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Author Topic: Part A's and B's  (Read 801 times)

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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Part A's and B's
« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2018, 03:46:02 PM »

Here's an example of a page from Aird's Airs, publisshed in the late 17th C [edit: I mean 18th]. If you look at the end of the first parts and the beginning and end of the othr parts, you will see the repeat dots. This direct connection with ancient times is one of the things I love about reading music. The tradition is visual, not aural or oral (:)
« Last Edit: July 12, 2018, 11:57:21 PM by Tone Dumb Greg »
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Anahata

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Re: Part A's and B's
« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2018, 04:48:32 PM »

Edward's question does raise a more philosophical point, though.

First, why is 32 bars a good length for one time though a country dance?
I guess that corresponds to enough length, complexity and variety in the dance to be interesting, without so much that it becomes too hard for the dancers to learn and remember.
Also it's easy (er, discuss?) to understand why dance steps fit into 2-bar, 4 bar and 8 bar phrases. We seem to think and move naturally that way.

But given that 32 bars of music are needed for a dance, why do we nearly always have it made up of two 8 bar sections, each repeated? Why not 32 bars of new and original material all the way through?
I suppose that the same considerations of interest/complexity vs. ease of learning apply, for the musicians this time. And do we also have repeats every 8 bars to make the music easier for musicians learning by ear, because repeats make that process far easier, if you're trying to pick up a tune in a session for example?

As for the A/B divide: in some kinds of dance, the dance itself is divided into figures (A music) and choruses (B music). That's true of many Playford dances and most morris dances. Social country dancing has movements in typically 8 bar length too, though usually without such a clear A/B and figure/chorus structure. It certainly helps the dancers to have the the A and B music easily distinguished, so this would be another argument in favour of repeats, versus 16 bars of A music all different.
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Winston Smith

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Re: Part A's and B's
« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2018, 05:04:50 PM »

Thanks for that, too, Greg. I sing from music, but only for the ups and downs, I've no idea which notes I'm singing other than that they sound right (or occasionally don't!). But the double bar lines seem to ring a bell as repeat signs.
Hence (as far as I can judge) the Capt. Campbell one would be the first 4 bars and repeated, followed by the next 8 bars and repeated, then back to the beginning? And therefore this A part and B part malarkey is just supposedly helpful terminology for people who cannot understand the bar line repeat markers?
While I was writing, dear Anahata came along with yet another slant to the discussion, which muddied the waters of my theory about the Capt. Campbell tune, as it would turn out to have only 24 bars!
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Anahata

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Re: Part A's and B's
« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2018, 05:43:11 PM »

Anahata came along with yet another slant to the discussion, which muddied the waters of my theory about the Capt. Campbell tune, as it would turn out to have only 24 bars!

Yes, it does. That's unusual.
It is quite common for northern English reels to have only 16 bears (i.e. two 4-bar sections with repeats). There must be/have been dances that worked that way, and must be a few that need 24 bars.

We have other lengths too - 48 with AABBCC is common, and morris tunes/dance are all over the place often with twice as much B as A. The 32 bar pattern is very common, but it's not The Law.
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Lester

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Re: Part A's and B's
« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2018, 05:51:54 PM »

When playing with my ceilidh band we often do the Waves of Tory normally a 48 bar dance AABBCC but, as we normally play for non folkies, and they find the dip and dive figure tricky we almost alway play AABBCCC so 56 bar.

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Re: Part A's and B's
« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2018, 06:02:54 PM »

And therefore this A part and B part malarkey is just supposedly helpful terminology for people who cannot understand the bar line repeat markers?
It's not really anything to do with understanding repeat marks in the written music. The A and B part terminology is simply a way of naming the different sections of the tune. A bit like distinguishing the port and starboard sides of a boat, or the warp and weft threads in a woven cloth.

As has already been pointed out, the A and B parts are not always repeated, or, conversely, in some tunes (particularly morris tunes) they can be repeated 3, 4 or even more times, depending on how the tune is used to fit the dance. Sometimes a tune will have A, B, C and D musics too, or even more.

It is helpful for rehearsal or practice purposes to be able to refer to the parts of a tune. E.g. when playing for dancing, the musicians might be asked (or may state) "play the last 2 bars of the B-music as an introduction and then start the first (dance) figure on the A music."

In orchestral music, the various sections of a symphony or concerto, etc. often have rehearsal marks A, B, C, D... etc. printed at musically meaningful points in the score and players' parts. So in rehearsal, the conductor might say "let's play from letter K" or "clarinets - before letter S, four bars, keep right down at pianissimo, so the oboe can be heard" and stuff like that.

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Lester

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Re: Part A's and B's
« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2018, 07:12:43 PM »

The formula for Shepherds Hey from Bampton is Once to Yourself, 6A, 3B,(2A, 3B)3.   (:)

Winston Smith

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Re: Part A's and B's
« Reply #27 on: July 12, 2018, 08:59:17 PM »

Righty-ho!
So, in my simple following of the music whilst singing, the choirmaster might say, "Let's take that again from Bar 32", your conductor could well say, "Lets take that again from the letter C", which could mean exactly the same thing as a Morris leader saying "Let's try that again from the second time of the B part".
i.e. They could all mean the same, but to different types of musicians (I use the word loosely in my case), but not necessarily, 'coz there's no real rules anyway?
I may be beginning to understand, thanks Steve. And to Lester, for muddying my thinking even further!
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playandteach

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Re: Part A's and B's
« Reply #28 on: July 13, 2018, 03:27:19 PM »

In answer to why are B parts harder:
the B part is often like the chorus of the song, so it might be higher in pitch (less familiar territory perhaps).
It might also be in a different key, or use devices like melodic sequences, where the music is immediately repeated a note lower or higher, which is likely to mean that one of those bars lies less well.
Or it might have a faster harmonic pace (more frequent chord changes).
It also might have a more interesting or more varied rhythm.
All in all it makes it usually the more engaging of the two sections.
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Re: Part A's and B's
« Reply #29 on: July 13, 2018, 03:33:05 PM »

In answer to why are B parts harder:
the B part is often like the chorus of the song, so it might be higher in pitch (less familiar territory perhaps).
It might also be in a different key, or use devices like melodic sequences, where the music is immediately repeated a note lower or higher, which is likely to mean that one of those bars lies less well.
Or it might have a faster harmonic pace (more frequent chord changes).
It also might have a more interesting or more varied rhythm.
All in all it makes it usually the more engaging of the two sections.

If you take Music Hall songs as your example the opposite is almost always true, the chorus, all join in and sing along' is the easy part where as the song part is normally more difficult and is carried by the performer.

For Example Daisy Bell

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Re: Part A's and B's
« Reply #30 on: July 13, 2018, 04:19:13 PM »

Ha ha, Lester, as I was reading your comment about Music Hall songs I was thinking about Daisy Bell, and then I got to the end of your post! ;D

That one has an unusually "precise" verse compared to its intuitively sing-along chorus.
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James Tobin

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Re: Part A's and B's
« Reply #31 on: July 14, 2018, 05:07:47 PM »

Can I just say many thanks to an amazing response,I've been following this avidly 😊
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Part A's and B's
« Reply #32 on: July 16, 2018, 05:21:50 PM »

Assuming 4 bar music repeats and standard bourrée croisée dance of 4 x forward/back, 4x cross the "usual" is AABB. There are also Berrichon "village" bourrées and circle dances, which vary. Also Poitou bourrées from nearer the coast … that differ in style.

Here's my video notes from Grand Bal 2014, meant to inform on such matters, as well as rhythm. Look through the (facebook based) videos in the bourrée section 

   http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,13089.msg161035.html#msg161035

Photo attached - "maker's" stalls, various instrument. Typically 100+ of them 😀
« Last Edit: July 16, 2018, 06:25:08 PM by Chris Ryall »
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