"The Flowers Of Edinburgh"

Rosemary Coupe

Message 55765 · 1 May 2009 08:10:16 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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I think the chase typifies the Scottish version of this dance from about the
mid-19th C. The earliest Scottish "Flowers of Edinburgh" I know is from the
Hill MS of 1841. There the chase round the 2s and 3s is followed by the
figure of 8 which seems characteristic of the English and American versions
cited by Pat below. Here's how it goes in Hill:

The Lady turns round and crosses the dance two couples down and up the back
of the Gentlemen to her Partner’s place. At the same time the Gentleman
follows his Partner and up the centre to his partner’s place. The form [?]
is repeated again to their places. The first couple figure eight across.
Four hands full round, then hands right and left a couple down.

My copy of RSCDS Book 1 gives Boulogne's manual of 1827 as the original
source. It's not in Boulogne, but the Book 1 version is in most of the late
19th and early 20th century manuals. Some omit the setting after the chase,
but all have the chase around the 2s and 3s.

Actually this seems to have been one of the dances the early RSCDS would
have recorded from observation rather than resurrecting it from a manual--it
was in the repertoire of the dancing masters studied by the Fletts. The
Fletts also mention that sometimes the chase in "Flowers" was danced with
the "treepling" technique, and Hill also gives a solo version of "Flowers"
with many single or double "trebles" or quick in-out movements of the feet -
it fits the emphatic tune well.

Back to the country dance: Mackay's manual (Stirling c.1910) gives the
figure 8 as an alternative figure--maybe a vestige of the 18th C version?
Oddly enough, Mackay writes, "The figure 8 is by all means the better of the
two ways, but it is more complicated."

Rosemary Coupe


----- Original Message -----
From: "Patricia Ruggiero" <xxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>
To: <xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx>
Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 7:32 PM
Subject: RE: "The Flowers Of Edinburgh"

Iain wrote:
> Does anyone have any information about the origins of this dance


> perhaps, early instructions that might confirm my belief that it was
> originally a two-couple dance rather than a three-couple dance as the
> Society published it.

I have three versions. One in _A Choice Collection of American Country
Dances of the Revolutionary Era, 1775-1795_, compiled by Keller & Sweet,
published by the Country Dance & Song Society (3rd edition, 1993). Keller &
Sweet give as their source for the dance the "commonplace book" of Aaron
Thompson for the years 1777-1782.

32-bar dance for three cpls; play AABB

Bars 1-8: 1s fig-8 around 2s
Bars 9-16: 1s down the outside and back
Bars 17-24: 1s down the center, cast around 3s into 2d place, then up the
center and cast off into 2d place.
Bars 25-32: 1s and 3s circle 4 hands round (4 bars); 1s and 2s rights and
lefts (4 bars).

(The 4-bar R&L is described in Wilson. W1 and M2 change in two bars; AT THE
SAME TIME M1 and W2 change; then all back again in two bars.)

The second version is from the _Community Dance Manual_, Vol. 6, published
by the English Folk Song and Dance Society, beginning in 1949. The notes
say this version is from Northumbria, contributed by Tony Foxworthy.

32-bar dance for two cpls. Play AABB. Rant step throughout.

Bars 1-8: 1s fig-8 around 2s (finish outside the 2s, who turn out, to form
a line of four).
Bars 9-16: Reel of four.
Bars 17-24: 1s, followed by 2s, lead down the middle; 2s arch, 1s under (4
bars). Dance back to places (4 bars).
Bars 25-32: Dance round once and a half (progression).

The third version is from _The Country Dance Book_ (Bk. 1) by Cecil Sharp
(1909). It's the Warwickshire version that Mike Briggs has sent through,
while I've been writing this post! Sharp collected these 18 traditional
dances from various villages.

I have the Pocket Edition of RSCDS dance books. I see that for Flowers, no
information is given about the source. This makes it impossible (or so it
seems to me) to ascertain *anything* about the original version, or about
the version on which The Society based its reconstruction -- if, indeed, it
is a reconstruction. I've seen 3-cpl dances in 18th c. sources wherein the
3s do nothing. Hard to know if folks changed them as time went on or if
they were quite content with them as originally devised. Seems to me,
though, that if Flowers was being danced when Miss Milligan and Mrs. Stewart
were doing their work, this is what they saw. Why would they make a change
so radical as having the 3s do nothing, since we don't see that in other
(any?) RSCDS dances? On the other hand, the opening figure of the RSCDS
version is unlike any of the other versions....


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