16 Country Dance Tunes and Dances
From the early18th csecond edition
from Kerry Ashdown’s press articles in the Staffordshire Newsletter issues of 2/8/’07 & 21/7/’11
‘A Stafford folk dance fan is taking to the floor once more with the second edition of his book on dances of old.
Geoffrey White first published ‘ 16 Country Dance Tunes and Dances from the Early 18th Century ’ in 2007, after using local historical documents to research his subject, particularly the archives from the Stafford and Jerningham families. He was inspired to embark on his quest by a talk on ‘Music in the Archives’ at Stafford Record Office in October 2005. The tunes in question were on a manuscript signed by Mons Martini.
Later he researched the work of Johnfon an 18th century collector of country dances, and fellow Stafford Folk Dance Club members June Perry and Peter Stevens transcribed Johnfon’s script into modern English. Lord Stafford wrote the foreword. He is grateful for the help of the county archivist Thea Randall and presented a copy of the first edition to the William Salt Library.
In 2009 he joined a music workshop at Lichfield Folk Dance Festival. One of the workshop tunes ‘Jaque Latin’ was a version of the Martini tune. Thereafter the traditional name of ‘Jack Latin’ was found and 3 variations of the dance in collections at VWML.
Mr White said: “ I had to bring my book up to date. In the preparation for the 2007 edition it hadn’t been possible to link the first tune to any dance, so the title ‘Country Dances’, as used by Martini in his manuscript, had remained. Apparently Jack had wagered that he could dance a marathon distance, that he performed the feat, and that he subsequently tragically died. The tune and dance express his remembrance. One of those 3 dances is selected and expanded to fit the full 64 bars of the Martini tune. ”
The dances would have been danced in long galleries and notable ballrooms with the tunes played on a double bass or cello, a violin or viola and a hautbois ( the preceding form of oboe ).
I have never published anything like this before, I thought I would do something that would provide a service and put these tunes into a useable form. ” ’
Also Alan Powell added the chords to the melodies. Geoffrey is especially grateful for the help of Elaine Bradtke of VWML for her key advice and information in the research process.
attributes from Geoffrey White's preface
In the absence of any thorough explanation of the term 'footing' in traditional folk dance books, and the presence of the term occurring in two of these dances, a definitive understanding is necessary. During the discussions summarised in the preface a picture immerged as to the practice of the period, and that has been described and recommended.
It has been thought desirable to transcribe the dances as they would have been performed in the period, and not depart from the high standards of the genre as then practiced .
From Madeleine Smith's review
" The tunes are pleasing jigs and reels of the period, which musicians should enjoy. One of the three tunes with no dance, ' The Colledge Hornpipe', is an unusual melody in the Dorian mode, which Elaine suggests the source was probably from an eighteenth-century ballad opera.
The country dances of that time were all longways, and the dance interpretations consist of duple minors, triple minors and one three couple set, which would have originally been a triple minor. The figures are all standard ones of the period. Two of the dances use the term 'foot it' in the notation, for these dances it is advised that the common practice of using 'any fancy steps you know' is followed.
It is good to know that old collections like these are still being uncovered, and the dances and tunes brought to life again."
From Robert Moir's review
"Geoffrey White has produced an interesting and scholarly work displaying a painstaking endeavour to present the information fairly and clearly. This well-presented book may be of interest to those who enjoy reading about the process of English Country Dance research and the history of the eighteenth century.
It will also be useful to modern dancing masters who are looking to widen their repertoire of dances of the period.
To all of the above I recommend it, applauding the dedicated hard work put in by Geoffrey White and his team."
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