the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

England: history of the pipe and tabor

18th century dance

1774 poem

“…So now this Axiom I advance,
Remove Disease by Song and Dance -

…To cure, would be vexatious labour,
Unless you order Pipe and Tabor :
The patients have no other chance,
They must or die, or skip and dance;…”

‘Mousike-Latreia; or, a fiddle the best doctor.’ 1774 by Schomberg, R.

aristocratic and upper classes dance England
French and English court culture were intertwined until 1804 when Napoleon crowned himself.
So in the 18th century, when it became fashionable for French aristocrats and the nobility to glorify
the 'simple' peasant lifestyle, the vogue also spread to England. Marie Antoinette, Queen of France,
lead the way playing at being a rustic peasant dressed in costly clothes. As a result many village and
shepherd instruments, including the pipe and tabor, were played and danced to in highly stylised
fashion in the most grandiose palaces of France and England. This proved to be a good subject for satire.

1710 Description of a ball at Dudley Castle

As “recounted by her grandmother in 1776: While the band kept up the spirit with harp, pipe, tabor
and violin the floor rocked beneath the quick and measured steps of the gay company engaged in the dance....
that distinguished company ...consisted of the nobles of the land.  The ladies shone with glossy silks and jewels 
and the gentlemen with gold and silver lace....”

as reported in the County Advertiser & Herald for Staffordshire and Worcestershire - Saturday 16 February 1884

1746 newspaper report from London 1746Stamford Mercury - Thursday 12 June 1746


“Musicians made a living by hiring themselves out through agents for balls and private functions. 
At Bedford House in 1759 an agent was paid 14 guineas to supply 3 ‘violas’, a hautboy (oboe?)
a pipe and tabor and two basses for a ball.”

quoted in Sheila M Nelson, “The Violin and the Viola” Dover, page 122

1761 Letter 76 To George Montagu, Esq. Strawberry Hill, May, 14

“Saturday morning, Arlington Street. I came to town yesterday for a party at Bedford-House,
made for Princess Amelia; the garden was open....... The tables were removed, the young people
began to dance to a tabor and pipe; the Princess sat down again, but to unlimited loo; we played till three”

Letters of Horace Walpole, (1717-1797) - Volume 3

1761 ball newspaper reportSeptember 1761 Newspaper report of a ball in London
1780's London1780'sManchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 26 November 1881
1793 “Her Majesty gave a grand entertainment for a select party of the nobility at Windsor”1793Bury and Norwich Post - Wednesday 16 January 1793
1731 1731  
1731 satirical print showing Mrs Laguerre and Francis Nivelon dancing in the Lincoln’s Inn Fields pantomime Perseus and Andromeda.
painting by Lancret 1732 painting by Lancret, France 'Mlle Camargo Dancing'
c1730another version
tile1760 Liverpool tile [item 29]
1750 painting by Pesne Marianne Cochois copywith male dancer tapestrytapestry
Victorian copyVictorian copy
Playerplayer from Hermitage copy
1840-19001840-1900 painted paper fan, France
(after Lancret)
Camargo on fanpainted on a fan  
middle classes dance England
The eighteenth century saw the rise of the middle class, and more leisure time for studying the arts.
At home young people were expected to play an instrument and sing, while they could demonstrate
their dancing skills at the local Assemblies. [source]
1750 at a well in Godman's Fields, Lemon Street, London, an advertisement in the newspaper stated:
“12/11/1750 M 18:00 Grand Concert of Vocal and Instrumental Musick After the Concert will be a Ball
by a Sett of Subscribers, with a Tabor and Pipe...”

'The Birth of the Music Business: Public Commercial Concerts In London 1660–1750' by Catherine Harbor 2012 Volume 2,
Appendix G. Calendar of Concerts at Wells, Spas and Gardens, page 214

17571757Frontispiece to Thomson's
collection of 'Favourite country
dances performed at Court...'
1760's satire 1760's 1760's the musicians
British Museum
1760'sthe taborer behind
the other musicians

1762 ‘The Vicar of Wakefield’ : a ball at home:

“after a little shoving and dragging, they at last went merrily on. 
Our music consisted of two fiddles, with a pipe and tabor.” 

by Oliver Goldsmith [ ch 9, page 57]

1762 ball as reported in Ireland:1862Dublin Courier - Wednesday 16 June 1762

1763 as advertised

“27th A Ball at the King’s Head NB the French Horn will accompany the minuets:
and the tabor and pipe the Country Dances"

The Ipswich Journal - Saturday 23 July 1763

1767 February 3
"I spent the Evening & Supped at Ansford Inn, there being a Masquerade Ball there this Evening, and very elegant
it was, much beyond my expectation in all respects - We did not break up till five o'clock in the morning...
I did not dance the whole Evening - We had good Musick viz, four Violins, a Base [sic] Viol, a Taber & Pipe,
a Hautboy and a French Horn played by Mr. Ford" [pp. 67-68]
176717671767London Review - Volume 5 Page 237
1771 dancers1771 dancers

17711771 the band (different print)

1771 poem

“…Engag'd one morning, by my friend,
At his aunt's house the night to spend,
Where he assur'd me there would be,
Of friends select a company;
That there would be a pipe and tabor,
To entertain a country neighbour,…
And as the Lady did delight
In dancing,. —so they'd spend the night…
As oft I strove, throughout the dance,
To steal, so oft I met a glance;…”

‘Christianity Unmasqued; or, unavoidable ignorance preferable to corrupt Christianity. A poem. In twenty-one cantos. 1771 by Smith, Michael

In London dances were held at theatres. Pipe and tabor players were hired on occasion:
at the Covent Garden Theatre here is one record for 1749, two in 1767 and one in1768.

Between Dec 1774 and Nov 1775 there were 59 nights when the pipe and tabor player was hired at
Theatre Royal Drury Lane for dances.

1772 Letter, Matthew Boulton (London) to Mrs. Ann Boulton

“…our Neighbour Sands kept his Wedding & gave a dance to a great number of his aquaintance
which with the fiddles hautboys & Tabor & Pipe kept up a perpetual rally all night untill 6 o Clock in the Morng…”

1776 ‘Letter 2’ Mr. Inkle to Mrs. Dinah Inkle, at Glocester'

“…And who at the Ball on that Night did appear,
Who danc'd in the Van, and who limp'd in the Rear,…
…At what Time they heard the Men puff and belabour
With Mouth, Stick, and Fist, the gay Pipe and the Tabor,…”

'The New Bath Guide: AN ELECTION BALL, IN POETICAL LETTERS by Christopher Anstey page 221

1778 Allegory‘Wealth and Poverty, an allegory’ (part) Caledonian Mercury - Saturday 08 August 1778


“…The light-footed lasses led up the sprightly dance, and the enamoured youths tripped to the pipe and tabor
….In former days the card-table was introduced…It supplied the :::e of the tabor and the dance, and variety
to the scenes of mirth and jocularity …”

‘Pictures of Men, Manners, and the Times: Interspersed with Descriptions of the Country and Rural Enjoyments’

1781 song ‘The Poor Peasant.’ Sung by Mr. Darley, at Vauxhall1781‘The Bull-finch. Being a choice collection of the newest and most favourite English songs
which have been sett to music and sung at the public theatres & gardens.’ 1781

"After L'Omaggio was concluded, a cold collation was served... After the company had supped, they danced
cottilions [sic], minuets, and country dances. We left them perfectly happy, footing it, in short time, to the harp,
tabor and pipe, and violin, at three this morning."

Morning Chronicle 6 June 1781

178317831783reported in the Norfolk Chronicle - Saturday 10 May 1783

1784 review of a painting "A Grecian Harvest Home."
“…The pictures were completed and publicly exhibited in 1783, and were presented to the Society in 1784
….The season is, as the title expresses, that of harvest ; and as most of the persons represented are employed
in rural sports, the evening is chosen, as the most proper time for such relaxation from the labours of the field…
.young men and women, in beautiful forms and lightly habited, are dancing to the music of a rural pipe and tabor..."

Journal of the Society of Arts, Vol. 16, no. 816, 1868


“…make use of your pipe and tabor, and teach them all to dance the Minuet de la Cour, the Gavot,
the Cotillion, or whatever you with the learned DOCTOR's concurring  opinion, may think will render
them completest and best dancers…”

'The Whitsun Donative, Being a hasty Sketch of an intended Publication under the Title of THE LIFE and OPINIONS OF TRISTRAM'S PAPA, ‘1787

1784 letter: 1784The Weekly Entertainer, and West of England Miscellany 1784-12-06: Vol 4 Iss 101

In Bath the pipe and tabor was added to the orchestra on ball nights. 1791 A1791 B1791 as reported in the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 17 November 1791

The Season ran from October to early June. The Upper Rooms held two balls a week, a dress ball on Monday
nights and a fancy ball on Thursday nights. Fancy Balls were much more relaxed occasions. Ladies could appear
in hats or make any other elegant fashion statement they pleased. The band consisted of twelve performers including
the harp, tabor and pipe. 'Each performer to be allowed a sum not exceeding half a guinea on each ball night for his
attendance, which money is to be taken from the subscription of the respective balls'.
[Quoted in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 27 May 1886]

'...personalities of social, political, literary, and artistic life took so much ......
'In this manner, and in these sets, rapidly, gaily, uncounted, and untutored, ......
a BALL, (With proper Musick accompanied with the Tabor and Pipe.) .....

The Great Dr. Burney, His Life His Travels, His Works His Family and His Friends
Vol. 1 Book by Percy A. Scholes; 1948

orchestraEnglish orchestra with someone possibly playing a one-handed pipe in the left hand
Lewis Walpole Library
middle classes dance France
17691769 'Fashionable Dances' France 1769close-up of taborer (from a different print)
France danceFrance bandthe band
17781778 tapestry of a wedding, France
[dancing to pipe and tabor in background, left]
1778-80close-up of player and dancers
17741774 a high society ball, by Duclos, Paris, France 1774close-up of player
working classes dance France

“If the peasants in the neighbourhood of any chapel dedicated to a saint, whose day 
is to be celebrated, have a mind to make a festin, in other 
words, a fair, they apply to the commandant of Nice for a 
license, which costs them about a French crown. This being 
obtained, they assemble after service, men and women, in their 
best apparel, and dance to the musick of fiddles, and pipe and 
, or rather pipe and drum.

c 1766 'Travels Through France And Italy' by Tobias Smollett book 4

1790's fabric1792 fabric depicting the Fall of the Bastille 14th July 1789,
sailors danceRecord also here Pipe and tabor player for two male youth dancers.
Toile, red, on linen: probably a quilt fragment. 1790
Frederick R. Selch Collection of American Music History
Inventory of Series 2: Visual Materials
weddingpainting by Desourtis [detail] playerclose-up of player


another wedding1785 players at another wedding
by Descourtis [detail]
working classes dance England

1707 religious treatise

“…I cannot forget, that in my Youth in those late times, when we lost the Labours of some of our Conformable
Godly Teachers, for not Reading publickly the Book of Sports and Dancing on the Lord’s-days, one of my
Father’s own Tenants was the Town-Piper, hired by the Year (for many Years together) and the place of the
Dancing-Assembly was not an hundred yards from our Door; and we could not on the Lord’s-day, either Read
a Chapter, or Pray, or sing a Psalm or Catechise, or instruct a Servant, but with the noise of the Pipe and Tabor…”

‘The Practical Works of the late reverend and Pious Mr. Richard Baxter’


...Each bonny Lad shall with his loving Lass,
With Pipe and Tabor trip it on the Grass ;
With Chaplets gay my Jenny shall be crown'd,
And with her Loving Jockey 'Dance around : ...

from:' SONGS Compleat, Pleasant and Divertiv; SET TO M U S I C K' by Dr. JOHN BLOW, Mr. HENRY PURCELL, and other Excellent Masters of the Town


1719 Songs Compleat, Pleasant and Divertiv ;


Come Will, run Gill,
Or dost thou list to lose thy labour ?
Kit Crowd, scrape aloud,
Tickle her Tom\ with a Pipe and a Tabor,....

.... If the Tabor do play, we thump it away,
And turn, and meet our Lasses to Kiss 'em...

SET TO M U S I C K By Dr. John Blow, Mr. Henry Purcell,
and other Excellent Masters of the Town

1730 1730
1746 Towcester, Northamptonshire, Nov. 12th,

 "...we found a collection of the young fry of both sexes, the sons and daughters of farmers and miners,
met together in their holiday-clothes to learn to dance minuets, hornpipes, and country dances. The first
were over before we came, but the two last they executed in a manner that would have pleased and surprised
you. They were directed by a maitre de danse, a tight young fellow of a neighbouring village, to whose
taber and pipe they were exercised 3 times a week at the expence of one penny each time of performing...."

Historical Manuscripts Commission, 'Muniments of Edmond R. Wodehouse: Appendices',
in The Manuscripts of Rye and Hereford Corporations, Etc. Thirteenth Report, Appendix: Part IV 

18th century contemporary comment on the uses of the village green: 18th century'Village song & culture : a study based on the Blunt collection of song from Adderbury,
north Oxfordshire' by Pickering, Michael, 1982

mid 18th centurymid 18th century source

[Ed. they are wearing later, Regency, clothes]

17601760© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
17701770 handkerchief (detail)
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
1766 -17751766 -1775 (from the background)
17731773 front cover

1773 ‘The Drawing School for Little Masters and Misses, containing the most easy and concise Rules for Learning to Draw, to which are added the Whole Art of Kite Making, by Master Michael Angelo, second edition’

[couple dancing around a tree to a pipe and tabor player]

17891780 1780close-up of player
17811781 1781close-up of player
1718close-up of player
1780's1780's The Shepherds Holyday
17761776 'The Village Assembly'
17761776 player

THE Managers of Drury-Lane Theatre...the following little piece was written merely
with a view of manifesting such their loyalty and gratitude, to the best of monarchs:

"To the pipe and tabor beat
Frolic measures with your feet.
Ev'ry gift of time employ;
Make the most of proffer'd joy.....

So may all thy sylvan train,
Dryad, nymph, and rustic faun,
To the pipe and merry strain,
Trip it o'er the russet lawn!
May no thorn or bearded grass
Hurt their footsteps as they pass"

'Poems.' by Robert Lloyd, A.M: page 264

1765 poem 1765‘The Birth-day. A Pastoral. With Other poems.' by Edward Stephens. 1765
1777 1777‘The Trifler: or a RAMBLE AMONG THE WILDS, of FANCY, THE WORKS of NATURE, AND THE MANNERS of MEN. 1777: Vol 3 by Man, Henry
1778 story

“…And dancing to the lively airs , of the pipe and tabor, was most agreeable to the gay and lively
….The instruments which they have, are of the simplest kind ; besides the pipe and tabor…”

‘The travels of Hildebrand Bowman, esquire, : into Carnovirria, Taupiniera, Olfactaria, and Auditante, in New-Zealand;
in the Island of Bonhommica, and in the powerful Kingdom of Luxo-volupto, on the great southern continent.’ by Bowman, Hildebrand

1779 story ‘LOVE at FIRST SIGHT.’

“…She was chosen queen of the May. Some gentlemen from the metropolis going that way, were stopped
by the sound of pipe and tabor. They alighted - Florinda was then going down in a country dance with her partner…”

Lady's Magazine : or, Entertaining companion for the fair sex, appropriated solely to their use and amusement. Volume 10, 1779.

1780 song ‘The Fair Maid's Love for a Farmer.’ 1780

1781 poem [also in ‘JOHNSON’'s LOTTERY SONG BOOK, 1776]

“…But, ah what a scene must appear,
Must the sweet rural pastimes be o'er,
Shall the tabor, the tabor, no more strike the ears
Shall the dance on the green be no more ?...”

'The Bird: containing a choice collection of love, hunting and bachanalian songs [&c.]'. by  Bird

1782 story: ‘LETTER from a Gentleman to his Friend, relating the melancholy effects of Seduction.’

“…the sight of the pretty rustic (drest as the queen of the May to welcome my visit to the Willows)
when she danced to the pipe and tabor…”

‘Literary amusements; or, evening entertainer. by a female hand. Containing, The history of Mr. Allen. The life of an authoress. ‘...
In two volumes. 1782: Vol 1 by Female Hand

1783 'Entertainment in a Field near Busby Street, Bethnal-Green, London':
“After Dinner there was a Ball on a Platform before the Tents,
with Violins, Tabor and Pipe, French Horns, Cymbaiines and other Music.”

Derby Mercury - Thursday 26 June 1783

1783 letter:

“…We are to have a grand-ball this evening, in the great saloon in the abbey; half the county are invited
:but that part of the entertainment I chiefly like is the preparations which have been made for the poor
for several miles round; for their reception, tents are pitched in the park—sheep are roasting whole,
whilst the young men and maidens are to dance to the pipe and tabor, on the lawn before the house….”

‘Peggy and Patty; or, the Sisters of Ashdale. In four volumes.’ ... 1783: Vol 4

1784 story 1784The Westminster Magazine, Or, the Pantheon of Taste 1784-04: Vol 12

1785 poem1785‘The Goldfinch, or new modern songster. Being a select collection of the most admired and favourite Scots
and English songs, cantatas, &c. 1785’

1786 poem ‘The RUSTIC FESTIVAL.’
“…And many a ruddy lass, and ploughman hale,
Their pastimes held in yonder's yellow dale;
With artless glee some deftly shift their feet,
In measar’d pace, to pipe and tabor sweet:…”

Town and Country Magazine, or Universal Repository of Knowledge, Instruction, and Entertainment 1786-09: Vol 18

1787 essay 1787‘The Whitsun Donative, Being a hasty Sketch of an intended publication, under the Title of THE LIFE and OPINIONS of TRISTRAM'S PAPA;’

1788 story

“…Their repast finished, a lad with a pipe and tabor,and another with a fiddle, struck up a lively air,
when Colin and his Rose led off the dance…”

‘The Inquisitor; or, Invisible Rambler. In three volumes.’
by Mrs. Rowson, ... 1788: Vol 1

1788‘Poems, consisting of odes, songs, pastorals, satyrs, &c. and a descriptive poem in four books,
called Prospects. by the Reverend George Sackville Cotter, ... In two volumes. ... 1788: Vol 1’

1789 poem

“The pipe and tabor, violin and harp,
When dance and merriment occasion yield,
Cheer his glad soul; the boards resound the time;
Twin'd with the jumping lass with springing
He skims and floats, with ease, along the floor;
Graceful his step, in every feature joy; “ ....

from: 'The College Hero,' The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 59, Part 1, May 1789

1791 1791The Weekly Entertainer, and West of England Miscellany 1791-09-26: Vol 18 Iss 451
allegorical dance
1730 monkey plays1730 monkey
plays for dancing
1771 monkey plays1771 monkey plays for dancing

1774 poem

“…For they would skip for joy, and caper,
When Orpheus play'd his pipe and tabor ;…”

‘Imitations of the Characters of Theophrastus.’

Putto playing for a dancing girl
17801780 putti
17891789 ball ticket 1795 ball ticket1795 ball ticket


for other types of dance see:
the last dance of all (dance of death)
England: Regency dancing
Europe decorative arts: moresca
England: morris dancing
England:Victorian dance

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