Cowboy Dances

A collection of Traditional Western Square Dances By Lloyd Shaw

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
This maneuver, usually spelled do-si-do, recurs over and over in most of the squares. Whenever a couple executes a figure with another couple they usually finish with a little subchorus circle four and docey-doe. Then, when they have gone around and done the same with all three couples and are back home, they usually all unite in a general chorus which is the Allemande left and Grand right and left. This subchorus, executed by fours, is so common that it must be mastered soon.
It is so important that it may be well to interpolate a discussion of it and its possible origin at this point. One of the common figures in the New England Quadrille, brought over from France, is the Dos-a~dos or back to back. This is executed by a lady and a gentleman advancing toward each other (as the opposite corners in the Virginia Reel), passing around each other back to back without touching in any way, and each walking backward to their oiiginal place. Of course, the French pronunciation was "dose-ah-doe"; and in London, or in Boston, where French was still current, it would be correctly pronounced. But in the Lowlands of Scotland or carried by those Lowlanders to the Appalachian Mountains of America there might be a corruption such as "do-si-do," and the figure could be and probably was developed into a more complicated and more joyous maneuver. The common Briton has a genius for mis­pronunciation. Note his "cross of the dear Queen," the "chere reine" corrupted into "Charing Cross," "Bethlehem" changed to "bedlam," the "contra dance" with its line against line called a "country dance." So do-si-do seems quite inevitable to me in an oral tradition. Years later when someone wished to write it down he mistakenly suspected it of a relationship with the old musical notation, the "so, la, si, do" of the upper scale, and called it do-si-do. As it moved west it sounded more and more like two words, "docey-doe/' When a literary friend who heard me call one night wrote me a note headed by a little drawing of a deer coming over a mountain and labeled "docey-doe" this impression of mine was confirmed; hence I deliberately depart from convention and spell the Western variant docey-doe.
Now in the Kentucky Running Set we find one of the first forms, a circle four with the four holding hands but with the men back to back or dos-a-dos while the women are face to face in the circling four. When they broke it was

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III