. Maiden Lane retains its historic status as lively and multi-cultural.’
Read more on John Playford
A set of three jigs, with the characteristic English crotchet-quaver rhythm. ‘Seven Stars’ requires no slurs, and makes an easy introduction to jigs for the novice fiddler.
4 The Seven Stars
Jig in D. A version commonly played in southern England, found in Dave Townsend’s English Dance Music, Volume 1, The Serpent Press, 1993. Recorded by Spiers and Boden, Bellow FECD 175; and Tiger Moth, Mothballs OMM 2012D. There’s a similar, but not identical, version in the MS of Yorkshire fiddle player Joshua Jackson (1763-1839), of Stainley, near Harrogate. The title may refer to the constellation The Plough, or maybe the Pleiades...
5 The Month of May
Jig in G. Learned from Dave Townsend (see note above). Versions are also found in the nineteenth-century Burnett (Yorkshire) and Michael Turner (Sussex) manuscripts.
6 Dribbles of Brandy
Jig in Em- Aeolian mode. In the manuscripts of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928).
Recorded by The Mellstock Band, The Dance At The Phoenix, Beautiful Jo Records, BEJOCD-28. The B-part of the tune resembles a well-known Irish song, Lannigan’s Ball. But which came first? (And does it matter?) A.L. Lloyd, pondering the related question of ‘what is Irish in English song, and what is English in Irish song,’ concluded that, ‘in song as in other matters the English have taken more than they gave but have given more than they get credit for.’ Folk Song In England, Paladin, 1975.
A pair of jigs from Staffordshire, in the Midlands, near where I grew up. Local resident Robert Buckley is said to have noted them down around 1857-58, from the playing of Abbots Bromley fiddler and wheelwright, William (or Henry) Robinson (c.1790-c.1860).
7 Flaxley Green Dance
Jig in Am - Aeolian mode. Flaxley Green, Staffordshire, is on the edge of Cannock Chase, a once royal hunting forest greatly diminished by coal-mining since the late 1850s. Buckley noted down two different endings to the B-part. The first is easier, the second more striking (especially with that D-diminished chord). Recorded in 1988 by Dave Shepherd, English Fiddle Players, (Plant Life Records PLR 077); and in 2001 by Cooper and Bolton, Turning Point (Big Chain BC 101).
8 Abbots Bromley Horndance
Jig in Dm - Aeolian mode. The crack at Abbots Bromley, twelve miles north-east of Stafford, is excellent for the visitor - or it was for me on a sunny September afternoon in 2000. The ritual Horndance, dating back, it is said, to the 13th century, still takes place every year on Wakes Monday. Collecting the horns (reindeer antlers) from the church at eight in the morning, the six Deer Men, with a Fool, a Bowman, and a cross-dressed Maid Marian, perform within the village, and surrounding area, all day long, making a circuit of about ten miles. The Maid Marian collects money from the crowd, and from householders. The pubs are open. It’s fine a day out. The meaning of the tradition has been variously interpreted. It may celebrate historical rights granted to the inhabitants of the village, located in what was, in Norman times, a royal hunting ground. The time of year is also the deer’s rutting season, a fact that folkies of a pagan-mystical inclination regard as significant.
The dancers were accompanied, on my visit, by a fine melodeon player, but the tune given here has long fallen out of active use. Wheelwright Robinson, born in the 1790s, apparently told Robert Buckley that it had been used for the horn dance in his youth. In 1910 Buckley sent the tune to Cecil Sharp (1859-1924), who published it in ‘Sword Dances of Northern England, Book Two’ (London: Novello, 1912). Widely adopted within EFDSS (English Folk Dance and Song Society) circles, it is described as ‘The Old Tune’ on Folktracks cassette 30-110 (‘The Horn Dancers of Abbots Bromley’), and played there (in G minor) by Helen Kennedy on concertina. Michael Raven has mused (private conversation) that the tune rather resembles an Italian tarantella. Recorded by Cooper and Bolton, 2001, Turning Point (Big Chain BC 101).
For this pair of tunes you can download written music (PDF) , and mp3 audio
9 Astley’s Ride
Key of D. Philp Astley (1742-1814) invented the modern circus in 1768, discovering that if he stood on a horse’s back while it galloped in a circle, centrifugal force helped him keep his balance. He engaged a clown, musicians and other performers and in 1771 opened Astley’s Amphitheatre in Westminster Bridge Road, London. This may have been one of the tunes played by the circus band during his daring displays of horsemanship. By the poet John Clare’s time, Astley’s was an established visitor attraction, and on Clare’s first trip to London in 1820 he and a friend (‘Rip’) ‘went to Astleys Theatre where we saw morts of tumbling.’ The tune also appears in the Hardy Family manuscripts (see note to Tune 6), and was noted down in Oxford, in 1789, by antiquarian Jean-Baptiste Malchair, who heard it played on ‘Flute a bec and Tambour’ by street musicians.
The present version reflects the way the tune is commonly now played. Its main rhythmic characteristic is the recurrent pattern of three crotchets (quarter notes) preceded by a pair of quavers (eighths). ‘O, I see,’ said Joanna, a student of mine, when I pointed this out. ‘You mean it keeps going Tweedle Bash! -Bash! -Bash!’ Which I think expresses the point very clearly.
10 Rochdale Coconut Dance
Key of G/ Em. I learned it in 1979 at sessions in the Blue Ball Inn, Ripponden, West Yorkshire (just over from the cotton-mill town of Rochdale, Lancashire) from the New Victory Band, who recorded it on One More Dance And Then (BASH CD47). A lot of musicians start with the B-part, though, as in Dave Townsend’s English Dance Music, Volume 1. The Coconut Dance itself apparently began in the village of Britannia in 1875 and was adopted by Bacup in 1909, though it has never taken place in Rochdale (birthplace of singer and actress Gracie Fields) itself. The spectacular performance was originally given by mill lads, who used hand-held ‘coconuts’ - the circular ends of bobbins - to hit other ‘coconuts’ strapped to their knees and waists, while clogging in the street. The dancers’ exotic costumes and ‘blacked-up’ faces may have been inspired by variety shows like those of the Christy Minstrels, who came from America to tour Britain from the 1840s. The funky alternative phrase here in the E-minor part is something John Spiers came up with. John Spiers & Jon Boden, Through & Through, Fellside FECD 161
Three more traditional jigs. The irregular number of bars in the second tune, though attractive in concert performance, means that they don’t work as a dance set.
11 Bang Up
Jig in D. The choppy, single-stroke bowing of the A- and B-parts contrasts with the flowing slurs given here in some of the C-part. From the manuscripts of John Clare (1793-1864). ‘Bang Up’ was a catchphrase of the early 19th century, meaning ‘excellent’, or ‘smashing’; I came across it in a book by George Borrow, ‘Lavengro’ (1851) or ‘The Romany Rye’ (1857), but didn’t mark the quote - please send an email if you find it. You might like this fiddle-related Borrow snip, though:
‘On the following day there was much feasting amongst the Romany chals of Mr Petulengro’s party. Throughout the forenoon the Romany chies did scarcely anything but cook flesh, and the flesh they cooked was swine’s flesh...I did not, like the others, partake of the pork, but got my dinner entirely off the body of a squirrel which had been shot the day before by a chal of the name of Piramus, who, besides being a good shot, was celebrated for his skill in playing on the fiddle. During the dinner a horn filled with ale passed frequently round, I drank of it more than once, and felt inspirited by the draughts. The repast concluded, Sylvester and his children departed to their tent...I was about to fall asleep also, when I heard the sound of music and song. Piramus was playing on the fiddle, whilst Mrs Chikno, who had a voice of her own, was singing in tones sharp enough, but of great power, a gipsy song, Poisoning The Porker.’
- George Borrow, The Romany Rye, Chapter 7
12 The Hurling Boys
Jig in G. From a recording of Suffolk fiddler Fred ‘Pip’ Whiting, on the 1978 LP, The Earl Soham Slog (Topic 12TS374), where the tune is described as an ‘Old Country Dance’. The B-part, here written out in full, is not repeated. With its unusually long (14-bar) B-part, the tune is clearly a vernacular descendant of Jockey To The Fair, a well-known eighteenth-century song found in John Clare’s manuscript, as well as that of Joseph Kershaw of Saddleworth, Manchester.
13 Off She Goes
Jig in D. Perennially popular dance tune, widely found, eg. in Thomas Hardy and John Clare. The rhythm of the opening bars is the same as the nursery rhyme, ‘Humpty Dumpty sat on a Wall’. The alternative B-part is from Joseph Kershaw. Although I play both versions on the audio track, it’s best to choose one or the other for performance purposes, and stick to it. My recording, in other words, is for illustration only. See Tune 74 for Walter Bulwer’s rhythmically eccentric version of the same tune.
A set of three 9/8 jigs.
14 Sir Roger de Coverley - 1
9/8 jig in D. See also Tune 98, for a four-part version of this famous tune. A two-part version in 9/4 time was first published by John Playford in 1695, but both the tune and the dance evolved rapidly during the early 1700s, inspiring Sir Richard Steele (1672-1729) and Joseph Addison (1672-1719) to create ‘Sir Roger’ as a fictional character. In their periodical, the Spectator (1711-12), he becomes ‘a gentleman of Worcestershire, of ancient descent.’ We learn that ‘his great-grandfather was inventor of that famous country-dance which is called after him’ and that, ‘cheerful, gay and hearty,’ he ‘keeps a good house both in town and country.’ Sir Roger, like the dance itself, is at his ease among different social classes. ‘His tenants grow rich, his servants look satisfied, all the young women profess to love him, and the young men are glad of his company.’
This association of the tune (and the dance) with a spirit of benevolence and joviality continued, if we are to believe Charles Dickens and George Eliot, into the nineteenth century. The village fiddle player Solomon Macey, in George Eliot’s Silas Marner (1861) is ‘a small hale old man with an abundant crop of long white hair,’ who breaks into the tune to summon the squire’s guests from the dining room to the dance floor.
‘ "Ay, ay, Solomon, we know what that means," said the Squire, rising. "It’s time to begin the dance, eh? " ’
Dickens’ London fiddler in A Christmas Carol(1843) is a recognisably more modern character, who ‘plunged his hot face into a pot of porter’ between the dances at Fezziwig’s Christmas eve party. This independent, urban player uses the same tune for his last dance of the night - which Dickens goes on to describe. ‘The fiddler (an artful dog, mind! the sort of man who knew his business better than you or I could have told it to him!) struck up "Sir Roger de Coverley." Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple too; with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pairs of partners... And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance; advance and retire, hold hands with your partner; bow and curtsey; corkscrew; thread-the-needle, and back again to your place; Fezziwig "cut" - cut so deftly, that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again without a stagger.’
Appears as Old Roger A Coverdill in the William Vickers manuscript (Northumberland, 1770-72 - see note to Tune 49); as ‘Roger de Calverley’ in John Moore (Shropshire, 1837-40 - see note to Tune 24); and in Thomas Hardy (Dorset).
15 Long Room In Scarborough
9/8 Jig in G. Learned from the playing of Our Northern Branch, an excellent Yorkshire fiddle trio of Johnny Adams, Chris Partington and Paul Roberts (see note to Track 13, Tunes 27-29). The C-part resembles the opening of the slip-jig ‘The Foxhunters’ Jig’. Found in the William Vickers manuscript of 1770-72 (Northumberland), and those of Yorkshire fiddlers Lawrence Leadley (1827-1897) and Joshua Jackson (1763-1839).
‘Why the popularity of the longways set endured in Britain for so long is uncertain,’ comment Bowen and Shepherd in ‘Tunes, Songs and Dances from the 1798 Manuscript of Joshua Jackson, North Yorkshire Cornmiller and Musician’, Yorkshire Dales Workshops, 1998. ‘It might have been in part the result of the proportions of the long and narrow ballrooms such as the Assembly rooms in York. Whatever the reason the "triple minor longways for as many as will" was the form commonly danced in Yorkshire in Jackson’s time.’
16 The Peacock Followed The Hen
9/8 Jig in Am - Dorian mode. Also from the playing of Our Northern Branch (see above). Basically the same as Tune 56, Mad Molly, it appears as Cuddle Me Cuddy in the William Vickers manuscript of 1770-72 (Northumberland).
Hornpipes are as important in English fiddle music as strathspeys are in Scotland. These two were played by Thomas Hardy’s father, a fine dance fiddler, in the 1840s.
17 Gypsy’s Hornpipe
Hornpipe in D. Is the vital role of gypsies and other travellers in the transmission of rural music and songs being recognised in the title? OK, probably not. But certainly they did play such a role, in England as elsewhere in Europe. The main version here is from 1990s dance band, Token Women, The Rhythm Method (No Master’s Voice NMV 2). The similar but different alternative (in cue-type) is from the Thomas Hardy manuscripts. On the audio track I play both versions next to one another in consecutive A-parts, but only to illustrate the alternatives, not as a suggestion for performance. The string-crossing in the B-part of both versions recalls a Scottish reel popular in England in the 1830s, Devil Among The Tailors.
Hornpipe in D. A favourite tune of Thomas Hardy, who at the age of four was ‘of ecstatic temperament, extraordinarily sensitive to music... Among the endless jigs, reels, waltzes, and country-dances that his father played of an evening, and to which the boy danced... there were three or four that always moved the child to tears.’ - Florence Hardy, The Life of Thomas Hardy. The tune was recorded in 1999, village band-style, by the Mellstock Band, The Dance At The Phoenix (Beautiful Jo Records, BEJOCD-28). A Sussex version of the same tune, ‘Waterloo Fair or the Henryco’ was featured on Eliza Carthy and Nancy Kerr’s first (1993) album (Mrs Casey Records 3991).
This is what’s known as a ‘stage hornpipe’, probably written for theatre performance before or between the acts of a play. It’s given here in two different keys, G and Bb.
19 The Savage Hornpipe
Hornpipe in G (19A), or Bb (19B). John Clare (1793-1864) wrote it out in Bb (with the initial triplet run starting on F), but G is an easier key for less experienced players. Clare does give several of his tunes (though not this one) in more than one key, eg The College Hornpipe in Bb and D, possibly reflecting the way the tunes were played in the ‘literate’ and ‘oral’ traditions. The tune appears (again in Bb), as Untitled Hornpipe V, in the manuscript of Yorkshire fiddler Lawrence Leadley (1827-1897). The title possibly refers to poet, playwright and convicted murderer Richard Savage (c. 1697-1743), author of ‘The Bastard’ (1728). Savage ‘roamed through the brothels and society salons of Augustan England creating a legend of poetic injustice’, and is best known as the subject of Samuel Johnson's ‘Life of Savage’ (1744), one of the most elaborate of his ‘Lives of the English Poets’. The band Blowzabella recorded the tune on their 1998 CD, Bobbityshooty; it’s also the title track of Cooper and Bolton’s 2006 CD, The Savage Hornpipe (Big Chain BC 103).
The string-crossing in the first four bars of the baroque-sounding B-part is a bit tricky in either key. In G, the slurs indicated give a back-beat kick on the Down bow, followed by a simple one-note-to-a-bow pattern in the next two bars. In the key of Bb, the note-to-a-bow pattern comes in the first two bars, reserving the back-beat kick for the end of the phrase. To my ear, the effect is, aptly enough, more savage.
A pair of eighteenth-century cut-time hornpipes
20 Kershaw’s Hornpipe
Hornpipe in D. Also called Duke’s Hornpipe by John Clare (1793-1864), and Lady Flashdash by Bradford architect Lawrence Leadley (1827-1897), it’s widely known today as ‘Kershaw’s’ after early nineteenth-century fiddler Joseph Kershaw. Read more about Joseph Kershaw
21 Ashley’s Hornpipe
Hornpipe in G. Titled Asleys Hornpipe by John Clare, this is the more distinctive of two versions in his collection. The other is closer to Ashley’s Hornpipe in the Thomas Hardy manuscript. It also appears as Astley’s Hornpipe in the 1837-40s manuscript of Shropshire fiddler John Moore. (Is the ‘Astley’ of Astley’s Ride the same as the ‘Ashley’ or ‘Asley’ of the hornpipe? Sorry, I don’t know. Answers on a postcard... Recorded by Cooper and Bolton, The Savage Hornpipe (Big Chain BC103, 2006).
22 Iron Legs
Hornpipe in D. Probably these days the most widely played of the tunes noted down by nineteenth-century Cumberland fiddle player, William Irwin, whose life and work have been excellently researched by Greg Stephens of the Boat Band. Iron Legs, possibly a corruption of ‘Iron League’ (though that’s not much help, frankly), was recorded by Alan Lamb and Howard Salt, English Fiddle Players, 1988 (Plant Life Records PLR 077); by the Boat Band, A Trip to the Lakes, Harbourtown HARCD 047; and by Cooper and Bolton, The Savage Hornpipe, 2006 (Big Chain BC 103). For more information on the tune, and lots more besides, see Paul Davenport, The South Riding Tune Book, www.folk-network.com
23 The Sportsman’s Hornpipe
Hornpipe in Am - Dorian mode. A version in G minor appears in the Joseph Kershaw Manuscript (see note to tune 20), but it’s in A minor in Northern Frisk (Dragonfly Music, 1988), a collection of north-western tunes compiled by Jamie Knowles, Pat Knowles and Ian McGrady. I learned it in that key from Stockport’s brilliant young fiddler, clogger and singer Nicola Lyons. Also known as the Oldham Sportsman, the tune has been recorded by, among others, Waterson: Carthy, Broken Ground, Topic Records TSCD509, and Cooper and Bolton, The Savage Hornpipe,Big Chain BC103.
Reels were regarded as somehow intrinsically ‘celtic’ by the English Country Music revival of the 1970s, and in assertion of their ‘Englishness’, The Old Swan Band even called their LP ‘No Reels’ (Free Reed, FRR 011, 1977). Many excellent reels however
are to be found in the pre-Victorian repertoire - and not only from up North.
24 Wednesday Night
Reel in D. An appealing title for me - I’ve been running fiddle classes in London for the past two decades on, yes, Wednesday nights. The tune is from the manuscript (1837-40) of nineteenth-century Shropshire fiddler John Moore. ‘Wednesday Night’ is also found in the manuscript of North Yorkshire fiddle player Joshua Jackson (1763-1839).
25 England’s Glory
Reel in G. From the manuscripts of John Clare (1793-1864). Notice how the bowing pattern in the B-part tends to emphasise the off-beat. Also, compare tune 28, ‘The Devil In The Bush’ - basically the same tune, but in the key of A.
The title will have a special appeal for matchbox collectors. Samuel John Moreland, born in Stroud in 1828, started the match factory of which England’s Glory was the famous brand name. From 1867 until its closure in 1976 Moreland's was part of Gloucester history, making 360,000 boxes of matches a week by 1911. (Read ‘England's Glory - The Moreland Story’, by leading phillumenist Peter Campion). The tune of course predates all this.
26 Alonby Lasses
Reel in G, learned from Dave Townsend, who found it in the 1830s manuscript of the Browne Family of Troutbeck, in the Lake District. The title’s obviously a local name for a tune of Scottish origin, The Flagon Reel, widely played in Ireland, with the addition of a distinctive C-part, as The Flogging Reel. (Pete Cooper, Irish Fiddle Solos, Schott ED 12734). For the migration of tunes between Cumbria, Ireland and Scotland, see note on William Irwin. The tune appears (as The Flaggon Reel) in the William Vickers manuscript, 1770-72 (Matt Seattle’s The Great Northern Tune Book, Vol 3).
A set of reels shamelessly nicked (the devil made me do it) from Yorkshire fiddle guv’nors ‘Our Northern Branch’ - Johnny Adams, Chris Partington and Paul Roberts. Check out their ambitious project to put old fiddle manuscript collections online: www.village-music-project.org.uk
27 William Pitt
Reel in D. Appears as Billy Pitt among the manuscripts of North Yorkshire fiddler Lawrence Leadley. Leadley’s life and music have been researched by James Merryweather and Matt Seattle (Lawrence Leadley, The Fiddler of Helperby, Dragonfly Music, 1994). This was probably already an old tune in Lawrence Leadley’s youth. William Pitt the Elder was British Prime Minister 1766-8, William Pitt the Younger from 1783 (at the age of 24) to 1801, and again 1804-6.
28 Willie Is a Bonny Lad
Reel in D. Possibly composed by William Pitt’s mother (joke). Learned from Johnny Adams, Chris Partington and Paul Roberts.
29 Devil In A Bush
Reel in A. This tune, with its curiously suggestive title, appears in the key of G in the William Vickers (Northumberland) manuscript, 1770-72. Compare tune 25, England’s Glory. I’ve followed Johnny Adams, Chris Partington and Paul Roberts in putting it in the bright-sounding key of A.
30 Hod The Lass
Reel in Am - Dorian mode. Recorded by Cooper and Bolton, The Savage Hornpipe (Big Chain BC 103). This syncopated reel, learned from Dave Townsend, was jotted down in the 1830s in the farm ledger of the Browne family of Troutbeck (now kept in the Armitt Collection in Ambleside Museum, Cumbria), under the full title ‘Hod The Lass While I Run At Her’. (Don’t even ask.) It also appears, in rhythmically plainer form, as Ha’d The Lass Till I Win At Her, in William Vickers (Northumberland), 1770-72. The descending semiquaver (sixteenth-note) runs - play them staccato - in the last bar of each section are similar to those in some tunes from the West Highlands, eg. the strathspey ‘Bog an Lochain’. The C at the end of the first bar, in both parts, may also be played as C#.
A pair of reels from the adjacent counties of Cumberland and Northumberland respectively. At primary school (late 1950s) we recited the names of the English counties, starting ‘top-right’, in a splendid chant that began: ‘Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, Durham, Yorkshire, Lancashire...’
31 Trip To Cartmell
Reel in A - Mixolydian mode. Another tune from the Browne Family of Troutbeck, MS 1830s, in the Armitt Collection, Ambleside Museum. As in ‘Hod The Lass’, notice the decorative semiquaver run - quite tricky to play (use short staccato bows) - at the end of the A-part.
32 Small Coals and Little Money
Reel in Am - Dorian mode. Learned from virtuosic fiddle player and singer Nancy Kerr. It was recorded by the Kathryn Tickell Band, 2004, Air Dancing (Park Records, PRKCD 72), and is also included among many fine tunes in piper Pauline Cato’s useful book, Northumbrian Choice, Dave Mallinson Publications, 1997.
Unlike the hornpipes earlier in this collection, the following tunes are played
in the ‘modern’ or ‘Irish’ way, with a ‘triplet swing’ . This seems to have become common practice in the mid-nineteenth century, perhaps influenced by the rhythm of the ‘new’ schottische.
33 The Steamboat
Hornpipe in G. One of many famous hornpipes in the repertoire of fiddler James Hill (c.1815-c.1860), the finest of the Tyneside public house performers of the 1840s and ’50s and known as the ‘Paganini of hornpipe players,’ though possibly not composed by him. Hill’s life and music have been researched by Graham Dixon in The Lads Like Beer, Fiddle Music of James Hill, Random Publications, 1987. Note that this, and the following, hornpipes are played with a ‘triplet swing’, in contrast to the earlier tunes 17 - 23, which are played ‘straight’. All four of the ‘Hill’ hornpipes here (The Steamboat, The Cage, The High Level Bridge, The Wonder ) were recorded by Tom McConville, Fiddler’s Fancy, Old Bridge Music OBMCD 04.
34 The Cage
Hornpipe in A. By James Hill. See The Lads Like Beer, Fiddle Music of James Hill, Graham Dixon, Random Publications, 1987; Tom McConville Fiddler’s Fancy, Old Bridge Music OBMCD 04. The title may refer to the cage used to lower coal-miners into the pit. Read more on James Hill.
35 The High Level Bridge
Hornpipe in Bb. By James Hill. See The Lads Like Beer, Fiddle Music of James Hill, Graham Dixon, Random Publications, 1987; Tom McConville Fiddler’s Fancy, Old Bridge Music OBMCD 04. The famous two-tier bridge across the river Tyne, linking Newcastle and Gateshead, with a road on one level and a railway above it, was opened in 1848, and Hill’s tune presumably dates from that time. Unusually, played as an individual piece, it ends on the A-part instead of the B-part. The B-part, however, leads happily enough into another tune, for example, ‘The Wonder Hornpipe’, in the same key. Read more on James Hill
36 The Wonder
Hornpipe in Bb. Attributed to James Hill, though Graham Dixon (The Lads Like Beer, Fiddle Music of James Hill, Graham Dixon, Random Publications, 1987) says he’s been unable to find written confirmation of this. Tom McConville Fiddler’s Fancy, Old Bridge Music OBMCD 04. Note the use of accidentals to cancel the Bb and Eb found in the key signature. Read more on James Hill
A fine set of four reels from the living tradition of Northumberland
37 Old Morpeth Rant
Rant in G. Morpeth is a Northumberland market town on the banks of the River Wansbeck. A ‘rant’ is a dance step. This ‘old’ version is from Henry Robson, a relative of Kathryn Tickell. She plays it on The Northumberland Collection (Park Records PRKCD 42). Notice how the bowing in the first two bars imparts a strong off-beat emphasis. A similar version was played by the great Border fiddler, Tom Hughes.
38 Morpeth Rant
Rant in D. This more standard version is based on the playing of fiddler Willie Taylor (1916-2000), piper Joe Hutton and mouth-organ player Will Atkinson, recorded on their album Harthope Burn (Mawson & Wareham Music MWM 1031). Northumbrian fiddler Ned Pearson played a version including a top D (3rd position on the E-string), and reported: ‘It’s a set dance, ladies on one side, gentlemen on the other.’ Forest of Dean fiddler Stephen Baldwin played yet another version.
39 Roxburgh Castle
Reel in G. Also commonly played in A. I learned it from the fiddle playing of Willie Taylor and Kathryn Tickell on the 1986 album From Sewingshields to Glendale (Mawson & Wareham Music, MWM 1033), where they’re joined by pipers Joe Hutton and Alistair Anderson. As the pipes are in the key of F, the fiddlers have tuned their strings down one tone and play as if in G. The low tuning, also quite common among traditional Cajun fiddlers, gives the fiddle a quiet, gentle tone. A fine version (in A) can be heard on Kathryn Tickell, Northumberland Collection, Park Records PRKCD 42
40 Hesleyside Reel
Reel in A. Composed by Tommy Elliot, played by Kathryn Tickell, Northumberland Collection, Park Records PRKCD 42. Hesleyside Hall, near Bellingham, was the seat of the Charlton family.
Hornpipe in D. Composed, as ‘Nancy Clough’, by Northumbrian piper Tom Clough, now widely popular, even among American Old Time musicians. Played by Willie Taylor etc on Harthope Burn, Mawson & Wareham Music MWM 1031, and (in both ‘Northumbrian’ and ‘Old Time’ style, by Rattle On The Stovepipe, Eight More Miles, Wild Goose, WGS 333.
42 Sir Sydney Smith’s March
March in G. Particularly popular in Northumberland, and regarded there as traditional, this tune was originally written by Norwich-born organist and composer James Hook (1746-1827), who also wrote ‘The Lass of Richmond Hill’. Appears as ‘Handels Gavott’ in John Clare’s manuscript. Admiral Sir Sydney Smith distinguished himself at the Siege of Acre in 1799.
43 Snowy Monday
March in D, in what is known in Scotland as a ‘Pipes 6/8’. Keep the notes short, almost staccato, and play with the ‘dotted’ lilt indicated, rather than equal time values. Composed by fiddle-player Willie Taylor (1916-2000). This tune ‘lay about’ for some time, Willie said, only half-written, until ‘one heck of a bad Monday,’ when, blocked in by snow, he finished it off. The second fiddle part was added by Kathryn Tickell, who joined Willy in a fiddle duet on the 1986 album From Sewingshields to Glendale (Mawson & Wareham Music, MWM 1033).
I wonder if the 3/4 time signature of this tune represents an echo, or survival, of the 3/2 rhythm we shall soon encounter in triple hornpipes
44 Dance To Your Daddy 1
Song tune in A. There are many versions of the lyrics of this song, known throughout England and Scotland, but particularly associated with Newcastle.
Dance ti' thy daddy, sing ti' thy mammy,
Dance ti' thy daddy, ti' thy mammy sing;
Thou shall hev a fishy on a little dishy,
Thou shall hev a fishy when the boat comes in.
A very impressive version was recorded in 2001 by Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Between The Dark and Light, Fellside FECD 167
45 Dance To Your Daddy 2
Song tune in Am. Another version of the tune, collected in Berkshire by Cecil Sharp, and, like tune 44, recorded by Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Between The Dark and Light, Fellside FECD 167
The same tune is given in two versions, the second serving as an introduction to the 3/2 rhythm of the hornpipes that follow
46a/ 46b Buy Broom Besoms
Song tune in D, attributed to Newcastle fiddler and eccentric 'Blind Willie' Purvis, born 1752. I have given the tune in two versions, ‘a’ and ‘b’, the first in 3/4 time, the second, with a back-beat stress, in 3/2 time, suggestive of the rhythm of a triple hornpipe.
If ye want a buzzem
For to sweep yor hoose
Come to me, ma honey
Ye may hae yor choose.
Buy broom buzzems,
Buy them when they're new
Fine heather bred uns
Better never grew.
The song was recorded by Stockport-based youth music and dance group, The Fosbrooks, As Pants The Hart, Tidy House Music THM 011999.
A set of 3/2 hornpipes. They have three minim beats to the bar, and I shall refer to them as ‘Triple Hornpipes’ (not as ‘Double Hornpipes’)
47 Lads and Lasses
Triple (3/2) Hornpipe in G. I don’t know its original source, but learned it from Northern Frisk, a ‘Treasury of tunes from North West England’, compiled by Jamie and Pat Knowles and Ian McGrady, Dragonfly Music, 1988.
48 The Dusty Miller
Triple (3/2) Hornpipe in G. Clearly a well known tune in its day (as well as latterly), it appears in the manuscript collections of William Vickers; John Clare; Joseph Kershaw (in two similar versions); and (as a 6/8 jig) Shropshire fiddler John Moore. Robert Burns also used the tune for a song of the same name:
Hey, the dusty miller,
And his dusty coat!
He will spend a shilling,
Or can win a groat
In Ireland it is played as a 9/8 slip-jig, as recorded by Eilish O’Connor, Sugrú, TODCD 2002, and transcribed by Pete Cooper, Irish Fiddle Solos, Schott ED 12734.
49 Rusty Gulley
Triple Hornpipe in G. ‘Gulley’ is a Scottish and North of England dialect term for a large knife. This variant of the Dusty Miller is also known as ‘The Three Rusty Swords’ or ‘Punchanello’s Hornpipe’, and I particularly like the descending Em-D-C chords in the B-part. It has been recorded by John Spiers & Jon Boden, Through & Through Fellside FECD 161. Versions of both ‘Rusty Gulley ‘and ‘The Dusty Miller’ appear in the William Vickers manuscript of c.1770.
Two versions of the same tune
50 Cheshire Rounds
Triple Hornpipe in D. This is the first of three ‘settings’, or versions, of the tune in John Offord’s excellent collection of mainly 18th century dance music, John of the Greeny Cheshire Way, (Friends of Folk Music, 1985). I don’t know Offord’s original source but the second edition of the book (John Of The Green The Cheshire Way) is available from the shop.
51 Our Cat Has Kitted
Triple Hornpipe in D. This version of the Cheshire Rounds, (John Offord’s ‘2nd’ setting) is from the 1820s manuscript of Saddleworth fiddler Joseph Kershaw. Here I’ve divided each bar with a vertical (dotted) line to indicate how the phrasing corresponds to that of the ‘Cheshire Rounds’ version. Comparison of these tunes, 50 and 51, with the two versions of tune 46, ‘Buy Brooms Besoms’, reveals different rhythmic possibilities within the 3/2 form. ‘Our Cat’ corresponds to 46a, while 46b, with its implicit back-beat emphasis, more resembles ‘Cheshire Rounds’.
A fine set of more challenging Triple Hornpipes, two traditional, and one new
52 Chip and Rant
Triple Hornpipe in G. This rousing tune comes from the manuscript (c.1820) of fiddler Joseph Kershaw of Slackcote, Saddleworth, a moorland area in the Pennines east of Manchester. Note that the twelve quavers per bar in the A-part are rhythmically divided into two groups of six, and three groups of four, alternately. This and the next two tunes (53 and 54) are played as a set by Cooper and Bolton, Turning Point (Big Chain BC 101).
53 Northern Frisk
Triple Hornpipe in Am - Dorian mode. Also known as The Merry Conclusion or Mr Kynaston’s Famous Dance, after its probable composer, Shropshire/ Welsh Borders dancing master Nathaniel Kynaston, it was published as Northern Frisk by John Walsh in 1731. It gave its title to the collection of new and traditional tunes, Northern Frisk - A Treasury of Tunes from North West England, compiled by Jamie Knowles, Pat Knowles & Ian McGrady, Dragonfly Music, in 1988. Recorded by Cooper and Bolton, Turning Point (Big Chain BC 101), and (as The Merry Conclusion or Mr Kynaston’s Famous Dance) by Belshazzar’s Feast, Mr Kynaston’s Famous Dance Vols. 1 and 2, WildGoose Records, WGS 31CD.
54 Charlesworth Hornpipe
Triple Hornpipe in Bm - Aeolian mode. Composed in the 1980s by fiddler Ian ‘Sam’ McGrady, this 5-part tune is included in Northern Frisk - A Treasury of Tunes from North West England (Dragonfly Music 1988). Recorded by Cooper and Bolton, Turning Point (Big Chain BC 101).
It is named after a Derbyshire village. Sam McGrady writes (January 2009): ‘Here’s a bit of background information. Dave Godwin, who was the caller and accordion player with the Bilbo Baggins Barn Dance Band, had a cottage in Charlesworth where we used to practice. The tune was sort of a nod to Dave. Unfortunately, Dave passed away a couple of years ago. It would be nice if he got a mention with the tune...’
55 Presbyterian Hornpipe
Triple Hornpipe in Gm - Aeolian mode. Published in 1731 by John Walsh, ‘The Third Book of the most celebrated Jiggs, Lancashire Hornpipes, Scotch and Highland Lilts, Northern Frisks...’; and reissued in John Of The Greeny Cheshire Way, The Famous Double Hornpipes of Lancashire and Cheshire, John Offord, 1985. The book is now out of print but the second edition (John Of The Green The Cheshire Way) is available from the shop.
This track (and the next) are examples of the same tune played in two different rhythms, as a 9/8 jig and as a triple hornpipe. I learned this first set from Lake District fiddler Carolyn Francis, who learned it from Greg Stephens.
56 Mad Molly
9/8 Jig in Bm - Aeolian mode. The following verse: -
Won’t you come cuddle me cuddy, O won’t you come cuddle me right?
O won’t you come cuddle me cuddy, like we did yesterday night?
- is sometimes sung to the A-part of the tune, Laurel Swift informs me, in Lowland Scotland. The tune appears (as ‘Mad Moll’, in the key of Am) in John Playford’s The Dancing Master - from 1698 onwards; and Joshua Jackson 1763-1839. It is of course closely related to The Peacock Followed The Hen (tune 16). In that version the sixth of the scale - the equivalent of the high G in bar B2 - is played sharp.
57 Lord of Lyme
3/2 Hornpipe in Bm - Aeolian mode.
For a smooth rhythmic transition from 9/8 to 3/2 just sit on a steady, three-to-a-bar beat, and notice how an off-beat accent (as in reggae music) kicks in with the triple hornpipe - it’s part of what’s so great about them as a rhythmic form.
Jenny Coxon writes (May 2008) that the tune is from the (as yet unpublished) manuscript of Thomas Watts, from the Derbyshire Peak District, two volumes of which came to light in a second-hand bookshop in Glossop. The other volume consists of West Gallery music. Jenny passed a copy to Greg Stevens, who passed on the tune to Carolyn Francis; thence to me.
And the ‘lord’ in question? His ancestral home in any case was presumably Lyme Park, Cheshire, a stately home on the edge of Stockport, near Manchester, used as ‘Mr D’Arcy’s house’ in a BBC TV adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’, with Colin Firth as D’Arcy.
An even more striking example of the morphing of a 9/8 jig into a triple hornpipe. Or vice versa? Which did come first? My guess would be the two-part jig, as here, with the four-part hornpipe as an elaboration in the ‘Cheshire’ (think ‘back-beat’) style. But both tunes are very old. The titles suggest a link to the nineteenth-century Jack-in-the-Green customs associated with chimneysweeps, but may be entirely unrelated.
58 Jack Of The Green
9/8 Jig in D, from the William Vickers manuscript (c.1770-72), transcribed and published by Matt Seattle, The Great Northern Tune Book (Vol 1), Dragonfly Music, 1986. The ties in the second and fourth bars of both sections are not in the original, but bring out the implicit syncopation.
59 John Of The Green, the Cheshire Way
3/2 Hornpipe in D. As published circa 1713 by Daniel Wright in his An Extraordinary Collection of Pleasant and Merry Humours..., the definite article in the tune’s title is printed ‘ye’, with the ‘e’ above the ‘y’. At a glance it reads as ‘Greeny Cheshire Way’, which is how it’s now widely known. It lends this title to John Offord’s pioneering 1985 collection, John Of The Greeny Cheshire Way, The Famous Double Hornpipes of Lancashire and Cheshire. (The second edition (John Of The Green The Cheshire Way) is now available from the shop.) As with tunes 56 and 57, keep a steady 3-to-a-bar beat on both tunes.
In the years after the battle of Waterloo, and a century or more after the heyday of the triple hornpipe, a ‘new’ continental dance, the Waltz, conquered the hearts of the English dancing classes. It would be followed in the course of the nineteenth century (as in the course of this collection) by the polka, the schottische, and such later hybrids as the polka-mazurka. As a collective term for all such ‘Victorian’ dance tune types, international of course in their popularity, the Swedes have the useful term ‘gammaldans’ (literally, ‘oldtime’ dance) to distinguish the waltz, polka etc from such older ‘traditional’ forms as, in their case, the polska.
60 Brunswick Waltz
Waltz in F. From the manuscript tunebook of Joshua Gibbons (1778-1871) of Tealby, Lincolnshire, papermaker and fiddle player, compiled 1823-26. The waltz was a new dance in England, first introduced to upper class society by the Prince Regent at a ball given in London in July 1816. He and his sartorial advisor, Beau Brummel, inventor of the trousers, generally adopted the ‘dandy’ style, and possibly included the waltz to shock the bourgeoisie. A Times editorial a few days later duly reacted:
"We remarked with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced (we believe for the first time) at the English court on Friday last ... It is quite sufficient to cast one's eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs and close compressure on the bodies in their dance, to see that it is indeed far removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the civil examples of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion." ’
- quoted by Lori Heikkila, www.centralhome.com/BALLROOMCOUNTRY/waltz.htm
61 Hungarian Waltz
Waltz in G. Is this tune actually Hungarian? The waltz as a form, which Lori Heikkila (see note to previous tune) describes as ‘a ballroom dance in 3/4 time with strong accent on the first beat and a basic pattern of step-step-close’, originated ‘in the suburbs of Vienna and in the alpine region of Austria. As early as the seventeenth century, waltzes were played in the ballrooms of the Hapsburg court...’ Perhaps, if it was popular in the Austro-Hungarian empire generally, the tune could conceivably be Hungarian in origin, but it could as well have been made up in England and just given a suitably exotic-sounding title. (At a later date, after 1850, a variation of the schottische called the ‘Hungarian Waltz’ was invented ‘two sisters from Odessa, returning from Hungary’.) It’s in the Thomas Hardy collection; and that of John Moore; as well as in Peter Kennedy’s ‘The Fiddler’s Tune-Book’ (Dave Mallinson Publications, 1994). In the latter it begins with what I call here the C-part, and bears the mnemonic (and very un-Hungarian title) ‘Drink Your Tea, Love’. It was recorded in 1999 by The Mellstock Band, The Dance At The Phoenix - Beautiful Jo Records, BEJOCD-28.
In 1850, there appeared in all parts of Europe, the Schottische (shot-teesh), a round dance which had been executed in Bavaria under the name "Reinlander" (rine-lant-er). In the Rheinish (sp?) countries, the Schottische was known as the "Bavarian Polka ". Two sisters from Odessa, returning from Hungary did a variation to the Rheinlander called the "Hungarian Waltz " which became very popular with all who saw.
Three more tunes in 3/4 time, of various origins, that can serve as waltzes
62 Sweet Jenny Jones
Waltz in D. "My sweet Jenny Jones is the pride of Llangollen. My sweet Jenny Jones is the girl I love best." Welsh presumably in origin, it’s become used as a Morris tune, notably by Adderbury Morris. It’s found in the Thomas Hardy manuscripts; and was recorded by John Kirkpatrick, Plain Capers, Morris Dance Tunes from the Cotswolds, Topic TSCD 458
63 Bwlch Llanberis
Waltz in D. The title refers to the ‘Llanberis Pass’ in Snowdonia, north Wales. I learned it in the late 1970s from Tommy Jenkins, of Swansea-based band ‘Cromlech’. It can also be found in a fine collection called ‘Blodau’r Grug, 100 Popular Welsh Folk Dance Tunes’ (Welsh Folk Dance Society).
64 Michael Turner’s Waltz
Waltz in G. Michael Turner (1796-1885) of Warnham, Sussex, was a fiddler, shoemaker, parish clerk and sexton. As well as playing for dances, he led the Warnham church band, until 1847, when the it was replaced by an organ, and the rood-loft, facing the congregation, taken out - a common tale of the time. The tune appears as ‘Untitled Waltz’ in A Sussex Tune Book, edited by Anne Loughran and Vic Gammon, and was, in fact, composed in 1788, as Paul Davenport pointed out in 2003 in English Dance and Song magazine, by none other than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (KV 536, No. 2, ‘Six German Dances’). In America, it became used for a hymn, ‘When He Cometh’. Both the ‘American hymn’ and ‘English waltz’ versions can be heard on Dave Arthur’s CD, Return Journey, Wild Goose WGS 313, with Pete Cooper, fiddle.
The polka arrived in England at the end of the 1840s, and remained by far the most popular dance here until the introduction of ragtime and jazz in the early twentieth century. It originated, probably, in Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic), perhaps in imitation of the Polish ‘krakowiak’.
65 Walter Bulwer’s No 1
Polka in G. From an August 1962 recording of Norfolk fiddler Walter Bulwer (1888-1968), with Daisy Bulmer on piano. Track 25 (‘Untitled Polka’) on English Country Music, Topic Records TSCD 607. The timely work of Reg Hall and Mervyn Plunkett , who recorded and got to know them, brought Walter and Daisy’s music something of a cult following, inspiring bands like Oak, the Old Swan Band, Flowers and Frolics and the New Victory Band, in an English Country Music revival of the 1970s and 80s that gave this and the next tune their present titles. The fact that the A-part’s in the key of G and the B-part’s in D is very characteristic of Victorian polkas.
66 Walter Bulwer’s No 2
Polka in F. Froma July 1959 solo recording of fiddle player Walter Bulwer (1888-1968), of Shipdham, Norfolk; track 6 on English Country Music Topic RecordsTSCD 607. According to Reg Hall, ‘Daisy Bulwer’s relatives on her mother’s side were musically inclined and she recalled her uncle playing the unidentified polka (track 6) at the age of about eighty when she was young.’ Most melodeons can’t play in the key of F, so revivalists often transpose the tune to G (with the B-part in D). The Old Swan Band recorded it thus (and omitting the C-part entirely) on their 1976 Free Reed LP, ‘No Reels’, following it with Walter Bulwer’s No. 1 - a set which also works well, and can be heard on the Topic Records compilation Stepping Up, TSCD752.
67 Father’s Polka
Polka in D. From the playing of gardener, singer and musician Billy Harrison (1898-1986) of Pocklington, East Yorkshire (Billy Harrison and Jim Eldon, Yorkshire Fiddle Tunes and Songs, Musical Traditions Cass 201). Also recorded (as ‘Billy Harrison’s Father’s Polka’) by Brass Monkey, Flame of Fire, Topic Records TSCD 550
68 Scan Tester’s No 1
Polka in G. I first learned this and the next tune from fiddler Peta Webb, formerly of the band Oak. It’s originally from the playing of concertina- (and occasionally fiddle-) player Scan Tester (1887-1972), of the Ashdown Forest, Sussex. Played (as ‘Stepdance’) on Scan Tester, I Never Played to many Posh Dances, Topic Records, 2-12T455/6 (side 3, track 3b).
69 Scan Tester’s No 2
Polka in G. From the playing (as ‘Polka’, side 1, track 12) of Scan Tester (1887-1972). I Never Played to many Posh Dances, Topic Records, 2-12T455/6 (side 1, track 12).
A set of three polkas from various sources
70 Fred Pidgeon’s No. 1
Polka in G. From a recording (as ‘The Scotch Polka’) of Fred Pidgeon (1880-1970), baker, farmer and fiddle player of Stockland, East Devon (The Ladies Breast Knot, Folktracks 45-087). In his youth Fred played for dances with two cousins, one of them his brother-in-law. ‘We all played - all three - violins. But the oldest of ’em, he’d play a lot of seconds and make we youngsters work. And we used to enjoy it. He could never speak to me when he was playing. I used to talk to him and he’d give a nod - he could never answer. We used to have fine fun.’
71 Jenny Lind Polka
Polka in D/G. Jenny Lind (1820-87), known as ‘The Swedish Nightingale,’ was an operatic soprano who made a triumphant London appearance in 1847, just about the time the polka became the height of fashion in England. It’s played on a 1962 recording of Walter Bulwer (1888-1968) and his wife Daisy (piano), of Shipdham, Norfolk (English Country Music, Topic 12T296). The tune appears (in F/ Bb) in the Thomas Hardy manuscripts The Musical Heritage of Thomas. Hardy, The Yetties, Dragonfly, 1990
72 Kempshott Hunt
48-bar (i.e. three-part) polka in D. From the playing of fiddler Mat Green and Andy Turner (concertina), who adapted it from the version (in the key of A) in the John Clare collection (John Clare and the Folk Tradition, George Deacon, Francis Boutle, 2002).
73 Heel & Toe Polka
Polka in G/ Em. From a 1954 recording of Stephen Baldwin, made in Bishop Upton, Herefordshire ’, now available on‘Stephen Baldwin: "Here's One You'll Like, I Think" (Musical Traditions MTCD334). Also recorded, though without the attractive B-part in Em, by Walter Bulwer etc (English Country Music Topic TSCD 607). Like several other English fiddle tunes, this is most commonly known as a nursery rhyme:
One, two, three, four, five
Once I caught a fish alive
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten
Then I let it go again.
Why did you let it go?
Because it bit my finger so.
Which finger did it bite?
This little finger on the right.
74 Walter Bulwer’s Off She Goes
Jig in D. Transposed from the key of G (starting on the note B) in which it’s played (as ‘Off She Goes’) on a 1959 recording of Walter Bulwer (English Country Music, Topic Records TSCD 607, track 3). I’ve changed the key to D in order to be able to play the last two bars of the A-part in the same register as the rest, instead of dropping down an octave, as Bulwer does. In Shipdham, Norfolk, however, it is still played in G - Walter’s way. The intriguing extra beats in the B-part seem to be Walter’s personal contribution to this old tune - see tune 13, Off She Goes, for a more standard version.
The schottische was a German dance consisting of a series of chassés and hops. It arrived in England around 1850, hard on the heels of the polka
75 Phillibelula All The Way
Schottische in D. The tune often played for a dance called the Nottingham Swing. Dave Townsend tells me the tune was collected by Sybil Clark from fiddle player George Jeff of Titchmarsh, Northamptonshire, and published in Sybil Clark, Seven Midlands Dances, EFDSS 1955.
76 The Keel Row
Schottische in D. Originally from Northumberland, this is a very widely known tune, found, for example, in the Thomas Hardy manuscripts, The Musical Heritage of Thomas. Hardy, The Yetties, Dragonfly, 1990
77 Lemmy Brazil’s No.2
Schottische in D. Lemmy (short for Lementina) Brazil (pronounced ‘brazzle’) was born around 1890 in a Devon Gypsy family , and travelled for a few years in Ireland before returning in 1919 to settle in Gloucestershire. She played mouth-organ and melodeon, and sang, and knew many of the same tunes as Stephen Baldwin. This jaunty tune’s become very popular with fiddlers. It is referred to as a ‘Tap Dance’ in The Coleford Jig, Traditional Tunes from Gloucestershire, Charles Menteith & Paul Burgess, 2004.
78 Scan Tester’s Country Stepdance
Schottische in G. Played by Scan Tester (1887-1972) (as ‘Stepdance’) on Scan Tester, I Never Played to Many Posh Dances, Topic Records, 2-12T455/6 (side 3, track 3b).
Here we enter the strange and wonderful world of Morris dance tunes.
79 Bacca Pipes (Greensleeves)
Slow Jig in Am. Learned from fiddle player Mat Green, of Bampton, Oxfordshire, where it’s used for a ‘two-man jig’ of the same name. Two long-stemmed churchwarden’s pipes are laid on the ground in a diagonal cross, each of the dancers in turn performing elaborate steps around, and between, them. The slow, almost hypnotic, tempo of the solo fiddle creates a strangely intense atmosphere. The tune is a variant of Greensleeves, often attributed to Henry VIII (1491-1547), which appears (as ‘Greensleeves and Pudding Pies’) in the 7th Edition (1686-7) of John Playford. A very similar vernacular descendant of ‘Greensleeves’ was recorded by Forest of Dean fiddler Stephen Baldwin. The ‘extra’ bar here in the 1st time ending of the A-part, and the 2nd time ending of the B-part, reflects the fiddler’s ‘marking time’ during the dance performance.
80 Idbury Hill
Morris tune in Am - Dorian mode. Collected by Cecil Sharp around 1912 from Charlie Benfield, of Bledington, near Chipping Norton, Gloucestershire, reputed to be ‘far and away the best Morris fiddler of his day’. Cecil Sharp, according to his biographer Fox Strangway, once ‘presented a bow to Charlie Benfield... whose own bow had been broken some years previously, since when he had been unable to play his fiddle. The old man tuned up and played over a few tunes, but the result did not please him. Thoughtfully he examined and fingered his new bow, and said: "It looks all right, and it seems a nice bow, but somehow it won’t keep time with the other hand." ’ Sharp also collected this tune, but in the key of G minor and called London Pride, from 68-year-old Harry Taylor at Longborough in 1911 .
When playing for dancers, a momentary slowing down occurs with the dotted rhythm in bar A3, matching a figure known as Hook Legs, a type of simple ‘galley’ (meaning that the dancers lift one leg while turning through 180 degrees).
81 Highland Mary
Morris tune in G. From a 1943 recording of William ‘Jinkey’ Wells (1868-1953) of Bampton, Oxfordshire, who sings along to his own fiddle:
La diddley doodle-dum, dum diddley da, diddley-
Oo diddle doodle diddle, dum dum dom etc
(Constant Billy, the Morris Dancers of Bampton, Folktracks 90-084.) Also recorded by John Kirkpatrick, Plain Capers, Morris Dance Tunes from the Cotswolds, Topic TSCD 458
Just over a century earlier, in 1841, the poet John Clare hummed a version of the same tune after escaping from High Beach asylum in Epping Forest, Essex. In A Journey Out Of Essex, he describes how he walked back to Northamptonshire, music still in his mind when he got lost in the darkness of night.
‘Doubt and hopelessness made me turn so feeble that I was scarcely able to walk yet I could not sit down or give up but shuffled along till I saw a lamp shining as bright as the moon which on nearing I found was suspended over a Tollgate.’
Having obtained directions, he
‘went through on the other side and gathered my old strength - as my doubts vanished I soon cheered up and hummed the air of Highland Mary as I went on.’
The tune would have held a special significance for Clare, given the first name of his childhood sweetheart and poetic muse, Mary Joyce, to whom, in his present state of delusion, he apparently believed he was married, and was returning. In fact, unknown to Clare, Mary Joyce had died, unmarried, three years before, aged forty-one. Did Clare somehow, unconsciously, apprehend this? He would of course have been familiar with the song lyrics composed by his literary hero Robert Burns:
Ye banks and braes and streams around
The castle o’ Montgomery!
Green be your woods and fair your flowers,
Your waters never drumlie;
There Simmer first unfald her robes,
And there the langest tarry,
For there I took the last fareweel
O’ my sweet Highland Mary.
And the last verse reads:
O pale, pale now, those rosy lips,
I oft hae kissed sae fondly!
And closed for ay, the sparkling glance
That dwelt on me sae kindly!
And mouldering now in silent dust
The heart that lo’ed me dearly!
But still within my bosom’s core
Shall live my Highland Mary.
I wondered for some time if Clare hummed the same tune as that in the present collection. It seemed doubtful since Burns’s lament was sung to a traditional air, Katherine Ogie, which appears, as ‘Lady Catherine Ogle, a new dance’ in Playford’s ‘Dancing Master’ collection, 1687. Frank Kidson, however, in his ‘Traditional Tunes - A Collection of Ballad Airs’, 1891, also records another, related version of the tune from Yorkshire, noted down, by one Mr. Lolley of the East Riding, ‘from his mother’s singing’, and in the key of G-mixolydian. Apart from the F-natural, Kidson’s second - intermediate - version corresponds closely enough to the Bampton morris tune here.
82 Johnny’s So Long At The Fair
Morris Jig in G. From the playing of Bampton fiddler/dancer Mat Green. Also appears, as ‘Oh dear, What Can The Matter Be?’ , in the Joshua Gibbons’ manuscript.
This tune has an interesting history...
83 Princess Royal
Morris tune in G. It was composed by Irish harpist Turloch Carolan (1670-1738), from County Roscommon, who learned to play the harp when blinded by smallpox at the age of eighteen, and became a respected itinerant musician, dedicating compositions to the various patrons who extended hospitality to him. This tune, also known as ‘Miss MacDermot’, was composed for a daughter of the ‘Prince of Coolavin’ (as the head of the MacDermot family was known). It appears, in the key of F minor (four flats), in Donal O’Sullivan’s classic ‘Carolan, The Life Times and Music of an Irish Harper’ (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958), a version that’s also played (in F# minor - three sharps) by Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Chris Newman (‘The Carolan Albums’, Old Bridge Music, OBMCD 06). An Irish fiddle version in Am, from the playing of Liam Rowsome, appears in the book / CD ‘Irish Fiddle Solos’, by Pete Cooper (Schott ED 12734). The tune came to the attention of English composer William Shield (1748-1829), a professional violinist and viola player who wrote ballad operas given in London theatres. Shield adapted it for a song, ‘The Arethusa’, in his 1796 opera ‘The Lock and Key’, libretto by the intriguingly named dramatist and painter Prince Hoare (1755-1834).
On deck five hundred men did dance
The stoutest they could find in France
We with two hundred did advance
On board of the Arethusa.
Our captain hailed the Frenchman, ‘Ho!’
The Frenchman then cried out ‘Hallo!’-
‘Bear down, d’ye see, to our Admiral’s lee.’
‘No, no,’ says the Frenchman, ‘that can’t be.’ - ‘Then I must lug you along with me,’
Says the saucy Arethusa.
The song’s popularity and success, as Donal O’Sullivan points out, ‘was helped by the anti-French feeling of the time.’ It soon passed into English ‘folk tradition’, and appears, for example, (as ‘Princes Royal’) in Shropshire fiddler John Moore’s fiddle notebook. It also entered Morris dance tradition, notably in Bampton, Oxfordshire, where it has remained, and elsewhere. The present version is from Bampton fiddler Mat Green, who performs the spectacular feat of dancing and playing it at the same time. It’s also been recorded by Spiers & Boden, Bellow FECD 175
Two morris tunes with a section (the ‘C-part’ ) called ‘The Slows’, where the tune is played at half speed, to accommodate a leap of the dancers into the air, before resuming its original tempo. In a traditional dance context the tunes are played separately, not, as here, as a set.
84 William And Nancy
Morris Jig in G. A traditional tune from Bledington Morris. Recorded by John Kirkpatrick, Plain Capers, Morris Dance Tunes from the Cotswolds (Topic TSCD 458)
85 The Queen’s Delight
Morris Jig in A. Learned from the playing of fiddler Chris Bartram (etc), The Traditional Morris Dance Music Album (Music Club MCCD376)
Two Morris tunes associated with the ancient university city of Oxford.
86 Old Molly Oxford
Morris tune in D. A subtle and lovely tune, though like Oxford’s two rivers, the Isis and Cherwell, it seems at first a bit meandering and directionless. The rivers in fact unite to form the Thames. Early last century, the story goes, on a section of river reserved for male nude bathing - it was known as ‘Parsons’ Pleasure’ - several bathers from the university were unexpectedly disturbed by a party of ladies on the footpath. Most of the gentlemen hastily grabbed their straw ‘boaters’ to conceal their private parts, but one covered his face instead. As he later explained, ‘I am known in Oxford by my face.’
The tune was recorded by John Kirkpatrick, Plain Capers, Morris Dance Tunes from the Cotswolds (Topic TSCD 458)
87 Old Tom Of Oxford
Morris tune in D. ‘Old Tom’ is the name of a famous bell in Christ Church College, Oxford. ‘Old Tom’ has also in recent years become the name of a pub on the opposite side of the road, St Aldate’s, where informal pub sessions have taken place during the Oxford folk festival. I’ve not heard Jinkey Wells playing the tune itself, but he talked about ‘Old Tom of Oxford’ in an interview with Peter Kennedy in 1952. It’s not clear from his narrative whether it is meant to be a ‘true’ history, a song lyric explication, or a folk tale, but it does explicitly link Old Tom and Old Moll (as does the present pairing of these two tunes): -
‘Old Tom of Oxford, he was a forester. He took up with this lad, see - his oldest sister’s oldest son - and they lived and dwelled in a caravan. And they was ’awkers - they used to ’awk all sorts of things, mats and brushes and brooms, O, dozens of things. Well, he picked up with a girl in Oxford. Well, as the song went: "Old Tom of Oxford and young Jim Kent" - that was his nephew - "They married Old Moll and off they went." And she lived in the caravan with ’em. And while they was out doing their ’awking, I suppose, she used to look after the caravan and do the cooking and all that sort of thing. And I’ve yeared it said they lived together for years. And they never quarrelled, nor they never had no disagreement, nor never fell out, the two men with the one woman.’
- Constant Billy - The Morris Dancers of Bampton (Oxon)’ (Folktracks 90-084)
An archaic version of the tune appeared in print about 1713 (as ‘The Old Oxford’, in Dm) in Daniel Wright’s An Extraordinary Collection of Pleasant and Merry Humours etc... c. 1713. It’s been popularised of late by Spiers & Boden (Bellow FECD 175).
The same melody in two different guises, as a song air and dance tune
88 Just As The Tide Was Flowing
Air in G. From a June 1954 recording of Forest of Dean fiddler Stephen Baldwin made at Upton Bishop, Herefordshire by Russell Wortley and ‘the Travelling Morrice, which you can hear on Musical Traditions’ excellent 2005 CD release, ‘Stephen Baldwin: "Here's One You'll Like, I Think" (MTCD334). ‘Although the related Blue-Eyed Stranger was noted quite often in the [Forest of Dean] region,’ says Philip Heath-Coleman, ‘the use of Just as the Tide was Flowing as a tune (rather than a song) was not peculiar to Stephen Baldwin.’ The song itself, a favourite with traditional singers, describes a loving couple ‘down by a rolling river’. In one version they sit under a tree, where ‘what was done shall ne’er be known,’ and in the final verse,
O it’s to some public house we’ll go
Where ale and wine and brandy flow.
Success to the girl that will do just so,
Just as the tide was flowing.
In a more discreet version in Frank Kidson’s 1891 ‘Traditional Tunes’,
We both being weary sat us down,
Beneath a tree with branches round;
Then to the church we soon were bound,
Just as the tide was flowing
‘The air is old,’ Kidson notes, ‘and much resembles "The Peacock" - an Irish tune
seldom met with, but included in R.A. Smith’s Irish Minstrel, circa 1826, and in one of Holden’s collections of Irish Airs, circa 1800.’ Eliza Carthy gives a wonderfully moving performance of the song on her CD ‘Anglicana’, Topic RecordsTSCD539
89 The Blue-Eyed Stranger
Morris tune in G. Versions of this popular dance tune have been recorded by John Kirkpatrick, ‘Plain Capers, Morris Dance Tunes from the Cotswolds’, Topic TSCD 458; and Chris Bartram (& others), The Traditional Morris Dance Music Album, Music Club MCCD376
Another traditional song air played as a fiddle tune
90 The Ploughboy (‘The Pretty Ploughboy’)
Song air in - Dm. Recorded on fiddle in April 1960 by Norfolk singer Harry Cox (1885-1971), whose song version of ‘The Pretty Ploughboy’ is also included on the same CD: The Bonny Labouring Boy, Topic Records TSCD 512D. Harry Cox, a farm worker from north-east Norfolk, was best known as a singer, but also played the fiddle (which he learned from his father), tin-whistle and melodeon. The fluctuations and pauses in the rhythm are typical of the expressive style of the song. A slightly different transcription by Dave Townsend can be heard on the Mellstock Band’s 1999 CD The Dance At The Phoenix (Beautiful Jo Records, BEJOCD-28).
When a pretty maid ‘of high degree’ falls in love, in the song, with the ploughboy in question, her parents have him press-ganged and sent to sea, ‘into the wars to be slain’. She valiantly rescues him and brings him safely home. A lovely version of the song was recorded on her CD ‘Anglicana’, Topic Records TSCD539, by Eliza Carthy.
91 The Radstock ‘Jig’
Hornpipe in Am/ A. Noted down in the Shepton Mallet Union (workhouse) from the playing of fiddler James Higgins (1819 -c.1910) of Shepton Mallet, in the east Somerset coalfield, by Cecil Sharp in December 1907. Radstock was a nearby mining town, and the term ‘jig’ is used here in its generic sense of ‘lively dance tune’, rather than referring to a particular time signature. James Higgins, according to Philip Heath-Coleman, ‘played a number of hornpipes which are otherwise seldom or never found,’ and the Radstock Jig, he believes, ‘is a close relation of a tune which appears in O’Neill and has been recorded by traditional Irish fiddlers under the title of Poll Ha’penny, (and is thus a member of a family which also includes Moll(y) MacAlpin/ Halpin and Gilderoy, and ultimately goes back to the seminal tune which scholars refer to as Lazarus).’ That sounds very interesting. Which scholars?
A fine pair of hornpipes from the south-west
92 Ted Smith’s (‘Tite Smith’s’) Hornpipe
Hornpipe in D. From a 1954 recording of Stephen Baldwin (1873-1955), made at Upton Bishop, Herefordshire, a year before his death, and which you can hear on Musical Traditions’ excellent 2005 CD release, ‘Stephen Baldwin: "Here's One You'll Like, I Think" (MTCD334). The C-natural and extra beat in bars 2 and 6 of the A-part give it an attractively odd character. There’s a slightly different transcription in Charles Menteith & Paul Burgess’s ‘The Coleford Jig, Traditional Tunes from Gloucestershire,’ 2004. In his transcription of a different Stephen Baldwin tune, the ‘Wonder Hornpipe’, published in an article in The Strad magazine, ‘Where Have All the Fiddlers Gone?’, Chris Bartram uses a bar of 5/4 here and there, as I do, to capture some of the irregular rhythms of Baldwin’s playing, but you should definitely listen to the recording itself. ‘Of course some of the idiosyncrasy evident in this tune may be laid at the door of Tite Smith himself,’ Heath-Coleman remarks, ‘but to my mind it is necessary to understand and appreciate the more unusual items in Stephen Baldwin's repertoire to the point where they seem completely normal, before his approach to the more standard items can be appreciated properly.’
‘Keith Chandler,’ he adds, ‘has been able to identify the gypsy fiddler 'Tite' Smith, with whom Stephen Baldwin associated [this] hornpipe, as Josiah Smith, known as 'Tite Neptune', who was about 70 when he drowned in a ditch containing just a few inches of water in 1898. His obituary relates that he was well known for playing the fiddle on Saturday nights in several of the local pubs.’
93 The ‘Gloucester’ Hornpipe (‘The Swansea Hornpipe’)
Hornpipe in G. Another, more regular, hornpipe from fiddler Stephen Baldwin, whose fiddle is tuned down a tone-and-a-half from standard tuning on the recording. Stephen Baldwin: "Here's One You'll Like, I Think" (Musical Traditions, MTCD334). He also plays the C in the descending run at bar A3 a quarter of a tone sharp (indicated here by the up-pointing arrow), and ends the tune, as here, with a chordal flourish.
Stephen Baldwin referred to the tune by its present title (pronounced ‘Gloster’) when recording it in 1954 for Russell Wortley , though he called it the ‘Liverpool Hornpipe’ when he played it two years earlier for Peter Kennedy of the BBC. Its more standard title, according to Philip Heath-Coleman, and under which it appears ‘in old fiddler’s tune books from all round the country’, is ‘The Swansea Hornpipe’, ‘though O’Neill published it with an Irish name - the ‘Man from Newry.’
Fiddle player Phil Beer, whom I visited some years ago in the village of Maisemore, told me of a local man in his seventies who’d recently astonished Phil by saying he’d never in his life travelled the few miles into Gloucester. Asked why, he’d replied, ‘I ain’t got tired of round here yet.’
These very strangely titled jigs - the ‘black’, ‘white’ and ‘true’ ‘joaks’ - enjoyed great popularity in the early 1730s. (Yellow, red and brown ‘joaks’ also appeared) .
94 Black Joak
Jig (with only 6 bars in the A-part) in G. The tune seems originally to have been that of a bawdy song, possibly of Irish origin, the words of whose first verse (sung to the A-part) are:
‘No mortal sure can blame the man
Who prompted by nature will act as he can
With a black joke and belly so white’
And which continues (to the tune of the B-part) -
‘For he the Platonist must gainsay
Who will not Human Nature obey
In working a joke as will lather like soap’
(this last musical phrase is repeated to the words: ‘And the hair of her joke will draw more than a rope’)
With a black joke and belly so white.’
Subsequent verses describe the respective reactions to her ‘black joke and belly so white’ of ‘an English boy... well vers’d in Venus’s School’, a Welshman (‘Morgan from Hollyhead’), a Highland man with ‘chanter and pipe both in his hand’, a Frenchman ‘with ruffles and wig’, a ‘rich Dutch skipper from Amsterdam,’ a ‘good Irish man,’ a Grenadier, a religious recluse, a ‘Bishop in his Pontifical gown’ etc, and finally a Lawyer, who
‘ ...his clients’ cause would quit
To dip his pen in the bottomless pit
Of a coal-black joke as will lather like soap’ etc.
I think that’s enough to get the idea. Thanks to my source, Digital Tradition Mirror, for the above song-and-tune version, which first appeared in 1730, and to Alex Szyszkowski for sending me the link.
The tune (without the words) was published in 1731 by John Walsh, in his ‘Third Book of the most celebrated Jiggs, Lancashire Hornpipes, Scotch and Highland Lilts, Northern Frisks...’, and became widely popular all over Britain, no doubt evoking cheerfully erotic thoughts and lightening the hearts of many. It can be found in the manuscript tune collections of William Vickers, Joshua Gibbons and Lawrence Leadley. According to Digital Tradition Mirror, ‘James Oswald in "The Caledonian Pocket Companion", Book 7, circa 1756, included a "Burlesque on Black Joak". He turned "Black Joke" into a Scots tune about a year later by scoring it in 3/4 time and titling it "Black Jock" in "A Collection of Scots Tunes". The tune continued to be published occasionally in dance collections throughout the 18th century, and was well known even in America.’
In England, the tune survived in living tradition as a morris tune, and can be heard played as such by Chris Bartram (& others), ‘The Traditional Morris Dance Music Album’, Music Club MCCD376
95 White Joak
Jig (with only 6 bars in the A-part) in D. Like the Black Joak, it was published in 1731 by John Walsh, in his ‘Third Book of the most celebrated Jiggs, Lancashire Hornpipes, Scotch and Highland Lilts, Northern Frisks...’ The variant in bars five and six comes from the playing of Northumbrian fiddler Stewart Hardy on his lovely CD Tod’s Assembly (Shy Music SHYCD1), and is based on the version in William Vickers.
96 True Joak
Jig in D. Perhaps it is the full measure of eight bars in the A-part, instead of the six in the others, that makes this particular version ‘True’. I can’t remember where I first heard it played, but it’s included in ‘John Kirkpatrick’s English Choice’, a Mally production, 2003.
A well-known dance tune, widely played.
97 Persian Ricardo
Dance tune in G. Although now widely known as ‘The Galopede’, it appears as ‘Persian Ricardo’ in the collection of poet and fiddle player John Clare (1793-1864) and as ‘Persian Dance’ in that of John Moore. The ‘galop’ or ‘galoppade’ was a dance from central Europe introduced to England and France in 1829. Clare’s manuscript includes dance instructions, probably jotted down out of curiosity from a published source, though it’s unlikely he would himself have played at the local ‘big house.’
‘We have become accustomed to English Folk or Country Dancing as an uninhibited entertainment,’ observes George Deacon, making a general point, in John Clare & The Folk Tradition, Francis Boutle 2002, ‘but in Clare’s time this was apparently not so. New dances were invented and published in annuals and collections of country dances. These were learned and performed as a social grace by the leisured classes. An ability to perform the latest dance and the social position to teach it to ones peers and social inferiors were important constituents of the hierarchical society then prevailing. The ‘caller’ who instructs the novice in the rudiments of particular dances by means of constantly announcing the next sequence of steps during a dance is a recent invention that would have been anathema to polite nineteenth-century society.’
The dance requires a polka step: left right left hop! right left right hop!
The classic Country Dance tune, here in a four-part version
98 Sir Roger de Coverley - 2
9/8 jig in G. See notes to Tune 14.
And one final little number...
And one final little number...
99 Pop Goes The Weasel
6/8 jig in G. In the last bar but one of each section, pluck the open E-string (or the A and E together) with your left hand for infallible comic success. This version is based on the playing of gardener, singer and musician Billy Harrison (1898-1986) of Pocklington, East Yorkshire, recorded by Jim Eldon, (Billy Harrison and Jim Eldon, Yorkshire Fiddle Tunes and Songs, Musical Traditions Cass 201), but it appears as a country dance tune in the repertoire of numerous country fiddlers, including John Moore and Michael Turner. The latter also noted down instructions for the dance, which enjoyed a vogue in England in the early nineteenth century, and was published in America in 1850 by Miller and Beacham of Baltimore as "Pop goes the Weasel for Fun and Frolic". The repeated shout of ‘Pop Goes The Weasel’ as one couple dances under the bridge formed by the raised arms of another seems to have become something of a Victorian catch-phrase, and must have inspired the Music Hall lyrics by which it is best known, in the form of a nursery rhyme, today:
Half a pound of tuppenny rice, half a pound of treacle,
That’s the way the money goes - Pop! goes the weasle.
In Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland in December 2000, I heard Pop Goes The Weasel played on the fiddle by Mrs Crowley, a woman in her seventies and proprietor of a bar famous for its traditional music.