Piano workshop -- Bear Hug camp September 2015
This page collects materials from a workshop on contra dance piano
at the Bear
Hug dance weekend (Flathead Lake, MT), on September 12, 2015.
But first: a set of tunes from the weekend.
An electronic handout and a brief
outline of the presentation.
This workshop is written from the perspective of
a contra dancer who wanted to learn to play.
It has materials interesting to three groups: non-musicians
(or pre-musicians) who want to learn to play for dances;
musicians who want to better understand the requirements
of playing for dances; and, perhaps most important, dancers who want
to better appreciate the role that the music plays in making these dances
More on this vein in a separate page.
"Techno contra" -- caller with iPod -- is all the rage nowadays
in modern contra dancing. Recorded music! If we live musicians
can't out-shine techno, we have no business playing for dancers.
- An extended discussion (pdf, 262K so far) of
principles for playing
piano for contra dances. Chapters include:
... but there are many more in preparation. Watch this space!
- Piano Basics
- Dance Basics
- The materials
from this workshop are available on request to anyone.
Just write me.
- Start here, with St Anne's reel:
four clear potatoes, an opening figure with an A1 balance-and-swing, and
straightforward playing throughout.
More from that cut:
- Bus Stop reel, a build-up
- Bus Stop reel, six years later!
- Le Voyage, nothing but fenceposts.
- Montague, not much except a bass line.
(Compare the 'bass line' example below.)
- Some potatoes and some more
potatoes. Four sharp downbeats with
played definitively and the last accented will always do the trick.
- Jig to reel. The tempo must not change!
You hear me "reset the clock" several times, a little tempo boost,
then four potatoes right
before the dance launches. This was the first dance of the night!
From a popular rock song:
Establishes the beat.
- A bass line. Seven downbeats,
- A drum riff. Extra movement in the
second half, and a cymbal crash at the top of one.
Full-length versions (where available):
The rest of these examples (except one...) have me in there somewhere.
Examples from earlier workshops:
- The String Beings playing live for some contra
dancers. They have no piano; but the feel of their music is closer than
any I've heard to what I'm trying to do.
Back to the main Piano page.