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Discussions => Teaching and Learning => Topic started by: sqwzboxstudent on June 26, 2009, 11:37:19 PM

Title: playing for stedancing???
Post by: sqwzboxstudent on June 26, 2009, 11:37:19 PM
hiya folks

is there a certain way to play for stepdancing? has anyone got any tips for playing for steppers or experience that may help????

this is an are that i wish to concenterate on!!!
cheers

tommy
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: Ebor_fiddler on June 27, 2009, 08:49:36 AM
A copy of the "Pigeon On The Gate" CD could give you an idea of how it works. Several of the tracks actualy contain live  :-* step dancing!  :||:
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: Skipy on June 27, 2009, 08:49:56 AM
playing for stedancing???

Hhhmmm......... I even dug out the Dictionary when I read this title? A new one one me, I thought  ;)

All was revealed when I read on.

Sorry I can't answer your question though

Cheers

Skipy
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: TomB-R on June 27, 2009, 12:43:19 PM
I play for step-clog (NOT N/W clog morris) so I guess some of the things I've found may be relevant.

When playing for "my" dancer(s) in public I always play a whole A or B music to give them time to make sure they are happy with the speed, (and tweak up or down if necessary by pre-arranged hand signals!)
Having played for the same dancers for years I normally get the speed about right. I anything I like to err on the slightly slow side, because they then often lift the speed slightly on starting to dance, and I go with that.

Watching, and keeping a steady speed is crucial. (In this as in any other form of playing for dancing I think it's a real shame, [basically ****ing ridiculous,] when you get musicians allegedly "playing for dancing" who are not watching the dancers intently.)

Having said that, part of the musician's function is also as brakeman, to hold back when the dance tries to speed up, (but also learning when to go with it!)

Playing for practicing is part of the deal. Willingness to be there for practice, (sometimes a bit dull as they concentrate on purely dance stuff) is essential.

The step clog tradition is basically for a solo musician. (Arguably) that's the only way you can get the two way flow that makes the thing really work.

The benefits to your playing can be huge.  Learning what makes for "danceability" in music, starting on your own at the right tempo dozens of times in practice, the sheer "mileage in public" it gives you.

Best of luck!
Tom
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: sqwzboxstudent on June 27, 2009, 10:45:59 PM
hey skippy sorry about the spelling mate too much cider im afraid!!!

i do have a copy of the pigeon cd already, theres some great stepping on there
 
thanks for your advice tom thats a great help, that was the kind of thing i was looking at, the dynamics of playing for step dancing!!!
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: Chris Ryall on June 28, 2009, 06:09:05 AM
Quote from: gypsylad
is there a certain way to play for stepdancing? has anyone got any tips for playing for steppers or experience that may help?  

My experience was that playing for traditional dancing should be more about the dance than the instrument. Clever bits of musical embellishment are essentially for your own benefit, and can have negative effect if they are not sensitive to the dance. All eyes are on the dancers, and in the case of step dancing that's ears too. So seek out the essence of the dance and try to highlight that

IMHO Pete Coe and the Ripponden people do it with melodeon as well as anyone. Their style is based on the N Carolina mountain tradition and when I was over there in 2002 ... there wasn't a box in sight. Totally strings, plucked or otherwise.

However quite wacky to see the young people stepping in the pub, and very much a live tradition. The style's epicentre is said to be in Ashville. (your dancers may have been there)  Good luck D3R
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: Rees on June 28, 2009, 09:04:47 PM
For East Anglian stepdancing current exponents include Katie Howson who plays much in the style of Oscar Woods / Percy Brown, or Simon Ritchie who has echoes of Font Whatling.
The style is loose and relaxed with often with a bit of a swing. Popular tunes include Pigeon on a Gate, Scotland the Brave and even the odd waltz. Top steppers - Percy West, Lenny Whiting, Simon Ritchie and lately a huge influx of Essex steppers.

For your own West Country style, Tom, look no further than Mark Bazeley or Tommy Orchard. Both have a more driving and punchy style and if you're playing for Tommy to step to then a fast jig will make him go.
By the looks of your YouTube videos, you're well on the way. Keep it up. Will you be at Dartmoor Festival this year?
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: george garside on June 28, 2009, 10:34:51 PM
 play fairly quietly so the sound of the dancers feet in clogs or whatevr, can be heard above your noise as the sound of the stepping is very much part of the display. Always remember that you are the accompanyist & that the dancer(s) is/are the artist(s) & play in such a way that you add to their performance rather than drawing attention to yourself.  KEEP THE TUNE SIMPLE & THE RHYTHM STEADY WITHOUT ANY FANCY WORK.

If playing for more than a single stepper watch the best dancer & try to keep to a speed that this particular one seems at ease with.  If you keep your playing 'in the background' it is relatively easy for a good dancer to slightly adjust speed and for you to immediately adjust acordingly.

The whole art of it is as much to do with watching & listening as it is with box playing ability.

george
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: sqwzboxstudent on June 29, 2009, 04:16:48 PM
thanks guys!,

rees,
i will be at dartmoor this year, are you going?
i havnt had the pleasure of playing for tommy yet but he may let me have a go soon! i did briefly play for lisa sture as she lives down the road so hopefully she will let me have another go soon!
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: Rees on June 29, 2009, 06:01:32 PM
Aye, I'm hoping to get to Dartmoor after Sidmouth (if my legs still work by then!).
We can have a pint and a tune (more than one of each, probably)  :||:
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: sqwzboxstudent on June 29, 2009, 06:55:14 PM
sure mate! although the two dont go to well for me it will be good for a laugh hey!
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: Rob2Hook on June 29, 2009, 08:01:04 PM
All the advice given seems sound, but when the dancers compete at Dartmouth, the box player has his back turned so there can be no bias to a favoured dancer!   ;D

Rob.
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: Rees on June 29, 2009, 10:04:37 PM
All the advice given seems sound, but when the dancers compete at Dartmouth, the box player has his back turned so there can be no bias to a favoured dancer!   ;D

Rob.

True for the Dartmoor Stepdance competition, but in the pub it's a different matter where the steps are not structured and the whole affair is much less formal.
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: Morrisbox on June 30, 2009, 08:15:31 PM
Quote
Watching, and keeping a steady speed is crucial. (In this as in any other form of playing for dancing I think it's a real shame, [basically ****ing ridiculous,] when you get musicians allegedly "playing for dancing" who are not watching the dancers intently.)

Hear, hear.  I'm glad I'm not the only one that gets wound up by this!

Trevor
Title: Re: playing for stePdancing???
Post by: sqwzboxstudent on June 30, 2009, 09:14:52 PM
i would have thought that would be the fun i playing for stepping, to watch and listen to the dancer???
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: Rees on June 30, 2009, 10:52:01 PM
Spot on, Tom.
Title: Re: playing for stedancing???
Post by: tedrick on July 01, 2009, 12:50:35 PM
I'm in the same boat as this is my primary interest as well -- having 4 stepdancers in the family. There are some very good feis musicians over here - most on PA but many on the box -- Billy McComisky did a recording of tunes for step dancers.

Hearing how good box players use the chords is what I am most impressed with when I hear a good box player when playing for dancers. Very discrete, adding rhythmic punch -- that's my inspiration to learn to play both sides of the box.

Ted
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