Letter: Hole in the Wall

[ This article appeared in volume 3 of the Letter of Dance. ]

I just received a copy of The Book of Dance. I enjoy the general tone of enthusiasm and ebullience, and the clear way many dances are described, and the excellent bibliographies.

But -- there are certain assumptions which I feel you should not make.

Although Playford's 1651 edition is largely (probably!) a collection of older dances and tunes, later editions often include newly-composed works (both dances and tunes). What caught my eye (and raised my hackles) was the music for "Hole in the Wall", and then, reading further, a paragraph on page 25.

"Hole in the Wall" was not published as a Playford dance until 1698 because the music wasn't composed until 1695. It is one of the 36 English country dance tunes discovered to have been composed by Henry Purcell which were then taken by dancing masters to write dances to. Originally entitled "Hornpipe", "Hole in the Wall" is one of those truly elegant and beautiful tunes in 3/2, not, I beg you, 6/8. There are many many wonderful -- and old -- tunes in 6/8, and the version on your page 32 is not, to put it mildly, a good idea.

Because so much of your material is scholarly, I think you should consider pursuing scholarship into the English country dance area, and if books aren't available to you, then at least communicate with someone at CDSS headquarters (17 New South St, Northampton, MA 01060, 413-584-9913) for information or clarification.

I have enclosed a copy of "Hole in the Wall" with my arrangement, from the book Purcell Playford and the English Country Dance by Christine Helwig and Marshall Barron.

Best wishes,
Marshall Barron

Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir (Greg Lindahl) (lindahl@pbm.com)