A dance band for Playford?


A dance band for Playford?

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 Thursday 2 November 2023

 5.30–6.30pm (GMT)

 Online via Zoom

 Free, booking required

Booking for this event has now closed.

About the event

The music publisher John Playford built his success on the publication in 1651 of the first book to give tunes and dance instructions for country dances. He named it The English Dancing Master and in subsequent editions The Dancing Master. The frontispiece to the eighteenth and final edition of vol. 1 (c.1728) shows a trio of musicians – violin, oboe, bassoon – accompanying a group of country dancers in a ballroom.

This talk will consider how and why the frontispiece to this edition was different from those in earlier editions and place the image in relation to other images of ballroom dance bands before and after 1728. The speakers will also examine Hogarth’s print A Country Dance and what it tells us about decorum and licence in mid-18th century ballroom dancing.


Jeremy Barlow specialises in English popular and dance music from 1550 to 1750, and also has a particular interest in the illustration of music and social dance over the centuries. He has lectured on a variety of subjects for organisations such as the The Arts Society, U3A, the Art Fund and National Trust. His books include The Enraged Musician: Hogarth’s Musical Imagery (Ashgate) and The Cat & the Fiddle: Images of Musical Humour from the Middle Ages to Modern Times (Bodleian Library). The Bodleian Library has also published A Dance Through Time: Images of Western Social Dancing from the Middle Ages to Modern Times. Jeremy is well known for his work on Playford and has published an edition of Playford's dance tunes, The Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford’s Dancing Master (1651–ca.1728) (Faber Music).

Alice Little is a Research Fellow at the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, part of the Music Faculty of the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on collectors and collecting, particularly eighteenth-century tunebooks and their compilers, looking at what sources the collections were gathered from and what the selection of music says about the people and cultures that collected and used them.

 Booking information

This event will be held online via Zoom. When you have booked your place, the ticketing system will send you an automated confirmation. You will receive details of how to join the Zoom meeting by email.


The Bodleian Libraries Learning Programme is generously supported by The Helen Hamlyn Trust:

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