American Square Dances of The West
& Southwest - online instruction book

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by Viola Ruth
We will begin with the violin, which we will call by its original name, the "fiddle." In this dance book you will find numbers written and arranged as I play them. To play the fiddle correctly is just as much of an art as playing the violin, the only difference is the technique.
When playing a Quadrille (Square Dance) your accents count, for it is those accents that assist the caller in making his call a success. Accent the first and second beats regardless of how many notes you may have in a measure. Tell a story, don't play in a straight line, show your phrasing and endings. Be sure you do not end as a Polka. Some Quadrille endings are exactly like a Polka, but it is your bow that will make the differ­ence, don't chop it. I'm speaking about 2/4 rhythm.
In 6/8 rhythm you have only two beats to a measure for square dancing. In this book you will notice brackets above the tunes in 6/8, |J|; that means three notes to one beat, ac­centing the first note in each group. Remember, you are play­ing for a caller and for feet; keep good rhythm, don't gain or lose. The caller is your boss when he steps on the stage. By all means play in the key he calls in, the same as if you were play­ing for a singer. If you must transpose, do so. Only one tune is impossible to transpose if you wish to play it correctly—that is "Ragtime Annie"; you will lose the rocking bow which is important. Each Square Dance has a certain tune that fits, but the caller may have his own idea. Please him. "Don't you want to go to Heaven, Uncle Joe?" is the only tune that will fit any