Old Mole

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OLD MOLE. English, Country Dance Tune (6/8 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB, AABB (Playford). The eight-bar melody and country dance were first published by John Playford in his English Dancing Master (1651) and were retained in subsequent editions of the Dancing Master through the seventh edition of 1686. Chris Bartram, writing in his article "The Fiddle in England" (Strad, Dec. 1999), finds that East Devon fiddler Harry Denslow (d. 1950's), knew "Old Mole" from local tradition and concludes that the tune had survived in the East Devon countryside for around three hundred years, passed on by ear. Moreover, photographs of Denslow reveal that he held his fiddle and bow in a manner which would have been familiar to players of the instrument during the Baroque era, and Bartram suspects that techniques of older traditional players of southern England would have changed as little as did Denslow's "Old Mole" from Playford's original.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes), 1986. Barlow (Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford's Dancing Master), 1985; No. 73, p. 31. Bartram (English Fiddle), 2009; p. 67. Karpeles & Schofield (A Selection of 100 English Folk Dance Airs), 1951; p. 16. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; pp. 24 & 38 (the latter is a facsimile copy of the Playford original). Sharp (Country Dance Tunes), 1909; p. 33.

Recorded sources: Harvest SHSP 4059, The Albion Dance Band – "The Prospect Before Us" (1977). Park Records PRK CD31, Maddy Prior & the Carnival Band – "Hang Up Sorrow & Care" (1995). Wildgoose Records WGS304CD, Belshazzar's Feast – "John Playford's Secret Ball."




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