OK, I'll wade in. Having sat in the fiddler's chair for almost 30 yrs, (and
behind the caller's mic almost as long), I'd say your "rant" covers lots
of thoughtful, and dance-technical ground, but for me is overly analytical.
What I like to hear from a caller is not much more than "jigs works well for this
one", or "reels, please" and modified with "smooth &
flowing", "march-like", "brisk", "old-timey is good for this
dance", etc. Or, "I'm going to call Petronella next." Beyond that, I
don't much care for, or need, more detail.
The caller's job is to clue the band as to style & feeling of tunes desired
for a particular dance, and the band's job is to be observant of the dance, the
appropriate tempo, the skill level of the dancers and to help denote where important
phrases & pauses might be. I'm certainly not going to rearrange a set of tunes
because there's a balance at the start of B1, or an allemande followed by a circle.
Our sets are arranged to inspire the dancers through their progressions of key & chord
changes, and thematic ideas. They are also chosen within genre's: old-time, standard
New England, French-Canadian, Irish, flowing jigs, bouncy jigs, which will suit the flavor
of the dance.
Occasionally Heaven is inadvertently achieved when the perfect tune meets the perfect
dance, but I'd say the vast majority of the time both the caller and band achieve
consistenly solid results, if not Nirvana, by thoughtfully pursuing what I've
All the best,
Oakum Bay String Band
Blue Hill, ME
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