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Jim Besser

Waltz Versus Mazurka

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I know the difference, but my question is this: playing for dancers in a waltz session, will tossing in a mazurka cause confused dancers or worse? I'm such a pathetic excuse for a dancer, I can't really work it out myself.

 

THe group I'm playing with loves the "Petit Valse/Mazurka" medley on Anglo International and we'd love to play it, but not if it's going to be a problem for the dancers.

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I'm sure it wouldn't cause a problem. I'm firmly convinced that dancers don't listen to the music most of the time anyway (and I'm a dancer and a musician). Something I want to try one day is to announce a scottiche and play a polka. I'm sure they'd all get up and try to do it!

 

When I came to France 20 years ago I went along to a French music session and when I'd explained what an Anglo was they said "play us a tune". So I played Princess Royal. They said "play something else, play a waltz". So I played Michael Turner's. They then said "now play us a waltz". I said "that was a waltz". They said "no, no, no, that was a mazurka", and you know, they were dead right! It's now known all over S.W.France as David's Mazurka! (I keep tellin' 'em its proper name but they can't be doing with it and, anyway, it now turns out it was part of a suite of 6 German Dances by Mozart!)

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I know the difference, but my question is this: playing for dancers in a waltz session, will tossing in a mazurka cause confused dancers or worse?

You say you know the difference, but do you, really? The difference is in the pulse of the music, i.e., how the stress varies within the 3-beat measure. Some tunes may seem to force you into a particular stress pattern, and they may not work well for more than one type of dance. Other tunes are more flexible, amenable to a variety of stress patterns... and dance forms.

 

The pulse is even more dominant in Swedish music than in American or English (have you asked Julia the question you've asked us?). A "waltz" can also have a very different feel in each of those traditions, none of which is quite like the" Viennese". But in a sedate Swedish polska, the pulse isn't just about timing or emphasis through loudness, but gets its flow from continuous changes in timing and dynamic within the individual beats of a measure. What really brought that home to me was one night when a fiddler changed tunes in the middle of a polska, and I realized that something else had subtly changed, but it took me a while to realize what it was.

He was playing the new tune in what was essentially a syrtos or lesnoto rhythm... normally notated as 7/8, but really three beats, with the first being longer than the other two. The music still had three pulses (or "beats") to the measure, and it didn't matter if one was slightly "stretched"; they could feel its
flow
in the sound coming out of the fiddle, and they stretched that step of the dance to match it, without even seeming to notice that it was happening.

In American (and English and Irish) dances the pulses tend to be sharper, and we call them "beats", but they're really just toward one end of a spectrum of flexibility. I think that feeling them as "pulses" -- as "push" rather than "thump" -- makes it easier to sort out the subtle differences among the different types of dance that may be notated with the same time signature.

 

The group I'm playing with loves the "Petit Valse/Mazurka" medley on Anglo International and we'd love to play it, but not if it's going to be a problem for the dancers.

My copy of AI was loaned to a friend, who loaned it further, and I'm waiting to get it back, and I'm not sure I remember that particular track. But I think many mazurkas do also work well as waltzes, hambos, etc. Why not give it a practice run with just a few dance friends, and see what they think?

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I have been involved with many workshops teaching English dancers to dance French dances and alternatively French and German dancers to dance English dances and as Jim Lucas says there are subtle differences.I have gone through this before, but it is worth mentioning again.English Waltzes are played slower,English dancers (and probably American ) lift their feet and using the heel and toe create rise and fall as they dance.With French Waltzes, the music is much faster and they use smaller steps and dance mainly on the ball of their feet with many twirls/spins. There is no rise and fall.

(I find it interesting that if any tune which is played for dancing, or for a group of men marching,they do not dance faster or march faster,they take smaller steps).

A Mazurka is a mixture of a step dance and waltz, with this dance the feet are lifted off the floor ,a rare thing with French dancing. With the couples in ballroom hold the man lifts his left foot the girl right and the feet are lightly stamped in a hop step and almost the reverse with the other feet. The differences in the music is that with the Waltz the tune is played smoothly and fast with one two three timing.The Mazurka has emphasis on the first note, ONE two three. In the same way as Morris tunes are played in certain ways to give lift and drive to the dance.

If you listen carefully to the Waltz and Mazurka tune played by Nigel Chippendale you will hear that first note emphasis on the Mazurka, but it is still three beats,

If therefore Jim you wanted to play this for your workshop I can see no reason why not , but it needs smoothing out (apart from the new tune lead in note,which you will prefer to leave in). If you continue to play with the first note emphasis you will find that the dancers will start bring their feet down heavily on that note and revert back to what they are used to.

Al

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If therefore Jim you wanted to play this for your workshop I can see no reason why not , but it needs smoothing out (apart from the new tune lead in note,which you will prefer to leave in). If you continue to play with the first note emphasis you will find that the dancers will start bring their feet down heavily on that note and revert back to what they are used to.

 

Thanks, Al. It's easy to straighten that tune out and we'll give it a go. What's the worst dancers can do to us -- sue us?

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Hello all, it's been a long time since I last logged on (changed jobs etc etc.).

 

To add my two-penny-worth. I'm into southern Italian music played mainly on the one-and-a-part row melodeon (commonly called an organetto) and I have quite a collection of field recordings from there. To me I can discern no difference between the waltz and the mazurka as played in Southern Italy (I don't know how the dances are danced there though). Even the tutor book I got from Italy for my organetto makes no difference between the rythm of the waltz and mazurka.

 

It seems to me that here in England we think the correct mazurka is that as played in France but there seems to be as much variation in mazurka dancing as there is in the waltz.

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Hello all, it's been a long time since I last logged on (changed jobs etc etc.).

 

To add my two-penny-worth. I'm into southern Italian music played mainly on the one-and-a-part row melodeon (commonly called an organetto) and I have quite a collection of field recordings from there. To me I can discern no difference between the waltz and the mazurka as played in Southern Italy (I don't know how the dances are danced there though). Even the tutor book I got from Italy for my organetto makes no difference between the rythm of the waltz and mazurka.

 

It seems to me that here in England we think the correct mazurka is that as played in France but there seems to be as much variation in mazurka dancing as there is in the waltz.

You are correct Darren,I just happen to know that Jim is concentrating on French Music at the moment and I answered in that vein.

I have not danced any Italian dances so I cannot comment on them ,I have also received recordings of Mazurkas and they are nothing like the French Dance ones

Al

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What's the worst dancers can do to us -- sue us?

Dance on your feet?
:unsure:

Fingers? :o

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What's the worst dancers can do to us -- sue us?

Dance on your feet?
:unsure:

Fingers? :o

 

manhood ? :blink:

I was trying to keep it "clean"! :lol:

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What's the worst dancers can do to us -- sue us?

Dance on your feet?
:unsure:

Fingers? :o

 

manhood ? :blink:

I was trying to keep it "clean"! :lol:

 

sorry ;)

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Hi,

 

I've just bought a concertina and so I've been looking around a bit. Just thought I'd shove my oar in to mention that in France, currently, one of te differences between a waltz and a mazurka will be the swing. Waltzes have a binary 3-beat rythm. Each beat is binary: one and two and three and, often giving rise to figures such as BG EB GE. Mazurkas are slower and ternary: one and a two and a three and, yielding things more of the type B>G E>B G>E

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