[SCA-Dance] Playford progressions (was: Early Tudor Dance)

Alex Clark alexbclark at pennswoods.net
Mon Apr 28 17:42:58 EDT 2008

At 10:02 AM 4/28/2008 +0100, Barbara Webb wrote:

> > Fascinating!  Have you managed to find a copy
>Not so far.
> >>   The howe of the howse [margin: or the old measure]
> >>   Fyrst half turn and undo yt agayn, flower, iij
> >> forth, the fyrst man and
> >>   second folowe, flower and roll into other placys,
> >> hole turn, flower, and
> >>   then roll into other placys.[44]"
> >
> > "Flower"?  Again, FASCINATING!  I have been mulling
> > over and over one whether the "fleurdelice" is in fact
> > like a fleuret or movimento.  This interesting
> > reference to a "flower" creates yet another good link
> > to the fleuret idea.
>Actually, to me, this reference suggests more the alternative
>intepretation of 'fleurdelice' as a floor pattern, given that the rest of
>this dance description seems to be all in terms of directions of
>movements, and not steps. I wouldn't want to make a strong argument either
>way, however.
>Actually, I find it makes me think a bit of a Playford longways'
>progression (arrgh! a period source for 'Hole in Wall'?) which would go
>rather against the previous assumptions that this is a mid-to-late 17th
>century development. But again there is not much to go on.

A rash and unsupported assumption. The longways progressions in Playford 
dances could hardly have been "a mid-to-late 17th century development". At 
the latest, they could have developed very early in the middle part of the 
17th century.

It is clear from the first edition of Playford that they were already 
typical of the longways dances that Playford had collected by 1650. 
Minor-set progressions appear in over 1/3 of these longways dances, and 
make up the majority of the longways dances for as many as will. Add in 
other kinds of progressions, and couple progressions that take couples 
along the full length of the line seem to appear in a majority of longways 
dances. Similar progressions are found in most of the rounds for as many as 
will. I would not assume that a format newly invented in the last few years 
before the book was published would have found such widespread acceptance 
so soon.

What did actually develop in the second half of the 17th century was a new 
preference for longways dances in which the entire dance is encompassed by 
a single progression. There seem to be just two such dances in the first 
edition (Tom Tinker & Row Well Ye Mariners), and very few added in early 
editions, while by the 1680s or '90s there was a large and growing number 
of such dances. In the first edition, a progression encompassing the entire 
dance was more typical of round dances (Chirping of the Nightingale, 
Mill-field). Most of the earlier dances with minor-set progressions have 
more than one progressive figure, with each progressive figure being done 
in a full progression before the next such figure begins. There is also 
Nonesuch (and its variant All a Mode de France), in which there is only one 
progression, but then other figures are done after the progression is finished.

Henry of Maldon/Alex Clark 

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