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Brief review: Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford's The Dancing Master, edited by Jeremy Barlow

Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford's The Dancing Master, edited by Jeremy Barlow (Faber Music 1986) may be of little interest to most people, but of the highest interest to those interested in its particular subject. Playford's Dancing Master was a collection of traditional songs with basic dance notation which went through numerous editions in the 17th and 18th centuries. It's usually described as a collection of English tunes, but many of them have origins in Scotland, Wales, or other areas. This Faber Music edition is a refinement of all the original editions, giving over 500 tunes in simple musical notation (without lyrics), with notes indicating the variants present in the various original editions. Clearly, this is a specialized book, but for anyone with a serious interest in traditional British tunes, whether as a composer, performer, musicologist, or folklorist, this book is one of fundamental importance. Even as a fan of such music, if you ever have found yourself listening to a CD of old British songs -- the sort of thing for instance that might be heard on some CDs by The Baltimore Consort or The Toronto Consort -- and wishing, "Gee, I wish I had the score for this melody," this book is what you want. Other editions of Playford's music have been published, including at least one facsimile edition, but this edition is the book most interested people will want.

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Comment by Jon Corelis on February 10, 2020 at 4:26pm

Thanks for the information, I'll look at that link.

Comment by Jos Wylin on February 10, 2020 at 12:18pm

Hi Jon,

Until a few years ago, I had a chamber orchestra, specialized in playing 18th century flemish country dances (contradances). In Flanders we have a large number of collection in our archives, all containing dance collections. Of course not all of these pieces are original. Some are even borrowed from other countries, including England. Some of these booklets are of huge interest for musicologists and historians because they provide lots of side information about the occasion of their publishing, about their buyers (mostly the upper classes), about the dances themselves and about the data of some important events. With my ensemble we played quite a lot of these dances and two CDs were recorded and sold world wide (not available anymore, but now on iTunes). During the last years, I sampled some of them. Maybe I'll post them here in the future, but you can always visite my personal website: www.joswyl.be - under the tab 'Practice' you'll find them, together with other pieces from well known masters that I sampled to practise.

Jos

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