Fair and Softly is an English Country Dance. It was published by Playford (John Young) (website) in 1726 in The Dancing Master, The Third Volume, 2nd ed.. It was interpreted by Tom Cook in 1979 and published in Again Let's Be Merry. Found in The Playford Assembly. Originally a Triple Minor this version is a proper Duple Minor dance. The minor set lasts 24 bars. It is in the key: D minor.
Initially this was a triple minor dance, hence there is a lot of interaction outside the minor set.
The "set-step" motion is as follows: Every one take hands in long lines. Men step on left foot, cross right foot in front and put weight on it, weight back on the left foot (1bar), step the right foot back, cross the left foot in front, finish with weight on the right foot. Women the same except with the opposite foot each time.
Note: Each Strain is to be play'd twice over.The first Couple Sett once to one another, then cast off and lead thro' the bottom, and cast up again into the second Couples place Then Right and Left quite round with the second Couple, then lead thro' the same and cast off Then Right and Left quite round at bottom, and lead thro' the same and cast up.
The tune was published, by Playford, with the dance. It was performed by Bare Necessities (Earl Gaddis, Mary Lea, Peter Barnes, and Jacqueline Schwab) on the album More Favorites of the Boston Centre. The music is used with permission from the Country Dance Society, Boston Centre, Inc.
The animation plays at 102 counts per minute normally, but the first time through the set the dance is slowed down so people can learn the moves more readily (no music plays during this slow set). 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 dance contains the following figures: hand turn (allemande), set, cast, lead, hey, rights and lefts (and probably others).
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.
The dance itself is out of copyright, and is in the public domain. The interpretation is copyright © 1979 by Tom Cook. My visualization of this dance is copyright © 2020 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
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.