Poule (La)

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POULE, LA. AKA – "Poole (La)." English, Quadrille (6/8 time). “La Poule” (the hen) is a portion of a many-part dance for four couples called a quadrille. The entire dance consists of five parts and was extremely popular on the Continent prior to and during the Napoleonic era, reaching England by 1808. It was introduced to Regency society by the Duke of Devonshire and became fashionable by 1813; some few years later it was being danced regularly at dances throughout the country. The “La Poule” figure is always the third figure of the quadrille, generally in ABACABA form and always in 6/8 time (the other figures are “Le Pantalon” (trousers), “L’été” (summer), “La Pastourelle” (shepherdess) and “Finale.” There are various tunes used for “La Poule,” although the structure and time signatures tend to remain the same. Burks’ “La Poule” appeared in America in John Carr’s The First Book of Cotillions (1801) and William William’s New and Complete Preceptor for the Fife (Utica, 1826). It also appears in the music copybook of Frank Johnson, a free black American musician living and concertizing in Philadelphia, Pa., who wrote out his manuscript and presented it to Mrs. A. Rush, around the year 1820. The same melody was copied into the manuscript of musician William Tildesley of Swinton, Lancashire, in the 1860’s (No. 73), where it is a third part simply labelled “Quadrils.” See other English musicians' manuscript versions under the spelling "Poole (La)."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Alexander (Alexander’s New Scrap Book, vol. 6), c. 1845; No. 851, p. 11.

Recorded sources: Maggie’s Music MMCD216, Hesperus - “Early American Roots” (1997).

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