[Callers] Sung fiddle tunes?

Alan Winston winston at slac.stanford.edu
Tue Nov 27 13:40:30 PST 2012

Waltz songs I've enjoyed dancing to when sung:

- Log Riders Waltz
- Tennessee Waltz
- Star of the County Down
- After the Ball (although the lyrics are really a downer)
- Take Me Out to the Ballgame
- Home, Sweet Home
- I Could Have Danced All Night

(And "Shall We Dance" is a fun polka, for that matter.)

I've also experienced a wonderful band with a fabulous vocalist who can 
concertize on her own, but whose sung waltzes are often unsatisfying to 
me *as waltzes* because they're at the tempo which allows for full 
emotional expression of the song and that's too slow for good rotary waltz.

In contra dancing I've enjoyed "mouth music" breaks on fast Irish tunes 
but haven't tried to dance to anyone singing lyrics.

English dance has a rich history of dances set to ballad tunes and we've 
had balls where that was a theme.

Unlike singing squares, I've more generally encountered bands that sing.

The main thing to remember,  I should think, is that you're serving the 
dance experience.  Keeping the set from breaking down is more important 
than finishing the lyric.  Also, this should be spice, not meat and 
Experiment slowly; do it on simple dances; use your judgment.  For 
getting your feet wet I would say that you
might run a simple dance with instruments + calling 2/3 of the way 
through, then sing at a point where you could
expect to drop out from calling - and then end the dance if it looks 
like there's a problem.

I'd also say: rehearse, use a metronome, record yourself, make sure you 
can sing satisfactorily at dance tempo.
Make sure your ego is okay with dancers essentially ignoring your 
singing; they're there to to dance with each other, not to to listen to 
you.  [You can get much more responsiveness to singing behind couple 
dances, I think.]

And as for the less-experienced group of dancers: If you have any doubt 
about how it will work, you shouldn't do it.

-- Alan

On 11/27/2012 12:14 PM, Maia McCormick wrote:
> I've been talking with my band lately about coming up with some contra
> tunes that I/they/we can sing.
> a) suggestions for tunes? (Contra and waltz alike.)
> b) when do you usually stop calling and start singing? What do you do if
> the dance gets off track and you need to throw in some more calls?
> c) other relevant things to consider when the band/caller tries to sing for
> a less experienced group of dancers?
> Thanks!
> Maia
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