An English Folk‐Dance Festival

in Daily Programme, Radio Riel Main, Zeeber Gold

by Elrik Merlin on Wednesday, 17 July, 2013

Today’s programme focuses, rather broadly, on the English Country Dance – and in particular on the work of John Playford (1623–1686/7).

The pieces you’ll hear today range from the performances of the specialised ECD musical groups like the Baltimore Consort and Bare Necessities, whose music is intended to be danced to by widespread groups of modern exponents of the art, to the folk dance and Morris Dancing groups with their exuberant take on the pieces and their inclusion of modern instrumentation. Then, too, there are Early Music groups who treat the works as authentically as they possibly can to recreate the sound that might have been heard when these dances were first performed. And there are many others.

These dances have been influences on all kinds of musicians, over all kinds of periods. And at the core of this music is often to be found that certain John Playford, a London bookseller, publisher, minor composer, and member of the Stationers’ Company, who published books on music theory, instruction books for several instruments, and psalters with tunes for singing in churches. But he is perhaps best known today for his publication of The English Dancing Master in 1651. In musical terms it was the Number One hit of the time, published in several editions by Playford and his successors from 1651 until around 1728. Dances from The Dancing Master were re‐published in arrangements by Cecil Sharp in the early 20th century. The first edition of The Dancing Master contained 105 dances with single line melodies. Subsequent editions introduced new songs and dances, while dropping others. The dances turn up in various forms right through the Victorian era (represented today by pieces from the Brassworks Band) and up to the present day.

One composer who was inspired by the dances when he attended a performance in 1951 of some of the works by Cecil Sharp’s English Folk Dance and Song Society was Ernest Tomlinson (1924‐ ). He was so enthused that he wrote orchestral arrangements of six of Playford dances as his First English Folk Dance Suite. Then in 1977 he was inspired once again while attending a performance that included one of his own works, and the result this time was his 6‐part Second English Folk Dance Suite. This latter in fact includes an equal number of Playford pieces and the composer’s own compositions, in the same style. We’ll hear both today.

Zeeber Gold — Keith Jarrett

This week, we come to the end of our fabulous series of interviews with the artists. musicians and thinkers of the 60s and 70s with an interview with musician Keith Jarrett — listen‐in at 11am or 7pm Pacific Time — 19:00/03:00 in the UK. Over the past 40 years, Keith Jarrett has come to be recognized as one of the most creative musicians of our times — acclaimed as an improviser; a master of jazz piano; a classical keyboardist; and as a composer who has written hundreds of pieces for jazz groups, plus extended works for orchestra, soloist, and chamber ensemble. This interview was done about 1976, shortly after the release of his famous Koln Concert album. Keith talks about how he improvises, how it’s like writing a novel, moving from chapter to chapter.

Today’s programme is presented by Elrik Merlin. You can listen to the programme in‐world now at, or simply click here to start your player, if your browser is configured to do so. Listeners in the United States are encouraged to tune in using this link:


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