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The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society

Issue 9, 22 May 2020

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Welcome to a new edition of Dance Scottish At Home continuing to bring Scottish music and dance nuggets to entertain you at this time.
 
Thank you to everyone who has been in touch this week with feedback on the last couple of issues. In particular thank you to Carol Walton, RSCDS Cardiff Branch, for getting in touch to share the photos of her Florence Nightingale Celebrations. Carol is a member of the Nightingale Fellowship Council, the association for nurses who trained at St Thomas’ Hospital and you can see her celebration photos later in this issue.
 
Thanks also to those who have shared quiz ideas, wordsearch puzzles and crosswords – you can enjoy our first DSAH crossword from Diana Hastie, Sydney Branch in this week’s Dance Puzzles Part 2 and in the At Home Podcast, there’s a quiz from Diana Sarran of the Lyon Branch. Please keep them coming in!

For now, you can encourage friends and dancers to continue to share Dance Scottish At Home through Facebook and Twitter by using the buttons at the top of DSAH. They can also connect through the RSCDS website to continue receiving our updates. Clicking the Forward button to email the newsletter to friends, affiliated club members and the wider dance community will help keep us all in touch until we can dance together again.
 
The DSAH Team
 

In this issue

At Home Podcasts

Join Ian Muir for a new edition of the “At Home Podcasts” delivering a wealth of music and musical gems to listen to. Something new, a dance story and a Guest Album of the week as well as lots of music to keep your toes tapping.

In this week’s “At Home Podcast” Scott Band and his Scottish Dance Band share two tracks, while John Brenchley from Australia takes us behind the dance. Susan MacFadyen tells us about her “Guest Album of the Week” and this time there’s a musical quiz inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show which should have taken place this week.
Listen online here >

Keep your requests and dedications flowing to Gary Innes and the BBC Radio Scotland team.  Take The Floor on Saturday evening will share a favourite session from Ian Cruickshanks and his Scottish Dance Band. Ian has picked a recent session from 2019.
If you’ve been listening on both Saturday and Sunday evenings, you’ll hopefully have heard some familiar names with their requests to Gary and the team at BBC Radio Scotland. It was great last week to hear a mention from Ann Scobie in Brussels for Dance Scottish At Home and to hear her request for the City of Belfast from the RSCDS recording of Book 48 played by Susan MacFadyen and her Scottish Dance Band.  
Take The Floor Ceilidh is live on a Sunday between 17:00 and 19:00.  So phone or email your favourite dances, musicians, bands and tracks to: takethefloor@bbc.co.uk or phone 08085 929500 but please be aware the phone line will only work while the programme is live.  Both programmes can be found on BBC iPlayer and on BBC Sounds.
What's Behind The Name?
Scottish Dances – What’s behind the name?
The Lea Rig – RSCDS Book 21
Original Tune – The Lea Rig (traditional)
Written by Peter Knapman, Convenor of Membership Services Committee

 
Many of you will remember the Lea Rig as taught by Dave Hall in one of the first RSCDS Online Classes.  Now we go behind the name and the music.

The Lea Rig
Lea Rig literally means an uncultivated or grassy ridge, although over time the expression broadened to include a piece of fallow ground or grassy field.  Ridges or rigs have been part of agriculture for centuries and were often used to divide up an area of land into strips or rigs.  In many parts of Scotland this system of tenure was called run rig and traces of old run rigs are still visible in many parts of The Highlands.  The wonderful Gaelic Rock band Runrig took their name from this historic agricultural system. 
 
In a few areas changing from the run rig system was remarkably slow, often because a mixture of good and bad soils made agreement about how to divide up the land difficult. Keeping the rigs meant that everyone had access to at least some good land.
The Tune and Lyrics
Today we associate ‘The Lea Rig’ with a song by Robert Burns, but like many Burns’ songs its life began many years earlier. The tune appears in a number of 18th century publications, including Oswald’s Caledonian Companion of 1750, under various names including both My Ain Kind Dearie and the Lea Rigg.
 Lyrics for an older version of the song are known to date back to the late 17th Century - these older lyrics were considered to be ‘homely and unfit for the polite’
 
In 1787 the first volume of a seminal work on Scottish song was published – James Johnson’s The Scots Musical Museum.  Johnson originally intended to publish a collection of Scots, English and Irish songs, but in 1786 he teamed up with Robert Burns who encouraged him to develop it into a purely Scottish Collection. Between 1787 and 1803 six volumes of the Scots Musical Museum were published each containing 100 songs. The Scots Musical Museum married the Lea Rig tune with words written by Robert Ferguson, using the title My Ain Kind Dearie, O.
 
The publisher George Thomson regularly supplied old songs to Burns which he thought needed ‘improvement’ - the Lea Rig being one such song.  In 1792 Burns duly complied replying to Thomson. “I immediately set about trying my hand on it, and, after all, I could make nothing more of it than the following, which Heaven knows, is poor enough”.  Thomson’s only complaint, however, was that it was too short - Burns duly added another verse.  The version that Burns wrote and called My Ain Kind Dearie, O is the one we are all familiar with today.
 
Burns utilises the 5th and 6th lines from the original early 18th Century version and incorporates them into the second verse, retaining a connection with and feel for the original but coupling it with his own craftsmanship.
 
Although the night were ne’er sae wat
And I were ne’er sae weary, O
 
Although many Burns’ songs are inspired by existing tunes and lyrics, he should not be considered a collector of folk songs. In his correspondence, he does not refer to ‘ancient tradition’, or other folksong type descriptions. Similarly, with his selection of tunes, their origin is unimportant as long as they are ‘in the Scottish taste’.  
To Burns and Johnson the songs in the Scots Musical Museum were national in the sense that they were sung across the social divide by all classes of Scottish society. Burns’ attitude to songs seemed to be concerned not with its origin as an antique curiosity, but that they should be valued for the pleasure they give. These songs continue to be sung today, not only in Scotland but all over the world.
Johnson made no money from the Scots Musical Museum, but his collaboration with Robert Burns has left us immeasurably in their debt.

Pastoral Strathspeys
When the Lea Rig was published in Book 21 in 1961, it was the first strathspey published by the RSCDS that used a pastoral song tune for a strathspey. Following this lead other pastoral strathspeys have been published, many now using tunes that were written as slow airs – historically played at a tempo significantly slower than needed for dancing.  The Duchess Tree by J. Scott Skinner is a good example of a slow air used as a strathspey.
 
The publication of pastoral strathspeys provided the opportunity to introduce some of Scotland’s most beautiful and moving music to the Scottish dancer expanding both their listening and dancing experience. One thing however, that we cannot avoid is that these tunes are not strathspeys, which are defined as:
 The strathspey (or ‘strathspey reel’) is a moderately slow reel in 4/4 time. Unlike the common reel, it is played with a combination of dotted rhythms and their inversion, known as the Scots snap.
 
The Scots snap is therefore an intrinsic part of the strathspey and one of the things that differentiates a strathspey from other common time tunes. The ‘snap’ is, of course, not present in the Lea Rig, where the tune is smooth and lyrical – so should we continue to call these dances strathspeys?
 
Yes, we dance the same steps to both types of tune but their feel is very different and it is inevitable that dancers respond differently to different types of music. It’s this that makes me question: are today’s dancers becoming less aware of the strathspey tradition in Scotland? Have you ever attended a dance with no traditional strathspeys on the programme? If yes, did you feel a wee bit of our tradition was missing? Should we differentiate between pastoral and traditional strathspeys’?
 
It has been generally thought that strathspeys have their origin in 18th Century Speyside with famous fiddlers such as Neil Gow and William Marshall being masters of this musical art form. However, there is also a school of thought that believes the rhythms inherent to the strathspey are much older and can trace their roots back to older Gaelic dance song traditions.  There is certainly a vigour associated historically with the strathspey that can be summed up by Robert Burns in the following lines from Tam O Shanter:
 Warlocks and witches in a dance; 
Nae cotillion brent-new frae France, 
But hornpipes, jigs strathspeys, and reels, 
Put life and mettle in their heels.

The Thursday Challenge

Share your dance stories with our weekly Thursday Challenge using the hashtag #ThursdayChallenge.
We enjoyed reading your Spring Fling and Spring Fringe anecdotes. They highlight how much we appreciate the social side of dancing, or as Nicola Waugh put it: "all the amazing people I've met, year after year. Although that should go without saying."

Your memories include an exquisite strathspey - a thrilling experience, Alison wrote, because of the excellent dance partner. You told us about blindfolded dancing in the Sunday morning surprise class at Paris Spring Fling, "as difficult as expected, but much fun". And you shared how you met 'people with mutual interests' (no, not Scottish dancing - that one would be obvious) when you heard someone sing 'Alice the Camel', the girl guide/brownie song, at the party after the evening dance.

And Heather Cook made us smile with an anecdote we're sure everyone can relate to: "Spring Fling 2013 Manchester beginners highland dance workshop (Phill Jones playing. Was David Queen the teacher?) Towards the end of the class, having managed our way through a 4-step fling (our first ever highland dance for most of us) the teacher told us to take a rest. The whole class just collapsed down on the floor pretty much simultaneously. One second standing, the next sleeping lions..."
Photo courtesy of Jan Hoffmann and Miriam.

What's next?

For this week's Thursday Challenge, we ask you to share musical memories - say a humble thank you to the musicians who keep our toes tapping and our (currently often solo) selves dancing Scottish. (Give yourself a clap on the back if you're a musician yourself 🙂).  So, what is your favourite tune, and why? Is there a band that you follow around the country (or the globe)? Which tune do you love to play at a dance because it changes the momentum every single time? And which tune do you love to hear because it brings back special memories?
Social Media Round Up
This week we discover the variety of instruments being played to celebrate “World Play A Strathspey Day”, find out how musicians in Boston Branch have been keeping busy as well as meeting the animals behind two trending names on Twitter – “Olive and Mabel”. 
In 2019 Hands Up for Trad launched World Play A Strathspey Day, asking musicians across the globe to play a strathspey, record it and then share through social media. This year, Thursday 14th May was the nominated day and the project grew in reach as recordings were shared with the hashtag #worldplayastrathspeyday – and the variety was amazing. Fiddle, piano, clarsach, accordion, flute, guitar, chanter, small pipes, big pipes, harmonica and voice – just a few of the instruments to be heard across Twitter, Facebook and Social Media platforms, with tunes indoors and outdoors. Have a listen and hear how these tunes fit with the description of a strathspey in this week’s “Behind the Dance” and search online to find strathspeys from RSCDS musicians across the world. Picked out below is a wee selection of musical styles including Take The Floor Presenter Gary Innes on the accordion.
Please click the pictures below to view the four videos. Clockwise from top left: Paul Anderson, Gary Innes, Ellie McLaren and Julie Fowlis.

In Boston, 13 members of the Cambridge Class have put together a virtual performance of a set of traditional Scottish tunes – including, of course, some strathspeys! Called the Scottish Suite, the strathspeys John McAlpine and Jessie Smith are in good company with the air Mrs Jamieson’s Favourite and the Reel of the Royal Scots. There’s a huge variety of instrumentation and if you keep watching, there’s a dance surprise at the end.
Please click the picture below to view the video from Boston.
A few weeks ago we shared the story of The Swilcan in “What’s Behind The Name?” and several of you then got in touch with your memories of St Andrews, the Old Course and golf. But while the Open Championship may have been cancelled, Scottish Sports Commentator Andrew Cotter has been finding other activities to keep him busy and ready to jump into action with his next sporting assignment – he’s been commentating on the lives and activities of his dogs, who have been attracting a lot of attention on Social Media. Olive and Mabel are names now trending on Twitter and their latest episode “The Company Meeting” is surely something we can all associate with right now.
Please click the pictures below to view Olive and Mabel in action.
A moment in Scots history
26th May is not a date that resounds in the memories of many Scots - yet it’s a date that is significant for two reasons with one common theme – the Honours of Scotland. The Scottish Crown Jewels date from the High Middle Ages and have been hidden, stolen, lost and found. They are embedded in Scotland’s life and culture, with a value that cannot be counted.
The term refers to the oldest Royal Regalia in Britain and is made up of the Crown dating from before 1540; the Sceptre with a crystal globe, a cut and polished rock crystal, topped by a Scottish pearl; and the Sword of State dating from 1507 given by Pope Julius II to James IV. Together they were used at the coronations of the infant Mary, Queen of Scots, her infant son James VI and her grandson Charles I. It was the beheading of Charles I in 1649 that lead to the first mystery and legend surrounding the Honours.
One of the main English Parliamentary commissioners against the King was Oliver Cromwell, the puritan who would progress in time to become Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.

When Charles I was executed, the Scottish Parliament declared his son, Charles II, King of Scotland and Cromwell was furious. He invaded Scotland, battling and defeating the Scots as he advanced on Edinburgh. The new King was in danger – and so were the Honours.
 
They were removed from Edinburgh Castle and taken to safety in Stirling Castle until the Coronation of Charles II at Scone – incidentally the last coronation in Scotland. But then the question arose - where could the Honours now be kept? Edinburgh Castle had fallen to Cromwell, and he was advancing rapidly to Scone. Cromwell was not only determined to take over Scotland, he wanted the Honours and he wanted to destroy them.
 
Charles II sent the Honours north to Dunnottar Castle while he fled to France.
Cromwell laid chase to the Crown Jewels – but in Scone the cupboard was bare and the intelligence that they were in Dundee led to 1,000 deaths and still no Honours. Soon the English were outside Dunnottar, stronghold of the Keith family and, with only 40 men to protect them, the resting place of the Honours.
There are many stories of how Dunnottar resisted Cromwell’s army for 8 months and there are even more of how the Honours were smuggled out of the castle – being lowered over the castle walls and carried off by a serving woman gathering seaweed, or concealed under the clothes of the visiting minister’s wife and walked through the English camp. No matter how they were removed, there is no doubt that the Honours were buried in the floor of Kinneff Church having been secreted there by the Minister and his wife. (Not Mrs Milne, in case you were wondering!)
The 26th May is important as that was the date that Dunnottar finally surrendered to Cromwell after that 8 month siege – but more importantly the Honours were not found.
 
Cromwell died in 1658 never having found the Honours and when King Charles II was returned to the throne in 1660, the Honours were retrieved from Kinneff and returned to Edinburgh Castle where they were used to represent the King in Parliament until the union with England in 1707. The Honours were then safely locked away in a great oak chest in a vault in the Crown Room. The room’s openings were walled up.
 
As the years went by the second mystery arose. Were the Honours really there? Had they been secretly taken to England? Was there really a walled-up room? In 1794, the mystery grew when the Castle’s Lieutenant Governor was searching for parliamentary papers, 87 years after the Honours had been locked away. Finding the oak chest, he shook it and heard nothing – not having permission to open the chest, he left, convinced there was nothing there and he walled up the room again.
 

And that’s where the Honours could have stayed – undetected but ultimately safe.
However Walter Scott believed there was something in that legend and in 1818, he organised a Royal Warrant giving permission to unblock the doorway and open the chest. You can imagine the moment as the lid of the chest was creaked open, the linen wrappings were opened and there glinting lay the Crown, Sceptre and Sword as stored away in 1707 – bringing joy not only to Walter Scott but to the people of Scotland.
 
The decision was made to allow members of the public to inspect and view the Honours in Edinburgh Castle – and they were finally put on display there on the 26th May 1819.
 
The Honours of Scotland have stayed there to this very day apart from very brief excursions for State occasions.


Kinneff Church and Edinburgh Castle
Dance Puzzles Part One
It’s time for another DSAH jigsaw and this week we want you to name this important spot in Scotland’s History, as we go to the North East Coast of Scotland.
Now, have you found the online jigsaw timer? And have you noted your completion time?
We enjoy seeing how long you take to complete the
pictures – and of course, finding out who was fastest!
Thanks to those who have sent in their times for last week’s DSAH jigsaw. Kate Thomson of the BHS Branch was absolutely correct when she said it was a bit trickier this week- we want to keep challenging you! Three people were spot on when they said the image was Castle Stalker in Appin – well done to Marjorie McLaughlin, Sharon Burleigh and Fiona Newton. Second place this week goes to Stan Grycuk of Aberdeen with his time of 5 minutes 29.6 seconds – the jigsaw timer is extremely accurate. However Clair Caudwell is still the reigning jigsaw champion, narrowly beating Stan by 11.4 seconds. So close! Can anyone beat Clair this week?
Clair Caudwell Retford and District 5 minutes 17 seconds
Stan Grycuk Aberdeen Branch 5 minutes 29.6 seconds
Caelli Greenbank Melbourne Branch 7 minutes 0.8 seconds
Sharon Burleigh Waikanae Club New Zealand 8 minutes 33.3 seconds
Margaret Tough Glasgow 8 minutes 35.7 seconds
Kate Thomson BHS Borders Branch 9 minutes 40 seconds
Fiona Newton Inverness and District 9 minutes 45 seconds
Mary Bridson Ottawa 9 minutes 56 seconds
Deirdre MacCuish Bark Toronto Association 10 minutes 13.2 seconds
Marjorie McLaughlin San Diego 12 minutes 1 second
RSCDS Online Class
Travel round the world with the RSCDS as each week a different RSCDS Teacher in a different location brings you an online class. The sessions will bring you a mixture of movement, warm up, technique, steps and dances with material for beginners to advanced dancers while providing a regular opportunity to dance and chat with members around the world.
Once again over 1,250 dancers joined this week’s RSCDS online class with teacher Graham Donald at his home in Gran Canaria. Graham took the class through a dance from Miss Milligan’s Miscellany, “Bonnie Geordie’s Wig” and the Chat comments showed dancers enjoying dancing from 1st and 2nd place although apparently the ghosts did sometimes get in the way.
 
Throughout the class, we’re monitoring the chat and answering as many questions as we can – especially to help those of you who are having technical issues. Please contact us through the DSAH feedback button and we will do everything possible to help you further.
 
You can catch up with this week’s class and some of the comments here.
This is an online recording at a low resolution to enable us to share the class quickly and in a format everyone can download. It will mean some moments may not be quite in time but we hope that doesn’t stop your enjoyment and participation in the class.
 
Classes are held at 19:00 BST every Wednesday.
Join next week, on Wednesday 20th May, to find out who the mystery teacher is, where they are and what they have in store.
 
Link to join RSCDS Online Class:
https://zoom.us/j/780126836
 
Hosting the class as a webinar and sharing the link through Dance Scottish At Home and email manages concerns around hosting events on Zoom. We are continuing to monitor this and doing everything we can to make this a secure environment for all. 
Beyond The Class And Newsletter
Last week’s Florence Nightingale Celebration issue of DSAH marked the exceptional work that members and their families are doing in frontline roles at this time.
Carol Walton of the Cardiff Branch trained at St Thomas’ Hospital and is a member of the Council for the Nightingale Fellowship. Carol was very involved in the 200th anniversary Florence Nightingale commemorations which sadly had to be cancelled, however she still had her own street celebration and has shared the photos with us here.
It is fantastic to see the names and places as dancers and members from all over the world sign in to the RSCDS Online Class. Going forward, we will highlight some of those on our DSAH map, gradually sharing where those 1,250 weekly sign ins can be found.
This week joining our teacher Graham Donald in Gran Canaria were:
Shelley and Wayne McConnel saying hi on a frosty morning in Hamilton, New Zealand;
Lisa Benack enjoyed the class from Quakertown, Pennsylvania;
Philp Whitley and Robert MacKay said hello from sunny Edinburgh with a glass of red wine;
Mary Lister, and Andrew and Heather Hodgson said hello and sent greetings from Cape Town, South Africa;
and Janet Alcantara said “Saludos and gracias” from Tlaxcala in Mexico.
We look forward to seeing where you join from next week.
Dance Puzzles Part Two
Keep your brains moving with our Dance Puzzles and please get in touch if you have a Dance Scottish At Home puzzle to share – crossword, wordsearch, missing words, missing vowels – this is the space for your dancing conundrums.
This week Diana Hastie of the Sydney Branch has set our first DSAH Crossword with 25 dance titles to solve. Note that occasionally “The” has been omitted from a title – and good luck!
Last Week’s Solutions
We hope you enjoyed last week’s Heroes and Villains Anagrams – did you decide who were the heroes and who were the villains? The name solutions are presented below or download them here.
Thanks to Stan Grycuk of RSCDS Aberdeen for the anagram brain teasers. Would you like to try your hand at coming up with a dancing puzzle for Dance Scottish At Home? Then, send in your ideas by clicking “Have Your Say” at the bottom of the newsletter.
RSCDS News
Please note that the RSCDS (virtual) office will be closed on Monday 25 May 2020 for the bank holiday.
It is important to us that we stay in touch with all our members especially when we cannot meet together and dance. Therefore in order to support those members who are without digital access, we are issuing a special printed compilation of DSAH content. This will be sent later this month to members for whom we do not have an email address. Those with an email address can click here to subscribe or visit the RSCDS website in order to receive all our DSAH content.

 Also, just a reminder to Branch Officers that the April Branch Mailing provided some initial guidance regarding constitutional concerns during this unprecedented period and the Treasurer will provide further information in the next Branch mailing in June.
We bring you more Social Media moments alongside the next edition of the DSAH Podcast. We’ll highlight more of our Online Class dancers around the globe and go behind a Dance Story from Forres, as well as finding out what links St Andrew, a thistle and the Scots phrase “Wha daur meddle wi me?”
Keep sending in your jigsaw times and feedback, as well as letting us know what you want to see and hear in your weekly newsletter - click the link below to get in touch with DSAH.
 
For now, take care and we’ll be back with Dance Scottish At Home next week.
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