Hop Ground (The)
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HOP GROUND, THE. English, Country Dance Tune (6/8 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The title refers to the cultivation of hops, the essential ingredient that differentiates beer from ale. Graham Christian, writing in his "Tell Me More" column in CDSS News, explains that hop cultivation, along with adding hops to malt, was an import from the Low Countries, and was initially resisted in England. As with many innovations, traditionalists clung to their ways, even, as Christian says, decrying beer as a cause of melancholy and male impotence. However, it's benefits to malt as a balance to the sweetness of malt, and its mild preservative qualities, was clearly an improvement and gained wide acceptance in the 17th century. The county of Kent was the locus of a good portion of English hop-growing.
Interestingly, Christian points out the the tune is "one of the last of its breed—it is a 'round-o', which by derivation is an English corruption of the French rondeau or the Italian rondo." The structure is song-like, verse and chorus style, with one part repeatedly returned to, while the alternating ones introduce new melodic material, as in ABACADA structure, for example. "The English variant is a single strain that returns again and again to its beginning without harmonic resolution," Christian writes, "a kind of musical ouroboros, the snake that devours its own tail." It was a popular dance form in the 17th century, but by the time of London publisher Thomas Preston's publication at the end of the 18th century the form was a decided anachronism, seldom employed. [see Graham Christian, CDSS News No. 206, Jan./Feb. 2008].
Source for notated version:
Christian (A Playford Assembly), 2015; p. 45.
Preston (Preston's Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1794), 1794.
Simons (Kentish Hops: Kentish Country Dances), 1991.