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shelly0312

sequence of tune sections

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I need a little music basics please. When a tune is in 2 or 3 sections--I guess I'd always thought you play all sections twice and than maybe played the beginning section one more time. Now I am listening pretty attentively to Alister Anderson's "Jumping Jack"--and from what I hear, it is in three sections, that are played A A B B A B C A. So does the performer get to select the routing of the tune that seems to best fit that tune or is there a specific etiquette to playing sections of a tune (so as to aid, for instance, in sessions?)? And does this etiquette apply generally thru music or is it something specific to each instument? thanks in advance for futhering my music education! I appreciate this group a lot!

Michelle SE Wis USA

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The standard convention for a folk/traditional tune in two parts of 8 bars each is to

play the first section,

repeat it,

play the section section,

repeat that,

then start again from the top - or, to put it more simply, AABB.

 

For a three part tune the standard sequence would be AABBCC.

 

However individual tunes break all of those rules with feckless and wild abandon.

 

There are tunes that have a 16 bar A part, so would be played ABB.

 

There are tunes that have a 16 bar B, so are played AAB.

 

There are tunes where the order of the parts is completely individual - maybe because the tune is played to fit a particular dance (or was originally played for a particular dance, and the sequence is retained even though the tune is now being played in a pub or round a campfire or on a concert stage or a CD).

 

There are also tunes that have non-standard sequences just because the composer, or the performer/band playing it, or the accretion of previous performances we call the 'folk process', have decided that the 'correct' sequence of the tune is AABBABCA.

I can't specifically recall Alistair A's 'Jumping Jack' at this moment, but would guess that the peculiar sequence you describe is down to one of the latter variants I've described.

The rule of thumb is definitely AABB (or AABBCC) - but like all rules of thumb, they don't always apply.

To answer your final question it's an individual tune thing - if the concertina player is playing AABBABCA and the rest of the band goes somewhere else that because

1) the concertina player is right [that's just the law, not a rule of thumb] and

2) the rest of the band weren't listening / don't know the tune / don't know that version of the tune.

[Edited to remove an extraneous accidental smiley the editor inserted!]

Edited by Steve Mansfield

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I need a little music basics please. When a tune is in 2 or 3 sections--I guess I'd always thought you play all sections twice and than maybe played the beginning section one more time. Now I am listening pretty attentively to Alister Anderson's "Jumping Jack"--and from what I hear, it is in three sections, that are played A A B B A B C A. So does the performer get to select the routing of the tune that seems to best fit that tune or is there a specific etiquette to playing sections of a tune (so as to aid, for instance, in sessions?)?

In my experience, most tunes have a "standard" sequence of parts, but you won't be jailed for altering the sequence... at least not if you're playing a solo performance. Of course, the composer of a tune is free to do whatever (s)he wants with the sequence.

 

If you're playing with others, it's almost mandatory that you all play the same sequence. (There are rare exceptions, tunes having different parts that harmonize with each other, where it can be fun to for different musicians to play different parts at the same time.) And if you're playing for dancers, changing the sequence may work, but it still must facilitate the dance, and how much departure is "allowable" may depend on the experience of the dancers themselves.

 

For many kinds of contemporary folk dance, the tunes are played twice through each part in sequence, then start again at the beginning and play each part twice again, over and over again until the dance is finished. But that also assumes a standard length to each part of the tune. The lengths of tune sections are usually 8 or 16 bars. Some dances go better with tunes of the one length than with the other, and some go better with 3- or 4-part tunes than with the usual 2-part ones.

 

There are some dance choreographies which don't fit these common patterns, where particular tunes are expected, and these may have unusual sequences, and even changing rhythms. (Some modern composed "contras" and "squares" can be found here, also Playford-era dances, and also Irish "sets".) Also, a non-standard tune can be modified to fit a standard-pattern dance, or a standard tune to fit a non-standard dance. An example of the former is the tune variously known as "Planxty Brown" or "Maggie Brown's Favorite". I first learned it as a performance piece, with each of the two parts played twice through before repeating the whole sequence. But the second part of the tune is twice as long as the first, and the sequence AABB is too long for many contra dances, so if played for those dances the sequence used is AAB, which just fits the dance, and then the dance sequence and that tune sequence are repeated over and over again.

 

And does this etiquette apply generally thru music or is it something specific to each instument?

Wow! Until now, it had never occurred to me that different rules of etiquette should apply to different instruments. I know that some individuals seem to feel that the usual rules don't apply to them, but I don't believe that they think it's because of the particular instrument they play. :-D

Edited by JimLucas

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Sometimes Hop step (or step hop) dance tunes are played one A /one B , but the replies you have had have nailed exactly the situation. There are the odd interesting cases that cut across the 2 A /2 B the Gentianne second Mazurka tune has 2A/1C &

2B/1C . One Italian tune we used to play had 60 bars but once again very unusual.

Al

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Because it is part of a suite of tunes (Steel Skies) Jumping Jack isn't the best example of a standard session tune - although there's no reason why it shouldn't stand alone, in which case play the parts as you will. Played as part of Steel Skies Alistair says "Usually played AABB ABCA"

 

Pete :)

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Played as part of Steel Skies Alistair says "Usually played AABB ABCA"

 

Some modern tunes, and a lovely scandinavian tune that I play, just take a different route. Chris Stout's Hamnataing, for example, is played AA BB CC BB. The scandinavian tune that I'm thinking of (which I have never known the name of) is played AA BB CC DD A

 

It's the joy of traditional music!

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....so, all this being said; can't put down the ol'concertina this weekend. "Jumping Jake" is darn addictive along with its pre-tune (???) "air for maurice ogg"---

also, futzing with the Shipley Set--enjoying all but the 3rd tune--its changes of time signature are a stymie for me...

....and I do need to do some housekeeping...sigh

Michelle

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Because it is part of a suite of tunes (Steel Skies) Jumping Jack isn't the best example of a standard session tune - although there's no reason why it shouldn't stand alone, in which case play the parts as you will. Played as part of Steel Skies Alistair says "Usually played AABB ABCA"

 

Pete :)

 

another aspect of this is that, with the individual tune being part of the whole suite, the sequence is designed to provide a natural progression from the preceding piece and to the following piece.

In the case of Jumping Jack, air for Maurice Ogg fills both roles.

 

air for Maurice Ogg AAA

Jumping Jack AABB ABCA

air for Maurice Ogg A

 

Then the suite moves on to Green Ginger.

 

regards

 

John

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