This tune was played at our session at The Roval Naval Volunteer in Bristol, last Tuesday. The leader started playing it on the box and then the mandola player put down his instrument, stood up, took out two handkerchiefs and went straight into a morris handkerchief dance, with a lot of energetic high leaps, twisting and turning. He got the biggest round of applause from the pub that evening.
This is the first time I’ve seen morris danced in an English pub, and if the pub didn’t already have an entertainment licence then those two or three minutes of morris would have ensured that the session was legal.
The tune is a morris handkerchief dance tune from Bucknell in Oxfordshire (Lionel Bacon’s Handbook is my source for the ABC), and whereas the A and B parts are in straightforward 6/8 jig time, the C part (starting at bar 13) is in a broken rhythm which reflects the complexity of the morris dance at that point. Of course, unless you want to drive the rhythm players in a session quietly mad 🙂, you can play just the A and B parts as a normal jig.
Bacon suggests a speed of 3/8 = 100, which may seem a little slow by usual session standards, but remember that there are leaps in this morris dance and the speed of the music has to synchronise with those leaps. In effect, the fitter the dancers, the higher they leap, and the slower the music.
Now who was the "Queen" in the title? Bacon gives no clue, but from what seems to me to be a resemblance of the tune to the music of the period of Elizabeth I, I’d like to think it was indeed that monarch herself. After all, she apparently did have a reputation in her youth of being an energetic dancer.
"Royal", not "Roval"
Was this an irish session or a mixed one? It wouldn’t go down very well at the Irish session I go to but gets played a lot at the English (mixed) ones I sometimes frequent. Not with dancing though, no room except the table but then Health & Safety regulations come into force.
I wonder if the Queen in question could be Victoria. Many Morris dances would have evolved over the centuries and certainly dance teams would have taken a popular tune of the day to dance to so why not the titles from contemporary events and people.
The Queen;s Delight
It’s an English session, with a leavening of Irish.
The Queen’s Delight
Hetty, yes, either Elizabeth I or Victoria. I don’t think there was a Queen between those two who had quite the same impact.