Belle Catharine (1) (La)

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X:2 T:La Belle Cathrine [1] M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Country Dance Tune B:Gow - 2nd Collection of Niel Gow's Reels, 3rd ed., p. 36 (orig. 1788) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:C G|c2 (e/d/)c/d/|ec~cB|A2 (d/e/)d/c/|BG TG2| c2 (e/d/)c/d/|eccB|Ad (c/B/)A/G/|c2 C:|| G/F/|EGTG>F|EG Gc/B/|AA (d/e/)d/c/|BG TG>F| EG GA/B/|ce/c/ Bd/B/|cc {f}ed/c/|[G,3D3B3g3] G| c2 (e/d/)c/d/|ecTcB|A2 (d/e/)d/c/|BG TG2| c2 (e/d/)c/d/|ec~c>B|Ad {c}BA/G/|Tc2 C||

BELLE CATHARINE [1], LA. AKA "Lady Belle Catherine." AKA and see "Come Dance and Sing," "Come Let Us Dance and Sing," "Grandmother's Polka," "Rising Sun (4) (The)," "Sons of William (The)," "Inkle and Yarico (1)," "Muffin Man (The)," "Shrewsbury Quarry," "16th of October (The)," "Sixteenth of October." British Isles, Reel. England; Shropshire, Dorset. D Major (most versions): C Major (Gow, Howe, Wilson). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Alexander, Howe): AAB (Gow, Johnson): AABA (Ashman, Dale, Trim, Wilson): AABB (Howe, Keller, Sweet). The tune (popular with fifers as well as fiddlers) dates from the 18th century (Moffatt-Kidson gives it from 1780, calling it an "allemand"). Johnson (1988) also dates the tune to 1780, and Kate Van Winkler Keller (1992) calls it "one of the most popular tunes of the late 1780's". However, "Belle Catharine" appears in Bride's Favourite Collection of 200 Select Country Dances, Cotillons, printed by Longman, Lukey & Broderip, London, a few years earlier, in 1776. The Gows printed it in their 2nd Collection (1788) in a section of county dances fashionable in Edinburgh in the 1787-88 season. London publishers Samuel, Ann and Peter Thompson included it in their Thompson's Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 5 (1788). Keller notes the similarity with "The16th of October," a melody printed in J. Preston's Twenty Four Country-Dances (London, 1786), although it was Preston who earlier published it in his New Instruction for the German Flute (1780, London). Editor Gordon Ashman identifies "La Belle Catharine" as a melody used for the Shrewsbury Show, where it became the traditional tune for the Show under the title "Shrewsbury Quarry." See note for "Come Dance and Sing/Come Let Us Dance and Sing" for more.

"La Belle Catharine" appears in several British music manuscripts of the late 18th/early 19th century, including Shropshire musician John Moore (see source info. below), the Hardy family music manuscripts (Dorset), Joshua Jackson (near Harrogate, north Yorkshire), William Mittel (1799, New Romney, Kent), H.S.J. Jackson (1823, Wyresdale, Lancashire) and George Spencer (1831, Leeds, west Yorkshire). "Belle Catharine" was extremely popular in America as well, and appears in the period music manuscript copybooks of George Bush (see source info. below), Henry Beck's commonplace book (1786, pg. 138), "William O. Adam's Music Book" (1795, now in the Library of Congress), Connecticut musician James B. Hosmer's commonplace book (1798-1799), the Joseph Ackerman copybook (New Hampshire, 1795), George Otis's copybook (Worcester, Mass., 1793), J. Williams commonplace book (Salem, N.Y., 1799), and John Treat's commonplace book (Durham?, c. 1779-1802), among others. A Canadian manuscript, the Thomas Molyneaux copybook ("Thomas Molyneaux, Ensign - 6th Regmt", 1788) also contains the tune.

The following passage is from A Contribution to the History of the Huguenots of South Carolina (1887) by Samuel Dubose and Frederick Porcher. It describes a country dance in Craven County, South Carolina in the early 1800's:

Nothing can be imagined more simple or more fascinating that those Pineville balls. Bear in mind, reader, that we are discussing old Pineville as it existed prior to 1836. No love of display governed the preparations; no vain attempt to outshine a competitor in the world of fashion. Refreshments were provided of the simplest character, such only as the unusual exercise, and sitting beyond the usual hours of repose, would fairly warrant. Nothing to tempt the pampered appetite. Cards were usually provided to keep the elderly gentlemen quite, and the music was only that which the gentlemen's servants could produce. The company assembled early. No one ever though of waiting until bedtime to dress for the ball; a country-dance always commenced the entertainment. The lady who stood at the head of the dancers was entitled to call for the figure, and the old airs, Ca Ira, Moneymusk, Haste to the Wedding, and La Belle Catharine were popular and familiar in Pineville long after they had been forgotten, as dances, everywhere else. Ah, well do we remember with what an exulting step would the young man, who had secured the girl of his choice, exhibit his powers of the poetry of motion, when his partner called for the sentimental air of La Belle Catharine....

The earliest sound recording of the tune is on the 2nd Barrel, 3rd tune, of a mechanical Chamber Barrel Organ [1], hand-built by John Langshaw (1718-1798), Organ Maker, Lancaster, c. 1785. The organ is one of three surviving Langshaw organs.

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - The Entire New and Compleat Tutor for the Violin by 18th century Italian violinist Geminiani (who lived in the British Isles), via the Hardy Collection (See note for "Inkle and Yarico"; for more); a c. 1837-1840 MS by Shropshire musician John Moore [Ashman]; the music manuscript of Captain George Bush (1753?-1797), a fiddler and officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution [Keller].

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 4), 1796; No. 34, p. 13. Alexander (Alexander’s New Scrap Book vol. 6), c. 1845; No. 866, p. 19. Ashman (The Ironbridge Hornpipe), 1991; No. 45a, p. 16. Joseph Dale (Dale’s Selection of the most favorite Country Dances, Reels &c.), London, c. 1800; p. 21. Gow (Second Collection of Niel Gow's Reels), 1788; p. 36 (3rd ed.). Elias Howe (Second Part of the Musician’s Companion), 1843; p. 46. Howe (Complete Preceptor for the Accordeon), c. 1843; p. 5. Johnson (Twenty-Eight Country Dances as Done at the New Boston Fair), vol. 8, 1988; p. 2. Keller (Fiddle Tunes from the American Revolution), 1992; p. 23. Skillern, 1780; No. 29. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964/1981; p. 65. Thompson (Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 5), 1788; p. 1. Trim (The Musical Legacy of Thomas Hardy), 1990; No. 86. Wilson (Companion to the Ballroom), 1816; p. 117.

Recorded sources : - North Star NS0038, "The Village Green: Dance Music of Old Sturbridge Village." Wild Asparagus WA 003, Wild Asparagus - "Tone Roads" (1990).

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]

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