Whim (1) (The)

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WHIM [1], THE. AKA – “Bartholomew Fair.” English, Country Dance Tune (6/8 and 6/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Sharp): AABB (Barnes). The tune dates to 1695 where it appears (with dance directions, "Longways for as many as will") in the 9th edition of Henry Playford’s Dancing Master; it was retained in the long-running Dancing Master series through the 18th edition of 1728 (then published by John Young, heir to the Playford publishing concerns). It was reprinted in 1721 in the 17th edition of the work with the expanded title “The Whim, or Bartholomew Fair.” Regarding the alternate title, Bartholomew Fair is the name of Ben Jonson’s play, written in 1614, which itself refers to an annual fair held in West Smithfield held between the years 1133–1855 on St. Bartholomew’s Day. So famous was the fair that aspects of it entered popular vernacular, at least for a time. For example, a ‘Bartholomew doll’ was a tawdry, overdressed woman, in association with a flashy, bespangled doll that could be found for sale at the fair. A ‘Bartholomew pig’ was a very fat person, derived from the fact that one of the chief attractions of the fair were pigs, roasted whole, and sold piping hot to the crowd. Shakespeare makes reference to this in Henry IV (ii 4) when Falstaff calls himself:

A tidy little Bartholomew boar-pig.

Playford's "Whim" was also published in London publisher John Walsh’s Compleat Country Dancing Master of 1718, and reprinted by the Walshes (father and son) in 1735 in his Third Book of the same work, and again in 1754. London musician Thomas Hammersley entered it into his 1790 music manuscript book, along with another, different, tune also called "The Whim." John Glen (1891) finds the earliest appearance of a Scottish tune by this name in print in Robert Ross's 1780 collection (p. 12).

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes), 1986. Sharp (Country Dance Tunes), 1909; p. 53.

Recorded sources: Harvest 0777 7 81428 2 9, Albion Dance Band – “The Prospect Before Us” (1993. Orig. rec. in 1976).




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