Playford and Dance


In 1651 publisher John Playford produced The English Dancing Master, a work that included 105 tunes and the dance step notation to perform them. It proved so popular that new editions continued to be produced by his son Henry after his death with over 1,000 tunes total.

The music is pleasing to listen to and adapts well for different instrumentation. In a small venue a solo harpsichord, flute, or violin will have plenty of volume for dancing, a larger ensemble is nice but not required.

Playford’s music is often performed for English Country Dancing which is very popular in the United States and the world. The height of popularity was during Jane Austin’s lifetime. Here is an example from Pride and Prejudice.


Late Georgian and Regency dressed dancers.

If you haven’t experienced the tunes or dances from The English Dancing Master, give it a go, you won’t be disappointed!

Jenny Pluck Pears

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3 comments for “Playford and Dance

  1. JD
    October 30, 2010 at 13:08

    I think this is closer to the spirit of Playford’s times, as the first comment below the video would confirm.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJmBHymxfgg

  2. dearieme
    October 30, 2010 at 15:19

    Try dancing to this, matey.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtuMVBLEWJU

  3. Bill of Churchtown
    November 1, 2010 at 14:47

    Thanks JD and dearieme! You might have guessed correctly that I lean to the elegant and stately side of things.

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