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

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American Square Dances
call. Don't play the same tune for each call. Use separate bows unless a "tie" ( ~ ) is indicated. Don't play high positions.
When playing a Schottische, if written in 4/4 rhythm, accent 1-2-3-4 beats. The dancers listen for that and feet move easily. In the Polka, accent the first and second beats and give a Polka ending, "stomp, stomp, stomp." In the Varsouviana, accent all three beats.
For the guitars, for 2/4 rhythm, you play four strokes of your pick and six-string rhythm. Even though you are playing four strokes, you are only playing "one and two and," not "one, two, three, four." Accent your first and third stroke which will be "l_&^2-&." Play six fast strokes if 6/8 rhythm (called "double" for quadrilles), counting "l-&-a-2-&-a." In your Schottische you will give four strokes and four counts if written in 4/4 rhythm and will accent each. Do not put any popular or modern chords in Square Dance tunes; the simpler the chords, the prettier your tunes.
To you who are playing the piano, please remember that you have four fingers and a thumb on each hand. Roll your bass notes and play full octaves in chords, invert those chords and travel up and down the keyboard. If the violin is high, you play low, if low, you play high. By all means, don't play all evening in the middle of the keyboard around middle "C." Learn to hear the beautiful work you can do when playing the accompaniment, and do not play any lead, the fiddler is the lead only, especially when playing in a group. Play a heavy accented bass,
The bass player may play two beats to a measure, or he may play "1 & 2 &," four notes. The more he puts in, the nicer it is, but playing four notes in every measure will be very tiring and it is permissible to play two. He may "walk" his bass and in some Square Dance numbers use a slap bass, but never uses the bow in anything but a Waltz, and not always then. Pluck the strings more, as he must accent the same as the other instruments and this cannot be done with the bow.