Triumph (1) (The)
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TRIUMPH , THE. AKA – “Triumphe (La).” AKA and see "Follow Your Lover." English, Scottish; Country Dance Tune (2/4 or cut time) or Hornpipe (2/2 time). G Major (Barnes, Karpeles, Kennedy, Raven, Sharp, Sumner, Trim): A Major (Athole, Hunter, Kerr, Milne, Skye): A Mixoldyain (Ross). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Raven): ABC (Barnes, Kennedy): AABC (Hunter, Karpeles, Kerr, Sharp): AABBC (Athole, Ross, Skye): AABBCC (Sumner, Trim): AABBCC' (Milne). The melody was very popular in the late 18th and 19th centuries throughout Britain. It appears in print in London publisher Samuel, Ann and Peter Thompson’s Twenty-Four Country Dances for the Year 1790 (the earliest published version), Aird’s Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 5 (Glasgow, 1796), Preston’s Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1793 (“As they are performed at Court, Bath, and all Public Assemblys”), and Wilson’s Companion to the Ball Room (1816). The English novelist Thomas Hardy (Return of the Native, The Mayor of Casterbridge) grew up in a musical family and was an accomplished dance fiddler and accordion player from early youth. He was influenced by his father (himself a locally famous dance fiddler), an uncle and a cello-playing grandfather, all of whom played for a church band in addition to more secular amusements. Hardy mentions both the dance and tune “The Triumph,” the same one still known in modern time, in Under the Greenwood Tree (1872):
At five minutes to twelve the soft tuning was again heard in the back quarters; and when at length the clock had whizzed forth the last stroke, Dick appeared ready primed, and the instruments were bolkly hankled; old William readily taking the bass-viol from off its accustomed nail, and touching the strings as irreligiously as could be desired. The country-dance called 'The Triumph, or Follow My Lover', was the figure with which they opened. The tranter took for his partner Mrs. Penny, and Mrs. Dewy was chosed by Mr. Penny, who made so much of his limited height by a judicious carriage of his head, straightening of the back, and important flashes of his spectacle-glasses, that he seemed almost as tall as the tranter.
Allison Thompson (Dancing Through Time, 1998) describe the dance as one in which “the man leads, not his own partner, but his neighbor’s partner down the length of the set, while her own partner follows jealously behind them. All three dancers then turn, and the lucky lady processes back to her place, while the two rival gentlemen hold hands in a triumphal arch over her head. The three-some figure of the dance mirrors the love triangle perfectly” (pg. 186). Although dance and tune are English in origin, “The Triumph” (tune and dance) has also been a staple of Scottish country dancing. There is some slight divergence of dance and melody (Scottish versions have no syncopation in the second part), although they remain closely related (see Christopher Walker, Folk Music Journal, vol. 8, no. 3, 2001). Hardy uses the features of the dance to literary advantage—again from Under the Greenwood Tree:
(Dick Dewey has Fancy Day for his partner, and, in the progress of the dance, his rival Mr. Shiner) …according to the interesting rule laid down, deserted his own partner, and made off down the middle with this fair one of Dick's ... Then they turned and came back, when Dick grew most rigid around his mouth, and blushed with ingenuous ardour as he joined hands with the rival and formed the arch over his lady's head; relinquishing her again at setting to partners.
The author of English Folk-Song and Dance found “Triumph” among the country dance melodies in the repertoire of fiddler William Tilbury (who lived at Pitch Place, midway between Churt and Thursley in Surrey), who used, in his young days, to play the fiddle at village dances. He had learned his repertoire from an uncle, Fiddler Hammond, who had been the village musician before him, and who died around 1870. The conclusion was that this and a number of dances of this type survived in English tradition (at least in southwest Surrey) well into the second half of the 19th century. The dance The Triumph was also a very popular country dance in Scotland, and a part of most country dancing masters' repertories in the 19th century. The melody appears in numerous British musicians’ manuscripts from the 19th century, including those of Joshua Gibbons (referenced below), Miss Best (c. 1850), the Browne family (Troutbeck, Cumbria), William Irwin (Langdale, Cumbria, 1838), William Clarke (Feltwell, Norfolk, 1858), Richard Pyle (Nether Wallop, Hampshire, 1822), John Moore (Tyneside, 1841), George Spencer (Leeds, west Yorkshire, 1831), John Baty (Bethel, Northumberland, 1840-60), William Tildesley (Swinton, Lancashire, c. 1860), the Hardy family (Dorset) and William Winter (West Bagborough, Somerset). The morris dance tune “Step and Fetch Her” is a closely related melody.