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Getting lyrical: dance tunes with words

CupOfTea 23 Jul 08 - 08:59 PM
semi-submersible 24 Jul 08 - 09:13 AM
MaineDog 24 Jul 08 - 09:16 AM
greg stephens 24 Jul 08 - 09:50 AM
Liz the Squeak 24 Jul 08 - 10:02 AM
dick greenhaus 24 Jul 08 - 12:50 PM
topical tom 24 Jul 08 - 01:06 PM
CupOfTea 24 Jul 08 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,Marymac90 25 Jul 08 - 11:19 AM
CupOfTea 27 Jul 08 - 03:00 PM
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Subject: Getting lyrical: dance tunes that have w
From: CupOfTea
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 08:59 PM

When I was a wee thing, my auntie use to sing Irish Washerwoman . When I started contradancing, I recognized the melody as one I knew intimately. The prevalence of old time tunes in the dance bands' repertoires in the 1980s lead me to think of Golden Slippers, Turkey in the Straw, & Cotton Eyed Joe in that same category. The longer I danced, the more I got familiar with items I started thinking of dance tunes that have a sort of second shift job, as song melodies.

So many songs I love to sing come in 3/4 time. In some of those early contradances I attended, Dick Swain would sing the waltz -Waltzing With Bears in particular - but nobody seems to sing a waltz since he left here.

I started doing English Country Dancing and when we did Lillibulero, we sang the chorus as we danced it, and afterwards, Josh would review the verse lyrics and the history they refered to for our American edification.

Besides contradancing, I've been an avid singer & player of autoharp. I've collected songs ABOUT dancing (Didn't I Dance, Dancing at Whitsun, Waltzing's for Dreamers, Log Driver's Waltz) but it wasn't until I started playing FOR the dances the last couple years after my knees gave out that I started getting intensely interested in this overlap of things that are thought of mainly as "songs" and those that are thought of as "tunes."

I know many folks have found traditional tunes a perfect thing to set lyrics to. I heard Archie Fisher sing some lovely lyrics written to Southwind . I've loved Star of the County Down (Kingsfold) for years in common time, and now I play it as a waltz in the dance band repertoire. The band, Mud in Yer Eye also has Tennessee Waltz , which I think of as a song, in the waltz repertoire. In my other band, we use Ashgrove as a waltz, though I've been singing the Girl Scout version of that song for decades.

I'm interested in hearing of other well known dance tunes that have sets of lyrics associated with them. I'm most interested in those that have the strongest traditional basis, but the interest also ranges to "my brother wrote this to Wind that Shakes the Barley for my wedding" sorts of situations, as well. Are there dance bands where the band sings? I'm aware that there are callers who sing the calls, but don't know if the calls are to a specific tune, or whatever the band is playing - howzat work?

Joanne in Cleveland

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Subject: RE: Getting lyrical: dance tunes that have w
From: semi-submersible
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 09:13 AM

I don't have much experience with it, but no-one else answered yet, so...

I believe square dance calls may be either sung, chanted, or bare-bones spoken directions. There are examples in a Mudcat 1999 Saturday night dance thread.

One term in high school we were taught square dance (which I loved, and the other students hated) with a recording of "Proud Mary" containing sung calls in place of lyrics. Even at an unhurried tempo, it took a lot of practice to follow even these explicit directions. The first verse went like this if I remember aright (downbeats marked here with asterisks; last line just filling time while the long "weave" proceeds):

Well, you *join all your *hands and you *circle,
*All the way *'round the *ring you *go.
*Allemande-left your *corner, come *back and do-si-*do,
Left *allemande, then *weave around the *ring you *go.
Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river.

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Subject: RE: Getting lyrical: dance tunes that have w
From: MaineDog
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 09:16 AM

what is property w?


Words! I've shortened the title to fit it in.


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Subject: RE: Getting lyrical: dance tunes that have w
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 09:50 AM

Well, I shall be playing a barn dance tonight, and the odds are we will play Redwing, Camptown Races, Oh Susanna, Little Brown Jug, the Cumberland Reel(King of the Cannibal Islands), and My Love is but a Lassie Yet, among other tunes.. All these are well klnown songs, as well as good dance tunes.

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Subject: RE: Getting lyrical: dance tunes that have w
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 10:02 AM

Bill Oddie (he of Springwatch and birding fame, but was known for being a musician and general idiot long before the Goodies) wrote a song called 'stuff that gibbon', to a square dance type rythmn, in which he exhorts his dancers to:

Promenade that gibbon round the hall,
bounce him up and down like a rubber ball,
drop him on the floor and trample on his toos
Swinging by his tail from the chandelier,
happy with a hamster in his ear,
All he needs is a parrot up his nose.

Often wanted to slip that one into a ceilidh and see what would happen... but then I is an evil little sod at heart!


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Subject: RE: Getting lyrical: dance tunes that have w
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 12:50 PM

Many many dance tunes have words that have been set to them. The most obvious are the playparties--the only music is what the dancers sing. White Cockade, Turkey in the Straw, Listen to th Mockingbird,...the list is virtually endless.

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From: topical tom
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 01:06 PM

Dick McCormack's "Waltzing Around in the Nude":

(Dick McCormack)

Edna was eighty years old last July
She's older and greyer, but then so am I
All of our married life, all of our days
We've started each morning the very same way

We go waltzing around in the nude
The neighbours complain it's crude
But Edna and me feel misunderstood
It's not rude, waltzing around in the nude

The phonograph stands on the living-room floor
Next to the sofa, across from the door
We hum all the tunes and we sway with the beat
With love in our hearts we're so light on our feet

We go waltzing around in the nude
Our kids think we're missing a screw or two
Our kids are prudes, they just can't get used
To Edna and me waltzing round in the nude

Time was when we floated like leaves on the breeze
Pleasing each other we'd do as we pleased
Still we're two dancing fools, Edna and me
Though nowadays I'm kind of stiff at the knees

Still we're waltzing around in the nude
And I don't know a happier mood
With what joy I'm imbued and what wonders I've viewed
Waltzing around in the nude

When the coffee is hot, when the sun's shining bright
Sometimes a waltz feels too airy and light
These are the moments when Edna delights
Changing the record to something just right

So we do the polka in the nude
We love all those fiddles and flutes
Then we open a few of the beers that we've brewed
Doing the polka in the nude

We go spinning around and around
Till Edna gets dizzy and falls down
And she giggles, she points and she thinks I'm cute
Doing the polka in my birthday suit

So do the polka in the nude
It works great for us, it will work great for you
It keeps your heart young and it keeps your love true
Like Edna and me do the polka in the nude

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Subject: RE: Getting lyrical: dance tunes that have words
From: CupOfTea
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 06:15 PM

er... property "w" was supposed to be "words" that somehow got cut off in my making my first ever subject. sorrry.

Greg - those are exactly the sorts of things I was thinking about that you mentioned, but for Cumberland Reel(King of the Cannibal Islands), which is unknown to me as song or as tune.

Dick- if the list is virtually endless, I hope to be continue to be informed. I'd not known White Cockade was also a Burns song, and Listen to th Mockingbird is totally unfamiliar. Your introduction of the idea of playparty songs gives me a whole new avenue to explore, thanks!

Joanne in Cleveland

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Subject: RE: Getting lyrical: dance tunes with words
From: GUEST,Marymac90
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 11:19 AM

CupO'Tea, I guess you're a DownEaster. Your loss of
Dick Swain was our gain. Dick, if you're reading
this, the Open Circle at The Mermaid meets on the
third Wednesday now, but there's none this August.
We'd love to see you again!

Back when I could dance, (before MY knees went bad!)
I remember a waltz that I must have heard words to at
one point, because I always remembered when to sing
"Midnight on the Water so far away".

Another song ABOUT dancing is Bill Staines' Roseville


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Subject: RE: Getting lyrical: dance tunes with words
From: CupOfTea
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 03:00 PM


I predate Dick's days in Maine, when he was mainstay.. of the northeast OHIO (Cleveland, mostly) folk scene. His singing and choice of things he listened to was a huge influence on me when I first became a late life folkie. His knowlege of the Great Lakes lore and Ohio Canal lore is as stupendous as his collection of instruments. The whole area misses him deeply -those of us who know what we're missing and those who know there's a .. lack.. somehow compared to other places but can't pin a name on it.


Joanne in Cleveland

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