First off, I love this story. "It was only a little crooked." That's
definitely good for a laugh. Well after the event. At the time, I'm sure
it was another matter.
But going back to the original post, did the band tell you afterwards that
it was a new tune to them or before? If after, then optimally, getting a
chance to listen to them play it again and figure out the phrasing could be
really good -- for you and the band both. Potentially, you could help them
determine what type of dance would go well with it, or help them figure out
how to phrase it in a way that would make it easier for the dancers to find
the phrases. There are definitely great tunes out there where either the A
or B parts (heaven help you if it's both) just don't have the phrasing to
be able to do anything that needs to happen NOW (balances & long lines in
particular) but that can do quite well with something where the internal
timing isn't as important (a series of allemandes, a hey, dsd and swing,
etc) but which give you exactly what you need to know where the end of the
whole part is.
Quite a while ago, I was calling with a band that I knew had a particular
set that was really great, but was going to be challenging to match dances
to. Overall, the tunes were smooth, but well phrased. Catch was that the
middle tune was half time, so the A part of the tune took the time of A1
and A2, and the B part of the tune took B1 and B2, and once you were in one
of the parts, figuring out where the end of the 8 or 16 count phrase was
was almost impossible. So I ended up looking for smooth dances that only
had things that had to happen NOW at the top of the A1 or the top of the
B1, and otherwise had internally squishy timing. I could only do that
because I had a chance to listen to the music some (ok, actually a lot)
ahead of time and find where the dancers would be able to get phrase
information and where they wouldn't.
So....again, back to the original post:
If it's a band you work with frequently, getting the chance to hear them
play through sets that are new to them, or which they know are going to be
unusual, is almost never a waste of time, is actually something I quite
enjoy doing. It also gives you a chance to potentially give them feedback
about the set or tune and for you to get an idea of what sort of dance
might work well with it. Frequently, with a new tune, the band really
hasn't had a chance to figure out what sort of dance is going to work with
that new tune. And we'd all rather they not have to figure it out by
process of elimination and experimenting on their callers and dancers.
(Where the band might be thinking after that dance: "It's a fun tune, but
it definitely didn't work with that dance. We'll have to try it with
something different next time. I wonder what will actually work....")
And now I look back at the original question you asked, which is not quite
what I answered.... I think that others have hit most of the high points
of the in the moment stuff. Make sure that the next dance is a fun,
indestructible dance that will work with any tunes the band could play.
And that the next set of tunes is the band's 2nd best set (they're probably
saving the best for the last set of the evening....)
If the band is able to change tunes, even if they've just changed tunes, I
have on a number of occasions *strongly* suggested that they switch now --
either to the third tune, or back to the first tune, just away from this
one that isn't working (for whatever reason). That not being possible, and
the dance in the process of melting down before your eyes, though, I am a
big fan of either a) changing dances to something dead easy, or b) if the
sets are already unzipping, turn it into a scatter mixer (or a scatter
keeper)....do some things in circles -- stars, swings, hands across and
pull the lady under, then promenade around and find a new circle. And then
get them into a big circle and do a spiral into the middle and back out and
end on a high note. Or just do 4-6 times through this new dance (that
you're probably making up as you go) and then promenade up to the front of
the hall and clap for the band. If the mixer works, and the energy is way
up, take that and run with it. (And do a can't fail dance, with hot tunes
next....) The dancers have probably forgotten all about the dance that
didn't work, and there's probably no need to remind them about it now. (I
would still want to chat with the band after and get to hear that tune
So....that was more long-winded than originally intended....hope that there
are some useful ideas in there. :-)
On Tue, May 30, 2017 at 7:48 PM Donna Hunt via Callers <
Reminds me of a moment early in my calling career
working with a band
(with musicians who should have known better) who played a crooked tune.
It took me 3 times through to realize what the problem was and I told the
band we need to change tunes, NOW. They did. I asked them afterwards what
happened with that and they said "It was only a little crooked".
Really?? A little crooked??
From: Bob Morgan via Callers <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net>
To: Martha Wild <mawild(a)sbcglobal.net>et>; callers <
Sent: Tue, May 30, 2017 5:49 pm
Subject: Re: [Callers] What to do?
Ooh tricky - you definitely need to tell the band, maybe point out the odd
phrasing and that you'll need to see if you can find a really good specific
dance for it to work nicely. I'm intrigued as to what the tune is now -
maybe the list can suggest something useful if you let us know?
On Tue, May 30, 2017 at 10:43 PM, Martha Wild <mawild(a)sbcglobal.net>
Next dance was rock solid, and easier, and tune was rock solid. So they
did redeem themselves. I have listened to a version on line and it has a
WEIRD B part - it is nominally 16 counts but the emphasis is kind of like
6, 6 and 4, and it is weird beyond belief. How do I ask them to never play
it for me again?
On May 30, 2017, at 2:38 PM, Bob Morgan <ceilidh.caller.bob(a)gmail.com>
In the moment, move right along. Next dance needs to be rock-solid, next
tune needs to be rock solid. Drop the difficulty through the floor and get
your dancers dancing again as quickly as possible. Don't dwell and let the
dancers forget it ever happened.
Afterwards either ask the band to play it for you again if you have time
and see if you can work it out collectively or just say something on the
lines of "It's a shame I just couldn't seem to get the hang of tune X, is
there something unusual about it?" Ideally of course the band will have
been paying attention and be suitably annoyed at themselves that they
didn't get it right (the absolute optimal response of course would have
been for the band to have changed tune).
On Tue, May 30, 2017 at 10:16 PM, Martha Wild via Callers <
So, a while back I was working with a band and they played a tune that was
sort of new for them, and the A part was fine, but the B part was unusual
anyway, and hard to know where the count was, in particular because they
were unfamiliar with it, and I tried to count and call so the dancers could
keep going, and it kept coming back together in the A, but falling apart in
the B, until things snowballed and the dance completely fell apart. What is
the best thing to do or say in a situation like that so that the band
doesn’t feel too much as if it is their fault, and the dancers don’t feel
it’s their fault? And yes, it’s always the caller’s fault, since I couldn’t
for the life of me figure out what the heck was going on with that tune,
but the dancers couldn’t find their way in it either. Anyway, back to what
to do to make everyone feel a little better after that.
Callers mailing list
Callers mailing list
Callers mailing list