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Barn Dances - Country Dances

GUEST,Les in Chorlton 01 Dec 04 - 01:27 PM
GUEST,Peter from Essex 01 Dec 04 - 03:55 PM
Guy Wolff 01 Dec 04 - 06:00 PM
Les in Chorlton 02 Dec 04 - 12:39 PM
Guy Wolff 02 Dec 04 - 02:29 PM
Les in Chorlton 02 Dec 04 - 02:39 PM
Guy Wolff 02 Dec 04 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,Guest, ET 02 Dec 04 - 03:18 PM
clueless don 02 Dec 04 - 03:51 PM
The Fooles Troupe 02 Dec 04 - 06:36 PM
GUEST 03 Dec 04 - 09:47 AM
KK 03 Dec 04 - 12:04 PM
The Fooles Troupe 03 Dec 04 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,greg stephens 03 Dec 04 - 07:03 PM
GUEST,Les in Chorlton 07 Dec 04 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,Peter from Essex 07 Dec 04 - 03:01 PM
open mike 07 Dec 04 - 04:20 PM
CountryMuddinMan 07 Dec 04 - 07:42 PM
Les in Chorlton 08 Dec 04 - 02:49 PM
Compton 08 Dec 04 - 03:31 PM
Guy Wolff 08 Dec 04 - 04:30 PM
GUEST,Frank 08 Dec 04 - 05:25 PM
Les in Chorlton 08 Dec 04 - 05:36 PM
Compton 09 Dec 04 - 08:04 AM
GUEST,Mr Red with Dancing Feet on 09 Dec 04 - 08:28 AM
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Subject: Barn Dances - Country Dancing
From: GUEST,Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Dec 04 - 01:27 PM

Barn Dances / Country Dancing are and have been, a feature of something in England for a long time.
1. Were most of the dances and the tunes collected from a living tradition towards the end of the 19C?
2. Was this tradition rural or urban?
3. Were they in danger of dying out?
4. Did they become institutionalised through the EFDSS?

Just received EFDSS mags and felt curious.


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 01 Dec 04 - 03:55 PM

A high proportion of dances seem to be modern compositions. With the introduction of calling after WW2 audiences have developed a taste for variety while the tradition was for a far smaller repertoire. I have actually heard people complain that Hugh Rippon only calls "standards", no thought that they are standards because any caller worth his or her salt has learned from Hugh in the first place.

Trad or modern tunes - depends on the band. There is a good repertoire collected from musicians who played for social dance before the war such as Walter Bulwer.

Rural / urban - too much rural bias in early collecting to be sure.

Dying out? yes but not as rapidly as was thought by early collectors.

Institutionalised - up to a point.


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 01 Dec 04 - 06:00 PM

Talk about living traditions. In the 1970's I followed around and played with a square dance band that had been very popular for decades in Connecticut and were playing dances sometimes using popular show tunes from broadway in the 1920's and 30's . Talk about key changing problems for a banjo player !!! When they stayed with tunes like Ragg Time Annie and soldjers Joy I was in heaven .. I think Marching Through Georgia had been played around here since the 1860's . (Sorry southern friends.) . square dances and "kitchen Parties" were very very poular here into the 1950's and the dances still are. Kitchen parties seem to be comming back in the form of what might be called house concerts but not to the level they were pertaned to music in Litchfield county . More soon and thanks for the thread.. . Guy Wolff


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Dec 04 - 12:39 PM

Wow, thanks to you both the Mudcat at it's best.

I suppose we have a view of the 19C or perhaps the 18C in which lots of communities met for social dance at what we would judge to be 'Barn dances' if we could some how be there.

Is their much genuine evidence from either side of the Atlantic that this was a common phenomena?

What do we know of the bands and the instruments used?

Do or did bands like Oak and The Old Hat Dance Band see themselves as genuine carriers of a tradition?


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 02 Dec 04 - 02:29 PM

I just did a CD of dance nmusic from my town in the "Early Republic" THe notebooks we worked from were from music students at the Litchfield Female acadamy . See sound bites(I just refreshed the thread so you could find it ).


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Dec 04 - 02:39 PM

Wow alot Guy. I am off to play a few tunes but the site looks amazing. I played one tune and will return for more.


Thanks again. I think this thread can grow and grow. I hope it does


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 02 Dec 04 - 02:44 PM

Sorry I keep hitting something that sends the post before Im done.THe Female Acadamy was opened in 1792 and closed in 1833 here in Litchfield Connecticut USA ..
                        
                        Anyway the popular instroments around here in that period were wooden flute( These and clarenetts and flagoletts were all made by a local maker in "fluteville . Either chello or older style Viola De Gamba (Viol ) are a possobility for the bass line .It would be great if they still had serpents in use. Fiddle most deffinatly was the poular lead instroment . Tons of forte Piano was also coming in . At the time a young woman put into her diary dec 2nd " A pritty Agreeable ball" . So I gues they were more likly called Balls and Catilians (also the name of a particular dance ) then barn dances.
          Localy the guitar got popular in the 1845 to 1860 period. John Ashburn in Torington made more guitars between those dates then Martin did in that whole century . Mass produded 10 miles from Litchfield in Torington .
             Great thread . All the best , Guy


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: GUEST,Guest, ET
Date: 02 Dec 04 - 03:18 PM

If you "google" to Vintage Dance and get to the Ann Arbor site there is a group teaching jazz age, regency and Civil War era dances. I'd say the Civil War era group is probably closest to "barn" dances but they're all having a whopping good time.
Any my sister-in-law's parents do square and contra dancing all over the 5-state area about six nights a week (ask me about the "mule" dance - no don't ask. It was in a barn.....) They also host dances at their cabin up north.
I taught and danced with a contra group in Madison WI and at the Renaissance Faire on the Illinois/Wisconsin border for many years. I'd say it's alive and well, though perhaps a bit in abeyance from the 60's.
Elaine in Michigan USA


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: clueless don
Date: 02 Dec 04 - 03:51 PM

This is probably off-topic as regards the original question, but there is a body of tunes in the Irish tradition called "Barndances" or "Barn Dances". They are also sometimes called "Germans" - I recall one source stating that this is because they derive from "German Schottisches" (as opposed to "Highland Schottisches", which are reportedly the source for the Irish tunes variously called "Highlands", "Flings", or "Highland Flings".)

Back in the '80's My Irish dance teacher taught us a couples dance called "The Barn Dance". This consisted of a short series of dance movements, which when completed were then repeated (and repeated, and repeated ... well past the point of boredom!) I presume that this dance was meant to be danced to the Irish tunes called Barn Dances. This dance was part of a number of couples dances - such as the Stack of Barley, the Corn Rigs, The Gay Gordon(s), Shoe the Donkey, etc. - that were done at Ceilis (I can only speak for Ceilis in the Baltimore MD/Washington DC area of the USA.)

Don


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 02 Dec 04 - 06:36 PM

In Australia the Traditional 'Barn Dance' dance tune was 'gee it's great, after being out late, walking my Baby back home". Indeed when the band struck up that tune, you knew it could only be one dance, as they often were not always announced.


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Dec 04 - 09:47 AM

Cna I raise these questions again

What do we know of the bands and the instruments used?

Do or did bands like Oak and The Old Hat Dance Band see themselves as genuine carriers of a tradition?


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: KK
Date: 03 Dec 04 - 12:04 PM

Instruments:   Lots of 19th C. local dances hired itinerant fiddle players - earlier accounts say the musicians who also played in churches would play for dances. This would have been things like fiddle, cello, maybe flutes, oboes, brass etc. early 20th century you get concertinas and gradually other squeezeboxes. Musicians tend to use a) what they have on hand and or b) what suits the musc plus c) what's loud enough. Hence the post Pat Shaw use of the full-sized wet-tuned piano accordion (run away!)
K


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 03 Dec 04 - 07:01 PM

Musicians also tend to use what instruments they can play - many, if not most only ever play one instrument in their life, or only one at a level they will play in public.


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 03 Dec 04 - 07:03 PM

From what I know of the English northwest(which is what I know best), historically the instrument of choice has been the fiddle for country/barn dancing. There were plenty of professionla or semi-professional fiddlers around, though they easier to play and louder melodeons and concertinas made big inroads in the latter part of the 1800's. Afetr 1900 the whole thing started to decline, though a series of overlapping revivals have kep things going; there is an unbroken tradition of active danc msuicians playing the old tunes, so something of the old styles are preserved.
    Oak certainly tried to play what they thought was a traditional way of playing soutnern English dance music, and very well too. They did their homework and listened to the old time players, and came up with a completely different sound to what people often term "EFDSS-tyoe bands". Though I have to say thata some impeccably "traditional" players played in a much mor EFDSS style than Oak did!
   If you would like to hear old time NW Ebglish dance music, I would strongly recommend the Boat Band(when they are not playing cajun twosteps)


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: GUEST,Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Dec 04 - 12:18 PM

Greg, I think that last point is most telling.

Many current bands playing for social dancing in the folk world are looking backwards. Nowt wrong with that either, much good and exciting music played years ago.

But I suspect that musicians playing social dance music and looking forward will always have an ear for innovation. ( Why we have Whapweasel)

The invention of the melodeon and friends (Industrial Revolution times?) was a bit revolutionary was it? Bands before and after more than a bit different?


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 07 Dec 04 - 03:01 PM

With regard to the question about Oak and Old Hat I would suggest putting that question on the letters column of Musical Traditions. That way you should get a first hand response from Rod.


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: open mike
Date: 07 Dec 04 - 04:20 PM

http://www.cdss.org/ HERE'S THE COUNTRY DANCE AND SONG SOCIETY WEB
PAGE..MIGHT BE SOME MORE INFO HERE..
WE HOLD CONTRA DANCES HERE MONTHLY...SOON TO BE TWICE MONTHLY..
some say it is new england contra...some say contra is a contraction
of country....and some say it refers to the 2 lines of dancers facing each other...contrary..wise.http://www.sbcds.org/contradance/whatis/


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: CountryMuddinMan
Date: 07 Dec 04 - 07:42 PM

Have any of ya seen this here site
http://www.vintagedance.com/

tell me what ya think

-Tony


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Dec 04 - 02:49 PM

I'm probably to scared to confront Rod Stradling directly, or his brother Izzy for that matter.

Was the 19C one of the greatest periods of change for musical instruments and hence for song and dance? Something about not being able to stand in the same river more than once?


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: Compton
Date: 08 Dec 04 - 03:31 PM

I'm Sorry...but I'm beginning to lose the will to live here. When I started "Folk Dancing(!!)" hundreds pf years ago, The repertoire was quite frequently chosen from the EFDSS "Coumtry Dance Manuals" that had quite a number of "traditional" dances collected by worthies of the time, Tom Flett, Douglas Kennedy, Patrick Shouldham-Shaw. Interest was starting in the 60's for the Playford Country Dance Manuals. These days, almost anything goes, regrettably at the cost of the early naterial.


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 08 Dec 04 - 04:30 PM

Localy in 1938 the big poular band for Litchfield county had a Fiddle lead. acordian, claranett ,2 guitars a plecterum banjo and stand up bass . THEY were called Pop Benson and the Cornhuskers. Every fall they would get on the train from Kent Connecticut and play all the way to grand Central Staition , have a dance in the main Hall of the railway staition in NYC and then play their way home . This made quite a stur for both radio and News Paper and is warmly remembered by all .
         i have a picture if of this band at the radio station if anyone wold like it , PM for my email ..All the best , Guy


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 08 Dec 04 - 05:25 PM

Early radio station programs in the Southern US had numerous programs based on the format called "The Barn Dance". The Grand Ol' Opry started out this way as well as other notable ones from WLS Chicago, Renfro Valley, etc. and even before WSN Nashville, there was WSB in Atlanta, (arguably the first "country" station in the US.) Some might claim Texas for this. By the time it reached radio, dancing wasn't visually represented but the tradition that it grew out of was a descendant of what had gone on in the British Isles. There was also a rich African-American dance tradition which gave rise to many white show business types incorporating the moves and music into the "minstrel show". This was a short-lived popular expression. Southwestern Swing revived a lot of the actual dancing in the rural areas with Milton Brown and Bob Wills, much of what carries on to today.

The fiddle and banjo tradition of Anglo-American dance music was popular amoung coal miners and farmers. Some of it was associated with the Southern Mountains. What happened to the Anglo-American tradition of the barn dance is that the players for the dances became virtuosos and the dance aspect became less pronounced.

Blues musicians kept their tradition of country dancing alive in their communities and this transferred to the South Side of Chicago and other concentrated black communities. This would cross over into jazz which in its inception was a dance form in the African-American style.

There is a rural tradition from the Northeast in the US based on the "Contres Danse" from the Acadian community. Much of this has been revived using tunes from the British Isles. Actually, the rural traditions of both North and South in the US weren't that different. They could be interchangeable although there are differences such as the Appalachian Big Circle dances and the line dances of New England. Then there is the whole area of "play party" dances that grew up when the strict "hardshell" Baptists of the South thought the fiddle and banjo instrument of the "devil".

Jean Ritchie can share some important insights into what constitutes
barn dances in the US.

In the 1950's, Jack Elliott, Guy Carawan and I landed in a small Southern town whereby they had roped off the streets for a dance, but their band didn't show. We were the musicians and it was quite an experience and lesson for us. It was as close to a barn dance as I have ever been.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Dec 04 - 05:36 PM

I suppose it's a bit like looking back through a family tree. We are related to a lot of people and to a lot of tunes and songs. Just as we have one mother, two grandmothers, four great-grand mothers.    8....... 16 ......32 then how many dance tunes do we call upon from the historic tradition?


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: Compton
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 08:04 AM

Short answer, Les...is as many as we like. Like a Folk SONG, if it's good, we''l play it or sing it. Although it is surprising (??) how the tuen associated with the dance usually fit pretty damn well.


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Subject: RE: Barn Dances - Country Dances
From: GUEST,Mr Red with Dancing Feet on
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 08:28 AM

In my experience the dances at Barn Dances are a mix of new and old. Some even date back before 1646? (pedants feel free) when Sir Roger de Coverley was published in Playford's Dancing Master, though the Sir Roger referred to was The grandparental Sir Roger, so it is older than that, at least. As for "Country Dances" I am less familiar with DEFASS dances but the Squares and Contra variety seem to be more heavily populated with modernity.

Now with E-ceilidh (cue Scots/Irish ire), there are a surprising number of trad dances that come from all ages - like the Dashing White Sargeant (pick yer spelling) Who seems to have been born in the 1840's with a known Scottish choreographer. But there are fashions like Cajun and French (and Breton) that seem to have their moment. And fade slightly, but not in the Red camp.

I think the answer is yes, no and can we re-phrase that question?


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