An English Folk-Dance Festival

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:

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress