BackDance Instructions




Leave blank to list all dances on website.            

To see a list of dances I've recently added or updated, click:    

List tunes on website (some of which are nothing to do with me):        

Most of my dances are available in my books.  I'm not planning to publish any more books, so my new dances and interpretations will be published here on the website.  There are also a number of dances by other people: in some cases the dances have connections with me; in others they're just good dances that I wanted to put before a wider audience.  Some of these were published in English Dance and Song magazine during the time that I was writing my “Dance Matters” column there.  I've not included those that have since been published in books, but if your dance is on my website and you don't want it there please contact me and I will remove it.

Feel free to call any of the dances listed here, but please get them right and don't forget to tell the dancers who they're by!

There's also a page listing All my dances, published or not.

To search for a dance, enter in the box above a few letters of the dance title you're looking for — the search is not case-sensitive.  The program will look for these characters anywhere within the title.  If there's just one match you'll be taken straight to it.  If there are several you'll be given the list (alphabetical or in order of composition/publication depending on which button you use), and you can click on the one you want.  Leave the box blank to list all the dances.

Similarly you can search for a tune.  Most of these tie up with the dances, but there are plenty which are just there because they are tunes I've needed to send to bands.  You may not be interested — that's fine!

I've categorised them the way I would the dance cards in my briefcase, so I separate the various formations and in some cases I separate Playford-style from American-style or General.  A note for Americans: we say “Playford”  rather than “English”, so you will find waltz dances under General.  I've also included some of my interpretations (reconstructions) of dances from Playford and other publishers of that period.

As always, I've written the dances out as I would call them, rather than in a technical language which each caller will then have to translate into English.  I've tried to make the instructions clear without being too pedantic.  Unless otherwise stated, each paragraph is eight bars (measures) long.  A full stop (period) marks the end of a four- or eight-bar phrase; a semicolon marks the end of a two-bar phrase.  I find this very helpful when I'm calling a dance, but some people think I'm going out of my way to be difficult.  All turns, circles and stars are once around unless otherwise noted.

Each dance has a [Print] button, so you can print out just the dances you want, instead of needing Print Preview to work out which page or pages to print.

Music

All the dances with own tunes have music notation available.  Just click the treble clef button.

The music is held in ABC format, which you can learn all about from the ABC Home Page.  When you click the button the ABC is processed by programs on my server: ABCM2PS, ABC2MIDI, ABC2ABC and GhostScript.

At this point you can listen to it as a MIDI file — it may not be a great performance but it gives you a chance to hear the tune without needing to be a musician.  You can display the PDF output and then print or save it — you will need Adobe Reader which you can download here free of charge or you might prefer Nitro Reader.  Don't send anybody the address of the PDF file — that's generated dynamically and will disappear after a couple of hours.  You can see the ABC which produced all this.  And you can switch from chords above the staff (American style) to chords below the stave (English style), and print the music in larger type with fewer bars to the line in case your eyes are getting old.  If you want to edit lots of tunes and print out the modified musical notation (I can't think why you would!) you can pick up all the Tunes from colinhume.com and start from that.  There's also a very nice way to see and hear all these tunes at http://abcnotation.com/searchTunes?q=site:www.colinhume.com/ABC.txt.

Click here to input your own ABC and play it or print it using my styling.