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37054Re: Help me, dancers! Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

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  • Chris Laning
    Aug 27, 2003
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      At 12:48 PM +0000 8/26/03, Joan Hall wrote:
      >Does anyone know of any place, any video, any tv show, anything where
      >I could see the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance done? I've started working
      >on the music as a harp instrumental and I've just fallen in love with
      >it! The San Francisco Revels always does it, but the year I sang
      >with them (which is the only time I've "seen" the show) I never got
      >to see it. I was backstage during the Horn Dance trying desperately
      >to _quietly_ drag my 240-lb. self up a flight of metal stairs to a
      >hideous rickety catwalk above the stage for the following number.
      >According to the notes in my music, it's almost time for the Abbots
      >Bromley Horn Dance: "the Monday following the first Sunday of
      >September that falls after the 4th of the month."

      Yup, it's September 8th this year.

      It's done fairly regularly at the (relatively new) Renaissance Faire
      in Marin, which unfortunately is over for this year but will be back
      next year: http://www.forestfaire.com The dancers who do it are from
      Newcastle Country Dancers and Pipe & Bowl Morris (same people,
      different focus).

      I don't know whether they are still doing the "big" Renaissance
      Pleasure Faire or not (it's now in Gilroy and I believe is due to
      start shortly). They were not made very welcome the last time I saw
      it there (disclaimer: I no longer work at RPFN myself).

      I've seen still pictures on websites, but not a video. Take a look at
      http://www.abbotsbromley.com/horndance.htm for the best information.
      Entering "Abbots Bromley horn dance" in Google (not in quotes) also
      turns up a number of other sites with pictures.

      A fact surprising to many Americans is that the eerie little tune
      that's almost universally used for this dance in the U.S.(at
      http://www.ramblemuse.com/abbots_bromley.html if anyone wants to hear
      the melody) is _not_ used for it by the traditional dancers in
      Abbots Bromley itself. They tend to do the dance to any favorite
      traditional reel tune, such as "The Keel Row" or even "Pop Goes the

      The tune used in the U.S., however, is not completely without links
      to the dance. I can't find my copy of the source of my information,
      an informative little booklet "Links in a Thousand-year-old Chain",
      available from the Revels website (at
      http://revels.bizland.com/store/page10.html ) but IIRC the tune was
      collected in England by one of the folk-tune collectors of the late
      19th or early 20th century (possibly Cecil Sharp) from an elderly man
      who said it was the tune to "the horn dance." Whether he meant the
      one at Abbots Bromley or some other, and whether he was correct in
      this attribution, is now anyone's guess.
      O Chris Laning
      | <claning@...>
      + Davis, California
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