[SCA-Dance] Documenting Argeers for an A&S competition

White, John white at drexel.edu
Mon Jan 23 09:11:42 EST 2012

>From: Ben Cogan [donnghaile at gmail.com]
>Despite being published in 1651, it is not a book of new dances that were
>crafted by Playford, but rather a book summarizing the the popular dances
>currently in fashion.  The reason for the book is that the author had
>observed so many different versions of the dances over the years that he
>was compelled to codify them, and make a few pounds out of correcting the
>country folk.  It certainly falls in the grey area, but the dances
>referenced in the 1651 first edition, were most certainly done in 1650, and
>many likely done in 1640, with diminishing returns as we inch closer to

This can be bolstered by two things:  the complexity of some of the dances,
which push them well out of the basic ECD envelope - this doesn't happen
with a fresh, new style, but with one which has been played with for years,
one which the dance creators are ... well, not bored with, perhaps, but maybe
more comfortable with, more willing to stretch things to their limit; and then
there's Lovelace, a collection of dances written down in 1649 or before, which
show the same kind of range of complexity, and also contains dances that
Playford did not publish until 1670.

However, there isn't really any way to tell from that complexity just how long
people had been doing ECD, nor when it was a fresh, new style.  Thus, getting
over the 1650 hurdle is for someone else to accomplish (unless one simply
says "it's grandfathered in" in order to avoid the nice people with the tar and
feathers who always gather when someone starts making "but ECD isn't 
period" noises).

(As an aside, it seems from what I've seen that Playford was rather staid,
as well as very rigid about there being a correct way to do things.  It may be
this desire to set down the dances in a strict, rigid format, rather than to make
a few shillings correcting the country folk, that led him to publish his dances
(quite possibly in the face of Lovelace's upcoming manuscript, which was not
nearly so rigid about form and style ... read Playford's preface to his first
edition) at that point in the turmoil of the English Civil War.  He later prefaced
one of his music books with a similar note about the broadsides being passed
around - their publishers had started putting music on the sheets, but it was
music that more often than not had no relation to the poem that was the 
main subject of the page.  He got a little heated about that, and exhorted
composers to come to him to get the right music linked to the right words.)


      \\Dafydd Cyhoeddwr

More information about the Sca-dance mailing list