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Mally English Folk The Willow Tree


Hugh Rippon, caller and composer of country dances, was born and bred in Congleton, Cheshire, lived in Huntingdon and Gloucestershire and subsequently went to Peterhouse, Cambridge where he took an honours degree in history in 1955. He first became interested in folk dance and song in 1957 shortly after moving to London and in 1960 he joined the full time staff of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. Here he acted as Public Relations Officer, Joint Editor of the Society's magazine English Dance and Song and London Area Organiser. During this period he spent much of his time teaching dancing, lecturing, writing articles and starting new morris sides. After he left he taught history at a further education college in Coventry. He took early retirement in 1990 and lives in Earlsdon, Coventry with his wife and four children. He maintains a keen interest in folk dance and music, is holder of the coveted EFDSS Gold Badge and has become one of the most respected and sought-after callers in the country. Besides his 'calling' activities in most parts of England, Hugh has taught English folk dancing in Holland, Belgium, France and America. He is also the author of Discovering English Folk Dance, published by Shire Publications, which is now in its third edition. Now Hugh has collaborated with Dave Mallinson to create a dual purpose book of tunes and dances. We have here twenty six of Hugh's favourite dances, including several of his own compositions and others he has collected over the years, each with a short note of interest in its origin. Hugh's foreword is an additional useful guide to understanding the terms used and, importantly, there are some invaluable notes for beginners and teachers. This collection quite rightly confirms Hugh's considerable status acquired during four decades of dedication to English dance, both as a guardian of the culture as well as an innovator firmly rooted within the tradition. It is this combination of skills and forces within which the dances contained in The Willow Tree have been moulded. Mally's intended aim for The Willow Tree was the creation of a highly varied and fascinating cross-section of traditional dance music, tailored to Hugh's dances. Fifty two tunes from the English-speaking world have been painstakingly selected and arranged to fit Hugh's instructions, with the choice of chords being given equal care. Although at first glance The Willow Tree is primarily a book of dances, it is also a wonderful and wide-ranging source of repertoire for the country dance musician.

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