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Easiest Country Dance Tunes

Les in Chorlton 29 Apr 09 - 02:33 AM
Jack Blandiver 29 Apr 09 - 02:56 AM
SteveMansfield 29 Apr 09 - 03:11 AM
Tug the Cox 29 Apr 09 - 06:04 AM
greg stephens 29 Apr 09 - 07:37 AM
Tug the Cox 29 Apr 09 - 09:23 AM
Marje 29 Apr 09 - 10:49 AM
greg stephens 29 Apr 09 - 11:08 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 Apr 09 - 11:16 AM
greg stephens 29 Apr 09 - 11:20 AM
SteveMansfield 30 Apr 09 - 03:27 AM
Les in Chorlton 30 Apr 09 - 03:35 AM
Les in Chorlton 30 Apr 09 - 05:01 AM
Marje 30 Apr 09 - 06:46 AM
bubblyrat 30 Apr 09 - 07:05 AM
Marje 30 Apr 09 - 07:17 AM
GUEST 30 Apr 09 - 07:34 AM
SteveMansfield 30 Apr 09 - 07:49 AM
GUEST,HughM 30 Apr 09 - 08:10 AM
GUEST 30 Apr 09 - 09:16 AM
Les in Chorlton 30 Apr 09 - 10:35 AM
Marje 30 Apr 09 - 10:48 AM
Les in Chorlton 02 May 09 - 04:04 AM
Jack Campin 02 May 09 - 10:05 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 May 09 - 02:17 AM
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Subject: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Apr 09 - 02:33 AM

I know some tunes are easier to play on some instruments than others but, by and large, what are the easiest 10 or so English, in the broadest sense, country dance tunes?

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Apr 09 - 02:56 AM

The Playford's stuff simple, easy, fun, but evocative - stuff like Nonesuch (which can be played in major & minor modes) and Goddesses - and anything that I play on pipe & tabor: Idbury Hill (aka London Pride), Lads a Bunchum, Jimmy Allen, Shepherd's Hey, Staines Morris etc.


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 29 Apr 09 - 03:11 AM

In addition to SS's list, try

Winster Gallop
Blaydon Races
Nancy Dawson
Rattling Bog
The Keel Row
Captain Lemo's
Theme Vanitaise (English in the very very broadest sense, because although it started life as the theme music for a French soap opera it's been adopted by the English border morris tradition)
Dorset Four-Hand Reel (especially the first tune)
Galopede a.k.a. Persian Dance


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 29 Apr 09 - 06:04 AM

Maybe SS has forgottem what it's like to be a beginner, I never found those playford tunes easy then. Bricks and mortar is easy, straight up and down,Huntsman's jig similar. Rakes of Mallow ( Irish really) is easy to pick up, as is Jimmy Jimmy nick nack.


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: greg stephens
Date: 29 Apr 09 - 07:37 AM

When I started the melodeon, I found Winster Gallop and Jenny Lind Polka probably the most straightforward.


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 29 Apr 09 - 09:23 AM

Jenny Lind is great, but like many others changes keys, which can be an obstacle to the Tyro. Speed the Plough and redwing polka are also good tunes that seeem to run away with you when you gat your fingers round them.


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Marje
Date: 29 Apr 09 - 10:49 AM

I think that although the request was for tunes that are easy regardless of instrument, many tunes tend to fall into two categories.

There are those that go up and down in arpeggios, like Winster Gallop and Soldiers' Joy, which suit melodeons and anglo-concertinas, and possibly fiddle/mandolin. The key-changes on tunes like Jenny Lind are simple on melodeon but probably not for any other beginner instrument.

Then there are tunes that use more runs of consecutive notes, like Galopede, Davy Davy (aka Jimmy?)Nick Nack or Rakes of Mallow. These are probaby more acccessible for beginners on whistle, flute, accordion or English concertina.

I hasten to add that I don't play all the above instruments and may have put some in the wrong category, but you get the general idea.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: greg stephens
Date: 29 Apr 09 - 11:08 AM

Marje: I disagree with you about arpeggios on melodeon. I think Soldiers Joy is a very very hard tune for a beginner on the melodeon, just because of those root chord arpeggios. Yes they are superficially easy to play, because there is no in-and-out on the bellows. But for that reason, you lose all the rhythmic impetus which is the gift of the melodeon to the beginner. I know many a quite accomplished melodeon player who can't get much lift out of Soldiers Joy for that very reason. Whereas the in and out of the first couple of bars of Davy Davy Nick Nack is guaranteed to come out bouncy on a melodeon, just because the fast note runs involve single steps, not arpeggios.


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Apr 09 - 11:16 AM

Thanks a lot, lots of good tunes some of which we already play.

I have discussed the in/out on the melodeon being trickier the out/out or in/in and have a feel for what is easy on fiddles & banjos.

Jenny Lind is a great tune. I learned fro the Mr Fox LP and was happy playing it until I found the dots in a book and can't get it straight but not to worry.

Any more suggestions?
L in C


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: greg stephens
Date: 29 Apr 09 - 11:20 AM

The great thing about Jenny Lind is you can play a simplified version with all crotchets which sounds perfect, and then add any number of quavers to fill in the runs as and when you are capable of doing so.


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 03:27 AM

I was pondering this further and came up with

Donkey Riding
The Lady In The Lake *[warning, this tune contains arpeggios]
Uncle Bernard's
Three Around Three
Tip Top Polka
Jimmie Allen (sometimes Jimmy Allen)
Salmon Tails
The Man In The Moon
Le Canal En Octobre (another semi-naturalised French tune, by Frederic Paris who writes loads of gorgeous but unfussy tunes)

Also have a look at The Lewes Arms favourites, a fine online tunebook put together by the good people of The Lewes Arms club and sessions, as there's a good selection of entry-level tunes there.


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 03:35 AM

Than ks Greg, I'll give that a go with JL. I have had a look at the Lewes stuff and it really is an amazing collection of tunes. Another minor issue I am unsure of is how tricky accidentals are for melodeon players F instead of F# and so on,

thanks again

L in C


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 05:01 AM

OK folks this is the list so far:

Blaydon Races
Bricks and mortar
Captain Lemo's
Donkey Riding
Dorset Four-Hand Reel
Galopede a.k.a. Persian Dance
Goddesses
Huntsman's jig
Idbury Hill (aka London Pride),
Jenny Lind Polka
Jimmie Allen (sometimes Jimmy Allen)
Jimmy Jimmy Nick Nack.
Keel Row
Lads a Bunchum,
Lady In The Lake
Le Canal En Octobre
Man In The Moon
Nancy Dawson
Nonesuch
Playford's stuff
Rakes of Mallow
Rattling Bog
Salmon Tails
Shepherd's Hey,
Speed the Plough and redwing polka
Staines Morris
Theme Vanitaise
Three Around Three
Tip Top Polka
Uncle Bernard's
Winster Gallop

Any further suggestions or tunes to be chucked out as too hard?

Thanks again

L in C


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Marje
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 06:46 AM

Re accidentals and melodeons: it depends on the particular model of melodeon. In a 2-row D/G box, you can borrow notes from the other row (so you can play a C# in a G tune, should it arise)but you may or may not have other accidentals. My box has no accidentals, so I can't play an F natural at all. Some boxes have a selection of a few accidentals available on the bottom keys, and some have an extra half-row of accidentals, as well as extra bass buttons to give extra chords.

Players of chromatic instruments sometimes find it hard to understand why anone would devise or play an instrument that looks quite complicated but doesn't have all the notes, but most melodeon players quite enjoy playing within (and sometimes avoiding) the limitations of the instrument. If I wanted to play a chromatic instrument I'd have an accordion instead.

Each melodeon player devises ways of playing or avoiding accidentals, and in ensemble playing you can get away with it as long as someone else is playing the notes/chords. There's that G# in Da Slockit Licht, which I just omit, or there's the bit in Horses' Brawl when it goes to G minor and needs a B flat, so I just vamp open chords with no thirds for that bit.

That's probably more than you wanted to know, Les, but basically the melodeon players will sort it out for themselves. Just don't expect them to be able to find a note or chord that simply isn't on the instrument.

And Greg: yes I take your point about arpeggio-style tunes being easy to play badly. But I suppose if the player can learn at that stage to play with a light touch rather than relying on the bellows for the rhythm, maybe they'll develop a better playing style overall? And I do think arpeggio-based tunes help a beginner to figure out how the buttons work and relate to each other.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: bubblyrat
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 07:05 AM

Talking of "Horses' Branle" (or Brawl,if you must !),I think that it is a much easier tune if you play the whole thing without playing the C part in a minor key....it sounds so much nicer !! I always play it that way,and I often put "Rufty Tufty" (from Playford) together with it --try it,Les ! ( RT first,then HB).


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Marje
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 07:17 AM

Re the spelling of branle/brawl - I prefer to use the English spelling, which has been around for several centuries, and fits with the way we pronounce it in English.

But the tune itself is the important thing. I learned it first as an entirely major tune, including the C part (maybe it was a melodeon player who led it?). I prefer it that way, but accept that I may be biased and that most people seem to like the minor key-change.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 07:34 AM

Talking of "Horses' Branle" (or Brawl,if you must !)

Marge is right. If you insist on 'Branle' you should at least be consistent and call it 'Branle Des Cheveaux'


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 07:49 AM

The version with the minor notes in the C part is the original: it's from what is considered the first 'dancing manual' to have been published, Thoinot Arbeau's Orchesographie of 1589.

The modern Horses Brawl is a combination of that tune with a version of another of the dances that Arbeau described - Eddie Upton was, I believe (and would be interested to be corrected), the originator of this new combination/variant/adaptation/call it what you will. The 'new' dance was IIRC predominantly done to the all-major version of the tune until someone unknown went back to the original source and dropped the minors back in.

The other advantage of playing the minors is, of course, that it gives all us chromatic-instrument players a momentary bit of leverage and superiority over the massed ranks of D/G melodeons!


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: GUEST,HughM
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 08:10 AM

I'd start with Jimmy Allen and Salmon Tails as suggested above.


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 09:16 AM

Nonesuch - aka Horses Brawl (in the key of GG) if you want a simpler version try Les Bouffant - clearly siblings. And also indicative of the Eurohit covers of 400 years or more ago.

Surely Speed the Plough is easy. I can play it on the bodhran with three sticks (and a snare).


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 10:35 AM

I think Speed the Plough is actually a virus transmitted directly from Barn Dances, through the ear, into the brain and then through fingers into instruments without any conscious process of learning

I think

L in C
PS Thanks Marge for guidance on accidentals & melodeons


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Marje
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 10:48 AM

"Branle des Chevaux" - I like it. I think my French teacher used to drive one of those. Careful how you spell it, though - "cheveaux" is "hair". You don't want to call it "Hairy Brawl", that sounds a bit uncouth.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 May 09 - 04:04 AM

Any more?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 May 09 - 10:05 AM

Easy pipe march tunes (for a Gay Gordons, say):

The Burning of the Piper's Hut
The Earl of Mansfield
Highland Laddie
The Barren Rocks of Aden (the 2-part version)
Teribus
Donald Maclean of Lewis
Cock of the North


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Subject: RE: Easiest Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 May 09 - 02:17 AM

Thanks Jack. I know Cock of the North but the others are new to me - I will go and seek them out

L in C


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