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John, always 5 dancers for Rapper, plus Tommy and Betty, Longsword teams are 6.

 

Theo, I don't know about teams more steeped in tradition, but my wife's Boston-area rapper team has at least one six-person dance. Their musician plays a five-string fiddle, but one thing I had in mind when I took up the concertina this summer was playing for them if he couldn't make it...maybe I'll be good enough by this time next year...

 

Joshua

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I think the only Irish association is that a lot of teams use Irish jigs for the dance.

 

I played for Grand Union rapper for years, and we used mainly Northumbrian jigs - or jigs commonly danced to in Northumberland, which really drove the dancers on.

 

Many teams look and feel as if they're dancing faster if you actually play a little slower, but make sure the rhythm's in there - if they have time to really mark the beat with their feet, the whole dance comes alive.

We used to play at @ 148, or less; they were pretty hot at that speed, and won Dancing England (later DERT) at it. I could get round the tunes at 160, but it didn't sound so good and the dance went a lot better just a tad slower.

 

We used Northumbrian tunes we a) liked and B) knew really really well and c) fitted both our instruments (fiddle and concertina). That made it easier to practise and practise until we could speed them up without sounding rushed. Concentrating on the phrasing of the tune rather than the speed really helped. Yes it helps to have tunes where there are quite a few notes in one direction; arranging the bellows change to come just before a note you want to emphasise helps, too.

 

As far as I remember, the specific tunes we used - twice through each - were: Hexham Races in G (to start, finish, and steady us if we were racing - lovely swingy tune that sits easily on the anglo); then New Rigged Ship in D (it fitted the step they'd gone into by then - a ya-ke-ty DUH - duh, ya-ke-ty DUH - duh step); then One Horned Sheep in G again - it really soars up to the A music for the second time round; then Blackthorn Stick, in G to come out of it; then Blackthorn Stick in A; then Elsie Marley in G; then Biddy the Bowl wife in G; then Jump at the Sun in Gm (using the third row, on pull, mainly - it sits surprisingly easily on a C/G anglo); then back to Hexham Races to finish.

I'd forgotten quite how long the dance is!

 

If you're playing tunes you know really well, it's just as easy to mark the phrasing and emphasise the rhythm on an anglo - easier, in some ways, as you're pushing the bellows in with a whole width of hand on the wood under the handstrap, not your thumbs and little fingers, as on the English.

 

Pippa

 

edited to remove unwanted smiley replacing "B)"! and to add a signature

Edited by Pippa
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As far as I remember, the specific tunes we used - twice through each - were: Hexham Races in G (to start, finish, and steady us if we were racing - lovely swingy tune that sits easily on the anglo); then New Rigged Ship in D (it fitted the step they'd gone into by then - a ya-ke-ty DUH - duh, ya-ke-ty DUH - duh step); then One Horned Sheep in G again - it really soars up to the A music for the second time round; then Blackthorn Stick, in G to come out of it; then Blackthorn Stick in A; then Elsie Marley in G; then Biddy the Bowl wife in G; then Jump at the Sun in Gm (using the third row, on pull, mainly - it sits surprisingly easily on a C/G anglo); then back to Hexham Races to finish.

I'd forgotten quite how long the dance is!

 

Thanks, lots of useful information there.

I've played Jump at the Sun for years in Em because a NW Clog team I play with sometimes does it in that key. My memory is that it's rough in Gm on a C/G 30 button, but i'll try it again.

 

One Horned SHeep is a great tune, we play it for contra dances a lot. I'll look for notation for Hexham Races.

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John, always 5 dancers for Rapper, plus Tommy and Betty, Longsword teams are 6.

 

Theo, I don't know about teams more steeped in tradition, but my wife's Boston-area rapper team has at least one six-person dance.

Joshua

 

I am happy to stand corrected - I am not a dancer, and freely acknowledge that others know more than I do on that topic..

 

Best wishes

 

John

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I can completely understand your pain. I've been playing for rapper since I started playing rapper and that still happens, mainly when something even slightly distracting occurs or your mind wanders. It's tough to recover at that speed; the warm-up dance at DERT was one of the most embarassing extended moments of my life.

 

Man, we could swap most embarrasing moments stories.

 

Mine was on the streets of Shepherdstown, WVa. playing before a bunch of good morris dancers and musicians. I was doing Orange in Bloom, a tune I've done about a million times, could do in my sleep.

 

But a friend drove past on the street and waved, I lost concentration -- and suddenly couldn't remember for the life of me wht I was playing. I sputtered through the rest of the dance without hitting anything resembling a useful note. I was mortified, wanted to dig a hole and climb in.

 

An hour later we were dancing at a different venue and I was in an absolute panic. Fortunately, that went better.

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What a timely post. I was just getting ready to work up a couple rapper tunes. Ten Penny Bit and, a common one from my childhood rapper-watching days: Irish Washerwoman. Will I ever work them up to 160? Probably not. But it will be fun to learn them all the same.

 

Common understanding (as opposed to actual verifiable historic fact) says that rapper was started after the mid-1700's, i.e. after the invention of spring steel. The swords, when both handles are held in one hand, VERY much resemble a tool used to clean dirt or shedding fur off horses (think: coal dust).

 

The footwork is very similar to English clogging. Common understanding also has it that rapper, as opposed to seasonally-oriented morris and longsword, has always been a "competition" dance. Informal competition, of course.

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Theo, I don't know about teams more steeped in tradition, but my wife's Boston-area rapper team has at least one six-person dance. Their musician plays a five-string fiddle, but one thing I had in mind when I took up the concertina this summer was playing for them if he couldn't make it...maybe I'll be good enough by this time next year...

 

Joshua

I don't play for Rapper, or dance it, but I've seen lots of sides dancing in the NE of England and the only time I can recall seeing 6 in a team is when one of the comedy duo join in briefly.

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Rapper & Concertina.

Many years ago (49 to be precise) I was at King's College Newcastle and played (melodeon) for the rapper team there, and came into contact with people from several of the ancient traditional teams; both working and defunct.

There were no Anglo concertina players in connection with Rapper (in fact I never saw an anglo either played or even for sale new or secondhand whilst in Newcastle).

The existing teams were Royal Earsdon (at Backworth) who had a fiddle player - Jimmy Mackie, who played a selection of jigs including Blackthorn Stick (A music to step to inbetween the verses of the calling on song) and the rest of the tune when the dancing started, and another 5 tunes including Rolliking Irishman, the Laird of Cockpen. (I will look up the others and list them next week).

The High Spen Sword-dancers had a Melodeon player Tommy Wilkes, he played a number of tunes, one of which I have only heared him play, which consisted almost entirely of press-draw-press, or draw-press-draw, on individual buttons, which could be played very quickly, and could be equally well done on an Anglo.

Inventor

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Inventors ancient memories of Rapper & concertina continued.

A dancer and musician came up from Westerhope (this was the continuation of North Wallbottle) one day to check that we were doing this dance correctly. He had an english-concertina with him, which he played a little on but not to speed as he hadn't played it for several years; and ended up presenting this concertina to Bill Cassie (Professor W. F. Cassie) the King' College Morrismen's Squire at that time. The Westerhope Sword dancers had had an extra dancer who used to join in at the end making six dancers. The Tommy and Bessie of the North Wallbottle sword dancers used to join in the dance at the end making seven.

The Bedlington sword dancers has a melodeon player, I met him whilst we were learning their dance from Peter and Luke Muldoon, he was lent a melodeon (Hohner Club III) which he said was exactly like the one he used to play, however after a few attempts at the Irish Washerwoman and Cock of the North, he realised he couldn't play for dancing any longer. The Muldoons were 2nd generation Irish, and Luke remembers his mother dancing an Irish Jig at times.

The Amble Rapper dancers had a fiddle player (Fiddler Jones) who sometimes used to become so engrossed in his playing that he forgot to move on when the dancers ran on down the street for their next stop.

more next week.

Inventor.

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John, always 5 dancers for Rapper, plus Tommy and Betty, Longsword teams are 6.

 

Theo, I don't know about teams more steeped in tradition, but my wife's Boston-area rapper team has at least one six-person dance. Their musician plays a five-string fiddle, but one thing I had in mind when I took up the concertina this summer was playing for them if he couldn't make it...maybe I'll be good enough by this time next year...

 

Joshua

Oh, THAT jdms!! Hi Joshua! It's me, Steven (Rusche). Jennifer told me you had gotten a concertina. How's it going so far?

 

(For the rest of you, yes, we know each other in the real world.)

 

:)

Steven

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Thanks, lots of useful information there.

I've played Jump at the Sun for years in Em because a NW Clog team I play with sometimes does it in that key. My memory is that it's rough in Gm on a C/G 30 button, but i'll try it again.

 

One Horned SHeep is a great tune, we play it for contra dances a lot. I'll look for notation for Hexham Races.

 

In abc notation:

Hexham Races in G, ,meter = 6/8

dB|"G"GBd gdB|"D7"ded dBA|"G"GBd gdB|"Am"ABA "D7"ABA|!

"G"GBd gdB|"D"def "C"gfe|"G/d"dcB "D7"cBA|"G"GAG G2:|!

P:B

d|"G"g2d edB|"D7"ded def|"G"g2d edB|"Am"ABA "D7"A3|!

"G"g2d edB|"D"def "C"gfe|"G/d"dcB "D7"cBA|"G"GAG G2:|

 

It's a really great tune, as long as you keep the rhythm absolutely even and steady for the rapper step you can have a lot of fun with this, soaring up to the top Gs, or easing back for a few bars so you can rebuild the tension next time they're doing something fancy ...

 

I don't think the key for Jump at the Sun matters a lot - I play it in Em with melodeons and Gm with fiddles. I'm not quite sure how we started doing it, but we found that the second half of the A music works really well if you just play a chromatic scale down from the G, and we used to throw that in during the somersault - there's nothing like maximising audience attention! In Gm, it happens to be all on the pull, and it happens to sit easy under the fingers but sound really flash - it suited the dance.

I've heard rumours that fiddlers also play it in Dm, which is one key too far for me. Cracking tune, though.

 

Pippa

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I usually lurk but finally we have a topic on which I know something. I'm a VERY beginning concertina player but a very experienced rapper dancer.

 

We usually dance to fiddle but have danced to melodeon, pennywhistle, anglo concertina, even piano accordion. While fiddler is easier, it can be done to other instruments. We practice at 160 and perform at 165-170.

 

There are a lot of different tunes which work for rapper but there a lot that don't work at all. Characteristics of the ones that work are usually:

 

6/8 jigs with notes on every 1/8 note. I usually describe these as "dumpity-dumpity" jigs.

 

No slurs and no long notes (ie no half notes, particular crossing a bar boundary) - the dancers move with 2 steps per bar and the tune needs to have a beat on every step. Or they clog at 6 steps per bar, hence item 1 above.

 

Strong 4 bar phrasing - the basic block of movment is 4 bars (8 steps) and the end of the phrase is critical for cueing the next dance movment. Tunes with long phrases or tunes where it is difficult to hear where the phrase ends are VERY difficult to dance to.

 

You can certainly drop notes in the tune as long as you keep a steady 2 beats per bar rhythm going. The dancers don't need to hear every note of the triplets (in fact most probably only listen to the first note of the triplet for the beat, like I do). If you can't play all the notes, play the first in each triplet as a dotted 1/4 note.

 

If you want to emphasis the rhythm, the accent is on the even beats with even more emphasis at the ends of bars 2 and 4. Movements start and stop usually on beat 8 (of a 4 bar phrase), sometimes on beat 4, very occasionally on beats 2 or 6. Never on an odd beat.

 

The speed is just freakishly unnatural. Even very good musicians who have no problem playing that fast usually have to constantly remind themselves to keep the speed up. Otherwise, as soon as their attention wanders, they slow down to something more normal sounding.

 

This is just my opinion as a dancer. Other dancers will have their own and the audience may have a completly different take on how the music should sound.

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15 years ago I was working in Charlotte NC and I worked long hours, so I listened to Rush Limbaugh and Rap Stations
...
To this day I think that Rap/Hip-Hop is a symptom of cultural disaster for Black community in the USA
Most likely, that perception has more to do with your exposure to Rush Limbaugh than it has with your exposure to Rap.
I think this is another instance of the old saying 'two nations separated by a common language.'
Definitely... It took a few posts for me to realize that too. Edited by Theodore Kloba
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In abc notation:

Hexham Races in G, ,meter = 6/8

dB|"G"GBd gdB|"D7"ded dBA|"G"GBd gdB|"Am"ABA "D7"ABA|!

"G"GBd gdB|"D"def "C"gfe|"G/d"dcB "D7"cBA|"G"GAG G2:|!

P:B

d|"G"g2d edB|"D7"ded def|"G"g2d edB|"Am"ABA "D7"A3|!

"G"g2d edB|"D"def "C"gfe|"G/d"dcB "D7"cBA|"G"GAG G2:|

 

I couldn't convert it using this website's converter. and midi didn't work either.

Any help?

Or may be other sites with video or mp3 or any other formats of audio?

Thanks.

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In abc notation:

Hexham Races in G, ,meter = 6/8

dB|"G"GBd gdB|"D7"ded dBA|"G"GBd gdB|"Am"ABA "D7"ABA|!

"G"GBd gdB|"D"def "C"gfe|"G/d"dcB "D7"cBA|"G"GAG G2:|!

P:B

d|"G"g2d edB|"D7"ded def|"G"g2d edB|"Am"ABA "D7"A3|!

"G"g2d edB|"D"def "C"gfe|"G/d"dcB "D7"cBA|"G"GAG G2:|

 

I couldn't convert it using this website's converter. and midi didn't work either.

Any help?

Or may be other sites with video or mp3 or any other formats of audio?

Thanks.

 

 

You need the header info as well as the basic tune for the Tune-a-tron

 

try this:

X: 1

T: Hexham Races

M: 6/8

L: 1/8

R: jig

K: G

dB|"G"GBd gdB|"D7"ded dBA|"G"GBd gdB|"Am"ABA "D7"ABA|!

"G"GBd gdB|"D"def "C"gfe|"G/d"dcB "D7"cBA|"G"GAG G2:|!

P:B

d|"G"g2d edB|"D7"ded def|"G"g2d edB|"Am"ABA "D7"A3|!

"G"g2d edB|"D"def "C"gfe|"G/d"dcB "D7"cBA|"G"GAG G2:|

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