Young Damon's Flight
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YOUNG DAMON’S FLIGHT. English, Jig (9/4 or 9/8 time). B Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The melody was composed by dancing master Nathaniel Kynaston (1683-1757). Although very little is known about him, Kynaston appears to have been active from 1705 to about 1722 in the Shropshire/Wales border area. Walsh published some 120 of Kynaston’s tunes and dances over several publications. “Young Damon’s Flight” appears in London publisher John Walsh’s "24 New Country Dances for the Year 1717", but was also included in his Second Book of the Compleat Country Dancing Master (London, 1719, with later editions in 1735 and 1749). It also appears in John Young’s third and fourth editions of the Second volume of the Dancing Master [http://www.izaak.unh.edu/nhltmd/indexes/dancingmaster/Dance/Play5824.htm (London, 1718 and 1728, respectively), and by John Johnson for his Wright’s Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances, vol. 2 (London, 1749).
The Selattyn parish register in Shropshire records that a “Nathaniel Kynaston, gent., & Mrs. Elizabeth Davies, both of Oswestry” married on August 25th, 1719—although whether this was the dancing master is unknown. Kynaston appears to have been a not uncommon name in Shropshire, and the family includes Sir Humphrey Kynaston, a notorious 16th century highwayman and Robin Hood figure, who preyed on the wool merchants of Shrewsbury.
Damon and Pythias were two legendary characters from Classical Greece who illustrate the Pythagorean ideal of friendship. Pythias is accused and charged of creating a plot against the tyrannical Dionysius I of Syracuse, in Sicily. Pythias makes a request of Dionysius that he be allowed to settle his affairs on the condition that he leaves his friend, Damon, as a hostage, so if Pythias does not return, Damon would be executed. Eventually, Pythias returns to face execution to the amazement of Dionysius, who because of the sincere trust and love of their friendship, then lets both Damon and Pythias go free. In English literature of the late 17th and early 18th centuries Damon is a popular character in the aspect of a young romantic swain, often in bucolic settings.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 148. Christian (A Playford Assembly), 2015; p. 137.