Purlongs is an intriguingly crooked tune from Playford’s Dancing Master (1651), and the roots of its inscrutable title are much debated. (Andy Cutting’s definition: ‘Any distance travelled by a cat.’)
However, the word appears to be a Middle English variation of ‘purloin’ – to steal, in a stealthy manner:
Purlong: Middle English purloinen, to remove, from Anglo-Norman purloigner. Noun: purloiner. (Via thefreedictionary.com)
And there you have it. Purlongs. Thieves/robbers. Case closed?
(Perhaps not. Googling purlongs also gave me furlongs/corruption of, and instructions for installing purlins when putting up a roof.)
Cut to the chase! Here are two wonderful bands – Leveret and Boldwood – playing the lovely Purlongs.
Andy Cutting (melodeon), Rob Harbron (concertina), Sam Sweeney (fiddle)
Purlongs played second in a set with Whitefriars Hornpipe, which was the tune for 28 May (Purlongs: 2:50). Mr Cutting half visible but entirely audible.
(‘Leveret – Whitefriars & Purlongs Live in Dursley Town Hall’ YouTube video, 5:41. Posted by Sam Sweeney, 12 Jul 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwCdsI6Qrx4)
The set is on Leveret’s 2015 CD New Anything, available from their website.
Leveret kick off their UK tour at Cecil Sharp House, London. THURSDAY 1 OCTOBER
Becky Price (piano accordion), Matthew Coatsworth, Kate Moran, Daniel Wolverson (fiddles)
Played second in a set with Fete de Village (Purlongs: 2:10) in a live performance at The Queen’s College Chapel, Oxford, 1st June 2013, featured on the unpublished CD Mudlarking**.
For news of gigs and recordings, see Boldwood’s website and their lively Facebook page.
**For previously-featured tunes from Mudlarking, see also Jackson’s Shaving Brush (June 2015) and The Miller of Perth (Aug 2015).
2 responses to “Purlongs”
Accidentally discovered years ago while rooting through now unremembered prints and MSS: 17th cent. tune called The Purlong[s] This seemed to be mysterious – then found a version called The Furlong[s]. Then found English version of French tune La Forlane – problem solved. Progressive misreading/textual corruption.
Thanks for your comment, Blaise – so sorry to be late replying. What you’ve found out is very interesting; do you have links to the recordings and/or sheet music for any of your discoveries? Please feel free to post them in comments, if you’d like to.