Notes on Parson's Farewell

[1] The original music is written in movable G clef. In figure 2's arrangement, modern conventions are followed.

[2] Begin standing proper -- couples facing each other with the man standing to his partner's left, partners initially holding hands. The person of the opposite sex from your own couple is your partner, the one from the other couple is your corner, just as in square dancing.

[3] The instructions are numbered by the measures of the music. (So, for example, the initial `forward a double' takes two measures, with each beat (the music is in 2/2 time, so there are two stressed beats per measure) corresponding to one step. The music is quite fast -- about one measure (two beats) per second. The entire dance, then, takes just over one minute. Slowing it to fifty measures per minute probably wouldn't do any harm.

[4] It is customary in modern English Country dance for all dancers to begin with the right foot. In the absence of period evidence to the contrary, I recommend compliance: Begin with the right foot.

[5] The couples meet.

[6] The dancers may cheat on this step, angling slightly forward as well as to the right, so that the two couples end up facing each other, but closer than before. (The couples start the dance far enough apart to meet each other by taking a double forward. Now they must be close enough together so that during the next figure they can turn their corners.) If not for this cheat the first chorus would result in each couple tracing out a square on the floor.

[7] This `step' is unique to this dance -- simple, but hard to describe. Think of it as a nod that uses the entire body. Rise up onto your toes and then (on the next beat, which the music sounds very clearly) come back down. Nod slightly in synch with this -- head going up as the body does and then back down. The back stays straight. Think marionettes.

[8] This sequence involves three rapid nods in succession while facing first your corner, then diagonally, then your partner. In the course of this the men make a quarter turn to their right and the women make a quarter turn to their left. Note: Playford's instructions say "rise all foure times", but the music seems to demand only three at this point, and that is how I've seen it done in other groups as well.

[9] You just finished nodding/rising to your partner. Now take your corner's hands and walk one complete turn back to your place.

[10] All three parts of this dance have the property of being done twice, once beginning with the men and the second time, in mirror-image fashion, beginning with the women. This part is virtually symmetrical (except for the first two measures) so the difference between what the men do and what the women do is not as obvious as it will be in the other two parts.

[11] With the man holding his corner's left hand. The path traced by each dancer in this chorus forms an `L'.

[12] Take a half turn inward -- man to the right, women to the left. The dancers are improper (woman holding the man's left hand) for the return.

[13] The dancers straighten out while backing up so that they end side by side again, rather than facing each other.

[14] The original instructions say "Men meet, crosse right hands, then left passe over". In this arrangement the "crosse right hands" is omitted.

[15] The men never stop moving as they trace out this `Z' figure (see diagram 2a). Note that the turns with the women move more quickly than the switches with the other man, because the men must here make a full circle in two measures, rather than what is effectively a half-circle.

[16] The women's half of this figure is a mirror image of the men's part, passing diagonally with the right hand and turning the partner or corner with the left hand. (See diagram 2b.)

[17] The third chorus traces out the same pattern as the second chorus. It differs in that slipping to the side replaces walking forward a double.

[18] The final double back is the same normal walking double that ended the second chorus -- not a slipping step. Once again, the partners straighten out in the process of going back to place.

[19] The active dancers -- the men in the first half of this figure, the women in the second half -- never stop moving as they trace out a smooth spiral. (See diagrams 3a and 3b.) It is difficult but vital to keep up with the music on this figure, or the dance falls apart. Pay close attention to the timing.

[20] During this portion of the figure, and this portion only, the women do not move.

[21] Note that this change is twice as fast as the previous one: Measures 61 and 62 involve passing the two women in the time it took to pass the other man before. Passing people in this figure (as in any hey) involves changing places with them. Once the man has passed his partner he is in his partner's original position and his partner is standing where her corner started out. Note that the man passes his partner's right shoulder, even though he just passed the other man with his right shoulder.

[22] The man is now passing his corner with his left shoulder. At the end of this measure he will be in his original position. His partner, however, will be facing him instead of being beside him.

[23] Turn circling left, so as to maintain the spiralling pattern. At the end of this half turn the man is in his corner's original position and his partner is in his original position.

[24] Once again the women do a figure which is the mirror image (see diagram 3b) of the men's figure. Since it begins with a left-hand turn of the partner, and since the partners have just completed a two-hand turn, they must quickly switch hands. Note: It is very easy to get lost at this point: There is no time to hesitate between the men's figure and the women's figure. You must keep up with the music.

[25] For this portion of the figure, and this portion only, the men do not move.

[26] At the end of this measure each couple is standing in the other couple's original position. Note that since the women passed left shoulders instead of right they are now in the process of tracing out a counter-clockwise spiral, instead of the clockwise spiral traced out by the men.

[27] At the end of this measure the dancers are all in their partners' original places.

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