Three around Three

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THREE AROUND THREE. AKAand see “Pleasures of the Town (5).” English, Morris Dance Tune (2/4 time). England, Cheshire. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Three around Three is a dance figure that occurs in several late-19th century dances (and can be found, for example, in the 'A' part of the more recent English country dance "Go George, I can't Endure You"). However, the three-around-three figure was described in London dancing master Thomas Wilson's Complete System of Country Dancing (1821), and, still earlier, it was found in "The Barcelona Dance" in John Rutherford's Compleat Colletion of 200 of the Most Celebrated Country Dances (London, c. 1775). It is also the name of a dance itself (see dance directions, below), and the tune title "Three around Three" takes its name from association with the dance.

The original tune name may have been "Pleasures of the Town," perhaps in association Henry Fielding's play The Author’s Farce and the Pleasures of the Town (1730). Somewhat confusingly, the three-around-three figure was used for a dance called Pleasures of the Town published in 1777 by Charles and Samuel Thompson in their Compleat Collection of 200 Country Dances. The Thompson's tune is different than the "Three around Three"/"Pleasures of the Town [5]" melody that is now a popular English Country Dance tune (see "Pleasures of the Town (3) (The)" for the Thompson tune). Folklorist and dance researcher Maude Karpeles collected a dance called Three around Three with the subtitle Pleasures of the Town in Salcombe, Devon, published in her Twelve Traditional Country Dances (1931) [1]. The tune Karpeles gives is basically the one printed by the Thompsons, however, it places in time the juxtaposition of the "Three around Three" and "Pleasures of the Town" titles at the head of a piece of dance and music.

English collector and melodeon player Reg Hall is mentioned as the source for latter 20th century musicians of the tune now played as "Three around Three" or "Pleasures of the Town (5)," probably from his playing with the group The Rakes (with Paul Gross, fiddle, and Michael Plunkett, fiddle and whistle, and occasionally with singer Bob Davenport). The group recorded "Three around Three" in 1977, although where he obtained the tune is not known at this time.

The melody "Three on Three" is now also associated with a North West morris dance from Marston, Cheshire, and as played as one of the vehicles for the Rochdale Coconut Dance, as well as being a popular English session tune.



THREE AROUND THREE: three gents face three ladies.
Top Lady pulls line of LADIES ROUND GENTS.
Top gent pulls line of GENTS ROUND LADIES line.
Top couple CAST to middle place, & SWING partner.
Then they RIGHT-hand-STAR with couple above them (old 2nds),
(No Left-hand-star back.) then Tops dive under ARCH of 3rd couple .



Additional notes



Printed sources : - Sweet (Fifer’s Delight), 1965/1981; p. 81.

Recorded sources : - Beautiful Jo Records,Magpie Lane - "Jack-in-the-Green: English Songs and Tunes" (2009). Cottey Light Industries CLI-903, Dexter et al - "Over the Water" (1993. Learned from the playing of the morris dance group Knots of May).Fellside FECD122, Bob Davenport & The Rakes - "The Red Haired Lad" (1995). Free Reed Records FRRR 05, The Old Swan Band - "No Reels" (). Topic Records 12TS350, "Bob Davenport and The Rakes" (1977).




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  1. see Wilf Darlington, "'Go George, I Can't Endure You': A Country Dance and Its Tune", Folk Music Journal, Vol. 7, No. 1 (1995), pp. 62-70.