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Folklore: Country Dance Tunes

Les in Chorlton 17 Sep 12 - 05:06 AM
Jack Campin 17 Sep 12 - 05:47 AM
IanC 17 Sep 12 - 06:09 AM
Rozza 17 Sep 12 - 06:24 AM
GUEST,Eliza 17 Sep 12 - 06:26 AM
Peter C 17 Sep 12 - 08:58 AM
Rozza 17 Sep 12 - 08:59 AM
Mo the caller 17 Sep 12 - 09:01 AM
Les in Chorlton 17 Sep 12 - 10:28 AM
Mo the caller 17 Sep 12 - 11:13 AM
ripov 17 Sep 12 - 11:51 AM
GUEST,Guest 17 Sep 12 - 11:59 AM
Les in Chorlton 17 Sep 12 - 12:15 PM
Les in Chorlton 17 Sep 12 - 12:43 PM
Rozza 18 Sep 12 - 05:24 AM
Les in Chorlton 18 Sep 12 - 05:54 AM
Rozza 18 Sep 12 - 07:44 AM
GUEST,leeneia 18 Sep 12 - 09:32 AM
Les in Chorlton 18 Sep 12 - 09:45 AM
SteveMansfield 18 Sep 12 - 10:42 AM
Les in Chorlton 18 Sep 12 - 11:13 AM
GUEST,leeneia 18 Sep 12 - 01:36 PM
CupOfTea 18 Sep 12 - 05:28 PM
Les in Chorlton 19 Sep 12 - 04:09 AM
Les in Chorlton 19 Sep 12 - 04:29 AM
Brian Peters 19 Sep 12 - 07:59 AM
Les in Chorlton 19 Sep 12 - 08:26 AM
Brian Peters 19 Sep 12 - 08:35 AM
Vixen 19 Sep 12 - 08:53 AM
Les in Chorlton 19 Sep 12 - 09:02 AM
GUEST,Withington warbler 19 Sep 12 - 09:20 AM
Mo the caller 19 Sep 12 - 09:52 AM
Mo the caller 19 Sep 12 - 09:55 AM
ripov 19 Sep 12 - 09:56 AM
SteveMansfield 19 Sep 12 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,Vincethecat 19 Sep 12 - 09:58 AM
ripov 19 Sep 12 - 10:05 AM
Jack Campin 19 Sep 12 - 10:09 AM
Mo the caller 19 Sep 12 - 10:32 AM
Les in Chorlton 20 Sep 12 - 09:10 AM
GUEST,leeneia 20 Sep 12 - 12:46 PM
Stanron 20 Sep 12 - 01:11 PM
Jack Campin 20 Sep 12 - 01:19 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 05:06 AM

We currently have access via books, friends, sessions and the net to thousands and thousands of what are basically country dance tunes. Some have been around for three or four hundred years, many for more than one hundred years and some have been written more recently.

What has been the most important reason of their survival and transmission? Is it musicians passing them 'orally' or musicians writing them down and others learning them from the notation?

Any evidence to go on?

Cheers

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 05:47 AM

We know that a large proportion of practicing dance musicians all over Britain kept notebooks full of tunes accurately copied from printed books (see the Village Music Project). The ones that didn't probably *had* the printed books.

Very few dance tunes currently played predate 1750 - mass printing of tunebooks took off in the 18th century.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: IanC
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 06:09 AM

Playford's "Dancing Master" was first published in 1651 and contained instructions and tunes for 105 dances. Most of these dances continue to be danced and the tunes used, not only for dancing. Various versions of the book continued to be produced until 1728, with different dances, and an increased number, in each edition.

The book has been influential throughout its history and the 20th Century use of Country Dancing in eductaion was based partly on Playford and partly on dances collected by people like Cecil Sharp. The tunes have been continued by every method but very much including printed tune books. So, it's a mix of oral and printed transmission and often both.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Rozza
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 06:24 AM

I can't see on the VMP website any statement about a "large proportion of practicing dance musicians all over Britain kept notebooks full of tunes accurately copied from printed books".

Certainly many manuscript books were copied from printed sources, but many were also noted down by ear. The degree of variation in, for example, a well-known tune like "Off She Goes" or "Speed the Plough" is evidence of this.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 06:26 AM

In the early fifties we schoolchildren (boys and girls together) were taught no end of country dances. It was common practice in all state schools, and very enjoyable it was. We were also taught traditional songs whose melodies were often used for dances. None of this happens now and I'm worried that today's children know nothing whatsoever about our folklore. That's one of the reasons I love to watch Morris Dancing. It's one very valuable source of old tunes for dancing. The late 'Winnie' of Kemp's Men Morris apparently had over 130 tunes in his head and played them all by ear, teaching them to as many people as possible. He was honoured by the Queen for this work. It's no good having all these tunes in collections if nobody teaches or uses them. They will become like dusty old exhibits in a museum.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Peter C
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 08:58 AM

IMHO the reason these country dance tunes have survived, and more importantly, are still being played and used for dancing, is that they are so good!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Rozza
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 08:59 AM

I was still using John Kirkpatrick's excellent BBC Folk Dance tapes in school five years ago. Maybe someone else is too. "Grand Chain" in "Lucky Seven" always defeated us but it was great fun.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Mo the caller
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 09:01 AM

The only reliable evidence I can quote is the way I learn tunes.
If I've danced to a tune it is in my head and I can play it by ear.
If someone plays the same tune in a pub session several months in a row, I find it easier to join in the third and fourth time.
If I have a book of tunes - or someone hands out sheet music, I will play from the dots.

If you are playing in a band with other musicians you need to all play the same version, so dots might be more useful.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 10:28 AM

So, the tunes survived because they are 'good' and were used to dance to. It looks from your posts so far that the main mode of survival and transmission was musicians writing them down in musical notation and other musicians learning and playing from notation?

"I can't see on the VMP website any statement about a "large proportion of practicing dance musicians all over Britain kept notebooks full of tunes accurately copied from printed books""

Is a good point made by Rozza above - but have those who construct the site had this kind of discussion?

As for CJ Sharp, I have an 11 volume collection of country dance tunes put together by CJS and published by Novello. Two volumes are "Collected and arranged" by CJS and the others are "arranged" by him but attrubuted to "The English Dancing Master" of various dates in the 17C & 18C.

Did Sharp collect lots of tunes from country musicians, as he did songs?

Best wishes

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Mo the caller
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 11:13 AM

I think that Cecil Sharp collected Morris tunes and dances, and country dances. Then decided that he'd found all there were, so went back to the old books.
There are also collected tunes and dances in the Community Dance Manual ( the older version of this came in 7 parts, with more collected dances in the early parts, recently written dances in later, but the latest edition arranges dances alphabetically).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: ripov
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 11:51 AM

It's always puzzled me why a musician should bother to write down tunes that he/she was familiar with, like "speed the plough" or "soldiers joy". It would make sense to take dictation of an unknown tune from another musician, but not a familiar one. So the suggestion that less experienced players, especially those not blessed with a good memory, would be guided by the dots, would provide a good reason for writing them down; and the same pattern can be seen today. Of course this presupposes that musicians were more musically literate than they are currently given credit for.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 11:59 AM

In response to ripov I have noticed over the years that the 'old boys' and 'girls' write down the first line or the first two lines of session tunes they didn't know and rely on memory to supply the rest. No-one can carry them all around in their heads, surely ?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 12:15 PM

I have tried, though not very hard, to get some idea of what "country dance bands" of the 19C consisted of, without much success. But from odd photographs they have fiddles, 'cellos, some brass instrumenst, possibly from Army musicians and percussion. Again I have almost no hard evidence but it seems probable that some "country dance bands" were pulled together as and when they were needed.

In this situation it seems reasonable to suggest that the band "Leader" would have some tune books so that his scratch band could play together.

I know that just because "it seems reasonable to suggest " - that is no guarantee of anything.

Which takes us back to the role of tune books in the survival and transmission of tunes.

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Sep 12 - 12:43 PM

Here is a link to a site that has a photograph of an old band:

The Winder Band

They do look well dressed and their are lots of them. One of the features of early photography was that if you were to be photographed you but your "Sunday Best" on.

And here is a link to their tunes:

Sorry I cant seem to get that to work but the link to the tunes is in the link above.

Best wishes

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Rozza
Date: 18 Sep 12 - 05:24 AM

Is the second photograph on the page also of the Winder band? Interesting to see a harp in the first photo. I wonder how they transported it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 18 Sep 12 - 05:54 AM

Hi Rozza,

I don't think they are the Winder Band. I started looking for old photos via the net around a year ago and didn't find a lot. I think any information about the musicians that played our great tunes from whenever - say 17C would be really interesting.

A number features seem likely:
1. Musicians with instruments might play 'classical' music in towns and dance tunes any where that would pay
2. Many (?) country musicians, whatever that means, could read, write and play from notation as well as by ear
3. Scratch bands with what ever instruments people had, may have been fairly common
4.People who could play instruments might play in church, at weddings and other parties, feast days, private functions, in public houses, public functions and any other place that might pay them.

In this kind of discussion people often quote Thomas Hardy   - the church band are waiting to play in the church on Sunday morning after a wild night of dancing the night before. The doze off and when called on to play strike up 'The Devil amoungst the Taylors' (I think)

It's fiction but probably tells us something about 19C musicians.

Best wishes

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Rozza
Date: 18 Sep 12 - 07:44 AM

You might not have come across this note about the Winterton (Lincs) band.


Winterton had a West Gallery band, previous historians of our church wrote of them
thus:-
Before the installation of the organ, the Choir & Orchestra occupied the gallery erected at the west- end of the Church in 1754. The instruments in use were a flute, bass fiddle, bassoon & clarinet. A collection of these instrument is assembled in a case on the west wall of the nave, with notes on their origin, & some of the music scores used. About this period (1832) the instrumentalists were Messrs. T Wilson, G Nassau, L Phillipson, W Tock & P Jolly. The vocal members were Messrs T Robinson, S Pearson, & R Michaelwaite, who was one of the churchwardens. It is said that he used to announce the number of the hymns insuch a faltering voice that he was scarcely audible. After several complaints, a noticeboard was affixed to the
centre of the gallery        
There is an account in Credland's Almanac of this unique choir. One of the violin performers took exception to the way in which the conductor looked at him whenever a mistake was made. He threatened to give the conductor a switch with his bow if he dared to turn round again, thereby giving the congregation the impression that he alone was responsible for the mistake. It may be said that their unsatisfactory conduct & irregular attendance encouraged John Barratt, one of the churchwardens (1832) to decide upon a change, & to call upon Mr Godfrey
Robinson to help him in collecting funds for an organ        
...in 1840 Messrs Beeforth & Corbett of Hull were instructed to build an organ        
Its' action was hand worked. The story is told how a young man named George Drax "a bit of a character", having been asked by Mr Robinson to blow for him expected the instrument to operate by the same process as the wind instruments & was looking for "t'ole to blow into".
(This is quoted in a guide book produced in 1989, itself heavily reliant on work by A Ecclestone MA.)

Sadly, I can't find the original article in "Credland's Almanac" despite a lengthy search.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 18 Sep 12 - 09:32 AM

"What has been the most important reason of their survival and transmission?"

1. People buy instruments. Then they look for enjoyable music that's not too hard to play. Country dance tunes often fit the bill.

2. Other people want to dance. They need music. Now see #1.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 18 Sep 12 - 09:45 AM

True enough leeneia, what I am digging around for is - many of these tunes have been palyed off and on for 2, 3 or 4 hundred years. What has been the main mode of "survival and transmission" durung that period?

Their seems to be an assumption, and I may be wrong here, that the main mode has been what is described in the 'folk world' as the oral tradition.

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 18 Sep 12 - 10:42 AM

I'd say that Jack had it right, way back up at the top of this thread.

It seems likely that the 'main mode of survival and transmission', to use your phrase Les, is the written notebook.

There are a large number of tunebooks that have been transcribed by the Village Music Project, together with the others that have been published in other ways.

We just don't know how many others haven't yet been 're-discovered' and are buried in libraries or archives or private collections, and then add all the ones that have been lost, thrown away, used as scrap paper or kindling ... it all adds up to a substantial body of written music.

I was at a talk by John Adams from the Village Music Project at Sidmouth when the project was just getting going, and remember him saying that he was himself surprised at the increasing evidence of the level of musical literacy (e.g. the widespread and common ability to write down melodies in standard musical notation) that the VMP was turning up.

So the 'oral tradition' certainly accounts for the *variation* in individual tunes from one source and region to another, just as tunes subtly mutate in sessions every day today; but the actual longevity of the tunes seems to me and many others to be inextricably linked with transmission and preservation via paper.

It's worth getting hold of a copy of the 'Hardcore English' tunebook that Barry Callaghan put together for EFDSS a few years ago, and have a read of the foreword and the notes on the individual tunes in that.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 18 Sep 12 - 11:13 AM

Thanks Steve, that's very clear and most helpful. I have Hardcore English and a number of other collections and went to one of JA's workshop over at Ryburn about 4 years ago and found seriously life changing.

We run a session at The Beech in Chorlton, Manchester


Here

We use our own tune book created from all sorts of sources and the use of ABCexplorer.

Thanks agian
Les


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 18 Sep 12 - 01:36 PM

My main mode of transmission was Peter Barnes' Country Dance Book.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: CupOfTea
Date: 18 Sep 12 - 05:28 PM

The most important reason in transmission is simple - good tunes get remembered and passed on. HOW they get passed on is a function of where they're played.

Leeneia's post above mine made me giggle. I too, have learned most of what I play for English Country Dancing (1 or 2 dances/month) out of Peter Barnes books 1 & 2, and helped along by the wonderful series of recordings that Bare Necessities did of much of the ECD repertoire in the US. The books tell me what notes/chords to play, and listening to a great band play the tune tells me what the pace is, where the emphasis should be and gives a good clue for variations in instrumentation and backup.

I have over a decade of playing this music with people much more musically literate and adept than I, starting when there was just one Barnes book. We ran into tunes designated "NIB" meaning "not in Barnes." and we'd have to dig 'em up from other sources. We deviated further when we had some wind players who weren't fond of the keys in Barnes, and so the MFA musician and music publisher in the group (Toad in the Hole) did what we called "Toadifying" a tune to a different key easier to play for a recorder or any of his other archane wind instruments, and used today by current recorder players. A shift in piano players had her put her spin on Barnes - so both of my books are marked up with chord variations or places where we use some variations between the first and the second time through a tune.

Another friend who plays traditional tunes, but isn't in a band, had worked out of Marshall Barron's books for years, and played some tunes in different keys than in Barnes - so we'd have to adjust when playing together.

Point is, because the ECD repertoire are specific tunes for specific dances, that no matter the source we were using, we were all paper trained to the dots in playing together. I wonder if there are more tune differences, both sides of the Atlantic, in tunes not wedded to particular dances. It seems that there might be more variation in tunes that are more likely to come up in a tune session than in a dance with a pre-determined set program of tunes/dances.

I can only speak from my years of experience in American contra dance bands, English country dance bands and tune sessions, but it seems to me that the place the music gets played dictates if oral tradition or printed sources are of more import. Instrumentation seems important as well - in American Old Time music, tunes are always played in the same key -it's an "A" tune or a "D" tune, etc. In both Irish and Old Time sessions, most folks will pick it up by ear, which can be difficult for a beginner, and there's such a HUGE range in people's abilities to remember a tune. Even if you "know" a tune, if you don't remember the name, or what key, or what note it starts on... you might be sunk until someone else starts it.

Some folks can't live without the printed page - this seems to be more prevalent in musicians crossing over from classical to folk-traditional music. I knew an elderly Irish fiddler who had an enormous storehouse of tune information in his head; not merely tune names and the music, but the source, alternate names and where you'd hear them called what, and could demonstrate how fiddlers with other styles might do a particular tune!

Trying to track down specific evidence of the "how" in previous centuries sounds like a wonderful PhD in musicology subject - a thesis that would make for interesting reading.

Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 04:09 AM

Ho Joanne,

your path to tune playing sounds much like ours here at The Beech (See the Link above). Our Tune Book, download free from our website, comes from a range of sources: known to us from years ago, played by Bollin Morris - our local side, chosen by Rob our Caller because we need them for his dances, heard at other Sessions and Festivals, brought to the Beech by friends who like them.

We have also been graetly encouraged by Tuneworks Beginners and Improvers Sessions at Shrewsbury Festival. Dots are provided on the net 4 or 5 years ago and people download and learn the tunes, well some do and some don't. At there work shops we must have had 80 or 100 people playing from the dots and from memory - but, and this is the essential point - having the dots before and during the workshops made everything much easier.

We moved tunes from all sorts of keys generally into D & G and realative minors to suit squeezers, recorders, fiddles etc.

Much of this has been aided by the existance of thousands of tunes in printed collections that have been put into ABCexplorer notation. Our Tune Book was created by me using a range of printed sources and ABCexplorer.

I have very little musical knowledge and can barely read music at all. Some of our band can play anything straight from the page, some can work tunes out from the dots over time, some learn from ABC and some by ear. Apart from ABC I guess this is what musicians have done for centuries.

These great little tunes are dance tunes. The have survived for hundreds of years because the were used for social dance. I am sure they were played in other situations but essentially their survival is down to bands of people playing them so that other people could dance.

How old and how traditional is the "Tunes Session"? That is those events where people gather to play country dance tunes, polkas, jigs, reels, hornpipes and waltzes just because they are great fun to play?

It seems to me, and an ready to be corrected, that many people who play in such sessions believe that they are the true carriers of the 'Tunes Tradition' - a tradition that goes back centuries.

Of course we may never know but I will put my money on the dance band and the dancers and suggest that the 'Tune Session' as we know it today is a post World War Two and maybe even post 1960s phenomenon. It seems clear that the Irish Tradition of tune playing goes back much further, but that tradition is also based in playing for dancing.

Best wishes

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 04:29 AM

Hi "Cup of Tea" - I guess most of the above should have been addressed to you?

Best wishes

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 07:59 AM

Hi Les,
I'd say that many of your suppostions are accurate. A Derbyshire MS (ca. 1800) that I've been through includes both dance and church music - in separate books - and the latter may well have been used by the local church musicians who, like Hardy's church band, would have played for dances as well. The dance music book also includes a few classical pieces and a couple of stage songs of the period. Another book has surfaced that contains bass parts for many of the same tunes.

It's my understanding (though I can't find a reference just now) that the bands were often made up of musicians from local militia, probably former soldiers, which would explain the number of marches in some tunebooks of the period. I tend to agree with Rozza that the variation in some of the well-known tunes suggests that they were not all copied from printed sources.

There's an interesting acoount (can't rmember where) of a Derbyshire village band in 1874, composed of local publicans, shopkeepers, farmers and miners, playing string and woodwind instruments and rendering 'The Hallelujah Chorus'.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 08:26 AM

Thanks Brian.

The existance and indeed importance of Village / Town bands of flexible membership, if membership at all, seems central to understanding how the tunes lasted and were handed on.

Do you have a view on the evolution of the kinds of tunes session we see today in pubs? Are they based on what might have happened centuries ago or are they a post 1960s Revival event?

Cheers

Les


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 08:35 AM

My impression is that 'the session' a revival phenomenon, but I don't know how well that's been documented and stand to be corrected. In Irish music circles there is a debate about the merits about of the modern session style, as opposed to the old dance music style.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Vixen
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 08:53 AM

On a related note...Is anyone seeing to passing down the dance calls? There's a fairly large community of dancers and EC/Contra/Square musicians here in New England, but the number of callers is relatively small. Dancers who can dance dozens of tunes all night don't seem to want to give up dancing for calling, and musicians, who understand tempo and rhythm, don't seem willing to give up their instruments. Do we have a new generation of callers coming along?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 09:02 AM

Hi Ms/ Mr Vixen,

good point about Callers a tricky but essential job. Some time last year Mo The Caller, on Mudcat, advertised a "Have a go Ceilidh" - anybody could play in the band, anybody could dance and anybody could call.

We went a long and were greatly taken by the event - 4 or 5 people called - most only one or two dances but still great fun.

As a result were organised one, details here:


Our Have a Go

It too was great fun - generating 3 or 4 new callers calling just one dance or two.

I guess established callers would need to 'train up' some apprentises?

Give it a go - much fun to be had.

Cheers
L in C#


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dsance Tunes
From: GUEST,Withington warbler
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 09:20 AM

I have read the above thread with interest. I have only been playing this music for the last 8 years or so having been introduced to it by L in C above. I for one am glad much music is now written down and, being one who cannot read music, I have often relied on the chords and other tume players who can(though slowly learning). I can now play many by heart and can play many new ones by ear. And even though we have the dots and chords in the Beech tunes books, I wonder if a tune or two, like many other things, can undergo change. I have experienced myself the subtle lyric changes that have sometimes been made to some songs of recent popular singer/songwriters even though the dots, lyrics, and chords are written down. Can this happen to some of the traditional tunes we have had for years? Can this have happened sometimes, perhaps through players of all instruments who could only play by ear and without the ability to read music, before the tunes were finally written down? Just a question so please dont shoot the questioner.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Mo the caller
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 09:52 AM

Les, guess what, I've just posted on the Chester Have a Go thread. We are meeting tomorrow.

I belong to a dance club in Stockton Heath and more than 20 years ago Ron Burgess, who used to run things, went round asking if anyone wanted to call. He said, bring one dance and don't worry, if you change your mind I can do the whole evening. From there it went to 2 dances, then half an evening, then a scary whole evening. I found when learning to call that the first time you call a dance it often doesn't go the way you expected (and the dancers finish before the music, or ask questions like "why haven't we progressed?" which you can't answer at the time, though when you read the card at home all becomes plain). And calling a whole evening you find that though you have practised 10 dances they don't make a balanced programme. So now that I run the callers rota I encourage people who want to learn. We have a library of tapes and instruction books. I link them with one of our 6 regular callers so that they can do 1 the first time, next time repeat that one (but call it better) and add a new one, build up a repetoire until they are ready for a half or full evening.
A lot of our younger members work and find it hard to fit everything in.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Mo the caller
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 09:55 AM

W. Warbler, I find that tunes do change, and it is most disconcerting when they tune in my head and the dots my eyes are reading are not the same.
Although I started as a 'dots' reader I find that my fingers want to play the tune in my head, so it trips me up. The dots are just an aid now.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: ripov
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 09:56 AM

re what we might term "music in the community" pre-electronics.

http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/arts/ar-mclk4.htm
Describing Ca 1820 (make what you will of the condescending attitude - but you must admit it exists both sides of the divide!)

Beethoven derived immense enjoyment from naively bad music, and he often went with zest to the Sign of the Three Ravens, a tavern . . . on the outskirts of Vienna. There an orchestra of seven wholly unsophisticated peasants held forth. They were quite unconscious of their privilege in being the first to introduce Beethoven to the unadulterated Austrian folk-music. . . .
The Master made friends with these humble colleagues . . . more than once he composed dances for them, adapting the easy notes with laughing sympathy to the curious habits of these children of nature. from "The Man Who Freed Music" - Robert Haven Schauffler


http://www.myalpyper.co.uk/englishbagpipemusic.htm

Sir Thomas Browne wrote in 1662 his Derbyshire Journey: "When we had viewed this famous town of Bakewell, we returned to our inn to strengthen ourselves against what encounters we should meet with next, where at our entrance we were accosted with the best music the place could afford, an excellent bagpipe


http://www.soundsurvey.org.uk/index.php/survey/historical_so/social1/158/186/

Pepys diary 1661

To the Dolphin to a dinner of Mr. Harris's, where Sir Williams both and my Lady Batten, and her two daughters, and other company, where a great deal of mirth, and there staid till 11 o'clock at night; and in our mirth I sang and sometimes fiddled (there being a noise of fiddlers there), and at last we fell to dancing, the first time that ever I did in my life, which I did wonder to see myself to do.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 09:56 AM

I wonder if a tune or two, like many other things, can undergo change. I have experienced myself the subtle lyric changes that have sometimes been made to some songs of recent popular singer/songwriters even though the dots, lyrics, and chords are written down. Can this happen to some of the traditional tunes we have had for years?

Withington Warbler (how is Withington these days BTW?)

All the time.

The aforementioned 'Hardcore English' features two pages of various versions of Speed The Plough;

Matt Seattle's book 'The Morpeth Rant' has multiple versions of the title tune;

Powderkegs Morris play The Rochdale Cocoanut Dance subtly different from our good friends Dead Horse Morris, and even further away from the Bellowhead version;

and it may (gasp) even be that the very tune books that Les has created for The Beech sessions are part of that process, if (and I've never looked at them the books so don't know) there's a variation in there that someone adopted and has been enshrined in the notation.

It's happening all the time, and it's a good thing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: GUEST,Vincethecat
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 09:58 AM

I guess it depends on what you define as a session, but my impression (partly speculative I admit) is that something like "sessions" probably did occur pre-revival. For example I have certainly read accounts of country musicians in East Anglia travelling by car or bike to certain village pubs for the express purpose of meeting and playing with other musicians they knew were likely to be there.

We also know that musicians often often played in pubs to accompany step-dancing, which was often spontaneous so quite different to playing music for social or ritual dancing. I'm inclined to think that listening to the music and informal tune-sharing (amongst the musicians when there were several present) would have been an important part of the experience.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: ripov
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 10:05 AM

I was referring above to the attitude of the author; Beethoven obviously didn't make such an obnoxious distinction between musicians.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 10:09 AM

I have experienced myself the subtle lyric changes that have sometimes been made to some songs of recent popular singer/songwriters even though the dots, lyrics, and chords are written down. Can this happen to some of the traditional tunes we have had for years? Can this have happened sometimes, perhaps through players of all instruments who could only play by ear and without the ability to read music, before the tunes were finally written down?

Doesn't have anything to do with literacy. I change tunes myself when I am perfectly capable of reading a printed source - I just prefer my way, for that run-through anyway. In fact I suspect musically literate players are more likely to adapt tunes than people who can only absorb them orally (and have to worry about them slipping out of their heads if they make a habit of varying them).

What makes a big difference is mobility. In parts of the world where people don't travel much, local traditions are more stable. Hungarian musicologists have documented that in minute detail for places like Transylvania and Moldavia (which are so poor that not many musicians can even afford a horse). You can get distinct versions of dance tunes for villages that are only a few hours walk apart.

The combination of print and the railways tends to iron things out, unless there are very strong local reasons for maintaining a specific version (like some important seasonal ritual the tune is associated with).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Mo the caller
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 10:32 AM

I have a vague memory of a story about a fiddler (whizzkid, stranger) surprising people by playing a tune that they thought he didn't know but he had listened at the door (of the pub?) and heard it once.
That would seem to suggest a 'session' of some sort.

And if people play then other people will ask them to 'give us a tune', whether there is room to dance or not.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 20 Sep 12 - 09:10 AM

Thanks folks, I have found this a most informative thread. I think I will start another on the origin of 20C Tunes Sessions - might be interesting

Cheers

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 Sep 12 - 12:46 PM

Sure there were sessions before the revival. Remember Norman Rockwell's painting of men playing instruments in the back room of the barbershop at night? That was 1950.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Stanron
Date: 20 Sep 12 - 01:11 PM

Susy Dent on Countdown yesterday traced the origins of Barbershop and mentioned, in passing, that olde English barbers shops would provide a lute for customers to amuse themselves while waiting. Musical sessions were not uncommon.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Country Dance Tunes
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Sep 12 - 01:19 PM

Considering the price of lutes at the time, that has to be urban legend, or only true of a very small number of very upmarket barbers.


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