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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Ian Burdon '5000 Morris Dancers' (803* d) RE: '5000 Morris Dancers' 24 Aug 08

"And, if you don't want to listen to me, IB, check up on RVW who, paraphrasing, said our only truly English music is our folk songs and dance music."

Assuming that I'm the IB referred to in this, I'm struggling to see the point of directing it to me (and as per Fidjit I'm not going to get involved in bickering). My mischevous question above was simply about 2012 being about Englishness as opposed to Britishness.

As for RVW, even were he correct, the same could be said for Ireland, Wales and Scotland. I don't think that he was correct though, at least not as an absolute statement.

In the case of dance, there is reference to Morris dance in Scotland in 1501 (though whether it is the same as any of the forms now surviving in England I'm not at all certain except that bells were certainly involved) and it is clear from the records that there was considerable interchange both within Britain and with our later mediaeval trading partners in Europe in folk traditions and dances for example those associated with the Lord of Misrule and Robin Hood festivities or guild sword dances or assorted Green Man traditions.

Others here, Jack Campin for one, are better qualified than me to talk about the spread and sharing of tunes across nations and traditions: it is what musicians do and what happens when traders and sailors have a few jars and have a song or two. Yes of course there are songs from particular localities (whether in English, Gaelic, Norn, or other languages or dialects) but there are also songs which are well distributed as variants within a common tradition both in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

Clearly the traditions in the UK have their distinctive aspects and, as traditions have attenuated across Europe, the musical and dancing traditions of the remaining cultural archipelagoes have evolved in their own ways. In Scotland many traditions were killed off by the Kirk in Scotland post-reformation and in the UK generally they lost their importance with the shift to an urban, industrialised society and had the coup de grace administered by WW1 and WW2.

But they do survive, sometimes as genuine survivals and sometimes from revivals, and we should be celebrating these as part of the glue which binds us together in these islands and not as a tacit means of suggesting division between us.

To coin a phrase, Roll over Vaughan Williams :-)


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