Vulcan's March

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X:1 T:Vulcan's March M:2/4 L:1/8 R:March N:"Composed by Countess Balca___s." N:"Slow & Bold" B:John Watlen - The Celebrated Circus Tunes (Edinburgh, 1791, p. 21) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:C z/4(G,/4A,/4B,/4)|C2 z (C/4D/4E/4F/4)|G3F|[C2E2] [G,2D2]|C3D|ECcG| FEDC|[G,2D2] D>D|[G,2D2] z z/4(G,/4A,/4B,/4)|C2 z (C/4D/4E/4F/4)|G2 z z/4(G/4A/4B/4)|cBAG| FEDC|GECC|FDB,B,|C2 C>C|C3::(G,4A,4B,4C/4)|D3G| (FEFD)|CB,A,G,|(CE)(DG)|FEDC|GcC[FA]|(AGFE)| [G,3D3] z/4(G,/4A,/4B,/4)|C2 G>F|[C2E2] z (G,/4A,/4B,/4C/4)| D2 F>E|[B,2D2] z (C/4D/4E/4F/4)|.G.A.B.c|[C2E2] [G,2D2]|C2 C>C|C3 :|]



VULCAN'S MARCH. Scottish, March (2/4 time). C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Glasgow publisher James Aird notes that the tune was "Composed by the Countess of Balcarres." The Countess of Balcarres in Aird's time was Elizabeth Dalrymple Lindsay (1759-1816), who married General Alexander Lindsay, 6th Earl of Balcarres, in 1780 in London. She was a patroness of musicians in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, and an accomplished keyboard player. Five of her compositions, including the companion "Vulcan’s Forge," "Lady Eliza Lindsay" and "Lady Eliza Lindsay‘s Minuet" (the latter a hornpipe and minuet), were named for her ten-year-old daughter, and appear in Edinburgh musician John Watlen's 1791 collection of Celebrated Circus Tunes, to which she was a subscriber.

Watlen also included more than a few tunes by other women composers. In partial explanation Edinburgh circus researcher Kim Baston writes that the circus performed a pantomime called Vulcan's Gift; or Harlequin's Gambols during the 1791 season to which the Countess's compositions may have been associated. Further:

[Some of Countess Balcarres's tunes] are seemingly additional dance tunes as they are not directly identified with any circus performer and their titles relate instead to members [Countess Balcarres] family. "Vulcan's March," though short, has elements more usually found in an overture such as the dramatic flourishes of its opening and its strongly marked dynamics. It is only in surviving music for the overtures that dynamic markings are commonly given and they are absent from all the dance-related music in the collections, including the other tunes contributed by the Countess Bacarres. Did the Countess contribute the tunes to the circus pantomime? Women were prominent supporters of the circus; performances were given 'by desire' of the first rank of Edinburgh female society, and these women appear in the list of subscribers to Watlen's Circus Tunes. Women (and at least one female child) are all named as the composers of many of the additional tunes Watlen included in his collections. "Vulcan's March" and "Vulcan's Forge," however, open the possibility that women, absent from the musical public sphere unless they were singers, might have contributed music to the performances in more informal ways.[1]

The march also appears in J. Watlen's A Collection of Celebrated Marches & Quick Steps (London, 1798, p. 3).

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 4), 1796; No. 119, p. 47. Watlen (The Celebrated Circus Tunes), 1791; p. 21.

Recorded sources: -



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  1. Kim Baston, "The Celebrated Circus Tunes: Music and Musicians in an Eighteenth-Century Circus", Popular Entertainment Studies, Vol. 9, Issue 1-2, 2018, p. 17.