[Callers] Dance for Tune? Shenandoah Falls

Cynthia Phinney online at starleft.org
Sun Aug 23 03:46:51 PDT 2009

I have a lot of latitude to work with this one, because it is in a medley of
a band for whom I call regularly. Thinking about what I've seen happening
when we hit that tune, I think that the idea of the balance and swing, or
the Petronellas, where what's happening has its own rhythm that can be
carried independent of what people think they hear in the phrasing of the

Since this is a band I also sometimes play with (and therefore practice
with), I have a fair amount of latitude to get some practice on the tune to
see if we can get the phrasing to come more clearly or to match it with a
different medley. Amy asked about the other tunes in the medley - generally
they are Snake River > Shenandoah Falls > Possum on a Rail.

Since I am VERY BAD at remembering tune names, I don't really know if I've
encountered this problem with other bands, although I do occasionally
encounter that same phenomenon where a particular tune (or, more likely, a
part of a tune) in a medley requires constant calling to keep the dancers in
rhythm. I had one musician tell me he thought it was a good thing because it
must feel so satisfying to the dancers when it all falls into place again
every time they come back around to the A part!

Thanks for the suggestions.

-----Original Message-----
From: callers-bounces at sharedweight.net
[mailto:callers-bounces at sharedweight.net] On Behalf Of Jeff Kaufman
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2009 11:02 AM
To: 'Shared Weight'
Subject: Re: [Callers] Dance for Tune? Shenandoah Falls

Cynthia Phinney wrote:
> I've noticed on more than one occasion when Sheandoah Falls has turned 
> up in a medley that the B-part of the dance falls apart (as in things 
> not happening in the right rhythm) and I have to call constantly until 
> the tune changes. I've seen this with more than one dance. The 
> phrasing in the B-part of that tune is a bit different from standard.

Shenandoah Falls is unusual in that some of the B-part is quite synchopated.
The phrasing is still very regular, with well defined four beat chunks, but
within the chunks the beat might be difficult to detect for some.

So if you have a band that really wants to play shenandoah falls but you
think that the group might not be able to take it in stride, you could call
something that matches the phrasing well and lets the dancers reenforce each
other's sense of the beat.  Richard's suggestion of petronellas is good, as
would any "balance for four, move for four" sort of repetition.  Balance and
swing would also work ok, as the synchopated hard to think about part comes
in the middle of the swing.

The bigger problem is that the caller generally doesn't know what tunes the
band intends to play until the band switches tunes.  So you generally never
have an oppertunity to go "oh?  You'd like to play shenandoah falls?  Let me
choose a dance that fits."  Instead the best you can do is probably tell the
band after observing the hall that you think it would be best if they
avoided synchopated tunes like shenandoah falls tonight.


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