The Dorset reel

Also known as Dorset 4-hand, The Dorset 4-Hand Reel., The Dorset 4-hand, Dorset Four-Hand, The Dorset Four-Hand.

There are 2 recordings of this tune.

The Dorset has been added to 7 tune sets.

The Dorset has been added to 28 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Four settings

X: 1
T: The Dorset
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
A|ddd/c/B AAA/G/F|EE/F/GA BAAB/c/|ddd/c/B AAA/G/F|1 EE/F/GE D2D:|2 EE/F/GE D3||
X: 2
T: The Dorset
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:F/E/|D F A>F|G B G B|D F A>F|G E E F/E/|D F A>F|G B G B|D F A>G|F D D:|
|:d d d/c/B|A A A/G/ F|E E/F/ G A|B A A B/c/|d d d/c/B|A A A/G/ F|E E/F/ G E|D G D:|
|:G B/d/ g/d/B/G/|c e c e|G B/d/ g/d/B/G/|F A F A|G B/d/ g/d/B/G/|c e c e|d f/e/ d/c/B/A/|G4:|
d B d B/d/|e c e c/e/|d B d B|A d d>d|d B d B/d/|e c e c/e/|d f/e/ d/c/B/A/|G4:|
# Added by hetty .
X: 3
T: The Dorset
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:BA|G2 B2 d2 cB|c2 e2 c2 e2|G2 B2 d3 c|B2 A2 A2 BA|
G2 B2 d2 cB|c2 e2 c2 e2|G2 B2 d3 c|B2 G2 G2:|
|:d2|g2 g2 gf e2|d2 d2 dc B2|A2 AB c2 d2|e2 d2 d2 ef|
g2 g2 gf e2|d2 d2 dc B2|A2 AB c2 A2|A2 G2 G2:|
X: 4
T: The Dorset
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:E2|A2 ce aecA|d2 f2 d2 f2|A2 ce aecA|B2 e2 B2 e2|
A2 ce aecA|d2 f2 d2 f2|eagf edcB|A2 a2 a2:|
|:cd|e2 c2 e2 c2|f2 d2 f2 d2|e2 c2 e2 c2|B2 e2 e2 cd|
e2 c2 e2 c2|f2 d2 f2 d2|eagf edcB|A2 a2 a2:|

Twelve comments

The Dorset 4-hand reel

I do not know what your source is Falkbeer but this is in fact just one half of a tune for the dance collected, not too long ago, in, believe it or not, DORSET, fine county in the south of England. The same county that was used by Hardy as the basis for his many novels.
you have written it as if it was an Irish or Scottish reel. To me, misleading. 4/4 certainly but most of the notes are crotchets and there shpuld be more bars. There is a second part. The part here is the first and would be played twice. then the second part would also be played twice. An extra ‘B’ music would be played for the dancers to finish with a swing.
Originally, I believe, the tune was collected written in ‘G’ for the first part and then ‘A’ for the second. because my little melodion is a sod to play in ‘A’ (in fact I do not have a G#) I play it in ‘D’ & then ‘G’ for the second part.

Posted by .

ABC’s on their way

I’ve written out abc’s for both parts but they seem to have been lost on the way.

Posted by .


Thanks for your comment! What you say Hetty is very interesting! I´ve always liked The Dorset as it is (nice littel tune), but will be very interesting to see the other parts. Please upload the whole tune as you think it should be played!

What´s a melodion?

All the best, Falkbeer

T: Dorset 4-Hand Reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/4
R: Reel / Polka
K: D major / G major
part 1 played twice
|: F/E/ | D F A>F | G B G B | D F A>F | G E E F/E/ | D F A>F | G B G B | D F A>G | F D D :||
|: d d d/c/B | A A A/G/ F | E E/F/ G A | B A A B/c/ | d d d/c/B | A A A/G/ F | E E/F/ G E | D G D :||
part 2
|: G B/d/ g/d/B/G/ | c e c e | G B/d/ g/d/B/G/ | F A F A | G B/d/ g/d/B/G/ | c e c e | d f/e/ d/c/B/A/ | G4 :||
d B d B/d/ | e c e c/e/ | d B d B | A d d>d | d B d B/d/ | e c e c/e/ | d f/e/ d/c/B/A/ | G4 :||
play extra ‘B’ music on the last time for the swing.
When I started dancing in the South of England over 30yrs ago this was one of the most popular dances.
I think my ABC shows clearly how the rhythm goes. (just by looking) Where did you get your notation from? did you transpose it from a recording or is it straight from manuscript?

Posted by .

The midi plays the notes correctly but you can sense that it is not a reel. It is far to fast. slow it down considerably and you should be able to get a feel for the dance stepping. I can’t help being perturbed when abc’s give the wrong impression of a tune, especially when translated into midi which misleads and when there is no explanation to indicate what should be happening.

Posted by .

I have just found this link to the Leitrim Clog Dance.

If you investigate through the net you will find reference to the dance and mention about the rant step. this has for many years been danced with a rant step (Northumbrian) whereas it should be danced with the ‘Dorset Double Step’ similar to the ‘rant’ but noticeably different.

Posted by .

Thanks Hetty

For uploading the complete version of The Dorset Four Hand Reel. I´ve added the part you contributed with to my repertoire!

All the best, Falkbeer

Dorset Four-Hand Reel - The Two Tunes

X1 - is an acceptable setting of the first tune – although it’s generally played in G-Major, not D-Major.

X:2 - I don’t get this at all. Either the abc is flawed or it’s a quirky setting known only to hetty!

X:3 and X:4 – The usual way with the tunes.

It’s never just called “The Dorset” – it’s always called the “Dorset Four-Hand Reel” and is used (almost) exclusively for the dance of the same name. There are actually two tunes: the first one is in G-Major and the second one is in A-Major. The dance is taken through four times - so you play twice though the first tune then twice though the second tune. At the end of the dance all the partners swing for 16 bars - so you need to play an extra “B” of the second tune while they are doing this (as noted above by hetty). It’s quite common for the band to increase the tempo somewhat when playing the last "B".

It doesn’t often turn up without the dance except occasionally in English traditional music sessions. And when it does, it’s usually only the first tune, as the G/D melodeons can’t cope with A-Major.

More of a polka than a reel:

I agree with hetty - although it’s called "The Dorset Four-Hand Reel", it’s really more of a polka than a reel. Many English "reels" are really just 4/4 polkas.

Dorset Four Hand: Reel or polka

"Reel" refers to the dance, not the music. It’s a reel for four dancers, or several sets of four depending on the space available and is a good one for dancing in confined spaces, such as pubs. I’ve always considered the tune to be a polka and comes in lots of regional flavours from Dorset to Yorkshire. Jim Eldon, the Brid(lington) fiddler plays a nice set of variations.

Agreed, Fen - and, (for the avoidance of doubt), when I said: "although it’s called "The Dorset Four-Hand Reel", it’s really more of a polka than a reel" I was of course referring to the music, not the dance.

Never seen the DFR danced in a pub though - but it sounds like a nice idea.