Rigadoon (1)

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X:1 T:Rigadoon [1] M:C| L:1/8 N:”Longways for as many as will.” B:John Walsh – Complete Country Dancing-Master, Volume the Fourth B:(London, 1740, No. 156) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:C c|e2 (fe/f/) g3g|aa ag/f/ gg gf/g/|aa ag/f/ gag f|e2d2c3|| c|d2e2d3c|de fe de dc|B2A2G3c|d2e2d3c| defd gfed|c>d d2 c3||g|ed ec d/c/d/e/ dg|edec d3|| d|BG cd e/d/e/f/ ea|^fg a^f g3g|fedc d/c/B/A/ Gg|cd d2c3||



RIGADOON [1].AKA - "French Ridaudon (The)," "Rigaudon." English, Dance tune (cut time). C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABC. The dance tune "Rigadoon [1]" was printed by Henry Playford in the fifth and sixth editions of Apollo's Banquet (London, 1687 and 1690). The tune, with dance instructions, was also printed by Playford in his Dancing Master Third Supplement to the 7th edition (1689) as "Rigaudon". There are other tunes with the name "Rigadoon/Rigaudon" in the Dancing Master editions as well. The Rigaudon was a sprightly 17th century French folk dance for couples, that featured hopping steps in 2/2 of 4/4 time. It was adopted by fashionable dancers at the French and English courts, and remained fashionable through the 18th century. "Conjecture assigns its origins to Provençal sailors and its name to a Marseille dance master, Rigaud, who reputedly introduced the dance to Parisian society in 1630. As a court dance, it was performed by dancers who ran, turned, and repeated in place a series of jumping steps"[1].

One of the most famous ballroom dances of the 18th century was Mr. Isaac's "The Rigadoon", writes dance researcher Moira Goff [2]. Isaac choreographed the dance to music attributed to composer James Paisible, a French recorder player who made a successful career in London. It may be the same piece as published by Playford, although this needs to be ascertained. Goff dates Isaac's Rigadoon as early as 1695, but says it was first published in 1706 in A Collection of Ball-Dances perform’d at Court, notations by John Weaver of six of Isaac’s choreographies. Weaver's plates were passed on the music publisher John Walsh, who published them in a second edition of Weaver's Orchesography around 1722, according to Goff[3]. Isaac's Rigadoon seems to have become ensconced in dance repertoire for many years, well into the mid-18th century. Soame Jenyns mentions it in his poem "The Art of Dancing" (referring to the invention of dance notation):

Hence with her Sister-Arts shall Dancing claim
An equal Right to Universal Fame,
And Isaac's Rigadoon shall last as long
As Raphael's Painting, or as Virgil's song. [4]

See note for "Mr. Isaac’s Maggot" for more.


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Barlow (The Complete Country Dances from Playford's Dancing Master), 1985; No. 305, p. 74. Henry Playford (Apollo's Banquet...5th Edition, with New Additions), 1687; section B, p. 32. John Walsh (The Compleat Country Dancing Master), London, 1718; p. 163.John Walsh (Complete Country Dancing-Master, Volume the Fourth), London, 1740; No. 156.






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  1. Britannica [1]
  2. Moira Goff, blog, "Isaac's Rigadoon," danceinhistory.com [2]
  3. ibid
  4. Quoted in ibid.