Bristol Cross barndance

Bristol Cross has been added to 8 tunebooks.

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One setting

X: 1
T: Bristol Cross
R: barndance
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmin
|:FE|"Dm" D2 d2 "A" ^c2 A2|"Dm" defg "F" c2 A2|"Dm" F2 d2 "A" E2 ^c2|"Dm" d2 D4:|
ab|"C" c'2 g2 e2 c2|"Dm" a2 f2 "Bb" d2 B2|"Dm" A2 f2 "A" G2 e2|"Dm" d2 F4:|
|:cB|"F" A2 F2 ABcA|"Gm" B2 G4 ^c2|"Dm" d2 ef gfed|"A" ^c2 A4 ag|
"Dm" f2 d2 "Gm" B2 G2|"C" gfed "A" cBAG|"Dm" F2 D2 "A" A,2 ^c2|"Dm" d2 D4:|

Three comments

Bristol Cross

From “Wright’s Country Dances”, circa 1742.

The title is a reference to the High Cross of the City of Bristol (England, UK).

The cross was erected in 1373 to commemorate the granting of a charter by King Edward III, which made Bristol a county in its own right. (which thinks variously that Bristol is in either Somerset or Gloucestershire), please take note!

The cross was dismantled and moved to a new location on Bristol’s College Green in 1736. Presumably this tune (and the associated dance) were composed to celebrate the event. Not that the cross was destined to remain there though - it was subsequently moved to the Stourhead estate in Wiltshire in 1780.

I think that the citizens of Bristol should campaign for the cross to be returned to its original (1373) location in Bristol. Well, the Scots got the Stone of Scone back, didn’t they?

Unlike many traditional minor-key tunes (which are commonly in natural minor), this one is set in the harmonic minor – it has a rather mournful Baroque feel about it. The tune has quite a range – from high C above the treble clef right down to low A below the clef. However, shifting the low A in the penultimate bar up one octave would bring the tune within the range of whistle and flute players without affecting it too much.

My abc transcription incorporates my own chord settings.

For those interested, here are the instructions for the dance that goes with the tune.

The 1st man and 2nd woman meet and turn.
The 1st woman and 2nd man do the same.
1st man back to back with second woman and 1st woman the same with 2nd man.
The 1st couple whole figure, the man around the 3rd couple, the woman around the 2nd couple.
Then the man around the 2nd couple & the woman around the third couple.

Stately dance

I love this tune! It conjures up images of beautifully dressed dukes and duchesses and the like dancing gracefully to this pleasantly unpredictable tune. I think it sounds good at 84 bpm, but what do you think? Is that too fast, too slow, or just right?

Quarter Irish: "Is that too fast, too slow, or just right?"

Assuming that you were playing it for dancers, about right I would say. Possibly a little faster - certainly no more than 100 bpm.