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
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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.
I’m not a musician but I’d like to support musicians during our period of dance cancellations. I’d like to help stream performances to scratch the itch to perform and hear our music, and hopefully generate some donations. Would anyone be interested in conduct a streaming concert of Contra and ECD-related live performances? Or just stream recorded performances?
Contact me directly to brainstorm some ideas and figure out how to do this safely. I have a couple ideas to start with. (I started this with the idea of performing in the VR world of Second Life, which always has live solo performances, but there are other ways to do this too.)
I hope this idea isn’t too whack. And
My email is bob(a)contracorner.com
Billerica, MA, USA
I was thinking of saying "trad dance," but then I remembered I made my
bandmates listen to "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon and "Sailing with
the Tide" by Bellowhead as part of a discussion on arrangement, so I
thought I'd leave the question more open-ended.
In the interest of fairness, I'll play too:
I've been listening to John Playford's Secret Ball by Belshazzar's Feast,
The Lost Words: Spell Songs, and a lot of We Banjo 3. Plus some Metamora,
in the "oldie but goodie" category. :)
I'm going to look up that Eric Merrill album today.
On Thu, Mar 5, 2020 at 8:22 AM Brent & Emily via Musicians <
> Hi Meg & et al :)
> Fun question!
> I'm guessing you mean for trad dance??? Or is it generally???
> Re trad, I've found myself going back to some 'oldies but goodies'. Not
> super old mind-you, but not super recent recordings either...
> David Kaynor and Betsy Branch's Midnight in Montague has been a go-to for
> me of late. In part thinking about David and all he's done for the trad
> dance/music community but also because I just love the double fiddle
> harmonies. Anyone have examples of recordings with really tight and clear
> fiddle harmonies for dance music?
> Another is Eric Merrill's the Western Star....
> I really love this album. Not sure if full-dance mode but great trad
> sound. I've never heard Eric play... wish I could!
> And then for more recent recordings....
> I keep on listening to Eloise & Co, Rachel Bell's solo CD, Buddy System,
> and Julie Vallimont's solo CD.
> :) Emily in Ottawa
> Musicians mailing list -- musicians(a)lists.sharedweight.net
> To unsubscribe send an email to musicians-leave(a)lists.sharedweight.net
Hi Meg & et al :)
I'm guessing you mean for trad dance??? Or is it generally???
Re trad, I've found myself going back to some 'oldies but goodies'. Not
super old mind-you, but not super recent recordings either...
David Kaynor and Betsy Branch's Midnight in Montague has been a go-to for
me of late. In part thinking about David and all he's done for the trad
dance/music community but also because I just love the double fiddle
harmonies. Anyone have examples of recordings with really tight and clear
fiddle harmonies for dance music?
Another is Eric Merrill's the Western Star....
I really love this album. Not sure if full-dance mode but great trad
sound. I've never heard Eric play... wish I could!
And then for more recent recordings....
I keep on listening to Eloise & Co, Rachel Bell's solo CD, Buddy System,
and Julie Vallimont's solo CD.
:) Emily in Ottawa