George Butterworth was a British composer, famous for a setting of Houseman's poems from A Shropshire Lad His formal musical career never took off in the way he had hoped, and he died at the Somme. I also wrote some songs with text from Houseman, but don't mistake correlation for causation: my formal musical career also never took off in the way I had hoped, and I've never been anywhere near the Somme.
I feel like I know Butterworth only through the ephemera, through the unintended remains. He found something in the folk music movement, with fellows like Cecil Sharpe and Ralph Vaughn Williams collecting songs from rural England. He destroyed many scores before enlisting, leaving us only with a few gorgeous rhapsodies, and the Houseman songs. The trench he died in was named The Butterworth Trench, but his body was never found. You can see on this map that the Butterworth Trench is next to the Lancs Trench, referring to a regiment from Lancashire. Butterworth actually enlisted in the Durham regiment. These are fine counties, with a noble tradition of first class cricket.
Check this out. The full collection of video includes dances with the Karpeles sisters, and also with Cecil Sharpe. I've extracted George Butterworth in a solo.
The kinora was an early form of home entertainment. If you've ever marked the corners of a book, then flipped through the pages to watch your doodles come to life - that's essentially how a kinora worked. One person at a time looked through viewing lenses at a stack of cards which were moved with a hand crank. That's the mechanism for viewing the original of this film. Those cards are somewhere in the archives of the English Folk Dance and Song society, which is surely an excuse for a road trip.
I could add music to the video.
I will sit after a few too many drinks and play along, sloppy and maudlin, at the piano.
But I won't do that.
We know the dance (Molly Oxford) and could easily synchronize sound and action. Don't you think that trivializes the artefact? I do. There's a Tolkien poem, Beren and Luthien, where he sets the scene with this first stanza:
The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinúviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering.
I love that unseen pipe. I adore the unheard accordian in the Butterworth Kinora films. It is the most extraordinary sensation, to know that this sound is unhearable. Peering from behind those enormous edwardian bushes. I'm assuming it was an accordian, I suppose it could have been a tin whistle or a fiddle. And for sure, there were the jangle of the Morris Bells.
An adumbrated outline is painted in the same colour as the background on a heraldic shield, and can represent things like a family who has lost their title, or a lineage that no longer exists.
There's a distinct feeling to the adumbrated object. Absence evokes a wierd kind of presence. which I think is what I mean when I talk about Quiddity. It is the absolute most precise distillation of the object. The material that exists just before the object arises. This is also he last material that exists just before an object vanishes. The taste of chewing granite, the realisation that you have forgotten something.
So there you have it. Butterworth, the adumbrated dancer.