A Century Of Ballads 1810-1910, Their Composers & Singers

With Some Introductory Chapters On Old Ballads And Ballad Makers - online book.

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THE EVOLUTION OF THE BALLAD 5
which being sung to a dittie may likewise be danced, these and other light kinds of musicke are by a general name called aires." "Such were the songs," remarks Mr. W. H. Cummings in Grove, "to which Bonny Boots, a well-known singer and dancer of Elizabeth's Court, both 'tooted it' and 'footed it.'" A further reference is found in Butler's The Principles of Musicke, published in 1636, in which the author speaks of "the infinite number of Ballads set to sundry pleasant and delightful tunes by amusing and witty composers, with country dances fitted unto them."
It seems an established fact that the words of many old songs were written to popular dance tunes, and that the custom was in country villages to dance and sing them at the same time. Dancing in those days was a more stately and deliberate affair than it is in modern times, so that the feat is not so difficult a one as it might appear. The tunes of a number of these old Country Dances have been preserved, and in many cases the words also. A collection of them was published in 1686, under the title of The Dancing Master, from which I take the following description of "Joan Sanderson or The Cushion Dance," a very popular ballad dance with the country lads and lasses of the period.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III