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Contra Dance Music
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Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (4 votes) 
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ELCBK
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October 25, 2021 - 9:55 pm
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Some info has been posted about Contra Dances, elsewhere, but I can't find it - let me know if anyone does. (lol) 

It just sunk in how popular Contra Dance is in our North, South, East & West Coasts, big in Canada, the UK, Australia and a small showing in many other Countries! 

So, maybe I wasn't learning 'Square Dancing' in High School, but I don't recall hearing the term Contra Dance!  ...then again, I was more interested in the Rock groups of that time. (lol)

I didn't know Henry Ford, in my Home Town, played a huge part in promoting Contra Dance in the 20's!   Then, there was a decline as other types of music/dance became more popular in the 30's & 40's.  A big resurgence started in the later 70's & 80's, but I was in the Military by then. (Wikipedia) 

What is Contra Dancing? - Nelson & Peterborough - New Hampshire

So, ran across a really cool tune, that I first saw maybe a year & a half ago, played on hammered dulcimer - felt it was way beyond my reach at that time, so passed it by.  Now that I've played a few reels and learned more about Contra Dance, I'm very interested in this tune! 

"Glass Island", performed by Mikela Valenzuela.

Glass Island reel (Ethan Hazzard Watkins) medium speed

The "Glass Island" (reel), is the first tune that Ethan Hazzard-Watkins composed when he was 17 years old (1997)!  I might've guessed it was Québécois or maybe Irish, but Ethan is a traditional composer & Fiddler from here in Vermont! 

From Ethan's Bio: 

Ethan is equally at home digging into an Irish, Quebecois, or New England fiddle tune, improvising on a classic blues, swing, or honky-tonk song, or interpreting a lyrical waltz or English Country Dance melody. 

Ethan is also an avid composer of tunes in traditional styles, and his compositions and arrangements have been played and recorded widely. 

Find sheet music and more of his compositions here, at his site: 

https://www.ethanhw.com/

 

You can find Katy Adelson has a YouTube tutorial for this tune, to help. 

 

💥 One very important point Ethan made at thesession.org, about this tune - "This tune was never intended to be an Irish session tune; it is more accurately a contemporary contra dance tune." 

...I'm not quite sure what he means by that. 😳 

                             - Emily

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ABitRusty
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October 25, 2021 - 11:49 pm
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"One very important point Ethan made at thesession.org, about this tune - "This tune was never intended to be an Irish session tune; it is more accurately a contemporary contra dance tune."

glass island reel..thats intense!   never heard before.   and that is an interesting statement.. just me guessing, bit Id say he was maybe into the contra dance scene at the time and was focused on composing something new to play at a dance.   but thats me guessing.   what do you think?

He has an email listed on bio page..why dont you ask?  and ask if you can post answer!   It would be neat to know.

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ELCBK
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October 26, 2021 - 12:21 am
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@ABitRusty -

I'm liking the 'medium speed' that Mikela plays. 🎃 (I need to find a harder laughing Jack O' Lantern) 

Here I was hoping you'd just tell me session speed is faster than Contra Dance Speed, but it may have also been in response to some comments at thesession.org 

Guess I haven't paid enough attention to the speed in some of the Contra Dance videos, yet. 

Your suggestion is a great one - was definitely too tired to think of it myself. 

Pumpkin Laughing Emoticons

Thank you! 

- Emily

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ABitRusty
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October 26, 2021 - 8:08 pm
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I cant really say from experience as far as contra dance tune tempo vs session.  ive never attended a contra dance..the only thing i know is what people have said and youtube videos.  Id say that session tempo(s) would be a little more flexible be it fast or slow depending on the group mood and skill level for the night...but for a dance there would probably be an expected tempo range that dancers are used to the band playing so probably would have to be good at knowing whats expected...and be able to keep that up for the whole evening.... again just blab off the tip of the fingers... laugh  good chat stuff though maybe.  maybe someone on here thats played them can chime in. 

you have a point about the post on thesession... i read through the comments there briefly.

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ELCBK
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October 26, 2021 - 11:25 pm
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@ABitRusty -

Think I just got pleasantly surprised! 

Just happened to find a 'Halloween' Contra Dance that actually videotaped more  than a couple of the dance tunes - pretty moderate!  

Here's one tune "Danse Macabre", with the rest of the playlist linked. 

Palo Alto Halloween Contra with Common Ground - Part 7

Whew!  Think we can keep up. 🎃

...having deja vu, like I already checked out dance speed a while back -

for another post, somewhere. 

Spoooky!

- Emily 

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Ripton
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October 27, 2021 - 8:35 pm
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I am now in the position to have time to dedicate to Contra Dances and join the Worcester Folk Orchestra but they are now defunct. UGH!. When we attended as dancers it was a blast, albeit awkward at times dancing with strangers. 

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ELCBK
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October 27, 2021 - 10:48 pm
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@Ripton -

So, what's your take on Contra Dance speed, in general? 

Do you think it's a little slower than what session speed might be? 

 

 

- Emily

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Ripton
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October 30, 2021 - 6:50 pm
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overall not too familiar. Contra dance music that I've attended use the old time folk music I love to play. Not to fast, not too slow. If I can find my sheet music I may be able to give you a more accurate number. 

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ELCBK
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October 30, 2021 - 7:33 pm
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@Ripton -

Thanks! 

That's still very helpful. 

I've been forcing myself to play faster, but I REALLY don't like it. 

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/d4/c6/28/d4c628e64168de3e18e2f663a50b998c.jpg

 

 

- Emily

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