John Charles White
(fl.1815 - 1820)

White : Collection [4th] of New and Favourite Dances : illustration

Collection [4th] of New and Favourite Dances
(Vn.Kbd./Hp.)
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Captain Wyke - St David's Day - The Enchantress - The Escape - Belle Vue Dance - The Wedding Ring - Jacob's Favorite - The Algerine Dance - The Lyre - Don Pedro - Young Love and Old Port - Peruvian Dance - The Return - Domine Sampson - Louisa - The Request

One of several collections of dances issued from White's Musical Warehouse, 1 Milsom Street & 3 George Street "and to be had of all the principle [sic] Music Sellers in the Kingdom". Intended as souvenirs, and as an opportunity to replicate the assembly rooms' repertoires at domestic functions. Extended double-stopping was a fashionable feature of dance-music at this period: adequate results can be obtained on the violin by playing only the upper notes.

The tune Captain Wyke is named as a compliment to the Master of Ceremonies at the Upper Assembly Rooms. Wyke was voted into office in November, 1816 and resigned his position in early 1818. The tune was the trigger for a copyright action, White v Gerock, which dealt with the nature of intellectual property, as applied to the composition of country dances. White won his case, but revealed perhaps more than was wise of his methods of turning out catchpenny pieces. During the course of the trial it was stated that "Captain Wyke" had sold between three and four thousand copies in manuscript, before its consignment to print. Given the popularity that a tune might achieve, White's claims are unsurprising: that he had composed this tune in around five minutes, and that he had composed 500 similar tunes by the time of the trial. His various collections yield unexceptionable tunes, exceptional only in their identikit nature. It isn't certain whether White preferred the rastrum to scissors and paste, or even to dice (aleatory composition being a fad of the 1790s); what is certain is that he commanded a precedency in banality and triteness not convincingly challenged in Bath until John Lennon, with his band at that time, played the Pavilion, 10th June, 1963.