Sean O'Malley wrote:
> Can you give a brief description of hard-core New England contra style?
> I'm not real familiar with contra dancing, though I can usually
> spot a tune that's a contra tune (various little phraselets that
> just don't sound Irish or Scottish).
>From a player of both with little musicology background:
New England contra dance tunes are basically the same structural as
Celtic - typically, though not exclusively, two A parts followed by 2 B
parts, totalling 32 bars. My contra band, Rambling Pitchfork, plays
about 50-60% irish tunes for dances - the rest being Southern
(hoe-downish), Appalacian, and New England. My Irish band (Morrigu) has
played for contra dances as well - doing all celtic tunes - and this
works out fine though you have to stick mostly to regular 32 bar tunes,
not the 3, 4 or 5 part ones. The main distinction from the "feel" of
the tunes is that New England tunes tend to be somewhat simpler, less
rhytmically complex and more likely to be in a major key. The beat is
always steady and punctuated. Tunes that change keys from A to B part
are very rare.
Bass and General Counsel
Morrigu - a rad trad band