Irish Trot (1)

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IRISH TROT [1]. AKA and see "Hyde Park (1)." English, Country Dance Tune (2/2 time). England, Northumberland. E Minor (Sharp): D Minor (Stanford/Petrie). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. The tune was published by John Playford in the first edition of his English Dancing Master (1651). Tune and title were retained in the the Playford volumes throughout their long printing history, which ended with the 18th and final edition of 1728 (then published by John Young). It also appears in all three editions of Walsh's The Compleat Country Dancing Master (1718, 1731, 1754). Kidson (1922) says it was probably an alternative tune to "The Hide Park Frolic" in Pills to Purge Melancholy, vol. IV, p. 138. It is one of the "missing tunes" from William Vickers' 1770 Northumbrian dance tune manuscript. The Irish Trot usually referred to a dance, however, to which various tunes might be played. Despite its origins in the 17th century, it appears that in America the dance was not introduced in some areas until the late 19th century. Jim Kimball, a researcher from western New York state, found this reference to it in a diary of one Hod Case, a Bristol, N.Y., fiddler and journalist who kept diaries from about 1868 to 1940. In his entry of October 8, 1878, Case wrote:

Ike Benson and I played to a dance [at Hank Trafton's] Irish Trot danced for first time in the state I think. Mrs. Trafton called it. "Roys wife" an old Scotch ballad is the tune we played.

Kimball further notes: "Clarence Maher, a fine fiddler from Bergen, N.Y., who recently passed away at the age of 97, remembered playing the Irish Trot for local house parties from the 1910's into the 30's. His tune was another old Scots tune which in Harding's was just titled 'The Old Highland Fling.'"

In other parts on North America it was known much earlier. The following is from Joseph Doddridge a volume entitled Notes on the settlement and Indian wars of the western parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania, from 1763 to 1783, inclusive : together with a view of the state of society, and manners of the first settlers of the western country (edited by A. Williams, published by J. Munsell, Albany, N.Y. 1876), pp. 176-177:

Dancing was the principal amusement of our young people of both sexes. Their dances, to be sure, were of the simplest forms. Three and four handed reels and jigs. Contra dances, cotillions and minuets, were unknown. I remember to have seen, once or twice, a dance which was called the Irish trot, but I have long since forgotten its figure.

Source for notated version: "From the 17th edition of The Dancing Master London 1721" [Stanford/Petrie].

Printed sources: Barlow (Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford's Dancing Master), 1985; No. 44. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; pp. 41 & 60 (the former is a facsimile copy of Playford's Dancing Master version while the latter is a facsimile of Gay's Beggar's Opera printing). Sharp (Country Dance Tunes), 1909; p. 38. Stanford/Petrie (Complete Collection), 1905; No. 588, p. 148. Walsh (Complete Country Dancing-Master, Volume the Fourth), London, 1740; No. 129.

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