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May 24, 2022 - 3:32:23 AM
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3021 posts since 9/13/2009

For you and a few of your friends dancing pleasure. (use whatever contra like)

Recording of us playing live at contra dance (hence for length).

We were all (dancers and band) little rough, first since Covid. Our band hasn't played together for 2 years. Outdoors, on cement (ouch). Had some issues with sound mix. New younger caller, her first full dance... but she did great.

Mostly came back... and sure was fun, for both us and the dancers. We all missed it so much.

----

The tunes are Scully's Reel and Sail Away Ladies, our arrangement, adapted and twisted to fit modern contra.


Edited by - alaskafiddler on 05/24/2022 04:36:55

May 26, 2022 - 6:08:09 AM

10186 posts since 3/19/2009

That is GREAT.. where did you get that version of Sail Away Ladies?

May 26, 2022 - 6:32:35 AM
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3021 posts since 9/13/2009

Basis was adapted from Tommy Jarrell recording.

Was looking for tune with specific aspects to go with a certain dance, that version had some of that which could be adapted to fit it... had to change it though. There were some other things we had previously worked out for it, but it's been 2 years, so didn't get those worked back in.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 05/26/2022 06:36:10

May 27, 2022 - 12:39:38 PM
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Fiddler

USA

4184 posts since 6/22/2007

This sounds great! I like your arrangement of Sail Away. Glad you all are back to dancing again.

I have played two contra dances this year - one in March and another last weeks. It has been a LONG 2 years!! My stamina is crap, but I plowed through it anyway. I also had some problems with tempo, but we were able to moderate on-the-fly when I noticed dancers gasping for air and nearly always starting a figure late.

Anyway, I have forgotten how exhilarating playing for dances is. The dances are starting back on a regular schedule. I am hoping that COVID or its nasty variants don't cause another shutdown.

I deeply believe that a successful dance is dependent on three things - the skill of the caller, the dancers themselves, and the band and their ability to match tunes with the dance. If any one of those fails or falters, the entire dance fails or falters.

May 27, 2022 - 5:38:58 PM
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3021 posts since 9/13/2009

Thanks for compliment. That SAL is one of dancers favorite... despite not particularly melodic in B part (perhaps because?)

We don't have regular dances in summer (hope get back in fall). Our local contra dance folks, at least the die hard ones who showed up; tend to be pretty active/rec folks... hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking, rafting; so kept in pretty good shape last 2 years. (I'm amazed at shape of these folks in 60s and 70s).

I agree playing dances is exhilarating, one of my favorite ways to play music. We didn't have issues with tempo, stamina or fatigue; (we all have still been playing though not as this group)... but a bit rusty on some tunes, more complex arrangement and communication. Still great fun, love playing with piano player.

One thing would add to about successful dance... the most important thing that it's about having FUN.

May 27, 2022 - 5:41:41 PM
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5851 posts since 9/26/2008

Have my fifth or sixth dance tomorrow (with a substitute guitar player). Having dancers out there makes everything somehow "right" compared to sitting around playing too ourselves. Because of the substitute, I've had to put together a "setlist" which takes away from the spontaneity of the regular band, but it will still be satisfying in a way that just jamming could never be.

May 27, 2022 - 8:46:03 PM
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Fiddler

USA

4184 posts since 6/22/2007

Most of my tempo issues were because I was playing with folks (banjo and guitar) that I normally don't play with and who don't have a lot of experience playing for dances. I know that I tend to subtly lead the beat which gives drive. The others in the band were not accustomed to this and interpreted it as "the need to speeding up" --- and off we went. I would really like to have a piano in the band!

Stamina - mostly staying awake past my usual bedtime! I have been paying more attention to my playing posture. Sit up straight. Feel the back of the chair against my back. And, let my bow do the work.

Set llst - yes, I have a list of about 200 OT/Missouri/midWest tunes plus the usual New England contra tunes that I can choose from. However, the folks I was playing with severely limited that list to about 25. Somewhat frustrating at times. While the set are forming on the floor, I get with the caller for a preview of the figures for the dance. I try to select tunes that complement the dance. I succeed most of the time. When I fail, it is spectacular!

Regardless, glad to be playing for dances again.

May 28, 2022 - 3:12:51 AM
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3021 posts since 9/13/2009

Kirk, lot's of that is pretty much how I was used to playing dances; large repertoire we could just play on spot; looking at callers card and trying to match tune. Still a viable way to approach it.

Interestingly, this current band kind of went other way, has rather shortest set list of any I've been in... but in many ways that's not a bad thing.

Initially had to do with different background of new piano player, which I discussed in other topic. https://www.fiddlehangout.com/topic/56716. 

But I think limits forced us to practice different, perhaps more serious practice. Focus on fewer tunes; made us choose few but good diversity of really  good tunes that fairly universal fit to most contras; are great fun to play. More time put in trying out and working out some creative what we can do with tunes; instruments texture/layer voicing, dynamic and arrangement ideas and tricks. As well, we practice a lot of modular tricks and communication (can be challenge), to give lots of flexibility options within the tunes to fit the dance. 

I still pay some attention try match dance with tune... if something pops out... but in a twist  sometimes more about certain tunes we really want to work in. One thing that helped is going over with callers ahead of time, even a practice session with the callers.

-----------

I know that I tend to subtly lead the beat which gives drive. The others in the band were not accustomed to this and interpreted it as "the need to speeding up" --- and off we went. I would really like to have a piano in the band!

I can relate to that understanding front/back of beat and speeding up issue, trying to keep others on steady tempo can wear one out.  Just to say piano players are not immune... including ours initially. Also how to deal with transition/dynamic (or tune) changes so don't significantly rush or drag the tempo with change in energy excitement; tricks how fix if does happen or to purposely alter tempo (per caller), in smooth cohesive way. IMO, perhaps more important in band practice than just learning more tunes.

May 28, 2022 - 3:50:42 PM
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5851 posts since 9/26/2008

quote:
Originally posted by alaskafiddler

Kirk, lot's of that is pretty much how I was used to playing dances; large repertoire we could just play on spot; looking at callers card and trying to match tune. Still a viable way to approach it.

Interestingly, this current band kind of went other way, has rather shortest set list of any I've been in... but in many ways that's not a bad thing.

But I think limits forced us to practice different, perhaps more serious practice. Focus on fewer tunes; made us choose few but good diversity of really  good tunes that fairly universal fit to most contras; are great fun to play. More time put in trying out and working out some creative what we can do with tunes; instruments texture/layer voicing,

I usually operate on the large rep. choose the tunes that fit the dance, but the setlist has given us the chance to focus a little. When the tune really fits the dance though, that's magic. 

May 28, 2022 - 4:11:27 PM

2197 posts since 8/27/2008

Nice. Good percussive piano player with nice runs and flourishes, too, and really steady timing. I haven't played a dance in a few years, and not sure when I will again. Thanks for posting that.

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May 28, 2022 - 9:27:53 PM

5851 posts since 9/26/2008

I forgot to mention, I really enjoyed that, George, particularly the brief a capella singing! Nice change up there.

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