Thanks for that, Dan. But before I report back to Norman and the MDDL, I have the sense that an important part of Norman's question remains unanswered.
I'll give it a try...
What do we know of Kimber's ability (or not) to read music?
And if he did play the music from Sharp's collection of Country Dances, does that mean he knew how to read music?.
I don't know if he could read music or not; if someone has said I just don't remember seeing it. Given that he played in a church handbell choir, perhaps he read for that. But his style on the anglo was developed strictly by ear.
As far as reading and learning country dances from Sharp's book goes, I would highly doubt that, but again have no documentation. Kimber was a true country musician in the best sense of the term; he got his music from his surroundings. He would have learned dances from musicians in his area, and very likely started that long before he met Sharp. Moreover, if you look at Sharp's (pianoforte) arrangements for his country dances as well as his Morris tunes, you see a very flowery, parlour-room style that is utterly unlike Kimber's playing. Thus we can say with some certainty that Kimber did NOT learn any of his harmonies from Sharp. I gave an example in my book of that, comparing musical notation of their separate accompaniments for the same tune. I think most of the knowledge between these two for traditional
music flowed from Kimber to Sharp, not the other way.
Again hard to say, but it is of course possible that Sharp asked Kimber to demonstrate dances and tunes from other Morris traditions while they worked together. Kimber, like any traditional musician, would have been able to pick up the melody by ear from Sharp's playing, if it were needed. More likely though, he knew most of those other tunes already, by hanging out with those other teams at regional festivals. I don't remember ever reading that Sharp asked Kimber to demonstrate country
dance tunes, however...just Morris.