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X: 1 T:Sedany. (p)1651.PLFD1.090, The T:Irish Washerwoman,aka. (p)1651.PLFD1.090 M:6/4 L:1/4 Q:3/4=120 S:Playford, Dancing Master,1st Ed.,1651. O:England;London H:1651. Z:Chris Partington. F: K:F A2 F| F2 F|A2 B |c>BA|B2 G| G2 G|B2 c |d>cB| A2 F| F2 F|f2 f| e>dc|B2 G| G2 G|g2 f| e>dc:|

SEDANY. AKA and see "Shropshire Wakes (The)," "Dargason/Dargison," "Irish Washerwoman (1)." English, Country Dance Tune (6/8 time). The direct ancestor of the well known jig "Irish Washerwoman (1)." "Sedany" was published in John Playford's English Dancing Master (1651, p. 71), but the earliest printing of the tune appears in Thomas Ravencroft's Pammelia (1609) where a simple version is the vehicle for a round called “Oft have I ridden upon my gray nag.” Bayard (1981) speculates the tune goes back to the 16th century, and it has been found in a Cambridge University manuscript (Dd.2.11), a lute manuscript copied by Matthew Holms c. 1585-95, found under the title “Dargason.” “Dargason” was the alternate title for the tune given in Playford’s Dancing Master of 1651, but in subsequent editions (it was included in the long-running Dancing Master series through the seventh edition of 1686, the year that John Playford died and his son Henry took over the publishing concerns) the main and alternate titles were reversed, and the primary title became "Dargason." Anne Gilchirst suggests that the title "Sedany" is a version of the Welsh feminine name Sidanen, a fine woman (Welsh sidanen, silken, made of silk). "This epithet for a fine woman was sometimes applied to Queen Elizabeth (see Mayhew's Glossary of Tudor and Stuart Words, 1914). A song in praise of "Welsh Sydanen" was sung in Anthony Munday's play John a Kent and John a Cumber (c. 1690), in which "fayre Sydanen" was said to be the daughter of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales[1].

The name Sidanen appears in various tunes in Welsh collections in the 18th century, thought many of them are different melodies altogether than the "Dargason" tune. 'Sidanan' (probably the same tune) or "Wales Ground" occurs in a list of dance-tunes which Anglesey youth Richard Morris noted in 1717 that he could play on the viol (see Welsh Folk Song Journal, Vol. i, pt. iii, p. 115)" [2]. It has also been suggested that the alternate title “Dargason” is of Welsh derivation as well. Edward Jones, late 18th/early 19th harper to King George IV, included "The Welsh Ground" in his Relicks (1784) and penned an accompanying note: "The famous Purcell admired this Welsh ground so much, that he imitated it in a Catch." However, as Phyllis Kinney points out, "there is nothing particularly Welsh about the ground which is in the style of Italian grounds of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries"[3].

English collector William Chappell printed sixteen verses set to the tune in the 17th century, collected from the county of Shropshire, near the Welsh border. They begin:

Come Robin, Ralph, and little Harry
And merry Thomas to our green
Where we shall meet with Bridget and Sary
And the finest girls that e'er were seen
Then hey for Christmas a once year
When we have cakes, with ale and beer
For at Christmas every day
Young men and maids may dance away

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Barlow (The Complete Country Dances from Playford's Dancing Master), 1985; No. 90, p. 34. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 44 (Playford facsimile)

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  1. Phyllis Kinney, Welsh Traditional Music, 2016, p. 23.
  2. Anne G. Gilchrist, "Some Additional Notes on the Traditional History of Certain Ballad-Tunes in the Dancing Master", Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, vol. 3, No. 4, Dec., 1939, p. 279).
  3. ibid