The Milk-maid's Bob

The Milke-Mayds Bobb

The Milk-maid's Bob or The Milke-Mayds Bobb is an English Country Dance. It was published by John Playford (website) in 1651 in The English Dancing Master, London. It was interpreted by George Williams in 2021. It is a proper Duple Minor dance. It is a USA dance. The minor set lasts 48 bars.

Spelled variously: "The Milke-Mayds Bobb", "The Milk Maids Bob", "The Milk-Maid's Bob" and "The Milk-maid's Bob".

Playford writes:
Lead up all a D. forwards and back That again First four the S. Hey, while the last four do the like

Sides all, that again First cu. slip between the 2. while the 3. do the like with the last, change places with your own That again

Arms all That again First man change places with the 2. wo. taking by the right hand, change places with the 2. man, the 3. man doing the like, then the other four as much That again

In the first part First four the S. Hey, what is meant by "S. Hey"? Playford's index of abbreviations says that "S." means "Single" but that doesn't seem meaningful in this context. In other places S. Hey is usually converted into a straight hey. Scott Pfitzinger suggests that it means a "circular hey", but I think Playford would call that "rights and lefts" instead, as far as I know Sharp invented the term "circular hey" to describe "rights and lefts", I don't think Playford would consider that a hey. So I think it probably means a linear hey for four people.

Now who starts it and how is it oriented? Playford provides no help.

I'm going to suggest that the hey be on the second corner diagonal and that 1st corners start it by passing left shoulders. Merely because I like the idea.

The second part is pretty straight forward.

The third part is progressive, but it's not well described. The first corners change, then M1+M2 change. Then the other four as much. OK, I'd expect that to be W1+M2 change on the 2nd diagonal. But M2 isn't on the that diagonal, M1 is. We can't change W1+M1, then the progression fails. So I guess W1+M2 change on the side? Then we'd expect W1 to change with M1, except their already proper while the 2s are improper. So here's what I think:

It would be cleaner to say:

But that's not what Playford said.

Playford says this dance is Longways for eight, but this progression isn't a good progression for 4 couples. If you do it again you get hack where you started. For 4 couples you want a progression that takes 4 interations to get back where you started.

On the other hand the dance looks like a duple minor dance, and the progression is a duple minor progression. Playford, never uses the term "duple minor", that was another of Sharp's inventions, and it is different from duple minors of Playford's day in that both minorsets start at once, while Playford would only have the top minorset active.

I'm going to treat this as a duple minor dance for four couples. Nothing in Playford's description contradicts that.

Another approach might be to alter the progression so that it works as a standard 4 couple progression...

Which works... but the last instruction looks too confusing to me.

I'm not sure what the word bob means in the title. Perhaps it is related to the "bob" in changeringing where the permutation is altered slightly to ring all the changes.

The animation plays at 120 counts per minute normally, but the first time through the set the dance will often be 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 dances of George Williams (including interpretations like this one) are licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA license.
An online description of the dance may be found here.

I.A11-4Up a double, and back
I.A21-4Up a double, and back (again)
I.B121-81st corners pass each other left in center to start a linear hey for four on the 2nd corner diagonal
II.A11-4Side right
II.A21-4Side left
II.B11-21s slip down inside as 2s slip up outside
3-4Partner change
II.B21-22s slip down inside as 1s slip up outside
3-4Partner change
III.A11-4Arm right
III.A21-4Arm left
III.B11-21st corners change, taking right hands
3-4M1+M2 change
III.B21-2W1+M2 change, taking right hands
3-42s change

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.

If you wish to link to this animation please see my comments on the perils of youtube. You may freely link to this page, of course, and that should have no problems, but use one of my redirects when linking to the youtube video itself:

< Prev Top Next >

The dance itself is out of copyright, and is in the public domain. The interpretation is copyright © 2021 by George Williams. And is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 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 © 2021,2022,2023,2024 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.