Harlequin Gambols

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X:1 T:Harlequin Gambols M:C| L:1/8 R:Country Dance B:Samuel, Ann & Peter Thompson -- Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 5 (1788, p. 8) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Bb (3FGA|B2B2 Bdce|d2d2 dfeg|fbag fedc|dBfd ecAF| B2B2 Bece|d2d2 dfeg|fbag fedc|B2B2B2:| |:(3GFE|DFDF DFDF|EGEG EGEG|(ec)(cA) (ec)(cA)|(fd)(dB) (fd)(dB)| DFDF DFDF|EGEG EGEG|(ec)(cA) (ec)(cA)|B2B2B2:|]



HARLEQUIN GAMBOLS. AKA - "Harlequin's Gambols," "Harlequin Hornpipe (4)," "Kay's Hornpipe," "Merry Man Hornpipe (The)," "Runn's Hornpipe." English, Country Dance Tune (cut time). B Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. "Harlequin's Gambols" is a country dance tune, later a hornpipe, published in London by the leading music publisher of the mid-latter 18th century, the Thompson family. However, as researcher Philip Heath-Coleman has found, the tune has antecedents in "Master Byron's Hornpipe" contained in a publication of c. 1697 attributed to the English composer Henry Purcell. A manuscript version under the title "Runn's Hornpipe" from a c. 1870 copybook in the possession of Thomas Hampton (Hereford, Herefordshire) may be a misinterpretation of 'Byron' to 'Runns'.

The Thompsons' "Harlequin Gambols" is probably associated with the entertainment called The Sylphs; or Harlequin's Gambols (1774), performed as an afterpiece at the Theatre-Royal, Covent Garden, London, although there were several such pantomimes or incidental works written that had the title "Harlequin Gambols" attached, such as Harlequin Gambols; or The Skeleton and the Clown (1803) and "Harlequin's Gambols; or, Witches of the Well" (1804). The music for the most famous of them, the "Sylphs" production, is the work of John Abraham Fisher, a dancer, musical director and ballet master at Covent Garden in the 1770's, and probably the composer of "Fisher's Hornpipe." The 'Harlequin' melody was developed into a hornpipe in Scotland under the title "Colosseum (The)" and in Ireland as "Merry Man Hornpipe (The)" and "Stage Hornpipe (3) (A)", and printed in Kerr's and Honeyman's volumes (as well as by Boston publisher Elias Howe). Dance figures for "Harlequin's Gambols" can be found in several American country dance publications and dance ms. copybooks from the first years of the 19th century[1].

See also the similar first strain of the air "In Infancy."


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Samuel, Ann & Peter Thompson (Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 5), 1788; p. 8.






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  1. See EASMES site [1]
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