Dutchess of Brunswick

“Dutchess of Brunswick”, also spelled “Dutches of Brumswick” and “Dutches of Brunswick”, is a lively dance and tune which the Waysiders have been enjoying since  the latter part of 2016.

We have instructions and music for the tune from Aaron Thompson (ca. 1777-1782 written in his personal book while a Fife Major during the Revolutionary War), Captain George Bush (also a personal manuscript from during the Revolutionary War years), and figures from Asa Willcox (1793), Nancy Shepley (1794 manuscript, Pepperell, MA), and M.J.C. Fraisier’s publication, The Scholars Companion, Containing a Choice Collection of Cotillions & Country Dances, Boston, 1796.   It seems likely that Revolutionary War musicians (like Bush, Thompson and Wilcox) learned tunes and dances from each other at winter encampments during the war, when the musicians spent many hours together practicing and playing.  As sheets of paper and blank books were requested for Fife and Drum Majors by Lieutenant John Hiwill, Inspector and Superintendent of Music during the War1, it is possible that the manuals left behind by these musicians were paid for by the government to allow for the improvement of music in the ranks.

Here is how the Waysiders dance this dance:

Dutchess of Brunswick (Triple Minor Longways)
A1 First couple chassee down the outside, beaten step, and return, set into center
A2 First couple chassee down the center, beaten step, back, and cast off
B   First and second couples rights and lefts
C   First couple give right hands to each other and set to second contrary corner
     First couple give left hands to each other and set to first contrary corner
D  First and third couples circle four hands round and back
E   First couple lead down through the third couple and cast up
     First couple lead up through the second couple and cast off

Footwork: We use chassees for down the outside and down the center, and skip-change steps for the rest of this dance.

The corners referred to in B1 are the same people as in the figure swing corners. The first couple takes their partner’s right hand and sets to the second corner, then takes left hands and sets to their first corner.

Here are the instructions from Aaron Thompson:

Dance down 2 Couple outside up again lead 2 Couple down one up/Right and left at Top set to contrary corners, holding Partners/hands first right & then left, 4 Hands round with 2d  Couple Lead down/one Couple, cast up one Couple, Lead up one Couple & lead Down one/Couple Cast of [sic] one Couple.

Here are directions from George Bush:

Down 2 Couple outside, up again – down ye. middle 2 Cu: up 1. right & left at top,/take Parts. right hand & set to 2d. Lady – partner setting to 3d Genm, take left hand & set to 3d/Lady, Partnr setg to 2d. Gentn. hands round wt 3d Cu: lead thrgh bottom (round 3 Cou:)/Lead up thro’ ye. 2d Cu: & cast off one Couple.

Here are directions from Asa Willcox:

Cast down 2 Couple back again lead down 2 Couple/back again cast off 1 Couple set contrary corners/holding partners hands lead down 1 Couple cast up 1 couple lead up 1 cast off one allemand reversed back again.

Here are directions from Nancy Shepley:

Cast off 2 couple, back again, lead down/2 couple, back again, cast off 1 couple, set/contrary corners, holding partners hands,/lead down a couple, cast up 1, lead up 1,/cast off 1, Allemand and Reverse back again.

Here are directions from Fraisier:

The 1st. cou. cast off out sides, up again,/lead down the middle, up again and cast off/1 cou. 1st gent. dance opposite 2d. lady,/holding his partner with his right  hand,/then to the 3d lady, changing hands during/this, 1st lady dance opposite 3d gent. then/to the 2d, 1st gent cast off on your right,/then enter the set and cast off on your left,/the lady does the same, contrary side, and/conclude with allemande twice to your partner.

Here is the sheet music:

Here is the tune for you to listen to:

  1. Trudeau, Joseph, “Music in the Continental Army”, 2014.  This thesis can be found at http://digitalcommons.apus.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1056&context=theses ↩︎

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