1800s - long

Rosemary Coupe

Message 20672 · 8 Mar 2000 21:40:55 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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I found the question about "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" intriguing,
and consulted that good old stand-by, Flett and Flett. The dance is
mentioned once, in a list of country dances taught in the Kirkcudbright
area in approximately 1820. The allusion occurs in an extract from
Mactaggart's "The Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia" (1824). It's worth
reproducing, as "Flowers of Edinburgh" is also mentioned, but separately
from the country dances, implying that this is the hard-shoe step dance
"Flowers of Edinburgh." In addition, the style of teaching is one
described in several first-hand accounts of rural dance classes in the
Lowlands in the 19th century: it emphasized the dance rhythms by
percussive beating of the feet on the floor. Given this style of
teaching and dancing, related to the "treepling" steps which were
applied to dances such as "Petronella," it's easy to conclude that the
"Flowers of Edinburgh" danced by these groups was indeed the hard-shoe
step dance with single and double "treble" steps which has survived in a
version from Cape Breton. "Treeple" and "treble" are presumably cognate
terms. Incidentally, some of you may remember Anselm's posting of an
extract from one of Keats' letters describing dancing in Cumberland in
the same period: the same percussive, rhythmic style is described there,
and Keats remarks on its vigour and its dissimilarity from the softer
English style of country dancing.

Before I reproduce the extract for those who may be interested, a comment
on Duthie's "Wind that Shakes the Barley": all the dances in Duthie's
book are set to traditional tunes - even "Corn Rigs" and "Monymusk" are
used as lead tunes for dances of Duthie's devising. So it's not
surprising that he also used "WYSTB." The pattern of using different or
recently devised tunes for new dances had scarcely started by 1961, and
Duthie was of course following the traditional pattern of setting
multiple dances to a single popular tune and using the name of the tune
for the dance.

Here, after so much ado, is the extract from pages 28-29 of Flett and
Flett, with the original spelling.

"Commonly the first step dancing masters teach their pupils . . . [is]
Peter a Dick's Peatstack . . . performed by giving three flegs [footnoted
as a swinging blow] with the foot, and two stamps with the heel
alternately; . . . the noise the feet make seems to speak . . . Peter a
Dick, Peter a Dick, Peter a Dick's Peatstack . . . . When the scholars
become tolerable at beetling it, they are next taught to fleup through
the side-step; then Jack on the Green, Shawintrewse, and other hornpipes,
with the Highland Fling, mayhap; these dances are all got pretty well by
the feet in the first month, with sketches of foursome, eightsome reels
and some country dances; but if the scholars attend the fortnight again
of another month, they proceed at great length into the layrinths of the

They learn the "Flowers of Edinburgh," mayhap; Sweden and Belile's
Marches, with other hornpipes, and country dances many; such as Yillwife
and her Barrles--Mary Grey--The Wun that shook the barley, &c. with the
famous Bumpkin Brawley; yes, and they will even dare, some times to
imitate our Continental neighbours over the water, in their waltzing,
allmanging, and Cotillion trade; ay, and be up with the Spaniards too, in
their quadrilles, borellos, and falderalloes of nonsense; so out-taught,
they become fit to attend house-heatings, volunteer and masonic-balls,
and what not."

Rosemary Coupe


On Mon, 6 Mar 2000, Lee Fuell wrote:

> Susan and Shegzhang,
> Re:
> Forwarded by: xxxxxxxxxx-xxxxxxx@xx.xxxxxxxxxx.xxx-xxxxxxxxx.xx
> Date sent: Mon, 6 Mar 2000 14:14:26 -0500 (EST)
> > On Mon, 6 Mar 2000, TayHaven wrote:
> > > We have found references to The Wind that Shakes the Barley, the Flowers
> > > of Edinburgh and Soldier's Joy being danced here in Canada's Lanark
> > > County in the 1870's.
> > >
> > > Susan,
> > > Maberly, Ontario
> >
> > If I remembered correctly, the dance "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" was
> > devised by Dothie recently (i.e., post formation of RSCDS), not a
> > traditional dance (it is, of course, in the traditional form). Is there
> > another traditional dance with the same name? The tune certainly is a
> > traditional tune and old favorite going back long time.
> > Shengzhang Tang
> > from New York for another 1.5 months
> > --
> > Shengzhang Tang <xxxx@xxxxxxxx.xxx>
> Shengzhang's and Susan's posts prompted an interesting thought:
> I've been reading a bit lately about the history of Scottish and Cape
> Breton step dancing, and was surprised to learn there's a
> Hebridean step dance called "Flowers of Edinburgh," which also
> has a Cape Breton version. J.F. and T.M. Flett's "Traditional Step
> Dancing in Scotland" have a description of the Cape Breton version
> of this dance. They do not describe the Hebridean version because
> they were unable to fully reconstruct the dance, only a few steps.
> The point is, we have a case here of a step dance and a country
> dance using the same name, and the country dance "The Wind
> that Shakes the Barley" not devised until recently. Flett doesn't
> list a step dance by that name, but could Susan actually be citing
> totally different dances that use the same name? The traditional
> nature of the tune, as with the tune "Flowers of Edinburgh," may
> point toward a similar situation.
> Susan, is the context of your references such that these are
> clearly country dances, or could they be step dances using the
> same name?
> Some other step dances that share names with country dances
> include Blue Bonnets, Highland Laddie, Tullochgorm, and The
> White Cockade.
> Thanks,
> Lee
> Lee Fuell
> Beavercreek, Ohio
> e-mail: xxxxx@xxxxxxx.xxx

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