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Playford Wiki -- Playford's Progeny

This is a wiki repository to permit explorations of information related to English and American folk dance. John Playford published “The English Dancing Master” in 1651 (the text of this has been entered and can be found at

2014-7-15 The wiki has been moved to a new website hosted on Godaddy and is part of the site. The version on will be shut down as the wiki is no longer an investigation into multimedia content management. Indeed, the wiki has demonstrated that this form of content management is well-suited to the type of materials we wish to share as dancers. — nashjc 2014/07/16 01:51

2013-3-31 The operating and wiki software have been updated. There are some minor changes in appearance for the wiki. However, there could be glitches. If you find any, let me know. — John C Nash 2013/04/01 15:58

2012-7-23 This is a new instance of the Playford wiki. Instead of the Wikipedia software called mediawiki, it uses a simpler system called Dokuwiki. There are good reasons for the change. A nuisance is that I do not have your passwords (or all your email addresses) if you are a user, so you will need to ask me to reset your login. Dokuwiki has some minor differences in syntax for its pages.

From the sign made by Holly Lennox for the Ottawa English Country Dance Club, with permission. This logo is NOT part of the Creative Commons license for these pages.


In order to avoid wikispam and other nasties, only registered users can contribute material. Please ask the administrator (NashJc) for a login.

To keep things tidy, an attempt will be made to develop Conventions and Formats for these pages. There will be some false starts and mistakes, but hopefully we will eventually have a structure that works well for most users. — John C Nash 2012/07/24 06:30

Goals and Principles

The main goal of Playford's Progeny is to share ideas and content related to English and American folk dancing. This includes tutorials, dance instructions, music, and recordings.

From the point of view of the moderator and instigator (Prof. J C Nash - NashJc on the wiki), the content and usage are a tool to investigate how to permit users to modify the data management process as well as the content. That is, new tools, views,

The moderator is also interested in patterns of use of the system – the social engineering of community projects such as this. Possibly other researchers would like to participate in this activity. Note that it is NOT intended to spy on users.

A parallel goal of the pp-wiki is to enlarge and/or render more efficient the marketplace for dance-related materials. CDs and books on dance are rarely available in local bookstores or libraries. Can they be distributed efficiently on the Internet? Let me know if interested.

Given that the main goal is sharing, there is always the issue of unreasonable use, freeloading or downright unauthorized use of material. This wiki is set up to use the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike Creative Commons copyright scheme. This means

  • - you can use any material where there is not an explicit statement to the contrary in your own works, provided
  • - you attribute such material to its authors and/or to this site as appropriate, and
  • - you are not making money from it.

This does not mean you cannot make money from derived works – you just have to make sure you have appropriate separate agreements with the creators of the material.

What about recordings? It is hoped that musicians and producers will put samples on this site e.g., like the Bare Necessities low-frequency samples. People can hear what the recordings sound like, but the sample is not really useful for dancing etc.

Possibilities and Issues

A meeting place such as this web site offers an opportunity for dancers and musicians to exchange ideas and develop new and interesting aspects to their shared activities. Some of these are:

Music for Dancing

It's (really!) hard to dance without music.

Quite Carried Away

Quite Carried Away is an English Dance band organized by Milan Skubnik.

You can see their repertoire here


Recorded music often provides some of the best musicians, but sometimes they don't play for dancing. On the page RecordedMusic you will find lists of recordings, and hopefully dancers will add their opinions (politely!) to assist other dancers. Please help to enlarge the list.

Sound Systems

Dance callers use a variety of systems for playing recorded music. In the OECDC, we have in the last 20 years used the following approaches

  • cassette tapes played on systems that allowed the speed to be altered. Karaoke machines proved to be the most economical form of these, and have a reasonable “power” for medium-sized rooms.
  • CDs are easier to use than cassettes, since the tracks are selectable more quickly. Some (quite expensive) players allow for speed changing. CDRs allow the caller to burn a “program”, though this is likely a copyright infringement. (Comments welcome from musicians about such a practice and similarly below re: computer files. Obviously any intent to avoid providing revenue to musicians is wrong, and ultimately will kill the source of music.)
  • MP3 and OGG compressed music files allow computers and digital music players to store large numbers of “tracks”. With inexpensive powered computer speakers we have been able to use a laptop to hold most of the club collection of dance music with the additional benefit of files of the dance instructions. More on this in Dance_Laptop

Sheet Music

Sheet music is needed for those who play. Thanks, of course, to Peter Barnes ( for his justly famous books, that is, Volumes 1 and 2 of “English Country Dance Tunes”. See SheetMusic for references and notes.

Dance Instructions and Style Hints

Please observe the warning regarding copyrighted work. However, most callers write down their own versions of dances, and if you are willing to add your dances to the collection here, please do so, if possible including notes about where you learned the dance. We want to put each dance on a separate 'page'. Please follow the naming convention encapsulated in following example: 'INS:Dance_of_the_Roses'. Do not start the name with 'a' or 'the' so it is easier to provide a sorted list of the instruction files.

The link for these instructions is Dance Instructions Index.

Note that there are various Internet resources for dance instructions. One of the very best is The Round, alias Cambridge University English Country Dance Society, see I (NashJc) had hoped to collaborate with the operators of this site, but so far have not been able to establish communications.

Other information

An area of the wiki exists for the Ottawa English Country Dance Club.

There will (soon?) be a private area for callers and club executive. Contact the wiki administrator nashjc if you want a special area set up for a particular group or interest.

Note that there is a Pictures_and_Videos section.

Some information on how to work with Dokuwiki is on the How to create and edit wiki pages

start.txt · Last modified: 2017/04/22 13:12 by nashjc