Fiddle Tune Repertoire Builder VRCD 1l0

25 Couple Dances: Schottisches, Polkas, Two-Steps, and Pattern Dances

Welcome to Voyager Recording's "Repertoire Builder" series. We believe you will find these materials useful in adding tunes and playing techniques to your repertoire. Each release in this series focuses on a theme. Some focus on certain types of tunes, traditional styles, social uses of the tunes, or particular instruments. Some focus on playing skill levels. The heart of Repertoire Builder packages is a CD with the lead instrument on the Left channel and accompaniment on the Right channel. A lead player can turn off the lead channel and play to the accompaniment channel; an accompaniment player can turn off the accompaniment channel and play to the lead channel.

While we believe it is important to learn traditional tunes by ear from traditional players, the package also includes printed music for all the tunes in standard notation with chords indicated. The tune versions in the Repertoire Series are those of the musicians who performed on the CD. In most cases these will be fairly "standard" versions, though some versions may be unique to the particular musician. There generally is no "right" way to play any traditional tune, so it is hoped that you will adapt the tunes to your own style of playing after you have mastered the basic tune as presented. Most of the time there are several ways of chording a traditional tune. The chord charts included will work fine for the tune, but should be regarded only as suggestions, or a start to developing your own backup styling.

The first 25 CD tracks are the tunes played at normal speed with accompaniment. Tracks 26 through 50 are the tunes without accompaniment, slowed down digitally for easier learning.

The written music is merely a convenient shorthand. It is an aid in finding the notes of a tune and a reminder of how a tune goes, and can never convey all the stylistic nuances of a performance. I have not attempted to include all the accents, bowings, slides, dynamics, or variations in the written music. Any particular way of playing a fiddle tune is never "cast in concrete." It is inherent in the nature of fiddle tunes that they are always evolving, since they have been traditionally passed down through the generations by ear, and each fiddler has his or her own interpretation of the tune.

The tunes in this repertoire set include a variety of couple dances: schottisches, polkas, two-steps, and pattern dances. Most of these dance forms date back 100 years or more, although some of the tunes are more modern. The polka was the big dance craze of the 1840's in Europe and America, and the schottische became popular in the 1850's. The Varsouvianna and the Heel and Toe Polka go back to the middle of the 19th century, while many of the other pattern couple dances are from 1900 or later. Two-steps and foxtrots became popular in the 20th century.

In order to play these tunes for dancing, it helps to be familiar with the steps and appropriate tempo for the dance. Take advantage of any opportunities to attend folk dances or old fashioned "Grange hall" dances where they are still danced. A classic source book for dance history, variations, and instructions is Lloyd Shaw's "Round Dance Book" published by Caxton Printers, Caldwell Idaho in 1948.

The tempo for waltzes can range anywhere from 110 to 180 beats per minute, with most of them around 130 to 140. Foxtrots are likely to be at 140 to 170 bpm. The Heel and Toe Polka should be around 112 bpm, and the Varsouvianna at about 125. These are not absolute standards of speed. Expectations vary among different regions and social scenes, and appropriate tempos can also depend on the age and experience of the dancers, the mood or time of day of the event, or the condition of the dance floor.

When playing a schottische or the Varsouvianna you might add a 2- or 4-bar introduction, often the last phrase of the tune, so that the dancers can start at the beginning of the tune. How long should you play a particular dance? If a lot of people are dancing, or if the dancers are having fun, play the tune longer than if no one is dancing or if the dancers seem to be struggling or getting tired. If people join the dance late, let them get around the floor at least a couple of times, if possible, before you end the tune.

1. Balen I Karlstad - A Swedish tune, probably the best known schottische among Pacific Northwest old time dancers.

2. Detroit Schottische - In 1852 Adam Couse, a dancing master and music store owner in Detroit Michigan, wrote this tune and sold 100,000 copies of the sheet music - a huge number for that time. It's the same as the "Flop-Eared Mule," the theme song of the Washington State Old Time Fiddlers Association. The third part in G is rarely heard today.

3. Fiddle Fingers Schottische - I learned this from Joe Pancerzewski, and I have no idea where he got it. There's an overwhelming temptation to put in a couple of thumps, or clap your hands, or something during the two beat rest in the second part.

4. Great Western Clog - This nineteenth-century clog (originally intended for a step dance) from "Cole's 1000 Fiddle Tunes" makes a pretty good schottische.

5. Rochester Schottische - William Rulison went to California for the 1849 Gold Rush, and actually made some money there. When he got back to his home town of Rochester, New York in the early 1850's he wrote and published this schottische which became probably the best known one in America. Over the years it has picked up several other names, including "Hi Lo Schottische," "Prairie Schottische," "Texas Schottische," and "What the Devil Ails You."

6. Schottis fran Haverö - A gorgeous Swedish tune. Don't let the sad sounding minor key tempt you to play it too slowly for dancing!

7. Sunflower Schottische - From "The Musician's Omnibus," published by Elias Howe around 1864. The jump to the high octave in third position at the end is one of my favorite parts of the tune.

8. Atkins Polka - There is actually a set of five Atkins Polkas in Don Messer's book of Canadian fiddle tunes, and this is No. 4. I learned it from Grant Lamb, former Manitoba champion fiddler, and he said it was sometimes called "Cinnamon."

9. Clarinet Polka - This tune was first published in America in 1940, crediting composers Jan Dvoraky and Laurence Paul, although it may be based on an older traditional Polish tune. This is pretty much the way I play it, in G (not in the original clarinet key of Bb), and with the parts in the correct order and with all the repeats. I know the contest folks have to edit it to fit the time limit, but I still don't like to hear the "trio" (third part) played second!

10. Flannigan's Polka - Joe Pancerzewski used to call this one Celina LaBlanc. It probably came from Canada.

11. Grandfathers Polka - A traditional English tune, which can also be used for contra dances.

12. Helena Polka - I've always assumed that this tune is Polish, because it has words in Polish, but a friend who is a polka expert tells me it's actually Bohemian. Accordion players usually play it in C, G and F; I learned this version in D, A and G from Kenny Hall, a great old time mandolin and fiddle player from Fresno, California.

13. Red River Cart Polka - Find a good Canadian tune, and there's a good chance that Manitoba fiddler Andy deJarlis wrote it. The Red River carts were used by miners heading for the Caribou gold rush.

14. Box Social Two-Step - Another Andy deJarlis tune, originally named "Weekender's Two-Step." It's great for contras.

15. Goofus - A great foxtrot from 1930. You have to figure out your own thing to do for the four-beat stop break. It has great words by Gus Kahn: [first verse] I was born on a farm out in Ioway, A flaming youth who was bound that he'd fly away, I packed my grip and I grabbed my saxophone. [stop break] Can't read notes, but I play anything by ear, I made up tunes on the sounds that I used to hear; When I'd start to play folks used to say, "Sounds a little Goofus to me." [chorus] Corn-fed chords appeal to me, I like rustic harmony, Hold the note and change the key, That's called "Goofus." Not according to the rules That you learn at music school, But the folks just dance like fools, They go "Goofus." [second verse] Got a job but I just couldn't keep it long, The leader said that I played all the music wrong, So I stepped out with an outfit of my own. [stop break] Got together a new kind of orchestree, And we all played just the same "goofus" harmony, And I must admit we made a hit, "Goofus" has been lucky for me.

16. Happy Acres Two-Step - Written by Canadian fiddler Cecil McEachern, who used to be in Don Messer's band.

17. Peacock Rag - This tune was popularized and possibly written by the great Tennessee fiddler Arthur Smith. Let your imagination (or bad taste?) be your guide for making up weird peacock sound imitations, or just play the melody straight.

18. Sleeping Giant Two-Step - Another great Andy deJarlis tune, which works very well for contra dancing.

19. Snow Deer - Around 1900 Percy Wenrich wrote this song along with "Rainbow," "Silver Bell," and "Navajo," all of which have the same Indian maiden theme as Kerry Mills' "Redwing." It could be either a two-step or a contra dance, and sounds nice with a simple harmony part.

20. Black Hawk Waltz - Written by Mary Walsh around 1900. There is a special pattern waltz from the 1930's or earlier to go with this tune, or it can be used for a regular waltz.

.21. Canadian Heel and Toe Polka - I've never been able to find another name for this tune. If you ever run into one, let me know! The steps for the dance are perfectly reflected in the melody: Heel, toe, step close step, Heel, toe, step close step; repeat; then 8 bars of regular polka steps.

22. Jenny Lind Polka - This tune was written by German composer Anton Wallerstein in the 1840's and was named after Jenny Lind, the popular soprano who was known as the "Swedish Nightingale." It was popularized by Allan Dodsworth, a dancing master who brought the polka from Europe to America. It's often known in America as "Heel and Toe Polka, and if you use this for that dance, the music will fit the dance better if you don't repeat the parts. For a regular polka, play it however you want to. There are actually two more parts to the tune – one of these days I'm going to learn them!

23. Rye Waltz - This is one of the older pattern waltzes, dating back to at least the 1880's. The rhythm alternates between two-step and waltz time. The original tune on which it is based is, of course, "Comin' Thro' the Rye" from 18th century Scotland.

24. Tuxedo - Another example of an old popular song, this time "Marching Through Georgia," arranged for a pattern dance. The first and third lines are played like a march with dotted rhythm, while the second and fourth lines are played straight like a polka. The contrast between the two parts can be enhanced by having the rhythm instrument play just down beats in the first and third lines (strum, pause, strum, pause, strum strum strum) and regular "boom-chick" rhythm for the second and fourth lines.

25. Varsouvianna - "Varsouvianna" (or Varsouvienne, which is French for "from Warsaw") is the name of a dance form rather than the name of a tune. The name of this particular tune is "Put Your Little Foot" or sometimes "Have You Seen My New Shoes," but since it's the only tune most people know for the dance, they call the tune itself "Varsouvianna." In some parts of the country the first part is repeated, or the second part, or both, or neither, or an interlude of 16 bars of a waltz can be inserted between repeats of the dance. You'll have to find out what the local custom is before you play it for dancers!

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