Fair and Softly

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FAIR AND SOFTLY. English, Country Dance Tune (3/4 time). D Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABB. The tune dates from 1726 when it first appears in the Third Volume of The Dancing Master, or Directions for Dancing Country Dances (2nd edition, p. 51), published in London by instrument maker and music-seller John Young. Young was heir to the Playford music publishing concern. The melody also appears in Walsh's 3rd Book of the New Country Dancing Master (London, 1728).

"Fair and softly goes far in a day" has long been a proverb meaning that one should use care and gentle consideration in dealing with others to derive the most achievement. It was first recorded c. 1350 in Douce MS 52 (No. 50), where it is expressed as "Fayre and softe me [one] ferre gose." By 1670 it was used to counsel against spurring on too fast at first setting out, lest one tire before journey's end.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes), 1986; p. 34. Christian (A Playford Assembly), 2015; p. 34.

Recorded sources:




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