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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:01 pm 
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The raison d'etre of the music we play is to accompany dancing.

It's symptomatic of the widening divide between traditional dance and music, I suppose, to have people who devote themselves to playing dance music resenting people dancing to it.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:08 pm 
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Perhaps we could broaden this discussion a little by bringing in Puirt à beul, 'Mouth Music'. To me, 'the music' at core has always been a group of friends coming together to share a little fun, whether playing, lilting, stomping, and dancing. An older acquaintance once shared with me his experience when his Bomber was forcibly grounded in whiteout conditions at Gander. This was in the early sixties, the height of the 'Cold War'. They were grounded for over a week. The small population of Gander put on a ceilidh to make their visitors welcome. The dance accompaniment consisted of a caller, a lilter, and a man doing rhythm by beating time out on his thighs, a Canadian version of 'ham-boning'. A small-scale foreshadowing of the hospitality Gander displayed after 9-11-2001.

Bob

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:25 am 
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Quote:
The raison d'etre of the music we play is to accompany dancing.

It's symptomatic of the widening divide between traditional dance and music, I suppose, to have people who devote themselves to playing dance music resenting people dancing to it.



I am not sure which hat you pulled the widening divide between traditional dance and music out of Richard. If anything, dancers seem to be everywhere these days as I pointed out in my post, and in some situations they have become a sort of cliché for it.

Great dancing will occur in all sort of situations, social or performance wise:

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[Pics all mine]

But, there's dancing and there's dancing. And then you have the quasi post-Riverdance hoofing that is almost compulsory for young musicians and the pushy comhaltas mammies at the fleadh slogging plywood platforms after their offspring so they can rattle off their performance pieces.

From the mid nineties on I did a ten year stretch of playing for set dancers on sunday nights (see last pic), and I would probably be still doing that if the venue hadn't closed. One of the players who hauled me into 'the band' there, Junior Crehan, used to say 'the house dances were my university' and I can agree playing for the sets was an education. I hear the rhythm of the battering steps in my mind when playing dance music and love the energy and lift that comes with playing for a West Clare battering set. I made my comment above as someone who enjoys playing for or watching good dancers, and I said as much. I admit I think there's a time and place for it and I agree with Garrett Barry's maxim that there's a time music should be played for the soul, not for the feet. I love watching dancers like Aidan Vaughan or Paddy Neylon do their thing. But that was not what the comment was about, it was about obsequiousness and having too much of something.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 4:59 am 
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I love seeing all that dancing going on.

Mr.Gumby wrote:
dancers seem to be everywhere these days... and in some situations they have become a sort of cliché...



There were so many old players in my native Appalachia who, when the people stopped dancing, stopped playing. They felt the music's purpose was for dancing. It's been years since I read The Northern Fiddler but I seem to recall the same sentiment being expressed there by some of the older players.

But I fully realize that that horse has long left the barn. I hear people at sessions and especially on commercial recordings playing dance tunes at undanceable tempos. Fast is good and faster is better.

Years ago at a session a guy blasted through a jig at a blazing tempo (around 175 bpm). I sat and watched. When he was done he asked "do know that one?" to which I replied "Yes I play that... as a jig."

The flip side is the Irish stepdancers requiring their tunes be played ever more slowly.

It's a testament to the underlying high quality of the music that you can play a jig at 175 bpm at a session then play the same tune at 65 bpm for a step dancer, and both sound tuneful.

Perhaps the most fun I ever had playing this music was my time in a ceili band, by the way.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:21 am 
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I'll once again post Aidan Vaughan dancing battering steps and Peter Hanrahan doing a brush dance and emphasise that in my experience dancers more often than not require faster tempi than the ones we use when playing for our own enjoyment. And there is a push for more speed, I remember Jackie Daly coming back from playing in Knocknagree complaining because of the demands of the dancers he was tempted to play reels for figures that required polkas.

Competitive step dancers do want to get as many steps in as they can, and want their music slow so they can,. you can wonder how often this will occur outside competitions, in my experience very rarely.

Some players stopped playing when dances went out of fashion. They felt the interest in their music waned and there were fewer opportunities for them to go out and play (and in extension reeive appreciation and perhaps make a few bob). But that does not take away from the longstanding tradition of musicians, and I deliberately quoted Garret Barry there, who play music for its own sake, for their own entertainment and that of their friends or community. Playing dance music for the soul rather than the feet is not a recent phenomenon, it has been around for quite a while. There have always been musicians that honed in on the artistic aspect rather that the functionality of their music. Playing dance music can and does have different raisons d'etre.

But again, that wasn't really the point I tried to make when I said the omnipresent hoofing had lost its novelty value and were starting to wear thin.

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Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:15 am 
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I think what annoys one person is often altogether different from what annoys another person. And I find for myself that certain musical things can annoy me to no end and then five or ten years later I find the very same thing to be refreshing or charming. I now take this into account when contemplating my dislikes. Preferences are so often relative and personal, and they evolve as well.
Are people in the group having a good time? If most are not, then maybe there's something amiss. But if only one or two folks are annoyed or peeved at what is apparently pleasing to most participating, then I take that as a signal those folks are simply in the wrong group of players and participants, and need to find a playing setting that pleases them better.

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