Cotswold Notes: Introduction: Nomenclature [a Pedantic & Tedious Section]

The nomenclature, other than normal English writing, used in these notes is as follows.


I have abbreviations some of the common things, not so much as to save space in this long-winded load of notes but to make combined steps clearer to see in the text (like “RF + LF + Lhop + RFA” instead of “step forward on the right foot then step forward on the left foot then hop on it then step forward on the right foot crossing infront of the left”).

R = Right.
L = Left.
F = Forwards.
B = Backwards.
S = out to the Side away from other leg.
C = Close up to other leg.
A = Across other leg.
I = In place.
hop = hop onto.
leap = leap onto.
ww = Without putting Weight on.
ft = FooT.
h = Hand.
sh = SHoulder [for passing].
cw = ClockWise.
acw = AntiClockWise.
Ch = CHorus.

Stepping notation

'R' or 'L' designating the foot that weight transfers on with qualifiers indicating how: 'F', 'B', 'I', 'S', 'C' & 'A' afterwards give positions with respect to the other foot; proceeding by 'hop' or 'leap' tells how if it not simply a walking step. If a step-like motion does not actually transfer weight then it is followed by 'ww'. Successive motions are separated by a '+'.

This system is not ideal because I made it up for Ballroom & then added bits for International Folk Dancing. It was for pen & paper and it had timings on the line above and details [turns etc.] on the line below which are inconvenient to type. It does not cover the floor patterns [I used Scottish Country Dancing notation for that] or hand motions either. Hence there is an awful lot of normal text used here to describe dances.

Parentheses, Brackets & Repeats

I am using '(...)' for groupings for repeats etc. and '[...]' for extra information and comments. I have used ‘(...)’ as in maths quite often, especially for repeated sections which I have sometimes written out explicitly as being repeated but often I have just put the thing to be repeated in brackets and multiplied it by the number of repeats [e.g. “(triple step then caper)x 2”].


Pedantic note: 'cw' & 'acw' are with respect to how the hands of a conventional clock normally go when the clock is face up on the floor [not the ceiling!] for whole body motions and a clock at the joint of a limb with face towards the connection with the body for limb motions.

Some directions are specified in terms of theta & phi angles. These are conventional spherical co-ordinates [i.e. phi = longitude easterly & theta = 90 deg minus latitude]. Theta = 0 deg means vertical, phi = 0 deg means forwards. If theta is used to describe the angle of something like a forearm with respect to its upper arm then theta = 0 deg means the forearm is straight out in line with the upper arm [and theta = 180 deg means a trip to the hospital!].

Up & Down

Unless other specified they refer to vertical directions for arms, sticks etc. but towards the top & bottom of the set when used to describe positions on the ground.

Which Dancer or Position

Dancers and positions are sometimes identifier by number which can be confusing in dances where the dancers change positions so I have prefixed the numbers with 'D' for dancer, 'P' for position or 'Dap' for dancer at position. E.g. D1 would be the dancer who started at floor position P1 and Dap1 the dancer who is currently [or at least at the beginning of whatever move is being described] at P1.


What I have called a 'Basic' or ‘Basic stepping’ is the default step to use for travelling in a dance. It can vary from a simple skip in even rhythm [e.g. in Lichfield] to an unevenly timed mixture of steps, hops, Capers & Galleys [e.g. in Sherbourne]. The normal Morris term is 'stepping' but that has ambiguously many meanings so I used ‘basic’ [copied from ballroom terminology] instead.

Beat & Bar

I am assuming the following unless otherwise stated: one bar is the time taken for one triple step or two single steps; a bar of 4 beats has beats of equal duration in the pattern strong + weak + medium + weak; a bar of 6 beats has beats of equal duration in the pattern strong + weak + weak + medium + weak + weak. The music may be notated differently in its standard written form though and, of course, musicians vary the beat duration to make it more interesting.

6 beat bars are normally danced as if they are 4 beat bars with a sort of quick + slow + quick + slow timing, in which case I have written the timings for them as if they were 4 beat bars.

I have probably made a lot of mistakes in counting beats, especially where phrases begin on weak beats. Where I have sheet music transcriptions of tunes, I have checked my estimates of phrasing against them but about a third of them are unchecked.


The various capital letters (usually just 'A' & 'B', verse & chorus music) used represent different musical phrases. The introduction is not normally included. It is typically “Once through.”, a single extra playing of the first phrase in the dance proper, or “Two notes and in.”, simply a couple of warning notes, unless there is some special start for the dance like a Swagger Round or Slipbacks. Unless other stated, the music has 4 beats/bar.


If something is not defined in a verse or a chorus then that defined for the dance as a whole applies. Likewise, if something is not defined for a dance then that for the tradition applies and if it not defined there then the general Cotswold definitions apply. This is to save me from writing the same thing out loads of times.

[Introduction] [Different Traditions] [General Cotswold Morris Features]