English Music

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The direct address of this page is www.english-music.co.uk/morris

Morris Dancing

White Horse Morris

White Horse Morris
A traditional Men's Cotswold side.

Uniquely English, morris dancing consists of three main styles, Cotswold, Border, and North West. It was traditionally strictly for men only, and some organisations still want to keep it that way. However it is now being danced by ladies too, and why not! Most sides are either all men or all women, but there are some mixed sides, and even the all-ladies sides usually have men as most of their musicians.

Cotswold morris is characterised by two types of dance, the stick dance and the handkerchief dance. Many sides wear a predominantly white 'kit'. There are particular tunes which are traditionally used in Cotswold morris, and most exist in many different versions. It is not traditional to use drums in Cotswold morris.

Border morris is from the area of the Welsh border. It is characterised by multicoloured 'rag' clothing.

North West morris is from the North West of England such as Lancashire. The dancers wear clogs which contribute to the sound. Tunes from many different backgrounds are utilised in the music, and there is usually a powerful beat provided by a big bass drum.

The Music

The principal instrument used in all morris music is undoubtedly the melodeon, which is a particular type of button accordion. Melodeons are small and light but provide a powerful sound without amplification, and give the music a particular rhythm and swing. Piano accordions and violins are also used extensively. The concertina and the pipe and tabor are traditional instruments used for morris, especially where there is only a single musician. In fact many instruments are suitable if they can be carried while being played. Banjos and other plucked string instruments are quite common. Occasionally woodwind instruments are sometimes used as part of a morris band, and even occasionally an electric bass guitar.

Morris music is almost always played in the keys of G and D, or their related minor keys such as Em. This is largely because the melodeons used are usually designed for these keys, and the reason behind that is that it suits violin tuning.

Morris music upholds a tradition of English instrumental folk dance music, and the many musicians contribute to maintaining the tradition of English folk dance music in other forms too.

For more about the tunes and instruments of morris music and other traditional instrumental dance music, together with a search facility for morris and other tunes see:


Pictures of morris sides

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Please select from the links below.

Dorset and the South West

Exmoor Border Morris

Hampshire and the South East

Wight Bells

Herbaceous Border

Herbaceous Border

The travelling border morris side which invites all to join in!

About pictures on this site

All pictures on this site are by S. J. Farthing, and copyright. All full size pictures which have text added to indicate their source may be copied and put on other web sites provided that they are not changed in any way and are presented at full size.

They are presented here at reduced size and quality in order to speed the download time. The original higher quality versions of all pictures exist and may be purchased in print form, or as a high quality file. See www.media-mania.co.uk

About links on this site

The author of this site has several other sites, many of which contain numerous links. I like to keep all links valid, but this can be a difficult task in the ever-changing world of the Web. I will only place links to web sites which appear to be permanent, and this usually means a proper domain name, not just web space at a personal site or that provided by a university etc. It costs under 3 a year to maintain a domain name so morris sides should be able to get one.

About missing morris sides

Not all morris sides are listed here. This site is under continual development and in some cases the work of adding existing pictures is 'in progress'. In other cases I am still waiting for the opportunity to take a photo. Some sides simply do not appear at the locations where I take my pictures, especially the festivals featured elsewhere on this site.


The Morrisdancing Web Site

This site has links to the Morris Ring and the Morris Federation, and subsequently to much information and many links on morris. Includes a facility to find morris sides in a specified region.

This page is part of


Please click the above link to visit the main site where there is a search facility.

The direct address of this page: www.english-music.co.uk/morris

All pictures are copyright S. J. Farthing.