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