Cowboy Dances

A collection of Traditional Western Square Dances By Lloyd Shaw

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voices to chord to. A good caller often asks his orchestra to shift a key up or down a little so that his chording chant will fit more easily into his natural voice range. Rather instinc­tively, a caller pitches his voice on an element of the major chord of the key being played, usually the dominant. Some­times he chants on the third, occasionally on the tonic itself. He may vary back and forth from one element of the chord to another. But usually he prefers a key that lets him chant his call on the dominant without straining his voice.
Mr. Knorr has arranged his tunes in four groups and suggested that I say a word about each group. In the first group he has tunes in 6/8 rhythm. Many old fiddlers prefer the 6/8 rhythm, but they have to be watched or they will get into such a slow rocking-horse monowny that the dance becomes no fun. In a smooth 6/8 such as "Ocean Wave/' the dancers, who step only on the first and fourth beat of each measure, slow the dance down, and if the dancers are young they instinctively have to put in little wiggles or jiggles to keep themselves amused between the slow steps, and that is not so good. However, if the 6/8 melody is faster and sort of spills over itself like running water as in the "Irish Washerwoman" the dancers achieve a quick step and a snappy dance. "Honest John" is a fine tune to dance to. It is speedy enough to establish the quick step, and smooth enough to carry the dancers quite away with it. "Chichester" is a good original tune made up by one of my favorite fid­dlers, Ben Chichester.
Six-eight rhythm is sometimes not quite so easy to "call to." A good caller instinctively times his call to counts of four. Regardless of delays caused by backward sets (which never let him call twice alike with any music) he always starts a phrase on a strong beat and builds his phrases on patterns of four. This somehow is often easier to do with the speedier 2/4 or 4/4 time*
The second group of tunes given here are in 2/4 or 4/4 rhythm. Nan*e$ are always a question. Take the first one, our regular fiddler "Nick" Nichols often plays it, but he doesn't faiow where he picfced it up. So when vm mk him the name lp says, *t Wonder," The last fe^ tunes in this group are Mr, Itnorr^ owigu We have pUy%4 tjtoai and liked them and $Aed MmM ja^Mte tJiein h§re* ',. '<
The third ■■ Qtoijp, ,m% &mow 0$4&yfe' fiddle,' tu$9&. Made by fiddle^ ^iaj^% fti«fm/'#^%|i!|rlllg/fe3t