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Accompaniment Advice Needed


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It seems you're demonstrating a basic lack of understanding here. The informal and relaxed behaviour is a central part of the character of Morris - particularly Cotswold and Border.

The use of swords as in Rapper or Longsword, and the use of garlands in some North-West dances is precisely about precision and team work, and anybody who has seen just one such dance would know that! Sticks have a similar element but are (IMHO) mainly about their percussive qualities.

 

OK, Let's try to stitch together your own words and see, what we'll have...

 

The informal and relaxed behaviour... is precisely about precision and team work

And why have you concluded that I don't fall into either category ? Because I dear not to drool from the very word "Morris"? I certainly can enjoy some wacky dancing, even if it's from distant culture, but why can't I wish for it to be done a bit better? Especially when it takes so much time to learn to play the tunes. If I'm playing for Morris and play a few notes on the pull instead of the push, will my excuse that" I'm only practicing an hour a year per song" be legitimate?

I'm sure you understood very well, that I referred to most Morris dancers that I have seen. Offer some links, demonstrating top level Morris.

If walking around is served under the disguize of 'dancing', what do you expect me to see? And why should I turn away? Contrary, I'd like to find some real dancing, real vigor, not careful attempts not to hurt themselves.

 

Listen, there is good concertina playing and bad, right? Or no? Or perhabs to assume that some concertina playing is bad would be offencive? Can there be good playing (very vague term, it seems, depending on personal taste, it seems) with real bad posture? Why are we discussing mistakes, that beginners make? Should we be more open minded? Why crouched posture of some Morris "dancer" is good, but sitting crouched while playing Conceritna is bad? Why underpracticing of Morris dance is Tradition, but underpracticing of Melodeon accompaniment is nuisance?

Why some bellied bearded dude without prior experience thinks he can perform a dance right away, but understands he can't perform musical accompaniment without some vigorous practice for at least a year or two?

I may be wrong in thinking, that it's because there is not much else in this traditional area in England, so although the dancers may not be great, the Tradition is dear.

But why not add another hour to the practice? :blink:

 

Edited to add suggestion to Mikefule about fingering:

If you intend to play for Morris, please disregard all advices and just be sloppy.

Don't forget not to practice, as not practicing enough and been imprecise is the key to presision and authenticity, esp. in a team setting.

 

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Silly Fool, sweeping broad generalisations.

Edited by m3838
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Keep on topic? The very idea...

 

m3838 may have gone a bit OTT in making his case, but he has a point. Far too many morris sides are poor dancers, they don't keep the lines, they make a mess of the figures and they can't get off the ground. I don't want to see them dancing with the precision of the Royal Ballet, that just loses the spirit of the dance. But you only have to watch a side of good dancers, who can dance with energy and vigour, to realise the difference.

 

It's all too common to see a side stumbling around to lacklustre music, and when I come across these I can't be bothered to stay and watch - what's the point? But when I see a good side, then it's exciting. And the good sides invariably also have good musicians.

 

The traditional sides, and those revival sides who feel they have a reputation to maintain, appear to be selective about who they will allow to dance out in public. But for far too many sides it seems there is no question of picking a team, whoever turns out in kit is allowed to get up and dance regardless of their ability or fitness.

 

Does it matter? For many, it is enough that the morris is being danced. There is a tendency in the folk revival, in song and music as well as dance, to value the mere fact of participation over ability; this can be considered a strength, as it is prepared to tolerate and encourage beginners and allow them time to develop, but it is also a weakness, as it becomes accepting of mediocrity (or worse).

 

Plenty of people will gather to watch morris however it is danced, but their attitude is often at best bemused puzzlement, at worst contempt. The reaction of the Great English Public to morris is usually, I'm afraid, to take the piss. But if they were to see it danced as it should be they'd be amazed, and their attitude might change.

 

So I think it does matter. I think the morris is fantastic, and it grieves me that so many of my compatriots are not only ignorant of but embarrassed by our culture. It's all very well going out and dancing for one's own amusement, and I agree that the point is to go out and dance, and if there's an audience that's a bonus. But when you dance out in public you don't just represent yourself or your side, but the whole tradition, and you have a responsibility to do it well.

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Plenty of people will gather to watch morris however it is danced, but their attitude is often at best bemused puzzlement, at worst contempt. The reaction of the Great English Public to morris is usually, I'm afraid, to take the piss. But if they were to see it danced as it should be they'd be amazed, and their attitude might change.

Some very good points, Howard. Different dance sides perform for different reasons.

 

Having played for one good side in the period 1985/95 (Downes-on-Tour) I can say that we worked on the technical performance aspect of the Morris. We took established, good, dancers from several sides (Downes, Redbornestoke, Great Western, Sarum etc.) and had an all day practice four or five times during the winter. This was followed by a concert "spot" on the Saturday night, or dance out with a local side on the Sunday. We got a couple of festival bookings, and numerous invitations during this period. I'm amazed that it lasted 10+ years given that all of us had commitments to other sides, plus had to travel 100+ miles to the practice sessions.

 

When I currently turn out for the Morris (when the regular musician is not available), it is to enable them to perform. No musician, no performance, since numbers are at "bare bones" levels. Logic says that this cannot be sustained, but the "lads" feel that it should continue.

 

Which other nations would either ridicule their national dances and traditions, or treat them with indifference? There must be some plus points to being English, but this is not one of them. Compare with our near neighbours Wales, Scotland and Ireland; how well they respect their own traditions.

 

Morris dancing at the opening ceremony 2012?

 

Dream on....................

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I wanted to comment on Mischa's comment that it is hard to get excited about another culture, but other than agreeing, I can't think of anything to add.

 

On topic though, it seems something similiar came up a few monthes ago about playing for dancers. Without hunting it down, I think the most common bit of advice was to keep the rhythm steady. Maybe some time with the metronome as you work out the fingerings on the tune might help, especially if the team can help you with the speed and rhythm they want.

 

Alan

Edited by asdormire
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Gosh, so many opinions about something that only really matters to the people who do it. I must post some opinions about Japanese archery or Potter Hanworth Parish Council some time.

 

The Morris is there for everyone to choose to do, or to ignore, as they wish. There are some bloomin' awful teams out there, but they don't detract from my enjoyment of dancing with my side. There are some amazingly good teams out there, but they don't increase my enjoyment of dancing with my side.

 

So anyone who thinks it matters that many or most Morris dancers are mediocre can always choose either to avoid it, or to form an excellent side of their own.

 

Most concertina players (guitarists, harmonic players, brass players, flautists, five a side footballers, sailors, mountainbikers, etc...) are pretty mediocre too.

 

Another thing often overlooked is that two fundamental parts of the English psyche are self-deprecation and a healthy sense of irony. These are fundamental to the Morris tradition. In China they have elaborate paper dragons; in Indonesia they have the beauty and complexity of the gamelan; in Spain, the vibrancy of the flamenco; in Scotland, the skirl of the pipes; in Ireland, the craic; in France, er... quite a lot of cheeses... and in England we have a few fat blokes with dodgy knees dancing to two men and a dog outside a pub. It's an important part of being English, and no one else's business.

 

And when you've seen a pathetically grateful audience of three on a dismal wet summer's night at an otherwise deserted pub, and you've seen the landord's eyes light up at the prospect of selling 30 pints of best bitter ... and then his face fall to the first bars of the Hohner Wall of Sound playing Speed the Plough, then and only then have you seen the full glory of the Morris, and only then can you begin to understand what made our nation so great.

 

So, how do I harmonise those tricky notes on the left hand? ;0)

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Gosh, so many opinions about something that only really matters to the people who do it. I must post some opinions about Japanese archery

Yeah? Well I don't think much of Japanese archery - they don't do it how I think it should be done - i.e. wear green tights, live in a forest while they do it, and rob from the rich to give to the poor.

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The tights should of course be red - Lincoln Green is a misnomer, like Bombay Duck (or is that Mumbai Duck?)

Green or Red is just a distraction. Let's get back to the core issue - do you know they don't even use English Longbows?

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Green or Red is just a distraction. Let's get back to the core issue - do you know they don't even use English Longbows?

Green or red is for Christmas, and I've given up using English longbows on my Christmas packages. They tend to catch on things and get pulled apart. Only short bows on my gifts.

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And when you've seen a pathetically grateful audience of three on a dismal wet summer's night at an otherwise deserted pub, and you've seen the landord's eyes light up at the prospect of selling 30 pints of best bitter ... and then his face fall to the first bars of the Hohner Wall of Sound playing Speed the Plough, then and only then have you seen the full glory of the Morris, and only then can you begin to understand what made our nation so great.

 

:lol:

 

I'm glad I wasn't drinking my cup of tea while reading that! Someone ought to do a novelty record under the name "The Hohner Wall of Sound" :lol:

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Hohner Wall of Sound playing Speed the Plough,

:lol:

I'm glad I wasn't drinking my cup of tea while reading that! Someone ought to do a novelty record under the name "The Hohner Wall of Sound" :lol:

 

If you haven't heard Ralph Jordan (with acknowledgement to the late Nigel Chippendale) play Speed the Camel, you haven't lived. :blink: :lol:

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Hohner Wall of Sound playing Speed the Plough,

:lol:

I'm glad I wasn't drinking my cup of tea while reading that! Someone ought to do a novelty record under the name "The Hohner Wall of Sound" :lol:

 

If you haven't heard Ralph Jordan (with acknowledgement to the late Nigel Chippendale) play Speed the Camel, you haven't lived. :blink: :lol:

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