Papa Stour Sword Dance

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PAPA STOUR SWORD DANCE. Shetland, Muckle Reel & Sword Dance Tune (4/4 and 3/2 time). A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABCC'. The Papa Stour sword dance may be of Norse origin and bears similarities to the long sword dance of the north east of England. The island of Papa Stour, Shetland, had its own team of dancers performing throughout the 19th century up until 1892; the dance was revived on the island in 1922 until 1968-9, and again on the Mainland in the 1970's and 1980's. Cooke says the island now has too few people to support a musical tradition. The 'A' part is "a short snatch of melody played as each of the seven dancers--the Seven Champions of Christendom--is introduced in turn to the audience by the leader (St. George), reciting the traditional text...The second piece is for the dance proper. It should perhaps be classed as a Muckle Reel, so similar is its structure and its function, for it is repeated continuously for as long as the dancers are 'running' the dance. Great use is made in this piece of what Shetlanders call 'the shivers', i.e. the rapid reiteration of a note or chord to strengthen the accent and enliven the general effect" (Cooke, 1986, p. 59).

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Cooke (The Fiddle Tradition of the Shetland Isles), 1986; Ex. 7, p. 59.

Recorded sources:

See also listing at:
Hear Shetland fiddler Fraser Hughson's 1960 recording of the tune at Tobar an Dualcais [1] [2]
See/hear the dance performed on youtube.com [3] [4]
See the text of the play from Sir Walter Scott's The Pirate [5], and Ivor Allsop's article "The Papa Stour Sword Dance: Shetland" (from the Folk Music Journal, vol. 3, No. 4, 1978, pp. 324-342, published by the English Folk Dance & Song Society at JSTOR [6]




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