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Author Topic: what makes a morris tune?  (Read 4121 times)

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ladydetemps

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what makes a morris tune?
« on: July 21, 2009, 11:21:32 AM »

What makes a morris tune a morris tune? Can it be any tune that fits or are there certain conventions and traditions which make a tune for morris?

this is asked in complete ignorance...out of curiosity.

Bill the Farmer

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2009, 11:48:25 AM »

You can use any tune you like for morris, provided it fits the dance, or you make the dance fit the tune. Sometimes the tune gets changed a bit, several of the tunes we use for dances are modified versions of otherwise well known tunes. For example our ladies side do a Northwest dance to 'When Santa got stuck up the chimney' at Christmas. Whatever it is, you put some bounce into it.
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Lester

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2009, 12:35:45 PM »

My team uses, for example:

  • "Proper" morris tunes from Bacon
  • Ode to Joy - Beethoven
  • South Australia - Sea Shanty
  • Barwick Green - The Archer's theme if you didn't already know
  • Good King Wencleslas - Adderbury stick dance for the Christmas season
  • etc, etc

So anything that fits the dance and that you like playing.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2009, 12:37:18 PM by Lester »
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george garside

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2009, 09:35:18 AM »

I agree with Bill & lester.  The music & dance should  combine to provide an attractive ' performance'  for whoever is watching the proceedings.  With this in mind  I have tended to play tunes that the public can identify with or even sing along  with as that way they stay & watch for longer and by so doing attract an even larger audience( &  more money in the tin!).  tunes have included nellie the elephant, good king wencelas, jingle bells, runaway train, lilly the pink,sweet 16,madamoselle from armentiers, geordy hinny, leaving of liverpool,maggie may etc etc along with  many well known Scottish marches

 if a adance is normally associated with a 4/4 or 6/8 in theory it should be just as danceable to any other 4/4 or 6/8  provided  the rhythm, bounce & phrasing are adjusted to suite.

george
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Chris Ryall

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2009, 09:56:52 AM »

Most sides dance the exactly same figures to each tune - yet with the different music it feels different.

PS: OK Tony (below) - but in big traditions like Bampton, Fieldtown, Headington and Bledington the figures for stick or hankie are virtually identical against the various tunes

So I think the answer is perhaps that

    ..  Morris sides make Morris tunes.

Example from the other side of the coin. I often play Sherbourne Orange and Blue in sessions - quite legato - and no dancers of course. It makes a lovely waltz, but it no longer feels like morris
« Last Edit: July 22, 2009, 12:49:24 PM by chrisryall »
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TonyRussell

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2009, 12:11:10 PM »

Traditionally (particularly Cotswold morris) the tune went with the specific dance and you wouldn't do "one dance to the tune of another" (for certain dances it would be very difficult to find another tune with the right phrasing, metre, tempo etc. to fit anyway, e.g. "Trunkles"). Years ago I heard of the same figures performed to two different tunes and the dances (from the same village) called by two different names (as Chris alludes to, above). By that reckoning have you have "invented" a new dance if you use a new tune? Or maybe we have just become more adventurous these days. :-\
A characteristic of English traditional music anyway, most of those taditional Morris tunes are superficially so simple, yet possess such depth if they're played right (e.g. Old Molly Oxford) you can play it over and over :P.
I believe that North West morris was less strict and used popular tunes that matched to rhythm needed - somebody else might elaborate.
If you include sword under the Morris banner - In the North East we dance rapper to almost any suitable 6/8 jig (Nellie the Elephant was a favourite when I played for rapper years ago) and Yorkshire Longsword is danced to a variety of tunes too. The criteria is that the tunes should match the figures in rhythm and length.
I suppose it depends on whether or not you see "the tradition" as fixed at some past time, or living and adapting to the moment - and also, in the latter case, how much change is acceptable before the tradition has been compromised.
So, I think, the answer is - a good Morris tune fits the dance. ;D T.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2009, 12:12:55 PM by TonyRussell »
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baz parkes

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2009, 12:21:56 PM »

Traditionally (particularly Cotswold morris) the tune went with the specific dance and you wouldn't do "one dance to the tune of another" (for certain dances it would be very difficult to find another tune with the right phrasing, metre, tempo etc. to fit anyway, e.g. "Trunkles"). So, I think, the answer is - a good Morris tune fits the dance. ;D T.
Indeed.  Rod Stradling tells a lovely story of introducing an Italian tune to the repertoire on playing for Bampton.  Overheard interchange went something like this:

Shocked Onlooker "That's not traditional Francis..."

The late lamented Francis Shergold, Squire and all round Good Chap "It is now..." (:)

Baz
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joe

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2009, 02:00:25 PM »

Francis once told me, on enquiring, that as long as the tune fits and is suitable, then why not give it a go. So we did.
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HallelujahAl

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2009, 02:11:44 PM »

Bit like 'Lord of the Dance' really? Written by Sydney Carter in 1963 - but it's traditional now.
AL
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Lester

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2009, 03:54:26 PM »

Bit like 'Lord of the Dance' really? Written by Sydney Carter in 1963 - but it's traditional now.
AL

The words maybe 1963 but the tune is "Simple Gifts an 1848 Shaker song by Elder Joseph Brackett."

Thanks to Wikipedia

Bill the Farmer

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2009, 04:05:44 PM »

Traditionally (particularly Cotswold morris) the tune went with the specific dance and you wouldn't do "one dance to the tune of another"
This is exactly what our lot do at the silly end of season last stand. Get the musicians to play a random tune, then get the dancers to do a totally unsuitable dance to it.  >:E
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ladydetemps

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2009, 04:07:25 PM »

Traditionally (particularly Cotswold morris) the tune went with the specific dance and you wouldn't do "one dance to the tune of another"
This is exactly what our lot do at the silly end of season last stand. Get the musicians to play a random tune, then get the dancers to do a totally unsuitable dance to it.  >:E
sounds like the dance version of I'm sorry I haven't a clue. lol!

HallelujahAl

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2009, 04:59:45 PM »

Quote
The words maybe 1963 but the tune is "Simple Gifts an 1848 Shaker song by Elder Joseph Brackett."

Thanks to Wikipedia
1st premise: you can't believe everything that's in Wikipedia.

2ndly: Tune is similar agreed, though it's not exactly the same tune. But given that one may have borrowed from the other one would still have to say that 1848 is not really 'traditional' - Victorian yes. In fact some have suggested that Elder Brackett wrote the song in 1875, as in the book, Eminent Mainers, by Arthur Douglas Stover, and also in the best-selling CD by the Boston Camerata, Simple Gifts: Shaker Chants and Spirituals. Which very nearly pitches the song into the modern-era.  I much prefer Aaron Copeland's use of the song in Appalachian Spring a piece of music that I was introduced to at the age of fifteen - it has stayed etched into my memory ever since. I couldn't believe that anybody from the 'serious aka classical music world' could have written anything so wild! Still gives me gooesbumps just thinking about it.
AL
« Last Edit: July 22, 2009, 05:13:41 PM by HallelujahAl »
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Lester

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2009, 05:51:24 PM »

Thread drift alert

<snip>
1848 is not really 'traditional' - Victorian yes.
<snip>

When does traditional begin then?

In my morris team doing something for three weeks in a row counts as traditional; three months is "lost in the mists of time but probably collected from some old..............."

Mike Higgins

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2009, 09:32:27 PM »

Our lot fall over if the melodeonists start the "wrong" tune.
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HallelujahAl

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2009, 08:56:46 AM »

Sotto voce:
Sometimes 'our lot' don't even know we've played the wrong tune! More to the point - we don't know we've played the wrong tune.
Anyway, according to this thread there isn't a wrong tune.

AL
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joe

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2009, 12:38:28 PM »

There most definitely is a wrong tune ...
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Chris Ryall

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2009, 02:31:13 PM »

There most definitely is a wrong tune ...

I think most 4/4 or 3/4 6/8 might adapt for Morris in some way or other.
So much Morrisness is in the way you play, anacrusis, timing ..
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Martin Duffy

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Re: what makes a morris tune?
« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2009, 10:55:17 PM »

Once when we were dancing out we did the whole dance and as we were coming off we suddenly realised they had been playing the wrong tune...or had we been dancing the wrong dance for the right tune!!!
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