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Kettle Drum

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Kettle Drum

Source: Mabel Clayden; published in English Dance & Song, October 1940, Volume V, Number 1
Formation: Square, numbered clockwise

A Up a Double & Back to the Middle x2
B1/B2 Star Figure
A Siding with Partner x2
B1/B2 Leading & Casting Figure
A Arming with Partner x2
B1/B2 Kissing Figure

Music:
24 Bars: ABB.

Notes:
The movements to the A musics are the standard Up a Double, Siding and Arming of many 1651 dances. Mabel wrote her version around 1940 so she probably intended Left Shoulder Swirly Siding both times; these days Into Line Siding, Right Shoulder then Left Shoulder, would probably be more likely.

But the three B music figures pose a much greater challenge. Cecil Sharp admitted defeat. Many others have tried to interpret the figures and come up with a wide variety of different solutions. Here are some examples:
Dafydd Cyhoeddwr
Heiner Fischle
Tom Bannister (near the bottom of that page)
Cécile Laye
Mabel Clayden's version from English Dance & Song is at the bottom of this page.

These versions are all shown below, figure by figure, for easy comparison.

Here is the original wording:

Kettle Drum

Some of the typical challenges that the text provides:

  • Dancing Masters use words to mean what they want them to mean.
  • The dances were almost certainly provided by different Dancing Masters so you can't assume knowledge of one dance can be used in another dance.
  • Playford's proof reading was not great. Just look at the page numbering to see that errors abound. So what is the chance of detailed techincal data being accurate?
  • The dots and lines at the end of phrases are supposed to indicate the length of the music, but I can see different numbers of dots in different scans (different editions? dirty marks?).
  • Punctuation is random so you can't rely on it.
  • There is no indication of how many beats are used for each part of the figure.
  • Words like "inward" and "outwards" don't appear in any other dances so there are no other clues as to what they might mean.

Dafydd also points out that, as a general rule which holds true for around 90% of Playford's dances, you never cross a phrase with a single piece of choreography. In other words, the music is not there just to provide a beat; it delineates and separates the steps you are doing.

So let's look at the various interpretations figure by figure.

The Star Figure
"We. meet, giving their right hands, men meet, giving their right hands, then turn every man his own We. by the right hand, then men the left hands, We. their left hands, then turn every We. her own man by the left hand."

Mabel's Version
B1 Ladies Star Right; Men Star Right
B2 Partner Allemande Right; Men Star Left
B3 Ladies Star Left; Partner Allemande Left

Daffyd's and Tom's Version
B1 Ladies make a Right Hand Star, don't turn it (4); Men make a Right Hand Star above the Ladies' Hands (4)
Partner Allemande Right back to place
B2 Repeat with Left Hands, Men meeting first

Heiner's Version
B1 Ladies step in and make a Right Hand Star; Balance the Star x2; step out
Men step in and make a Right Hand Star; Balance the Star x2
B2 Partner Allemande Right
Men step in and make a Left Hand Star; Balance the Star x2; step out
B3 Ladies step in and make a Left Hand Star; Balance the Star x2
Partner Allemande Left

I am not quite sure what the timing is here, for instance how long is allowed for stepping in and out, and whether the men step in as the ladies step out, but it seems to me it will take at least three B musics.

Cécile's Version
B1 Ladies Star Right Half Way; Men Star Right Half Way
Partner Allemande Right
B3 Men Star Left Half Way; Ladies Star Left Half Way
Partner Allemande Left

I believe that the point of getting everyone's right hand into the middle is to put your right hand beside your partner's right hand so that you can go straight into the Allemande Right. There is plenty of evidence to suggest the stepping was the norm in 1651, so my version is:


John's Version
B1 Ladies Balance a Right Hand Star WHILE Men Set (4); All Balance a Right Hand Star (Men's hands joined above the Ladies') (4)
Partner Allemande Right back to place (8)
B2 Repeat with Left Hands, Men meeting first

And that is the easy figure!

The Leading & Casting Figure
"The 2. Cu. meet and fall back, then the next Cu. meet , and take each others We. by the right hand, and fall into the Co. places, then the other Cu. meet and fall back, and the first Cu. the like, then lead in, taking the We. by the right hand, and cast off to your places."

"Cu." could mean "Couple" or "Couples". "2.Cu" could mean "the second couple" or "the two couples" (i.e. Heads as many dances start with the Heads), or "the second couples" (i.e. Sides, Heads being the first couples). Most of the phrases in this section are in the plural so I believe that "Cu" means "Couples" and "2.Cu" means Heads.

"Co." is short for "Contrary" and is used to mean Neighbour in a Duple Minor, so it could be interpreted as Corner. But I believe that it is more likely to mean Opposite as in Newcastle.

Mabel's Version
B1 #2s Up a Double & Back towards #3s (8)
#2s & #3s Two Changes of Rights & Lefts (8)
B2 #4s Up a Double & Back towards #3s (8)
#1s & #4s Two Changes of Rights & Lefts (8)
B3 Take Partner's Right Hand: Lead In (4)
As Couples Sides (#2s & #4s) Cast Left & Promenade to Home WHILE
Heads Promenade across the Set and Buttefly Whirl to Home (12)


Dafydd's Version
B1 Heads Up a Double (4)
Heads Fall Back WHILE Sides Up a Double (4)
Sides give Right Hand to Corner's Left Hand: Sides Gate their Corners - everyone ends in their Corner's place (8)
B2 Repeat from these positions, those now at the Heads starting the figure

After the Gate half of the dancers are facing out so need to turn towards each other to face in.

Heiner's Version
B1 Heads Up a Double & Back (8); Sides Box the Gnat with your Opposite and Fall Back (8)
B2 Heads Up a Double & Back (8); Sides Lead Right, Split the Heads, Turn Left, Single File Promenade to Home (Ladies Leading) (8)

Tom's Version 1
B1 Sides Up a Double & Back (8)
Heads Allemande Right Half with Opposite and Fall Back (8)
B2 Repeat to Home

Tom's Version 2
B1 Sides Up a Double & Back (8)
Heads take Right Hands with Opposite and Fall Back (or turn) into Side places WHILE
Sides separate and Cast into Head places (8)
B2 Repeat with Heads (at the Sides) starting the figure

Cécile's Version
B1 #2s Up a Double & Back - as they fall back #3s Up a Double to face #2s
#2s & #3s Pass Through by the right shoulder, take Partner's right hand Double Cast to Home along a slight curve
B2 Repeat for #4s & #1s

Cécile's Notes: The second part is difficult to fit into just 8 bars with a coherent whole. The solution I put forward takes some of the elements into account but there may be other ways.

It starts with the second couple and ends with the first couple, both mentioned. I chose to interpret "the next couple" coming to face the second as the third. When the movement is repeated, the "other couple" is then the fourth couple, starting before the first couple and dancing with them.

My choice of interpretation was called for by the mention of casting at the end. In my version, opposite dancers cross by the right shoulder, no hands; each couple goes through the other one’s place and comes back to its own with a double cast.

John's Version
B1 Heads Up a Double & Back (8)
Sides Allemande Right Half with Opposite and Fall Back (8)
B2 Repeat with Sides starting the figure
B3 Up a Double holding Right Hands with your Partner (4)
Turn towards your Partner, separate and Cast Out; Single File Promenade Home Ladies on the inside (12)

It is possible to do that with just two B musics if the Sides start their approach as the Heads fall back, but it is a bit rushed.

Isn't it amazing that so few words can be interpreted in so many different ways!

The Kissing Figure
"All joyn both hands with your We. swing with your hands all inward, then breake off your hands inward, then turn back to back, and kisse the Co. Wo twice , then swing with the Co. We. all outwards , then break off your hands outwards, then turn kissing every one his own Wo. turn and so end."

Mabel's Version
B1 Partner Two-Hand Turn; Set to Corner; Honour Corner
B2 Corner Two-Hand Turn; Set to Partner; Honour Partner

Hmmm... what happened to the kissing?

Dafydd's Version
B1 Take both hands with your Partner, swing your arms in (2) and out (2)
Swing your arms in, let go and turn (Man to Left, Lady to Right) to face your Corner (4)
Kiss (hug) your Corner: lean in and kiss (2), lean out (2); repeat (4)
B2 Take both hands with your Corner, swing your arms out (2) and in (2)
Swing your arms out, let go and turn (Man to Left, Lady to Right) to face your Partner (4)
Kiss (hug) your Partner: lean in and kiss (2), lean out (2); repeat (4)

This seems like a good interpretation of what is happening with the hands, but I find there is too much time, it all seems to be happening in slow motion.

Heiner's Version
B1 Take both hands with your Partner, swing your arms in, let go and turn (Man to Left, Lady to Right) to face your Corner
Embrace your Corner and kiss them on both cheeks
Take both hands with your Corner, swing your arms out, let go and turn (Man to Left, Lady to Right) to face your Partner
Embrace your Partner and kiss them on both cheeks
B2 Partner Two-Hand Turn and Honour

I am not sure what the timing is here.

Tom's Version
B1 Partner Two-Hand Turn moving in (4); Turn your back on your Partner (4)
Kiss your Corner on each cheek (8)
B2 Corner Two-Hand Turn moving out (4); Turn your back on your Corner (4)
Kiss your Partner on each cheek (8)

Cécile's Version
B1 Partner Two-Hand Turn, moving towards the middle of the square; Bow to Partner; Turn inwards & Kiss Corner
B2 Corner Two-Hand Turn; Bow to Corner; Turn outwards & Kiss Partner

John's Version
B1 Partner Two-Hand Turn Quarter (4) Men make a Back Circle and Circle Halfway (4)
Air Kiss your Opposite on Right Cheek (2) and Left Cheek (2)
Opposite Two-Hand Turn Half (4)
B2 Men Single File Promenade CW back to Partner (8)
Air Kiss your Partner on Right Cheek (2) and Left Cheek (2)
Partner Two-Hand Turn to Home (4)

The men's single file promenade can be a men's Circle Left if the ladies get close together in the middle.

So choose whichever version of each figure you like best and put them together to make the dance!

Original page from English Dance & Song, October 1940

Kettle Drum
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