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Left shoulder petronella--Arthur's Seat

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    Rosemary Coupe Jan. 9, 2004, 2:11 a.m. (Message 37481)

    Pat wrote,
    
    > Arthur's Seat, in McConachie's 18th c. Book, comes from a 1740 manuscript
    in the Bodleian >Library.  There are various things we need to know about
    the original dance and about figures >from that period:
    
    >1) is the last figure, bars 25-32, set to corners and partner with final
    turn?
    
    >2) if it is, how was that figure executed in 1740?
    
    >3) is the 1740 figure the same as Wilson's early 19th c. figure?
    
    >Interesting, isn't it, how "turn by the right" can have different
    interpretations?
    
    Yes, it certainly is interesting, and also interesting to see what a Fellow
    of The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Incorporated (as McConachie
    describes himself) can do to a historical dance which he claims to have
    "edited and adapted to conform with modern presentation."
    
    Here is "Arthur's Seat" in David Young's MS of 1740:
    
    16.   Arthur's Seat.
    
    RIGHT hands across with the first pair, and cast off; left hands across with
    the 2d pair, and sett a little. Lead up one pair, & cast off; lead down one
    pair and cast up. SETT cross partners. Lead out at both sides.
    
    The music is in 4/4 tempo and consists of four 4-bar phrases, all repeated.
    
    Young follows a consistent system of phrasing, with the start of the 1st and
    3rd 8-bar phrases indicated by red upper-case words (RIGHT and SETT above)
    and the 2nd and 4th phrases indicated by red upper/lower case words (Lead
    and Lead above). So here each sentence represents 8 bars.
    
    So McConachie looks at these instructions, and decides that the first phrase
    would not easily fit within 8 bars. So he gives it 16. He also wants to give
    it more symmetry, so he has the 1st couple cast into 3rd place (thereby
    changing the 2nd phrase too) instead of the more spontaneous "sett a
    little." Then he decides that "sett cross partners" (= "set and turn
    corners")has become a bit boring, since it occurs in 31 of the 48 dances in
    this MS. So he substitutes "set to corners--set to partner." Then he has to
    get dancing couple back to their own sides, so he has them "turn by the
    right." And of course he now has to cut out Young's last phrase ("lead out
    at both sides"). He probably didn't consider that much of a loss, since 16
    of the 48 dances in Young end with "set and turn corners" followed by "lead
    out sides" (probably the latest thing in 1740). But when two figures occur
    consecutively so often, the transition between them and first couple's
    return to the sidelines at the end must have been second nature to dancers
    at the time, like the standard transition in the RSCDS Manual between "set
    and turn corners" and "reel of three with corners."
    
    So--a more interesting dance? Maybe. A "country dance of the 18th century"
    as in McC's title? No.
    
    Rosemary Coupe
  • ...

    Patricia Ruggiero Jan. 9, 2004, 4:02 a.m. (Message 37484, in reply to message 37481)

    Zounds! Rosemary, surely this means you have a copy of the 1740 manuscript?
    And from your clarification of "sett cross partners," I suppose you have at
    least one Wilson?  I am cheerfully envious! 
    
    Yours is a perfectly clear analysis of the differences between the original
    and the reconstruction.  There's nothing I would add.  Many thanks for
    taking the time to present this.
    
    Pat
    
    P.S.  An amusing instruction: "sett a little."

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