Chirping of the Nightingale ~ Playford

Chirping of the Nightingale ~ Playford The Cherping of the Nightingall ~ Lovelace

Chirping of the Nightingale ~ Playford is an English Country Dance. It was published by John Playford (website) in 1651 in The English Dancing Master. It was interpreted by Scott Pfitzinger (website) in about 2919. Originally a 6 Couple Circle this version is a Circle as many as will dance. It is a multipart dance. The minor set lasts 768 bars.

The Lovelace Manuscript contains a dance with this name, but it is quite different, a longways dance rather than a circle for one thing.

Playford writes:
Take hands and 2. D. round Back again First man lead his wo. a D forwards to the man on your right hand, let go your wo. and the man with your left hand, she going back, then go back your self, they two leading to your, and turn all three single

Then you three take hands and go round back again This as before

Then lead all a D. forward and back to the woman back again This as before

Then you three take hands and go round back again This as before

Do thus to all the rest, they following and doing the like.

I have difficulty understanding how progression is supposed to work in this dance. It is supposed to progress. Playford says so: Do thus to all the rest,, and then when the way is clear other dancers are supposed to start.

Each time through the dance begins with a circle left. This means dancers must end the dance in a circle, with no gaps, no one standing out.

It's not clear if the dance should progress from the 1s interacting with M2 to W2 or M3 — Playford does say the man on your right hand which would suggest M3 after M2, but Pfitzinger says to go next to W2, which is fairer, and easier.

If one follows the instructions literally then at the end of Part IV everyone is back where they started, which doesn't seem like a progression. I suppose the 1s could reach further and further across the set but it seems unlikely: when W1 goes back she will be nowhere near M3 to lead toward M1.

So I assume that each time through the dance the active couple will move one person's place right, and the person who was there must move to where M1 began. In other words the last move in Part IV will not be all three turn single but "W1 goes to M2's place, M1 to W1's and M2 to M1's".

That breaks up the 2nd couple for a while, but they come together again the next time through the dance. This seems strange, but less strange than not moving at all.


It may help to think of the progression here as a duple minor progression of the old style where only the top couple is initially active and move and more dancers join in as the top couple reaches them. Only here the dancers are in a circle. The top of the set is where the 1s are and the bottom is where the 6s are.

The dance starts with only the 1s active, they dance with M2,W2 and then M3,W3. At this point the original 2s start and dance with M3,W3,M4,W4 while the original 1s dance with M4,W4,M5,W5. And now the original 3s can start. When the 1s reach have danced with everyone (reached where the 6s were initially) they wait out one cycle and then become inactive.

The animation plays at 120 counts per minute normally, but the first time through the set the dance is slowed down so people can learn the moves more readily. Men are drawn as rectangles, women as ellipses. Each couple is drawn in its own color, however the border of each dancer indicates what role they currently play so the border color may change each time through the minor set.

The transcriptions and interpretations of Playford dances found on http://playforddances.com/ from the various editions of The Dancing Master are licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA license.
An online description of the dance may be found here.

Figure, Only 1s active repeats 2 times
 
I.A11-4Take hands and circle left (about half)
I.A41-4...and back to the right
I.B1-21s lead to person on their right (M2)
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person on the right lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
II.A11-4Same three circle left
II.A21-4...and back to the right
II.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
III.A11-4M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.A21-4Again: M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
IV.A11-4Same three circle left
IV.A21-4...and back to the right
IV.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8M1 move to W1's place, W1 to person's place, person to M1's place, turning single as they go
I.A11-4Take hands and circle left (about half)
I.A41-4...and back to the right
I.B1-21s lead to person on their right (W2)
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person on the right lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
II.A11-4Same three circle left
II.A21-4...and back to the right
II.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
III.A11-4M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.A21-4Again: M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
IV.A11-4Same three circle left
IV.A21-4...and back to the right
IV.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8M1 move to W1's place, W1 to person's place, person to M1's place, turning single as they go
Figure, 1s+5s active repeats 2 times
 
I.A11-4Take hands and circle left (about half)
I.A41-4...and back to the right
I.B1-21s lead to person on their right (M2)
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person on the right lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
II.A11-4Same three circle left
II.A21-4...and back to the right
II.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
III.A11-4M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.A21-4Again: M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
IV.A11-4Same three circle left
IV.A21-4...and back to the right
IV.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8M1 move to W1's place, W1 to person's place, person to M1's place, turning single as they go
I.A11-4Take hands and circle left (about half)
I.A41-4...and back to the right
I.B1-21s lead to person on their right (W2)
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person on the right lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
II.A11-4Same three circle left
II.A21-4...and back to the right
II.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
III.A11-4M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.A21-4Again: M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
IV.A11-4Same three circle left
IV.A21-4...and back to the right
IV.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8M1 move to W1's place, W1 to person's place, person to M1's place, turning single as they go
Figure, 1s+5s+3s active
 
I.A11-4Take hands and circle left (about half)
I.A41-4...and back to the right
I.B1-21s lead to person on their right (M2)
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person on the right lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
II.A11-4Same three circle left
II.A21-4...and back to the right
II.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
III.A11-4M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.A21-4Again: M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
IV.A11-4Same three circle left
IV.A21-4...and back to the right
IV.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8M1 move to W1's place, W1 to person's place, person to M1's place, turning single as they go
I.A11-4Take hands and circle left (about half)
I.A41-4...and back to the right
I.B1-21s lead to person on their right (W2)
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person on the right lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
II.A11-4Same three circle left
II.A21-4...and back to the right
II.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
III.A11-4M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.A21-4Again: M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
IV.A11-4Same three circle left
IV.A21-4...and back to the right
IV.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8M1 move to W1's place, W1 to person's place, person to M1's place, turning single as they go
Figure, 5s+3s active
 
I.A11-4Take hands and circle left (about half)
I.A41-4...and back to the right
I.B1-21s lead to person on their right (M2)
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person on the right lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
II.A11-4Same three circle left
II.A21-4...and back to the right
II.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
III.A11-4M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.A21-4Again: M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
IV.A11-4Same three circle left
IV.A21-4...and back to the right
IV.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8M1 move to W1's place, W1 to person's place, person to M1's place, turning single as they go
I.A11-4Take hands and circle left (about half)
I.A41-4...and back to the right
I.B1-21s lead to person on their right (W2)
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person on the right lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
II.A11-4Same three circle left
II.A21-4...and back to the right
II.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
III.A11-4M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.A21-4Again: M1+person lead to W1 and fall back
III.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8All three turn single
IV.A11-4Same three circle left
IV.A21-4...and back to the right
IV.B1-21s lead to same person
3-41s fall back
5-6W1+person lead forward to M1
7-8M1 move to W1's place, W1 to person's place, person to M1's place, turning single as they go

If you find what you believe to be a mistake in this animation, please leave a comment on youtube explaining what you believe to be wrong. If I agree with you I shall do my best to fix it.

< Prev Top Next >

The dance itself is out of copyright, and is in the public domain. I do not have a date for the interpretation, so it may be under copyright. My visualization of this dance is copyright © 2021 by George W. Williams V and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website is copyright © 2021,2022 by George W. Williams V
Creative Commons License My work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Most of the dances have more restrictive licensing, see my notes on copyright, the individual dance pages should mention when some rights are waived.