Coterie (The)

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COTERIE, THE. AKA - "The Cotery." English, Country Dance Tune (2/4 time). G Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. This melody and country dance instructions appear in Randall's Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1771 and later in T. Skillern's Compleat Collection of Two Hundred and Four Reels & Country Dances (London, 1780).

The word coterie, according to Merriam-Webster, dates to 1738 and refers to "an intimate and often exclusive group of persons with a unifying common interest or purpose." Researcher Graham Christian (2015) finds the tune is named for The Coterie, or The Female Cotery, an excluive aristocratic club founded and led by women associated with Almack's, a venue the opened in 1765 and admitted both men and women. Horace Walpole wrote: "There is a new Institution that begins to make, and if it proceeds will make, considerable noise. It is a club of both sexes to be erected at Almack's, on the model of that of the men at White's. Mrs Fitzroy, Lady Pembroke, Mrs Meynell, Lady Molyneux, Miss Pelham and Miss Lloyd are the foundresses. I am ashamed to say I am of so young and fashionable society; but as they are people I live with, I choose to be idle rather than morose. I can go to a young supper without forgetting how much sand is run out of the hour-glass." The Female Coterie had and a stanglehold on fashionable London society, and events were often by invitation-only. It was a movable feast, as well, and met at other venues besides Almacks, as the group dictated.

So exclusive was the Coterie that those rejected or shunned for membership formed their own group, The New Female Coterie, founded by Caroline, Countess of Harrington, who despite her title had had been blackballed from the original group. This group consisted of some of the more notorious society women of the era, ostracised because of public disclosure of their infidelities. They met for a drink and a gossip at a high-end brothel near Almack's owned by Sarah Pendergast.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 23. Christian (The Playford Assembly), 2015, p. 22. William Randall (Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1771), No. 7. Straight and Skillern (Two Hundred and Four Favourite Country Dances, vol. 1), c. 1775; No. 93, p. 47.

Recorded sources:




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