Cowboy Dances

A collection of Traditional Western Square Dances By Lloyd Shaw

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THE FIRST DANCE
39
mands, all the explanations, all the directions. Of course, having explained a movement and asked the dancers to try it in a "time out'' period, then and only then can the leading couples, and all the experienced dancers present, help and explain personally to all who do not know.
At first blush, it would seem that a professional caller would be necessary. But I have found that many experienced callers are at a loss in teaching beginners. They are expert at calling for experienced dancers. But they are not natural teachers and are at a complete loss to make things clear to beginners. Then, too, they have often developed a nasal twang, or a lightning patter; they are extremely picturesque and colorful and interesting and are perfectly intelligible to experienced dancers who are used to them, but completely unintelligible to a beginner. An experienced dancer, who not only knows the caller but also the call itself, can make a change on the slightest variation of intonation or inflection. But to a beginner it is only "gibberish"—it is "jaberwocky"; and he is completely confused—while the professional caller considers him unbelievably stupid. He thinks he told him what to do and that only a fool would fail to do it. But if the beginner cannot understand him he has told him nothing.
A good amateur caller then should first have the voiced-loud, clear, and distinct. He should have done enough public speaking to enunciate distinctly and to be able to throw his voice so that it will cut through the stamping and laughing and chatter of the dance hall as sharply as a knife. For if he is not heard he might just as well be absent
At times he may prefer to sing his call and this is very effective. But he must remember that singing is never as clear, as easily understood, as the spoken word, and his first duty is to be understood. Thus he usually compromises by us­ing a sort of singing chant, speaking his words distinctly but pitching them on a musical tone and giving them a chanting or singing quality. This note or tone must be in key with his orchestra, that is it must be on one of the elements of the chord of the key in which the orchestra is playing. His voice then, like the "bull fiddle," is simply chording with the or­chestra. The simplest chord, of course, is made up of three tones, the tonic, the dominant, and the third. He will find that he usually pitches his voice instinctively on the domi­nant, though he will often shift back and forth to the other






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