I’d like to know people’s opinion of using music while playing for a contra dance. Is it easier to create excitement if the musicians play by ear? Thanks in advance for your opinion, Tom Hinds
Sent from my iPad
The question of Keys, Key Signatures, and Modes comes up again and again.
Most explanations seem somewhat jumbled and/or full of technical description.
This is confusing, but over the years (decades?) it has become clearer to me.
It comes down to:
What note does the tune resolve too? (its Tonic Note)
What notes are in the scale of the tune? (how many Flats or Sharps)
Chords give clues, but they are subjective or 'symptomatic' as chord choices are not always universally agreed upon.
Why does it matter what the Key is?
Knowing what the Key is alerts melody players what notes, and chord players what chords, to expect (or not expect).
Yes, it is possible to play well without knowing what Key, Notes, or Chords you are playing, but most people recognize they have names; and it is easier to understand if everyone uses the correct names.
Tunes may also contain 'accidental' notes (not in the scale of the Key), but these usually stand out as different - the more one plays the more intuitive they are.
TRAD MUSIC ONLY USES 4 MODES?
Major, Mixolydian, Dorian, and Minor are the 4 Modes that virtually all Tradition (Western) Music use - Celtic, Old Time, Country, Blues, Bluegrass, Rhythm & Blues; and I believe Rock, and maybe Jazz too.
Tunes that are in a Major (Ionian) Key tend to be self-evident, however the mislabeling of tunes in Minor (Aeolian) and 'Modal' Keys (Mixolydian and Dorian) cloud that clarity. There are also 3 other 'Authentic' Modes (Phrygian, Locrian, and Lydian) that rarely come up.
There also happen to be 7 "Plagal (or Hypo-) Modes" where tunes resolve to the fourth note of the scale, instead of the first (or last) note. These are typically used in 'Renaissance' music, but commonly are likely never noticed that there is a 'different' name for the scale of same notes. For example the Hypoionian uses the same notes as the Ionian (Major), but the fourth note is the tonic.
HOW TO DETERMINE THE KEY?
1) determine what note a tune (or each of its parts) resolve to - its Tonic Note.
2) determine what notes are played (comprise the scale - how many sharps or flats) - its Key Signature
3) match the Tonic Note and Key Signature with the appropriate Key Name.
KEY NAME is the Tonic NOTE followed by the MODE:
Start by presuming the note it resolves to is a Major Key, and how many flats or sharps would that be?
C Major = 0b / 0#
G Major = 1#
D Major = 2#
A Major = 3#
E Major = 4#
B Major = 7b / 5#
Gb (F#) Major = 6b / 6#
Db (C#) Major = 5b / 7#
Ab (G#) Major = 4b
Eb (D#) Major = 3b
Bb (A#) Major = 2b
F Major = 1b
If less sharps (or more flats) are used, how many?
0 fewer, then Major (Ionian)
-1# (or +1b), then Mixolydian
-2# (or +2b), then Dorian
-3# (or +3b), then Minor (Aeolian)
-4# (or +4b), then Phrygian
-5# (or +5b), then Locrian
-6# (or +6b), then Lydian
If a tune resolve to A:
A Major has 3#s
but Key signature (or actual #s in tune) is 1#
then A Dorian
The attached chart may make it clearer.
Hi fellow Shared Weight dance musicians :)
I'm very excited to announce a greatly expanded CDSS Resource Portal with
brand new sections for dance musicians .... in addition to callers, song
leaders, organizers, ritual dancers, and others!
(Before reading further, please note that I'm biased as I've been heavily
involved with this project.)
The goal of the CDSS Resource Portal it to support you and others who take
on valuable leadership roles in traditional dance, music and song
communities. The Portal does this by linking to many of the very best
resources available for callers, educators, organizers, singers, ritual
dancers, educators, dance musicians, and more. There are hundreds of
resources organized by topic as well as links on how to connect with others
online or at in-person gatherings. (We initially launched the Resource
Portal in Fall 2019 but it's only housed organizer resources up until now!)
Check out the Portal here: https://www.cdss.org/resources/resource-portal
You likely would want to start with the 'Musicians' section.
The Portal is only a great as the resources that are shared by the
community. We are looking to add even more resources and we really
appreciate resources created by members of our network (including you!).
If you know of resources that should be added, please suggest them here:
Relating the dance musician topics, the Portal could especially use
resources for teachers and other educators on how to teach dance music to
school-aged participants... .... that's an area which is really lacking in
If you have follow-up questions for me regarding the portal, please email
portal(a)cdss.org rather than the listserv. Note that I likely won't be able
to respond for a few weeks but do look forward to touching base.
Also - if you are an organizer as well as a dance musician, you may want to
join CDSS's free quarterly e-blast for organizers.
-> Check out the latest issue sent out today: https://conta.cc/2uRunBM.
->If you would like to receive future Shop Talks, you can sign up here:
AND - if you are excited about either the Portal or Shop Talk, please share
the news with your friends!
writing from Ottawa, Ontario
Ooops! I believe this list got going in 2007!
On Mon, Jan 13, 2020, at 1:17 AM, Seth Seeger via Musicians wrote:
> Dear Musicians community,
> This list has been going since 2004! It’s hard to believe. Chris and
> I are grateful to everyone here in our community who has worked hard to
> make this a welcoming, supportive place.
> Chris and I are excited to be working with CDSS, and with the four new
> lists joining the Shared Weight community.
> Check out this article in the CDSS News to learn about the Shared
> Weight renewal.
> Also - check out the brand new Shared Weight website:
> What does the renewal mean for the Musicians list?
> * Our list has a renewed vision. Check it out here:
> * The partnership among the various list founders and CDSS has
> created a stronger team to support this list into the future.
> Other than that, our list remains the same supportive community that
> it’s always been.
> We encourage you to spread the news and invite others to join the list!
> Additional notes:
> * IMPORTANT: When you respond to a post on the list, please
> remember to trim off old replies. It will make it much easier for
> others to use our list, especially those that receive the digest
> * You can access the full list archives at:
> * The Shared Weight team is excited to announce the official
> renewal launch of our mailing list servers for traditional dance,
> music, and song -- including this list!
> * Instructions on this page to set up an account:
> * You should set up an account to manage your settings (e.g.,
> change between receiving each emails or receiving the digest version of
> the list). If you are interested, go to this page to set up an account
> https://www.sharedweight.net/about/technical-faqs/ ). Sorry - old
> usernames & passwords no longer work given the move to a new server.
> Thanks for your continued support of the Contra Callers list!
> Let us know if you have any questions.
> Seth Seeger & Chris Weiler
> Shared Weight - A Community Resource for Traditional Dance, Music and Song
> Our list founders are:
> Alan Winston - ECD list
> Amanda Witman - song organizers list
> Chris Weiler & Seth Seeger - contra callers, dance organizers, and
> dance musicians lists
> Ridge Kennedy - trad callers list
> Weogo Reed - tradsound list
> Musicians mailing list -- musicians(a)lists.sharedweight.net
> To unsubscribe send an email to musicians-leave(a)lists.sharedweight.net
Dear Musicians community,
This list has been going since 2004! It’s hard to believe. Chris and I are grateful to everyone here in our community who has worked hard to make this a welcoming, supportive place.
Chris and I are excited to be working with CDSS, and with the four new lists joining the Shared Weight community.
Check out this article in the CDSS News to learn about the Shared Weight renewal.
Also - check out the brand new Shared Weight website: https://www.sharedweight.net
What does the renewal mean for the Musicians list?
* Our list has a renewed vision. Check it out here: https://www.sharedweight.net/lists/dance-musicians/
* The partnership among the various list founders and CDSS has created a stronger team to support this list into the future.
Other than that, our list remains the same supportive community that it’s always been.
We encourage you to spread the news and invite others to join the list!
* IMPORTANT: When you respond to a post on the list, please remember to trim off old replies. It will make it much easier for others to use our list, especially those that receive the digest version.
* You can access the full list archives at: https://firstname.lastname@example.org…
* The Shared Weight team is excited to announce the official renewal launch of our mailing list servers for traditional dance, music, and song -- including this list!
* Instructions on this page to set up an account: https://www.sharedweight.net/about/technical-faqs/
* You should set up an account to manage your settings (e.g., change between receiving each emails or receiving the digest version of the list). If you are interested, go to this page to set up an account https://www.sharedweight.net/about/technical-faqs/ ). Sorry - old usernames & passwords no longer work given the move to a new server.
Thanks for your continued support of the Contra Callers list!
Let us know if you have any questions.
Seth Seeger & Chris Weiler
Shared Weight - A Community Resource for Traditional Dance, Music and Song
Our list founders are:
Alan Winston - ECD list
Amanda Witman - song organizers list
Chris Weiler & Seth Seeger - contra callers, dance organizers, and dance musicians lists
Ridge Kennedy - trad callers list
Weogo Reed - tradsound list