Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

Ancient Songs, Ballads, & Dance Tunes, Sheet Music & Lyrics - online book

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X.
INTRODUCTION.
Rousseau's letter upon it " an excellent piece of musical criticism," combining " good sense, taste, and reason" (iv. 615) : he dismisses Sebastian Bach in half a dozen lines; and, although he devotes much space to Handel's operas, his oratorios are often dismissed with the barest record of their existence by a line in a note. Israel in Egypt, Acis and Galatea, &c, arc unnoticed.
The present collection will sufficiently prove that " the number of our secular and popular melodies" was not quite as "circumscribed" as Dr. Burn ey has represented ; but, indeed, he had a book in his library which alone gave a com­plete refutation to his limited estimate. I have now before me one of the editions of The Dancing Master, a collection of Country Dances, published by Playford, which was formerly in Burney's possession. It contains more than two hundred tunes, the name3 of which must convince an ordinary reader that at least a con­siderable number among them are song and ballad tunes, while a musician will as readily perceive many others to be of the same class, from the construction of the melody. If a doubt should remain as to the character of the airs in collections of this kind, further evidence is by no means wanting. Sir Thomas Elyot, writing in 1531, and describing many ancient modes of dancing, says (in The Governour), " As for the special names [of the dances], they were taken as they he now, either of the names of the first inventour, or of the measure and number they do con-teine, or of the first words of the ditties which the song comprehendeth, whereoff the daunce was made*;" and, to approach nearer to the time of the publication in question, Charles Butler, in 1636, speaks of " the infinite multitude of ballads set to sundry pleasant and delightful tunes by cunning and witty composers, with country doxices fitted unto them." See his Principles of Mustek.
The eighteen editions of Tfie Dancing Master are of great assistance in the chronological arrangement of our popular tunes from 1650 to 1728 ;a for, although some airs run through every edition, we may tell by the omission of others, when they fell into desuetude, as well as the airs by which their places were supplied.
* The first edition of this collection is entitled "The English Dancing Master: or Plaine and easie rules for the dancing of Country Dances, with the tune to each dance (104 pages of music). Printed by Thomas Harper, and are to be sold by John Playford, at his shop in the InnerTemple, neere the Church doore." The date is 1651, but it was entered at Stationers* Hall on 7th Nov., 1650. This edition is onlarger paper than any of the subsequent. The next is " The Dancing Master, .... with the tune to each dance, to be play'd on the treble Viulin : the second edition, enlarged and corrected from many grosse errors which were In the former edition." This was " Printed for John Playford," in 1652 (112 pages of music). The two next editions, those of 1657 and 1665, each contain 132 country dances, and are counted by Playford as one edition. To both were added "the tunes of the most usual French dances, and also other new and pleasant English tnnes for the treble Violin." That of K65 was " Printed by W. G., and sold by J. Playford and Z. Wat-kins, at their shop in the Temple." It has 88 tunes for the violin at the end. (The tunes for the violin were afterwards printed separately as Apollo's Banquet, and are not included In any other edition of The
Dancing Master.) The date of the fourth edition is 1670 <155 pages of music). Fifth edition, 1675, and 160 pages of music. (The contents of the sixth edition are ascertained to be almost identical with the fifth, by the new tunes added to the seventh being marked with *, hut I have not seen a copy. From advertisements in Play-ford's other publications, it appears to have been printed in 1680.) Theseventh edition bears date 1686 (208pages), but to this "an additional sheet/1 containing32 tunes, was first added, then "a new additional sheet" of 12 pages," and lastly "a new addition" of 6 more. The eighth edition was "Printed by E.Jones forH. Playford," and great changes made in the airs. It has 220 pages,— date, 1690. The ninth edition, 196 pages,—date, 1695. " The second part of the Dancing Master," 24 pages,— date, 1696. The tenth edition, 215 pages,—date, 1698; also the second edition of th second part, ending on p. 48 (irregularly paged), 1698. The eleventh is the first edition in the new tied note, 312 pages,—date, 1701. The twelfth edition goes back to the old note, 354 pages,—date, 1703. The later editions are well known, but the above are scarce.