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Longsword notation

 I've been very busy the last few weeks sorting out dance notation for Southern Star Longsword.

We're learning a dance originating from the village of Lingdale in Yorkshire and I'm gradually, with help from other longsword dancers, finding more records of early performances of the dances.  It's an interesting and time-consuming project understanding what all the different writers were referring to. Some like Roy Dommett were so detailed that you have to work out what they meant by:

Over Neighbour's Sword
Each man takes 8 steps, 4 bars. The man in front lowers his sword almost to ground level.


l r/l r/hr l/hl r//


Left foot over first. Half turn to face back, completed as left foot goes over, completing turn that man raises his own sword and ½ turn anti-clockwise under it to face back, hop over, getting straight by raising neighbour's sword, which helps next man to turn ready to go over. 

Whereas others are very brief and just say 

OVER YOUR NEIGHBOURS SWORD: Right arm overhead first, then turn to left from inside outwards: left hop/ right hop.

Those two are actually the same figure...

All in all, I prefer the first version, but I freely admit that it took me a couple of days to fully understand his notation system.  Once I know the figure, the second is sufficient, but if you don't know it, then the detail really helps.

Because I'm finding Dommett's notes so useful, I'm retyping them. They were written around 1970 and have circulated in ever fainter photocopies since that time.  It's a fairly major job as there's about fifty pages of dance history and notations, but I'm making progress.  We started with an OCR file, but some of it came out looking like this:


-L,-~ 1/M t.,§v~¢1 ‘-vi-o r-f\~\~7

Ll P 4;“ K-»G\j~4- c£-~=c

32 .

2° ;*


so I'm using the OCR where I can read it, and just doing the rest from scratch.

It's actually quite relaxing, as long as I don't over do it and trigger the RSI.

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Judith Proctor


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