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Dance Music Choices

Keymn

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I think one of the most challenges in the music business is getting your audience on the dance floor. To me, nice ballads are a way to start especially after the dinner hour. I think Performing with an arranger gives the flexibility of tempo and the length of the song. Can you share your favorite dance floor hits?
Beer Barrel, In Heaven No Beer, Unforgettable, Unchained Melody, Could I Have this Dance...?
 

george garside

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If you are playing for a dance you are not a performer and the dancers an audience - that's fine for a stage performance with an audience sat listening. A dance band should be totally ''at one'' with the dancers i.e it is a partnership.

The job of the musician(s) is primarily to generate a rhythm that assists the dancers by providing them with 'lift' and making them move easily with the music. Arty farty playing and 'arrangements' can be a hinderence rather than a help

A simple but essential ingredient in getting it right is to watch the feet of the dancers and as the famous band leader and box player Sir Jimmy Shand put it ''it sort of comes back to you and helps you''

Put another way you must play ''with'' rather than ''for'' the dancers.

There is a vast range of types of dance and the musicians need to be familier with the type of dance music and steps they are playing for and preferably also be dancers themselves.

As to choice of tunes it can help to paly tunes that the dancers can identify with and particularly for waltzes well known songs
Also that there is no such thing as 'waltz speed' as a waltz can be anything from a smoochy 'last waltz' to a fast twirling vienese waltz and anything in between. Same goes for quick steps, two steps, jigs, reels, marches, etc etc etc.
Perhaps for starters it is best to spend some time listening to recordings of the type of dance music you aspire two and playing along with the recordings. Also to if possible 'sit in' with established dance musicians to play along quietly and unamplified so you don't upset the applecart!

Playing well for dance is an art and something that can only be developed by experience rather than by having an 'arranger'

george {} :b :ch ;)
 

TomBR

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I'll be interested in replies, my experience is all barn dances/ceilidhs where you don't generally expect people to be familiar with the tunes, it's a matter of feel.

(I'm also thinking that if I'm right, Keymn the OP, is a massively experienced professional entertainer so I'll be interested in his views.)
 

george garside

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{} for barn dances/ceilidhs I try to include as many well known popular tunes ( with song words )as possible as this increases the involvement and enjoyment not only of the dancers but also of those sitting out. , even cock of the north will usually have somebody singing ''aunty Mary has a canary stuck up the leg of her draws!''

george {} :b :ch
 

hais1273

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Absolutely agree with you Mr Garside. Rhythm, tempo and "togetherness" are vital ingredients. Having never played in a more formal setting, i.e standards or pop, as opposed to "Folkiness" I can only assume the same applies to wedding or more formal music, if you get my drift. I'm also inclined to think that less complicated arrangements are generally better for dancing.

Last year, I think, we had a band of very talented musicians come and play for a bal, musically they were interesting and complex, but that just didn't translate into mazurka's, bourree's and so on. At the time I thought they would make a good "watching band", and indeed that was what they turned out to be. Because of the overly fussy arrangement simple dances such as 32 bar 2/4 bourree's were undanceable. On this occasion the sum of the parts was less than the whole.

In the hopefully unlikely scenario of being asked to play a non-folky sort of event where dancing would be wanted, what would I want to play, even assuming I could. Lambada, the Birdy Song ( with a shudder, but hey we're playing for a fun time here) Beer barrel polka maybe, Macarena, good tune but a soppy dance, Lets Twist Again, that sort of thing. not my taste really , but then I'm hopefully being paid in this daydream!
 

george garside

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Sir Jimmy Shand, the hugely successful ''country dance'' and ''oldtyme '' dance band box playing leader , although well capable of doing all sorts of fancy things on the box, always played his dance music for the dancers and in so doing kept it simple including the bass.
There are many CD's available of his 50 years of recording some being poorly remastered from the original discs.
the best quality ones are under the ''muchty music'' label which is owned by the Shand family and which are only very lightly remastered from the original masters owned by the family. They are well worth listening to and much better than the stuff on youtube

google 'Sir Jimmy Shand, MA, MBE' for full info on the CD's and about the man

george
 
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rancoman

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george garside post_id=51587 time=1508453792 user_id=118 said:
{} for barn dances/ceilidhs I try to include as many well known popular tunes ( with song words )as possible as this increases the involvement and enjoyment not only of the dancers but also of those sitting out. , even cock of the north will usually have somebody singing aunty Mary has a canary stuck up the leg of her draws!

george {} :b :ch

This is one of the best bits of advice I have ever heard for people playing to an audience and/or dancers - give them lots of the stuff they have heard before - the common tunes we refer to as standards. Its nice to put in an occasional new one to add to the experience, but audiences prefer tunes they know.

I have no idea if this applies outwith the Scottish/ceilidh/barn dance/wedding scene I know, but its vital in that. The audience are there to enjoy themselves, not to assess how good we are at playing clever or difficult tunes, so the standards, many of which are quite easy tunes, played with lots of lift (and dunt, of course! :b )and at the correct tempo, are what does the trick and gets the feet tapping.

When I was a beginner, suffering from stage fright and general terror at playing with people watching, a seasoned professional gave me a great bit of advice: Son, when you go out there on stage, remember that 99% of the folk in the audience wont be able to play a note of music, so they will be easily impressed.

He was correct!
 

george garside

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I play mainly for ''english'' ceilidhs/barn dances/ hoe downs or whatever you want to call them and stick as far as possible to well known tunes that some with their heads up their backsides may not see as proper dance music, presumably because they were not originally written or thought up as 'dance tunes'' whatever they are?

a couple of examples......... I sometimes play Waltzing Matilda and Click go the Shears as a polka set as they are easy to ''polkerise!'' and happy wanderer, in and out the windows and ken john peel works well for a circassian circle set

a very good indicator of 'getting it right' is lots of smiling faces!
george
 

Keymn

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South Florida is an interesting market for accordion players. With very few professional accordion players in the area, able to cash in on 3-5+ gigs a week. The reason is many Country Clubs have various theme dinners (not dances). Italian, French and German Oktoberfest are the top bookings. For dinner dances they tend to hire duos and singles, guitar or keyboard. When in Wisconsin years ago, would get more dinner dances with the accordion which they are more familiar. A completely different market.
Arrangers like Korg PA3x, PA4x, has many intros and styles that fit certain songs. Intro is important for songs like, “Sweet Caroline”, “New York, New York”, “My Girl”, “Jailhouse Rock”... I think other arrangers do the job well too.
 

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