Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Button And Whitaker

Dances Devised By The Scottish Country Dance Deviser - Button And Whitaker

Golden Pheasant
Lord Rosslyn's Fancy
Middling, Thank You
My Mother's Coming In
Button and Whitaker (spelt as Whittaker in some modern publications) were early 19th century music and dance publishers, based in the St Paul's Church Yard in London. Whitaker (1776- 1847) was also an organist and composer of popular songs. The company took over the yearly publication of Twenty Four Country Dances previously produced by the publishers Thompson.

Books of dances were a small part of the work of Regency dance publishers and music shops. Many used to commission music and dances, and the quality of their dances was decried by famous Dancing Masters of the time such as Thomas Wilson and John Cherry. It is clear that poor dances were produced in quantity.

Wilson said in the 1816 Companion to the Ball Room, "The only reason to be assigned why Collections of Country Dances, particularly annual ones, have been so deficient both in Merit and Originality, is, that good Composers have considered that it would not pay them for composing Dances... Although most of the Music Publishers are Composers; yet few of them compose their own Dances. They are generally, either procured from persons writing them for a mere Trifle, or from young Amateurs, who are fond of obtruding their Productions on the Public". (Wilson himself wrote dance figures for Button and Whitaker from 1812!).

Cherry complained in about 1811, "I have before remarked, that country dancing is of very scientific composition, and is founded upon strict mathematical principles; but I now think it proper to inform the reader, that those mathematical principles do not always appear, either in the works of those who arrange the figures, or of those who compose or print the tunes; as, from both departments, very frequently issue compositions abounding with the most glaring errors".