TVI Dance Inventions

Notations for Morris Dances Invented by Thames Valley

By Paul Handford

Notes on the Bacon dance notation system at the bottom of the page.

Handkerchief Dances

Robin Hood’s Ride

Tune: Rambling Sailor/ Trim-rigged Doxie (A.B)2.(A.C)2

CF: WH – ss/ss/hb/sj; repeat. 8 bars.

DF: HR – 4/4/hb/hb/4/4/G/sj; rept. 16 bars. Track is as long figs. rounds; first G is left out of circle, second is right to set.

DF2,3,4 are as DF1 but with stationary 4-sts. replaced by 4 PC, 2 HC and 2 UC respectively, the HC & UC to augmented music.

The Gypsy

Tune: Raggle-Taggle Gypsies (A.B)4

Long CF: FU, HG, WG, HR.

DF: ss/4/ss/4/ss/ss/hb/hb; rept. A ss seq. plus HH.

Merrie Sherwood Rangers

Tune: the same (A.B)4

Short CF: FU, HG, BB, HR

DF: ss/ss/Gl/sj/ss/ss/hb/sj; rept. Sidestep through to opposite side, G to face, hey down; rept. to home.

Brighton Camp

Tune: the same (A.B)2(A.C)2. 1/2A.

Long CF: FU, HG, HR, WH, WR.

4/4/LR/LR/4/4/G/sj; rept. In FU: caper out, down, in, in, and G in and down; then reverse. In HG: 4-st. through, PCs out, left, in, in, Gl; then reverse home. In HR: PCs out, back, in, in; rest as nomal long HR. In WH: ss/ss to “box”; then PCs out, up or down, in, in, Gl; rev. In WR: 4/4/4/4/ss/ss/LR/LR. Turn in on last 4-st., sss in, PCs in left, out, out.

DF1: ss/4/ss/J/lr/lr/Gl/sj; rept. From set, J into single line, swagger to opp., G to face. Identical footing home.

DF2,3 & 4 as DF1, replacing /lr/lr/ with LR/LR; HC/HC; UC/UC respectively.


Tune: I’ll go no more a-roving… (A.B.)2(A.C.)2

CF: HR: 4/4/Gl/sj/4/4/RL/RL/4/4/hb/sj. PCs (home) out, back, in, in; 4-st into centre, hb/sj back to set.

DF: HH (ss/ss/hb/sj), through, HH, through to home. DF1: through with ss/ss/Gl/sj. DF2: through with LR/LR. DF3: through with UC/UC. DF4: in HH, hb to make circle, sj to face clockwise, then 1, 5, & 4 leapfrog, then 2, 3, & 6 leapfrog, Gl to new set position; after 2nd. HH, make circle and leapfrog in same sequ.

Jockie to the Fair

Tune: Jockie with 12 bar B-music (A.B3)2(A.C3)2

CF: Long HR

DF: ss/4/ss/4/ in place; 4/4/ to cross corners; 4PC in opp. cnr.: out, right in, in. Remaining music, track into centre and back out as follows:DF1: lr/salute/hb/sj. DF2: RL/RL/hb/sj. DF3: HC/HC/hb/sj.DF4: UC/UC/hb/sj. As 3rd. couples withdraw, all make circle for HR.

The Dark-eyed Lady

Tune: Raggle-taggle Gypsies (A.B)2(A.C)2

Long CF: FU, HG, BB, HR

DF: HR as follows: DF1: 4/4/4/4/ss/ss/G/sj; rept. Face in for sss.DF2: 8PC/ss/ss/G/sj; rept. DF3: 4HC/ss/ss/G/sj; rept.DF4: 4UC/ss/ss/G/sj; rept.

Alistair, or, Paisley

Drink, boys, drink. (A.B.C)2(D.B.C)2

A music: Fig 1: HR 4/4/G/sj; repeat. No spiral in. Fig 2: As Fig 1, but 4-st replaced by LR/LR. Figs 3 & 4: augmented music; 4-sts. replaced by HCs and UCs.

B music: Facing across, open ssl/4/open ssr/4/, then pass through with ss/ss/Gl/sj. Stay on opposite side.

C music: HH and repeat; second half of last HH is with PCs, forming line abreast at middle position, facing up after 4 PCs, then advance as a line in final 4 PCs.


John Barleycorn

Tune: the same (A.B.C.)3C

Short CF: FU, HG, HR.

DF: B music: By corners, do one 4-st. into centre, cnrs. starting, in order, in bars 1, 2 & 3; in centre, all 4-st. in bar 4 to turn rt. to face home cnr.; all ss/ss/Gl/sj to place. C music: all cross through: DF1: LR/LR/LR/LR/; DF2: HC/HC; DF3: UC/UC. In all DF, finish capers facing out, then hey down opp. side ss/ss/hb/sj to invert set. Final C music brings set up.

The London Round Dance

Tune:  Liliburlero (A.B)4

Short CF: HR: 4/4/LR/LR/4/4/LR/LR. First PCs are forward, out, back, back; second PCs are out, back, in, in.

DF: Walk in radially, lr/lr/ with alternating high shows on 1st. beats, then Gl to face out. Then return to place as follows:DF1: ss/ss/Gl/sj. DF2: LR/LR/Gl/sj.DF3: HC/HC/Gl/sj. DF4: UC/UC/hb/sj, stay facing out.

The Flowing Tide

Tune:  The Flowing Tide (A.B)3

Short CF: 4/sJ/-/hb/hb; repeat. FU, HG,FD. HG is into line. After step and UC jump, pause one beat before hbs.

DF: ss/4/ss/4/4/lr/lr/4/sJ/G/sj. Begin facing corners in ss; move in to form circle on 4-st; ss facing corners; turn out rt. on 4-sts; walk out, with three single shows on off-beats ; 4-st. + sJ (UC) facing out (still in circle); G to set.


Tune:  Ninety-eight (A. (B)3C)2.(A. (B)3D)2

Short CF.  FU, HG, WG, HR.

In DF, first four bars of music constitute part B, which is repeated 3 times;  bars 13-16 constitute C-music – conclusion of tune.

DF1:  Bars 1-4  1st. cnrs walk into centre (/lr/lr/), with high shows of alternate hands (r + l) on first beat of bars 1+2;  hb/hb back to place;
Bars 5-8  2nd. cnrs (having backed in on bars 3&4) ditto;
Bars 9-12  (All back in with bars 7&8) then walk through centre, passing close right shoulders to opposite cnr (maintaining circle;
Bars 13-16  In opposite place, and facing out, leap into /4/4/Gl/sj/ to form set.

DF2:  As DF1, but with /lr/lr/ in B music replaced by /ss/ss/ in bars 1&2, 5&6, 9-12.
Bars 13-16 as in DF1.

DF 3:  As DF1, but /lr/lr/ replaced by /4/4/ in bars 1&2, 5&6, 9-12.  Bars 9&10 danced in place; 11712 dance across.
In bars 13-16, /4/4/ replaced by /HC/HC/ to augmented music.

DF4:  As DF3, but with /HC/HC/ replaced by /UC/UC/ in bars 13-16, and /Gl/sj/ replaced by /LR/LR/, maintaining circle and facing out.


Tune: I live not where I love (A.(B)3)(A.(C)3)(A)2

Short CF: Half hey + repeat on all but final CF (see end of these notes)

All DFs: bars 1-4: ss/4/ss/J—/. Corners approach with leap on beat 3 of first /ss/ (as in Dearest Dickie). 4-step facing, then pass right shoulders on last hop of /4/ then /ss/ to reach opp. corner on J, facing out, arms extended horizontally to side.

Pause for half a bar* in this “signposts” position.

Bars 5-8: turn around to left and approach, then back up to position, as detailed below:

DF1: ss/ss/hb/sj. DF2: RL/RL/hb/sj.

Starting on right foot, turn around to left on first step, then in towards middle of set; hb/sj back to position.

DF3: HC/HC/hb/sj. DF4: UC/UC/hb/sj;

Slow music, capers starting on right foot and turning around to left on first caper, then in towards middle of set; hb/sj in normal time back to position.

Final CF: Long figure rounds to doubled A music, with the final galley replaced by 4 plain capers, turning over left shoulder (in, left, out, out) to face out of the circle and finish.

*This pause of course means that “bars 1-4”, strictly speaking, means bars “1-4½”, and “5-8” means “5½-8½” We hope the more pedantic reader will forgive this simplification.

Poor Old Horse

Tune:  musical intro to song of the same name by John Tams, from the album “Map of Derbyshire” by Muckram Wakes.

CFs:  FU, HG, WG, WR, WH.  (the ending WH is suggested since the UC in DF4 leaves dancers facing across)

DFs:  face across;  the touch & show movements (t&s) in bars 3&4 progress knee, hip, chest, head;  bars 7&8 show a progression of galley + sj, plain capers + sj, beetles, uprights.

DF1:  ss / ss / t&s / t&s / ossl / ossr / Gl / sj;  (galley out & round)

DF2:  ss / ss / t&s / t&s / ossl / ossr / LR / sj; (caper out & round)

DF3:  ss / ss / t&s / t&s / ossl / ossr / HC (done facing across, in bars 7&8 of unaugmented music);

DF4:  ss / ss / t&s / t&s / ossl / ossr / UC (done facing across in bars 7&8 of unaugmented music);

Finish with Long WH.

Heel and Toe Dances

Local Hero

Selma Kaplan’s tune (A.B.)3 A


Each CF done in halves, separated by a DF. In FU: 4/4/4/4/4/4/G/step, step. Turn out in bar 3, down in bar 4. G out and round to face across. Accordingly for FD. In WG: as FU but to circle partner and Gl (Gr in 2nd. part) to home. In HH: All G out of set. Finish final HH facing up.

DF: Bars 1-2: slap both hands to thighs, chest, clap across, clap own hands, then, according to DF1-5 do:

Bars 3-4: DF1: clap rt. hands across, clap left across, clap own, clap both across.
DF2: salute odds, evens.
DF3: long bacon by odds, then evens.
DF4: tweak noses.
DF5: Graucho.
DF6: the elephant thing.

Bars 5-6: repeat bars 1-2. Bars 7-8: G/sj and directly into next fig.

Stick Dances

Froggy’s First Jump

Tune: the same (A.B)4.A

Short CF: FU, HG, WG, HR, WH.

DF: Bar 1: on beats 1, 2 & 3: two forehand taps diag. left, one backhand across. Bar 2: same timing, two forehand across, one backhand right. Bar 3: beats 1-4: two forehand diag left, backhand & forehand across. Bar 4: beats 1, 2 & 3: two backhand right, one forehaand across. Bars 5-8 cross through set accordingly, as follows: DF1 & 2: lr/lr/Gl/ sj. No return. DF3 & 4: LR/LR/Gl/sj.

Mr. Morse’s Morris

A tune of Rich Morse’s (A.B)4

Short CF: FU, HG, WG, HR.

DF: Two-handed strikes: X/X/XX/XXX/Xss/ss/Gl/sj. Bb1-2: strikes on beat 1, diag. left then right; B 3: strikes on beats 1 & 3, diag. left and right; B 4: on beats 1, 2 & 3 strike across foreh., backh., & foreh. B 5: on beat 1, clash in passing rt. shoulders as ss through.


An invented jig-time tune (A.B)4

Short CF: HH. ss/ss/hb/hb; rept.

DF: Two sticks per dancer. Bar 1: all strike opposites’ sticks with left backhand then right forehand on beat 4 of previous bar and then beat 1. Bar 2: ditto, with right backhand and left forehand. Bars 3&4: On beats 1 & 3, all strike left backh. diag. left, right backh. across, left backh. across and right backh. diag. right. In bars 5-8: all dance around single, counterclockwise, to make circle for next A music: 4/4/4/4/ running directly into next figure; As this manoeuver is beginning, clash backh. left across on beat 4 of Bar 4 , then foreh. right across on beat 1 of Bar 5 on going into this dance around.

The Old Sod

(version of J. Barleycorn tune from Steeleye Span) (A.B)3.short A

Short CF. FU, HG, WG, WH.

A-music is 10 bars long. After 8 bars of normal CFs, there is some sticking: Beats 1,2,3,4 of bar 9: two forehand taps diag. left, backhand across, forehand across. Then a large forehand clash across on beat 3 of bar 10. Then straight into B-music.

DF. B-music 10 bars long. 8 bars of stepping + 2 bars of sticking as in CFs. In two bars each, using 4-st., an alternation of st. shoulder crossings – 1st. cnrs, 2nd. cnrs, 1st. cnrs, 2nd. cnrs. The inactive ends just step in place. Crossings are accomplished in one bar, second bar to turn to new crossing. Sticking as in CFs. Three choruses returns set.

Bacon Notation

The structure of these dances is given using the notation system developed by Lionel bacon in his “A Handbook of Morris Dances” (The Morris Ring, 1974).  Here is a list of the abbreviations used to indicate the figures and steps of our invented dances.

CF = Common Figures; the sequence of figures danced to the A-music

FU = foot up;  BB = back to back;  HG = half gip;  WG = whole gip;  HR = (half) rounds;  WH = (whole) hey

DF = Distinctive Figure;  the specific choreography characterizing the dance, a.k.a. “the chorus”, danced to the B-music.

Steps. Step sequences are shown separated by “/” ;  space between subsequent / symbols  = one bar of normal speed music.

4 = double-step— one, two, three, hop.
bs = backstep
ss = closed sidestep;  ssr = ss leading right foot;  ssl = sidestep leading left foot
oss = open sidestep;  ossr and ossl
hb = hop-back
sj = step & jump
J = two-footed jump
l, r = walk-step left or right
G = galley;  Gl, Gr = galley left or right
PC = plain caper
L, R = plain capers on left or right foot
HC – half-caper = “beetle-crusher”
UC = upright caper