Folk dance music

Contemporary Danish folk dance music

Niels Mejlhede Jensen, Bøgeløvsvej 4, 2830 Virum, Denmark. e-mail (web master)

Supplement to: Old tunes used for folk dancing in Denmark 1999 arranged with improvisations

3 examples of modern Danish folk dance music written by musicians from Spillemandsdansen (Fiddlers' Dance).

Many folk musicians of old time composed music and some wrote very much music. Most of that has vanished or is not in use.
Many folk musicians of today compose and  write very much music. Most of that will vanish and is not in use. Except...

When the tune has been composed it means a lot to the composer, and the way he or she plays it or conceives it played may express some deep inner feelings, and this is just fine. But for others to play that feeling and like it, can be difficult. What happens is that we in the composer's group accept to put it on the dance programme once, to kind of honour the composer. We then play it after we, sorry, "didn't find time" to rehearse it much at home. This is then the chance we give a new piece of music to be accepted by the audience. A few tunes may be taken up more times in the group - as long as the composer himself is still part of the group. But for such a new tune to "jump" to other groups is seldom.

A few contemporary tunes are widespread and about just as accepted as the old tunes. But then we have the sneaky problem of "virus infection". That is when the composer (in a type of megalomania?) thinks that he like the pop artists should make money from his indispensable achievement, and registers it commercially. This means that when you play all evening to a dance, for nothing but joy, to give the audience the cultural interest for the old merry tunes and dances, and happens in ignorance just once to play such a melody instead of a better old one, then you some days later can get a bill of 430 kr ($ 60) from some lawyers, as a result of an anonymous tip from someone in the audience. (In the excellent music note collection by Flute Henning (see Folkets Hus) there happens to be a couple or more with virus infection, without warning).

The music here is free to be used for non commercial use, and the composers will feel honoured to hear of it. (For possible commercial use: ask the composers, e.g. through my e-mail). Here are 3 tunes as examples of contemporary (modern) folk dance music we have played many times (click to see the sheet music and hear the midi music):

Kjeld, Rolf, and Kim are folk musicians in Fiddler's Dance and they have composed several good tunes for dancing. I have (a little by random) chosen the 3 melodies presented here. Kjeld, Rolf, and Kim have made their melody + chord text. I have made the parts A, B, C1, C2, and ns. A and B are given strictly by the melody + chord, as described in my rules of music design. New voices or parts should as a rule enhance the melody, not surpass it. I do not surpass any melody.
Kjeld, Rolf, and Kim have composed their music to be played by a folk dance music band of today, which is not just one fiddle, but includes e.g. accordion. And with the use of also the left hand basses it is rather straight forward to play this type of music as rhythmic good dancing music on an accordion.

I have wanted to make C1 and ns both more or less as typical "motor" parts for dancing. Both hambo (a Swedish dance) and waltz are in the time signature of 3/4, but very different 3/4 in rhythm. Hambo is played with a marked beat 1 and beat 3, and a weak beat 2, (see dance 16). Waltz has all 3 beats, and typically with a slur from beat 1 to beat 2 (see waltz description in music design). (Vienna waltz, when dancing around and around, should be played with beat 2 a little ahead of time, as can be heard from the magnificent music when played by e.g. Austrian orchestras. But when playing Danish folk dance waltz I feel, that beat 2 must not be ahead of time, for the music to be adequate for our types of dance with tyrolese waltz and family waltz, see dance 9).
So for Kjeld's Hambo I have intended to make the ns and C1 parts so they facilitate the marked beat 3.
For Rolf's Waltz and Kim's Waltz I have intended to make the ns and C1 parts so they facilitate the marked beat 1 with a slur to beat 2.
In a typical waltz motor I would propose the tone of beat 1 and beat 2 to be of different pitch to facilitate this slur.
In a typical mince waltz motor I would propose the tone of beat 1 and beat 2 to be of the same pitch to disable the waltz slur (see mince waltz, dance 14).
In Rolf's Waltz there is a marked tone on beat 1 in all bars, but in a few bars the tone of beat 1 and beat 2 are of the same pitch. This can be seen in many old waltz tunes as well.
In Kim's Waltz the first tone of the bar is not always there (the tone is tied over the bar line from beat 3) making it a challenge to play the melody as a good motor waltz for fiddles and wind instruments. (The melody is well liked by our fiddlers). (No problems playing it on accordion). There does not need to be a tone on beat 1 for it to be marked. A melody with only holes (= rests) on beat 1 can be a specially good waltz melody, as it is known from the many good two parts for fiddles. The other tones that surround the hole must then be very precise for the dancers to "hear" or feel the marked beat of the hole.

The parts made according to my rules of music design have "terraced" tone intervals according to the chord, while the melody has scale intervals. This gives an interesting difference in the music. Further the parts are mostly not "tonic striving" but end on a parallel, giving a tension to want the music to continue. So the performance of this music could besides the general performance proposal be: start with the parts and end with the nice melody.

Music is just a hobby for Kjeld, Rolf, and Kim.
Kjeld is a retired worker foreman.
Rolf and Kim are both engineers Ph.D.

Good luck and pleasure with the music.

Link to index to the folk dances.

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