Savage Dance

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X:1 T:Savage Dance with Variations M:C| L:1/8 S:Aird – Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. II (1785) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G G3d BdGB | A2D2 G/A/B/A/ GD | G3d BdGB | A2D2 G4 :| |: B2c2 dBGg | e2 ce dBAG | B2c2 dBGg | e2 ce d2 D2 | G3 d BdGB | A2D2 G/A/B/A/ G2D2 | G2 d2 BdGB | A2D2 G4 :| |: GDGd B/c/d/B/ GB | A2D2 G/A/B/A/ GD | GDGd B/c/d/B/ GB | A2D2 G4 :| |: BGcA dBGg | ecBc dBAG | BGcA dBGg | e2 ce dDEF | GDGd Bd B/A/B/G/ | A2D2 G/A/B/G/ GD | GDGd B/c/d/B/ GB | A2D2 G4 :|



SAVAGE DANCE. English (?), Dance Tune (cut time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCCDD. "The Savage Dance" was first introduced in the pantomime "Robinson Crusoe: or Harlequin Friday" by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, first staged in January, 1781. "Savage Dance" or "Grand Dance of Savages" appeared at the end of one of the acts of this comic piece, in which the character of Friday is placed in the com media dell'arte role of Harlequin, played by the comic acrobat Guiseppe Grimaldi. Sheridan's work was in four acts, two opening and two harlequinade, and "enjoyed a pleasant run of thirty-eight nights" [1] It was revived periodically until the middle of the second decade of the 19th century.

The tune was published in Glasgow by James Aird in 1785, and a few American publications of the early 19th century, Gilfert's Gentleman's Pocket Companion for the German Flute or Violin (New York, c, 1802) and Oliver Shaw's A Favourite Selection of Instrumental Music (Dedham, N.H., 1807). It also was entered into several musicians' copybooks on both sides of the Atlantic. In North America, it can be found tin the music collections Thomas Molyneaux (Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 1788), Caroline Frobisher (Montreal, 1793), Pierre Duport (Washington, D.C., c. 1800-1825) and flute player Micah Hawkins (Stonybrook, N.Y., c. 1802-1840). In Britain it was entered into the manuscripts of Thomas Hammersley (London, c. 1790), the untitled Gilchrist MS. (AGG/3/137, Vaughn Williams Memorial Library) from Carlisle (c. 1812), and the Rev. R. Harrison (Cumbria, c. 1815). "Savage Dance" was also entered into a manuscript page that may or may not have been by penned by Jane Austin, or a member of the Austin family [1].

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. II), 1785; No. 159, p. 66.

Recorded sources: -



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  1. The Theatre: A Monthly Review and Magazine, vol. 18, 1887, pp. 20-21.