Week #407 ~ The Dashing White Sergeant

  1. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    This week's winner is The Dashing White Sergeant, which was submitted as a Scottish Tune. I'm not familiar with it.

    This is what I've found on Wikipedia:

    The Dashing White Sergeant is a Scottish Country Dance, performed to a similarly titled piece of music. The dance is in 4/4 time, thus it is in the form of a reel. The dance is performed by groups of six dancers and is progressive.


    The title comes from the original lyrics, traditionally attributed to the 18th century General, John Burgoyne. It was set to music by the English composer, Sir Henry Rowley Bishop in 1826. The song was to be part of one of Bishop's operas, but there is no evidence it was ever incorporated into one. It was adapted into a military march and was the regimental march of the Royal Berkshire Regiment. It quickly became very popular in the United States both as a song and a dance tune, and was added to the repertoire of the West Point Military Academy, where it is still played today at certain events. It has been suggested that it was the inspiration for I Wish I Was in Dixie, as the opening bars bear a resemblance. The dance steps come from the tradition of Swedish circle dancing, that was popular in Victorian Britain. The better known lyrics shown below, were written by the Scottish Composer, Sir Hugh S. Roberton for the Glasgow Orpheus Choir.


    The six dancers form a circle, traditionally of three men and three women standing alternately, which will break apart into two sets of three dancers. All six join hands and the circle turns anti-clockwise for eight counts, then clockwise for eight counts. The circle then separates into the two sets of three. The dancer in the middle (leader) of the three turns to the partner on the right, sets to (dances with) them for four counts and turns them for four counts, then repeats this with the partner on the left. The leader then turns the partner on the right again, followed by the partner on the left, the partner on the right, the partner on the left. He then joins hands with both partners so the three form a straight line facing the other set of three. Both sets walk towards each other for two steps, and stamp their feet three times (over the course of two counts, therefore including one off-beat), then retreat for two steps and clap their hands similarly to the stamping. They then walk towards each other again (again holding hands), and one set raises its arms to form archways under which the other dancers pass to meet the next set of three coming from another circle, with whom the dance is repeated.

    General Burgoyne's lyrics

    If I had a beau for a soldier who'd go,
    Do you think I'd say no? No, no, not I!
    For a soldier who'd go, Do you
    No, no, no, no, no, no, not I!
    When his red coat I saw,
    Not a sigh would it draw,
    But I'd give him eclat for his bravery!
    If an army of Amazons ere came in play,
    As a dashing white sergeant I’d march away.


    A dashing white sergeant I’d march away, march away, march away, march away.
    March away, march away, march away, march away, march away, march away.

    Sir Hugh Roberton's lyrics

    Now the fiddler's ready, let us all begin
    So step it out and step it in
    To the merry music of the violin
    We'll dance the hours away.

    (Repeat first 4 lines, then):

    Katie and Peggy and Patsy and Paul,
    Callum and Peter and Flora and Moll,
    Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance away the hours together!
    Dance till dawn be in the sky,
    What care you and what care I?
    Hearts a-beating, spirits high,
    We're gonna dance, dance, dance!

    Some of the sites that I find about a tune of this name, call it a Scottish march, others call it an Irish Polka, where the above Wikipedia link calls it a reel! I haven't investigated it enough to see if it's the same tune!

    Here's some standard notation and abc

    Here's the link to three settings of the tune (called a polka, but seems to be the same tune), on thesession.org

    Since it's apparently a dance tune, I'll start out with a video of dancing!

  2. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Thought someone would have posted a version by now, so here is mine, a bit slower than I'd dance it, but as fast as the old fingers can manage! Mandolin and guitar used on this recording are both my own builds and recorded through two microphones into Reaper DAW, with one stereo track for each instrument.

  3. gortnamona
    that was lovely John, pace seemed perfect to me.
  4. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Great stuff John and both instruments sound lovely as well!
  5. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Sounding good, John!

    I recorded this tune a couple of years ago, at about the same tempo as John. Played on mandolin, OM and tenor guitar.

    1921 Gibson Ajr mandolin
    Mid-Missouri M-111 octave mandolin/bouzouki
    Ozark tenor guitar

  6. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Thanks, folks. Martin, very competent delivery as always. Love all your highland troops pictures too.
  7. James Rankine
    James Rankine
    I was inspired to have a go at this listening to John's excellent bouncy version. Martin has come in now with a fine performance - complex with lots going on. Mine is altogether simpler and I now see listening to these versions again that I haven't repeated the A part - I must have got confused by the single long B part that doesn't repeat. So short and sweet does it!

  8. Francis J
    Francis J
    Here's my version, not without errors! I notice our group is slipping off the top rank in the social groups a lot lately, so I thought i'd give it a bump!
  9. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Clean picking there, Francis. it's a tricky wee tune to get under the fingers.
    I too have noticed that the SAW group has been more static recently, and especially in the small numbers of votes being cast for the week's tune. Wonder what might be the reason, if any?
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