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Jim Besser

Tunes Of The Month, Dec 2014

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The Horn Dance has nothing to do with the winter solstice or Christmas, it takes place in September (the exact date varies according a slightly convoluted formula). They don't now use Robinson's tune for the Horn Dance, and there's some doubt whether they ever did. Sorry.

 

Pity! But things seem to be a bit different in the US (according to what Jim has been saying), so that would be what I have to stick to then... B)

 

But seriously, yes, I can see the dance's fitting well in the rutting season... (which is not too disappointing). But whatever the history may have been, the tune fits in well too, doesn't it?

 

(edited to thank you for the enlightenment anyways...)

Edited by blue eyed sailor

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If we Yanks took the dance the wrong way,

It's those antlers that led us astray.

No doubt the thought's foolish,

But reindeer are Yulish.

One pictures them pulling a sleigh.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

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If we Yanks took the dance the wrong way,

It's those antlers that led us astray.

No doubt the thought's foolish,

But reindeer are Yulish.

One pictures them pulling a sleigh.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

 

Ha! Great verse.

 

Yes, Abbott's as a Christmas tradition is an American innovation, thanks largely to the Christmas revels programs in various cities. Revels programs vary a lot year to year - this year in Washington, it's Irish, when I played for it a few years ago it was English, and they've done Balkan, Scandi, American oldtime, etc., but one constant is the Abbott's Bromley Horn Dance.

 

I'm sure the antlers have a lot to do with American confusion about the issue.

Edited by Jim Besser

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When I was supposed to be practicing for something else, I suddenly wondered what Abbott's Bromley would sound like as a waltz or mazurka. I flipped on the recorder and this is what came out. Not sure it's useful for anything, but it was fun to try. I'd better purge it from my brain before playing for my Morris dancers as they get ready for next week's Solstice celebration!

Edited by Jim Besser

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I don't mean my version to vergeOn dulling a dance to a dirge,If real Bromley AbbotsAre sprightly as rabbits.So...Christmas is coming...let's splurge:

A very jaunty version, I like it! :)

Thanks, Alex. I can't decide whether I like it better as an august anthem of solstitial mystery or as party music for mischievous reindeer.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

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When I was supposed to be practicing for something else, I suddenly wondered what Abbott's Bromley would sound like as a waltz or mazurka. I flipped on the recorder and this is what came out. Not sure it's useful for anything, but it was fun to try. I'd better purge it from my brain before playing for my Morris dancers as they get ready for next week's Solstice celebration!

Sounds like a soundtrack from an avant-garde French film from the 1950's?!?

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Abbot's Bromley Horn Dance isn't actually the name of the second TOTM selection - I think it was originally called Robinson's Tune...

Question about Abbot's Bromley Horn Dance. I have a version in my pile 'o tunes that has a couple of differences from the versions listed above and I wondered what people thought.

 

1. Measure 4 of the B part: the first note in my version (C in the PDFs version Jim posted above) has an accidental sharp. Changes the feel to keep it natural, which most of the YouTube versions also seem to do. Is my version (the sharpened version) an anomolie?

 

2. Measure 1 of the C part: 4th note goes up a 4th from the third note ( instead of a step); measure 2, the 4 th note goes up a fifth ( vs. a fourth).

They don't now use Robinson's tune for the Horn Dance, and there's some doubt whether they ever did. Sorry.

 

First off, here's my recording of the Horn Dance. I do it in G minor, as Sharp notated it (see below). I recorded it and posted it a year ago. Last weekend I played it hundreds of times with my Morris Dancers at street festivals in Saratoga Springs (Thursday evening), Rhinebeck (Saturday afternoon and evening), and Troy (Sunday afternoon), all in upstate New York.

 

As I understand the history of the tune, and the Robinson connection, Robinson was a wheelwright and fiddler in Abbots Bromley, born in the 1790s. When he was in his 60s, he played this tune for a young man named Robert Buckley, stating that it had been the tune for the horn dance when he was a kid (and he had learned it then) but that nobody played it anymore. Buckley wrote it down and tucked it away and forgot about it. If the tune had a name, Buckley never knew it.

 

In the early 20th century, Cecil Sharp visited Abbots Bromley, saw the dance, and published it in his book, "The Sword Dances of Northern England." In it, he said that the ancient spooky tune had been lost, and that they now use more jaunty major key tunes.

 

Buckley (now an old man) saw this and got in touch with Sharp, showing him the decades-old scribbling he had produced from Robinson's playing. Sharp arranged it for piano and published it. It has since become known as "Robinson's Tune" (or "Wheelwright Robinson's Tune"). Here is a facsimile of Sharp's arrangement (which ought to answer Sarah's questions):

 

ABHD.jpg

 

It is from this notation that I learned the tune. Except that I've never heard anybody actually play the repeats (AABBCC), and neither do I. I expect it's fair to say that anybody who knows the tune now learned it from (somebody who learned it from) this source, directly or indirectly.

 

 

 

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Thank you David for the in-depth information (as to your take I shall give it a listen in the evening)!

 

It already occurred to me that all notations emerging are unusually alike...

 

My own take will most likely be in Amin which suits the range of the treble best - however, with the newly acquired low F I could go for the apparently original Gmin version as well...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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It does indeed answer my questions-- though now it will take a bit of effort to 'cure, myself of the sharpened note. The folk process , or at least finger habits, can be powerful.

 

A fellow I sometimes play with learns everything by ear. Sometimes he will bring dots for the rest of us and we duitifully play and learn that version, only to find ourselves clashing when we play together. He is not going to change his habits/ patterns to suit us or the written notes, so I,ve found myself adding or eliminating many a sharp in the interest of the group sound. How, then to retain both versions in my head just in case??

 

Thank you David. And for the great story as well.

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A first pass at Bourrée d'Aurore Sand . Played in Am on a 30 button Lachenal/Dipper Anglo. Once without chording, a second time with some. Mostly I spent my time figuring out the down bass run on the B part, which was surprisingly challenging on the Anglo.

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Very nice Jim, you could play here in France in "french bal folk" with a lot of sucess!

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A first pass at Bourrée d'Aurore Sand . Played in Am on a 30 button Lachenal/Dipper Anglo. Once without chording, a second time with some. Mostly I spent my time figuring out the down bass run on the B part, which was surprisingly challenging on the Anglo.

Really nice playing! I love your bass run -really sounds cool. I am just working in my version in Dm and wonder why I didn't learn in in Am like you.

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A first pass at Bourrée d'Aurore Sand . Played in Am on a 30 button Lachenal/Dipper Anglo. Once without chording, a second time with some. Mostly I spent my time figuring out the down bass run on the B part, which was surprisingly challenging on the Anglo.

Really nice playing! I love your bass run -really sounds cool. I am just working in my version in Dm and wonder why I didn't learn in in Am like you.

 

 

Thanks. The bass run is interesting, and feels very unnatural, but I've been doing more of that in other tunes, and it's been a good exercise for me.

 

Dm on the G/D is not easy. Good work!

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Very nice Jim, you could play here in France in "french bal folk" with a lot of sucess!

 

Thanks. I think the phrasing isn't quite right for good French dance music.ANd it's a little slow, isn't it?

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IMHO, I don't see any problem with the tempo or the phrasing...

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Here's a demo recording (one time through) of my approach, transposed down two semitones (to Sharp's Gmin) in honour of tjhe new low F reeds:

 

Robinson's Tune.

 

Still needs a lot of work - will keep you updated with the WIP.

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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Here's a demo recording (one time through) of my approach, transposed down two semitones (to Sharp's Gmin) in honour of tjhe new low F reeds:

 

Robinson's Tune.

 

Will keep you updated with the WIP.

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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