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Author Topic: tune sets for ceilidh's  (Read 4381 times)

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george garside

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tune sets for ceilidh's
« on: September 10, 2015, 09:07:36 PM »

On 29  Aug in the long and  driftin everywhere  thread about Whitby week  I  somehow got round to going on about simple(rather than arty farty) tunes for ceilids and as an example mentioned Jimmy Shands choice for a Virginia reel recording as being  coming round the mountain let him go let him tarry,  Maggie and yankee doodle dandy .  Mike Hurst then chimed in to say that he was nicking them!

So perhaps a thread and choice of sets for various dances ( your own or anybody elses)  would be interesting and may even be useful for those new to playing ceilidh music

To start the ball rolling I prefer to play tunes that are well known to the dancers so they can sing along and feel  somehow at one with the band - or something like that.

A couple of simple  sets I have used many times are

  circassian circle  Waltzing Matilda and Click go the shears (polkerified!)

Waltz -Daisy Daisy, oh dear what can the matter be, She's a lassie from Lancashire. 

Gay Gordons  , cock of the north , 100 pipers, lilly the pink

Blaydon races - Blaydon races, Madammoiselle from armentiers ,Life on the ocean wave.

not only do the dancers   like them but those sitting out can and do join in and sing

george

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Chris Ryall

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2015, 11:01:53 PM »

well done in "keeping rhythm" - several bands I've danced to don't see that as part of leading a dance
 :o

But - to be contrarian, and to state one of the things to be the bane of English ceilidhs why switch eternally to other tunes at all? Just pick a good danceable melody and … do something with it. You are musicians FFS!

slightly off topic, but the other thing that utterly kills celidhs is the everlasting walk through. 20 minutes of "all go back to your places and we'll try again", to inform  about 10 minutes of actual dance.

I once (no twice) have had an entirely "fun", all in dance forcibly stopped at 11.45 on New Years eve so that we could all walk through (x3) Bonny White Sergeant, the group's traditional dance to do at midnight. What lunacy?

Sorry George, life is too short …
« Last Edit: September 10, 2015, 11:03:40 PM by Chris Ryall »
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GPS

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2015, 04:45:10 AM »

I'm with Chris - I find one interestingly explored tune, or maybe two to give a key-change lift if it goes on a while, per dance far more satisfactory than the old twice-through-and-on-to-the-next approach.

Graham
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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2015, 07:24:04 AM »

Yes, I'm with Graham - normally two tunes per dance, paying most attention to a consistent rhythmic 'feel' between the pair. A key change (either between or within the tunes) is definitely a bonus, but secondary.
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Steve
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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2015, 08:48:45 AM »

One tune, two, three or more in a set. It all adds variety.  I have one set with five tunes that always goes down a storm!  It uses one tune like a chorus with other tunes as the "verses" so if you give the tunes numbers then it goes 121314151213 etc.  it's only downside is that it can confuse musicians who dep with us!  Oh and all the tunes are in D:-)
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Chris Ryall

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2015, 08:54:01 AM »

At an EFDSS dance at Cartmel, we had a "pre-fun" meeting with She Of The Piano Accordion, complete with books of sheet music. The recipe was "number 7 twice, then #20 twice, #22 twice, #17 twice then back to #7 three times"

I'd like to say that it felt like "death to folk dancing" … but actually, apart from the reprise at the end it was more like a normal Bromyard (picked at random) session set. "Doing anything" with the music wasn't gonna happen, but I have to say that she kept strict tempo, danceable speed and they were all polkas, whatever.

This is a French dance set recorded in val d' Isère 4 years back. The band is again totally impromptu, it is strict tempo, amd danceable speed for an Auvergne bourée.   Whatever …

(I could have picked a Naragonia, Cyrille Brotto, le Tron, Didier Leloi, Heim, or Duo Absynthe dance set instead. These guys also medley on occasion, but it'll be just the once. "Emphasis" is on doing something with each piece of music)  :|glug
« Last Edit: September 11, 2015, 08:58:35 AM by Chris Ryall »
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george garside

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2015, 10:05:53 AM »

I  often use only 2 tunes if playing 'non singy' tunes  but if there are words to be sung I generally go for 3 or occasionally 4 as most punters only know the chorus and perhaps the first verse!
 
A thought on choosing tunes that fit smoothly together ,with or without a change of key.  If  the A part of one fits   seamlessly with the B part of the next one  (with or without a key change) they will work well together. If there is a lurch between them rather like missing a gear they won't!

My pet hate is when a bands suddenly change from a 4/4 to a 6/8 mid dance perhaps for no other reason than because they can!

george
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Anahata

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2015, 10:33:53 AM »

I'm sure most of you have seen it before but Medley Mania is worth (re)reading.
We're mostly a two-tune-per-dance band. If it's a set dance and the whole progression is gone through twice, we change when the first couple are back at the top, i.e. halfway through.
"Each tune twice" is common in Scottish dance and old-school EFDSS social dance.

But I thought George wanted to discuss choices of actual tunes, not to have the "one tune vs. many tunes" debate.
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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2015, 10:46:40 AM »

My pet hate is when a bands suddenly change from a 4/4 to a 6/8 mid dance perhaps for no other reason than because they can!

 ::)  :o  >:(

Idiocy. Agree too about those "gear changes" it is deeply ugly to dance to. We haven't really touched on how a good dance tune must "inform the feet".?

Anahata: I'm actually fairly cool on second tunes. But we truly lack a development concept in this island.  (You and Mary a notable and often courageous exception). I guess as a lot of "Country" dancing has become chess with real men, so doing exercises in set theory with the accompanying music might even be appropriate?
« Last Edit: September 11, 2015, 10:55:13 AM by Chris Ryall »
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Theo

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2015, 10:57:36 AM »

Have to disagree about the changes between 4/4 and 6/8.  It's a standard part of northeast and Scottish dance band repertoire.  As a dancer I think it's quit fun occasionally, you just change gear with your feet.
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george garside

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2015, 10:58:04 AM »

My pet hate is when a bands suddenly change from a 4/4 to a 6/8 mid dance perhaps for no other reason than because they can!

 ::)  :o  >:(

 . We haven't really touched on how a good dance tune must "inform the feet".?

Indeed it must  - but how much of it is down to the choice of tune - v- the way the tune is being played and if the latter how does one best describe how to do it.  Do musicians who are experienced dancers do it intuitively??

george
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Chris Ryall

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2015, 11:08:36 AM »

Have to disagree about the changes between 4/4 and 6/8.  It's a standard part of northeast and Scottish dance band repertoire.  As a dancer I think it's quit fun occasionally, you just change gear with your feet.

Fair enough. The first band to do it it to me was the High Level Ranters, in the middle of a "brandy"

I nearly fell over, … but I didn't quit ;)
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TomBom

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2015, 11:25:56 AM »

I have one set with five tunes that always goes down a storm!  It uses one tune like a chorus with other tunes as the "verses" so if you give the tunes numbers then it goes 121314151213 etc.  it's only downside is that it can confuse musicians who dep with us!  Oh and all the tunes are in D:-)
May I ask which tunes you are playing?
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Anahata

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2015, 01:03:59 PM »

We change rhythm from 4/4 (Scotland the Brave) to 6/8 (Cock o'the North and then Wi'a hundred Pipers) for Gay Gordons, but that's exceptional and apparently traditional. (and "Scottish"...)

Even for Cumberland Square Eight, where it seems to be de rigeur do do My Love She's but a Lassie Yet (4/4) followed by Atholl Highlanders (6/8) we use a 64 bar tune, which could be Weymouth Quickstep or Silverton Polka but never both for the same dance, one of the few times where we stick to one tune all the way through.

But we truly lack a development concept in this island.  (You and Mary a notable and often courageous exception).
For concert performances yes (though no different from many others), but actually when we are playing for dancing as a two-piece band, Mary's on piano and my scope for impro is limited, as I think somebody should always be playing the tune when there are dancers. With more than one melody player, messing around with harmony parts is definitely part of the mix.
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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2015, 03:24:11 PM »

We change rhythm from 4/4 (Scotland the Brave) to 6/8 (Cock o'the North and then Wi'a hundred Pipers) for Gay Gordons, but that's exceptional and apparently traditional. (and "Scottish"...)


Yes, I've done that with several bands over at least the last 30 years. I can't remember where I stole it from, but I think it might have been the RSCDS in Birmingham.

Graham
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Theo

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2015, 04:46:11 PM »

I have one set with five tunes that always goes down a storm!  It uses one tune like a chorus with other tunes as the "verses" so if you give the tunes numbers then it goes 121314151213 etc.  it's only downside is that it can confuse musicians who dep with us!  Oh and all the tunes are in D:-)
May I ask which tunes you are playing?

No its secret  :-X  but you can have a load of fun creating a similar set with your choice of tunes. (:)
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TomBom

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2015, 08:39:21 PM »

No its secret  :-X  but you can have a load of fun creating a similar set with your choice of tunes. (:)
Your are certainly right, making my own sets is most fun.
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Bryson

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2015, 08:33:18 PM »

Together with my sister I/we started ceilidhs here in Berlin. This was about 3-4 years ago. Nobody in Berlin knows what a ceilidh is. I usually just say come along and see for yourself. They do - typical Berlin :)

We only have one problem now, finding a convenient hall to accommodate all the people who want to take part in "traditional and energetic folk dances".

Our next ceilidh is on October 17 in the Wasserturm, Kreuzberg. The room, comfortable enough for dancing, would take about 40-50 people. We normally get well over three times that number - sehr gemütlich :)

We keep to relatively simple dances and I have, since about 2007, been at Folk Camp Germany. I've basically collected the tunes from that camp. So, if people dance to it at folk camp we try it out in the Berlin Ceilidh Band.

Here is a link to the set for our next ceilidh: tunes and dances:
http://berlinceilidhband.weebly.com/music---band.html

Motto: If they go crazy dancing to a particular tune at Folk Camp Germany we give it a whirl in the Berlin Ceilidh Band.

cheers
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MandoC

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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2015, 05:37:32 PM »

I play in an American Contra Dance Band, The Swing Dogs, in Fairbanks AK.  Typically we play 3 tune medleys and play each tune 4 times before switching tunes.  If the dance is still going on after we go through the medley, we go back to the first tune and start the progression over again.  This gives variety in the sets and allows for a lot of variation.  I am mostly the tune arranger for the band.  I frequently write out harmonies and often throw in alternate parts to change the texture of the music. In contra music, any tune with 32 bars is fair game, so I borrow tunes from recordings.  Two of my favorite sources are tunes by the world band Kila and Jamie Smith's Mabon. Another composer I enjoy very much is Scottish accordian player Ian Lowthian. Attached is a link to a stage set we played at the Alaska Folk Festival this year.  For a stage set, we condense sets to be much shorter.  (By the way, our fiddler Maggie is only 13 years old). Charlie

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5BAchdMcbY
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Re: sets of tunes for ceilidh
« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2015, 03:30:28 AM »

Berlin, ... Alaska, ... New South Wales ... 
I couldn't resist keeping the "global ceilidh" thing going, so I've attached the tune list for a midwinter ceilidh held in country NSW last July. All D/G melodeon-friendly tunes.
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