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The Butterfly

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Alternative title: Ribbon Dance

Source: C. Sharp ms no. 2241 in Vaughan Williams Memorial Library
Performer: Swallow, Thomas
Place Collected: Guiting Power
Date collected: 2 August 1909

Thomas Swallow was an agricultural labourer and fiddle player from Lower Guiting.

The Butterfly  is derived from the popular song I’d be a Butterfly, Live For A Day, words and Music by Thomas Haynes Bayley.  It was popular enough to be issued on many ballad sheets, including by Willey in Cheltenham.  Bayley, who also composed The Mistletoe Bough, was also a resident of Cheltenham, where he died in 1839.

Cecil Sharp also collected The Butterfly from William Davies at Winchcombe, while it was played in Chedworth just before the Second World War, by Caleb Lawrence, a carpenter and hurdle maker.

Cecil Sharp noted “All partners hold handkerchiefs, not ribbons.”

“Ordinary Country Dance Formation
A1 Hands Across 4 bars left to right
A2 Change hands and & ?chasse left? 4 bars
B1 Ribbon movement 4 times 4 bars
B2 Swing & cast one 4 bars”

Note by Charles Menteith and Paul Burgess