Whiskers (2)

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WHISKERS [2]. English, Country Dance Tune (2/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The melody appears in London music publisher John Walsh’s Twenty Four New Country Dances for the Year 1713 (p. 20), and in Luke Pippard's collection of around the same time. Pippard was an assistant to Walsh, whose collection has been given an approximate date of 1711, but which is probably not accurate.

Men's facial styles of the early 18th century, if that is what this title "Whiskers" refers to, changed drastically from the precious century. In Renaissance England, “the beard made the man” and it has been noted that almost every portrait of a man painted between 1550 and 1650 contains some representation of facial hair. One explanation for this is that it was widely believed that facial hair was aactually a form of excreta-– a waste material generated by the body as a result of heat in the testicles, however, since facial hair was linked to the organ of procreation a cultivated display was seen as an outward indication of virility and masculinity. In the early 18th century, however, views changed, the impetus for which is still not well understood. Clean shaven men were seen as more enlightened, more socially involved and more aesthetically pleasing. It indicated an openness and willingness to engage socially, while bearded men were seen as eccentric and ungoverned The Russians appear to have started the no facial hair fashion in the late 1600's, with imperial decree denouncing beards and moustaches just before 1700, and British army orders from the mid-18th century insisted upon shaving prior to appearing on Parade, before formations, and on shaving every 3-4 days while on patrol or fatigue duties.

Unfortunately, personal shaving was a technological challenge, at least until the latter part of the century when effective razors were developed that allowed for self-shaving. Prior to that men went to barbers or servants to be shaven.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 142. Christian (A Playford Assembly), 2015; p. 132.

Recorded sources:




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