Playing for dancing

Playing for dancing

Tonight we spent some time thinking about how to play for dancing, and playing in a way that encourages people to want to get up and dance. We identified several things that can help with this:

  • Playing at a steady tempo
  • Playing with a strong sense of rhythm.
  • Varying the rhythm – not always emphasising the on beat.
  • Adding dynamics into tunes and sets. This might be about how you play as an individual, or through musical arrangements if you’re playing in a band
  • Adding points where the music ‘lifts’ – this might be done by changing to a  tune with a different time signature (for example from a 2/4 march to a 6/8 march, when playing for a Gay Gordons).
  • Having a really clear start to a set of tunes, so the dancers know when to start dancing. This might be done by playing a long chord before the first tune starts, or by playing a short phrase of the first tune to lead into the A part.
  • By playing with a ‘bouncy’ style.
Learning about playing the fiddle for dancing
Photo ©Ros Gasson

We started the evening by revisiting our bow hold, holding the fiddle, and using the fingers in the left hand. Then we played some long slow notes from the D arpeggio, paying attention firstly to keeping the bow perpendicular to the strings, and in the space between the bridge and end of the finger board. Then we tried it again, listening to what other people in the class were playing, and focusing on our tuning. Finally we tried playing chords, with any two notes from the arpeggio of D.

In the second half of the class we learnt the 2/4 march Terribus. It’s a great tune to put in a set for dancing the Gay Gordons. It would go well with Campbell’s Farewell to Redcastle, which we learnt in the class recently.