Foresters Morris Men
The Foresters Morris and Sword Dancing Club
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Eric's notes for Ring Musicians' Weekend

         

 


Foresters Morris as part of the Chatsworth House Spectacular.
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General notes

  • You have to balance between leading dancers versus following dancers
  • Both are important

Speed

  • You must discuss this with number 1 (especially today)
  • I follow the feet of the best dancer
  • With the morris, I keep on the slow side in public (slower than in practices)
  • With my cloggies I go faster in public shows (the adrenalin enables them)
  • In morris we put highest jumpers opposite in corner dances then their capers can go really slower and higher
  • You can play quieter for corners (typically 2 people dancing) than for figures (6 people dancing)
  • Dancers usually speed up during stick clashing If they force you to go faster, slow them down at the next figure

Quality of music

  • You have to balance in public between playing for dancers versus playing for audience
  • The music should be good to listen to
  • Especially with multiple musicians, there is much scope here

Appearance

  • You are a member of the team For Cotswold, wear their uniform

You must have an empathy with the dancers

Good dancers make the best musicians but you don’t have to be a dancer

When I was in Thames Valley, every dancer had to be able to play one tune on one instrument

I prefer single musicians for Cotswold type morris but if you have more than one, use them usefully Don’t just play unison.

Musically

Detail

  • The dance steps/movements are more important than the musical notation on paper!
  • Phrase for the steps 1-2-3-hop (usually 1 bar) versus
  • 1-hop-2-hop (2 half bars)
  • no lead-in note for Sherbourne
  • Don’t keep “um-pah” going all the time – it’s not relevant for hook legs, galleys, capers sticking
  • Generally play staccato
  • Generally play 8 bars as 2 bars – 2 bars – 4 bars
  • bars 5 and 5 are different from bars 1 and 2

William & Nancy p84

  • All “A” musics are 2 double steps followed by a hook leg
  • To be played as 2 whole bars followed by 4 half bars
  • The first “DF” is a wave, the second “DF” is “up-2-3”, a different rhythm from first “DF”
  • Third and fourth “DF”= capers, emphasis on beat 3 to 4.

Lads a Bunchum (Adderbury) p8

  • Starts with a walk round, singing – I give 2 notes then leave them to sing
  • Most “A” musics are 2 double steps followed 2 singles and ftj.
  • NB The last whole hey doesn’t pause in the middle in Adderbury

Old Woman Tossed Up (Fieldtown)

  • Fieldtown is a gentle floating tradition
  • Again phrase for steps
  • Again the capers vary

Banks of the Dee (Fieldtown)

  • Standard Fieldtown
  • I like a non-standard harmony

Different Cotswold traditions

Different traditions have different styles (see Clive)

At the extremes floating Fieldtown versus brisk Headington.

Multiple musicians

  • You must listen to the rest of the band
  • Play more staccato than usual
  • Playing slight variants of the tune doesn’t matter
  • Playing differences like “c” versus “c-sharp” does matter

My background!

I danced with my mother’s local folk dance group in Twickenham from when I was aged 10 or 11, and played for them from when I was 13 (1950).

They needed someone to play for tunes they couldn’t find on 78 rpm records. I was given an accordion and told to get on with it.

I sat in with visiting bands, and watched my maths teacher!

The weekly club meetings were attended from time to time by Leslie Nichols (Morris Ring Squire 1964-66, Greensleeves MM) Patrick Shuldham-Shaw (1917-1977)

I joined Thames Valley Morris Men at age 15

Squire Dr Christopher Penton looked after me. Many Saturdays he picked me up in his MG, and took me to see traditional teams.

I was made to play in front of William Kimber (1872-1961)

I listened to Jinky Wells (1868-1953) at Bampton

Chris told me to imbibe the tradition, but not to adhere slavishly

I happen to own Cecil Sharp (1859-1924)’s 3-hole pipe made for him to special order by Carl Dolmetsch of Haslemere

See also “Playing for dancing” (aimed at playing for ceilidh dancing) at www.chezfred.org.uk/freds/playing.htm

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