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Playing dances and calling.

Kim C 06 Apr 16 - 01:19 PM
Marje 06 Apr 16 - 02:08 PM
Jack Campin 06 Apr 16 - 02:12 PM
Kim C 06 Apr 16 - 02:21 PM
Sean Belt 06 Apr 16 - 03:53 PM
GUEST,FloraG 07 Apr 16 - 04:15 AM
Banjo-Flower 07 Apr 16 - 06:04 AM
Mo the caller 07 Apr 16 - 09:32 AM
GUEST,leeneia 07 Apr 16 - 09:57 AM
Howard Jones 07 Apr 16 - 11:27 AM
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Subject: Playing dances and calling.
From: Kim C
Date: 06 Apr 16 - 01:19 PM

Mister and I get several requests to play for historical dances at events. Which is fine, but neither one of us is a dance caller. I'm not crazy in thinking that most musicians don't actually call dances, right? I mean, that's why we have dance callers, after all.


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Subject: RE: Playing dances and calling.
From: Marje
Date: 06 Apr 16 - 02:08 PM

If they are some sort of dance group that specialises in old dances (e.g. Playford), they may already know their dances, but in that case I would expect them to want to dance to specific tunes.
If on the other hand the organisers just want the assembled company to get up and dance, then of course, they will need a caller, and you or they would have to provide one.
Marje


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Subject: RE: Playing dances and calling.
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Apr 16 - 02:12 PM

In most "historical" periods there were no callers.

On the other hand, for much of the period from 1650 to 1850, musicians often took on the role of dance teacher.

But if your customers want a caller you'll just have to find one or learn how to do it.


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Subject: RE: Playing dances and calling.
From: Kim C
Date: 06 Apr 16 - 02:21 PM

These events are for modern people who aren't regular dancers, so they pretty much have to have a caller. ;-)

I was a little nervous because we had a request from a lady we've worked with in the past and she's a little flaky, to say the least. BUT, I've since talked to her, and she'll be able to get a caller. So it's all good. :-)

I have a good enough familiarity with most of the common dances, but I really have no interest in learning how to call. Luckily I have a couple of personal friends who are callers, if I ever need someone.


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Subject: RE: Playing dances and calling.
From: Sean Belt
Date: 06 Apr 16 - 03:53 PM

There were a few callers here in Missouri who I've heard could fiddle while they called squares. That was several years ago, though. At this point (around the St. Louis area anyway) there's only one or maybe two that I know of who can call a dance while they play.

A lot more common are callers who can dance while they call, like Jim Thaxter from the Columbia, MO area and one of my favorite callers.

Most of the callers I know have to read the dances off of little cards or their IPad, so would be of little use playing an instrument or dancing while they call. My guess is that they are familiar with a couple of hundred contras and squares, but that's too many to memorize.


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Subject: RE: Playing dances and calling.
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 07 Apr 16 - 04:15 AM

When I play for a dance I play more ' thumpilly' than I would normally - a good musical term. Especially heavy on the first note of each new movement but very rhythmic playing.

Have some agreed signal between you and the caller - speed up; slow down;last time. Sit behind the caller.

If you are doing it for the first time I would suggest a complete A section for the introduction. ( remember then to do the A and its repeat)

Ideally Pick tunes you know really well so you can play without the dots and watch the dancers. For example I call a tune to redwing. Its forward forward clap clap clap back back stamp stamp stamp
so I play the music one and two and thump thump thump and five and six and thump thump thump.

Enjoy the evening.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Playing dances and calling.
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 07 Apr 16 - 06:04 AM

When a local band first started many years ago they organised several meetins with friends so the would be(now excellent)caller could have a go in a friendly stress free atmosphere

Gerry


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Subject: RE: Playing dances and calling.
From: Mo the caller
Date: 07 Apr 16 - 09:32 AM

Some musicians DO call as well, and some callers get out a whistle and join in once the dancers have been prompted through a couple of turns of the dance.
But I prefer a caller who has their attention on the dancers.

I find it very hard to give proper attention to other sets if I'm dancing (to make up numbers) in one set. Not a good enough musician to play, even if not calling.

Our club callers are helped to learn to call ( one dance this week, repeat it next time, better, and add another). It is surprising how a dance that works perfectly well at home goes wrong first time out and the mistake is invisible till you look again at home - then obvious.But if you are learning among friends there is tolerance.
Calling for non-dancers is different again. Easier dances but clearer explanations needed. But if calling for groups who seldom dance you can call fewer dances that you know without the card - I agree that you need it for club dances (though the card could be on the music stand if the musician knew the tune well). By the time I have rehearsed a club programme I have the dance almost memorised (soon forget it), so hardly need the card after the walk through.

I suppose a caller/musician needs both dance and tune memorised as eyes need to be on dancers.


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Subject: RE: Playing dances and calling.
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 07 Apr 16 - 09:57 AM

I just remembered something. There are songs in square dancers where the words are changed to call the dance. Years ago I was forced to take Folk Dance in college, and I remember a few lines from "Rose of San Antone."

Balance with your corner, she's the girl from way out west,
Balance with your partner, she's the girl you love the best.
tum ty tum ty tum tum, tum ty tum ty tum.
Balance with your Rose of San Antone.

I suppose if you sang these these words and played fiddle at the same time, it could be done. But it would be a lot of work to find and learn all those songs. And it wouldn't work for flute.
============
I sometimes play for country dancing. There are at least seven musicians who come and go, and none of us attempt to play and call at the same time.

The brain is odd. I can play guitar and sing, but I simply cannot play the piano and sing.


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Subject: RE: Playing dances and calling.
From: Howard Jones
Date: 07 Apr 16 - 11:27 AM

As Mo has said, there are those who can play and call at the same time but they are few and far between. Both activities are very demanding and not many people are able to do both simultaneously.

More often where band member also call they will begin with calling and only start playing once the dance is in full flow and the dancers need less guidance. This is easier if they are in a supporting musical role rather than playing lead instrument, and where they can revert to calling should the need arise without disruption to the music.

What is important is to agree who will be responsible for arranging the caller, and whether the band's fee includes the caller or they will paid separately. In my (UK) experience, private events usually expect the band to organise this, but dance clubs and folk festivals.often prefer to book a caller of their choice.


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