Old Ball's Dance

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OLD BALL'S DANCE. English, Jig. England, North-West. E Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. A modern composition by Ian McGrady. Old Ball was the Lancashire hobby horse revived by the late Stan Gee of Stockport (Eng.). The hobby horse was described in John Harland's Lancashire Folk-lore: Illustrative of the Superstitious Beliefs & Practices (1882, p. 254):

Winster hobby horse and mummers, c. 1870.

In an old painted window at Betley, Stafforshire, exhibiting in twelve diamond-octagon panes, the mummers and morris-dancers of May-day, the centre pane below the May-pole represents the old hobby- horse, supposed to have once been the King of the May, though now a mere buffoon. The hobby (of this window) is a spirited horse of pasteboard, in which the master dances and displays tricks of legerdemain, &c. In the horse's mouth is stuck a ladle, ornamented with a ribbon; its use being to receive the spectators' pecuniary donations. In Lancashire the old custom seems to have so far changed, that it is the head of a dead horse that is carried about at Christmas, as described in the Easter customs. "Old Ball" bites everybody it can lay hold of, and holds its victims till they buy their release with a few pence.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Knowles (Northern Frisk), 1988; No. 130.

Recorded sources:




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