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.
Hi fellow dance musicians.
You might be interested in the event below if you like working with kids.
It looks as though there will be a few presentations focused on developing
youth traditional music ensembles....
The English Folk Dance and Song Society is holding a free online event for
Folk Educators and it's open to those of us in North America. Details and
registration info is below.
I asked the organizer whether it would be relevant to those of us across
the pond. Kerry said
*There will be some practical sessions, as well as presentations, on the
day. And although it will be focused on projects in the North West and
Yorkshire, I should think it would be appealing to folk educators from all
over. It's about the rationale, approach to the material and the positive
impact on the participants/communities, and often the educators too, that
is usually the most interesting. *
Maybe see you at the event?!
:) Emily in Ottawa
*Invitation to the next EFDSS ONLINE: Folk Education Development Day*
Our Folk Educators Group
network will be holding its first ever online informal conference day.
*Friday 19 June 2020,* 10:30am-4:30pm (10.30am-11am Arrivals in the Zoom
You are warmly welcomed to attend this free informal conference and CPD
event, organised by EFDSS’ Folk Educators Group. Folk Education Development
Days are typically attended by 30 – 40 people: a mixture of people working
in folk arts education and related sectors such as music, dance, arts,
heritage and education. As ever, this will be an action-packed day of
presentations, practical sessions and discussions, designed to be
thought-provoking, informative and enjoyable, and to encourage
knowledge-sharing, discussion and networking.
The theme for the day is: Celebrating folk education in the North West
We’ll be focusing on folk education initiatives in the Greater Manchester
area and will be presenting the day in partnership with our friends at
English Folk Expo who are based in Rochdale, as well as other friends and
partners in the North West and Yorkshire.
*More details and to book a free place*
Read on for more details…
*Outline of the Day*
The theme for the day: Celebrating folk education in the North West
Join us for an action-packed day of presentations, practical sessions and
discussions. The day will be thought provoking, informative and enjoyable,
and will encourage knowledge-sharing, discussion and networking.
· Rachel Elliott, Education Director and Sarah Jones, Programme
Manager, National Youth Folk Ensemble - an update from the EFDSS Education
Department on current work and future plans.
· Tom Besford, Chief Executive, English Folk Expo - a presentation
about EFEx, covering their response during COVID 19, an overview of their
Artist Development Programme and their Promoter Training Programme,
including Rochdale Folk Festival.
· Georgia Woodhead, clog dance teacher with Oakenhoof Folk Arts – an
overview of their work, including a practical session.
· Kath Becker and Sorrel Harty, Bolton Music Service - setting up and
running the Greater Manchester Folk Ensemble, and more widely about Bolton
Music Service and the Greater Manchester Music Hub.
· Rebecca Denniff, Flash Company Arts - a presentation of their
Plough Stots project in Yorkshire, including a practical session.
· Bella Hardy, Learning Programme Manager*, *Band on the Wall – an
overview of their work, including a practical session.
Having been enthused by the speakers' presentations, there will
be the opportunity for discussion and sharing of ideas in breakout rooms.
The agenda will be available soon and you can *book your free place here
*Here's a bit more information about EFDSS' Folk Educators Group...*
The Folk Educators Group
is a national networking group of folk arts educators from across England
and beyond, run by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). Our
membership encompasses all forms of the folk arts and we currently have
over 360 members.
Established in March 2011 the Group has become a rapidly growing network
committed to promoting high quality folk arts education and supporting the
practitioners who deliver it.
It exists to provide peer information and support, and to encourage
dialogue with the wider worlds of culture, learning and participation. The
Folk Educators Group also offers other organisations a platform through
which to consult, or inform, a committed group of folk arts educators.
CDMR has some news since my last announcement. Please share this far and wide…
Country Dance Music Radio is now playing at
CDMR’s first purpose is to provide a two-way support between musicians and dancers. Dancers can get some of that missing musical uplift any time day or night, and musicians can get your donations and purchases to help support them. Zoom concerts are just once (unless I can record them!) but CDMR is always there for you. Please listen in sometime soon!
✦ The North Bay Country Dance Society is hosting a Zoom concert featuring Rodney Miller, and Country Dance Music Radio will simulcast it! In this way lots more people can hear the concert. It will be recorded and repeated thereafter on CDMR.
The concert is Saturday, May 9
—Pacific time: 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
—Eastern US time: 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Details are here: https://radio.contracorner.com/news/rodney-miller-live-and-a.html <https://radio.contracorner.com/news/rodney-miller-live-and-a.html>
✦ CDMR’s schedule has been renovated. Now you will find segments focused on song, dance, waltzing, calm time, and short musician spotlights.
You can reach the DJ at bob(a)contracorner.com <mailto:email@example.com>.
Staying safe but missing our dancing,
Country Dance Music Radio https://radio.contracorner.com <https://radio.contracorner.com/>
Hello Shared Weight community,
I’m sorry for the short notice, but I need to move the mailing lists to a different host this evening. There will be some down time between now and 10pm EST. No messages will be lost, though there may be duplicates in the digests.
I’ll send another email once the move is complete.
Nitty gritty details: AWS hosting looked like the right option, but their pricing structure is not clear. Turns out to cost nearly 2x what I had expected. I am moving us (back) to Linode, where we should have stayed all along. Better service, clear pricing, good support.
Hello fellow trad dance musicians,
I’m reaching out on behalf of CDSS regarding two items that we hope may be
of interest to some of you. (Apologies if you are on a few Shared Weight
lists as I'm sending similar messages to many of the lists.)
*1. Are you offering any online events for traditional dance, music, and/or
Many of you may know of this but in case you don't.... CDSS is maintaining
an extensive list of online events and we would be happy to include your
events as part of the list. Events can be free, by donation, or involve a
fee. Take a quick peek - there are jam sessions, online concerts,
workshops, sings, etc.
We’ve been sharing the event listing widely through our network and we
feature a handful of events each week through social media.
Check out the event listing here:
Submit an online event here:
*2. Do you know of great resources for children and parents who enjoy
traditional dance, music, and/or song?*
We would love to include them as part of the new Families section of our
Resource Portal which is officially launching this weekend. A few notes:
-These particular resources need to be free (or for sale in the CDSS
-If you’re not familiar with other sections of our Resource Portal, the
format of resources vary greatly (e.g., link to external website; online
video; audio clip; PDF of an activity).
-At this critical time of physical distancing, we're particularly looking
for resources that parents can access online. However, we welcome other
resources as well (e.g., lists of books they can find in their local
Check out the Families section here (in development):
Submit a resource here: https://www.cdss.org/share-your-resource
Writing from Ottawa, ON