Design of music parts
|Niels Mejlhede Jensen, Bøgeløvsvej 4, 2830 Virum, Denmark. e-mail (web master)|
Old tunes used for folk dancing in Denmark 1999, arranged with music improvisations; + dance instructionsFolk dances from Denmark + a few from Sweden and other countries
On this page the principles for making the musical arrangement, constructing
the parts, the voices, are shown.
We select the Swedish dance: Snurrebocken (Whirring Buck) (dance no. 10 on index page), which is danced much in Denmark.
When making the different parts (the voices) it is important to pay attention to the dance, the rhythm of the dance, (see the dance description), so that the music becomes dance orientated. All tones are selected so that there is no kind of dissonant tension from part to melody and from part to part, also when played in octave.
The parts are written as a score of 12 staves on two pages, each part
as one staff starting on the left page and continuing on the right page
where it ends. (Several 100 melodies are short enough for that, for all
different types of folk dance). The scores are transposed and written to
the different types of instruments, as exact the same for 8 staves, and
with occasionally a very few alterations decided by the range of pitch
for the last staves.
With these scores the musical leader has to plan which instruments play what and when during the e.g. 6 times a tune is played.
There are 3 beats per bar. Beat 1 is always the strongest, (in all folk
dance music I know of).
See the dance description to get the right rhymth, which changes during the dance:
For bar 1 - 8 beat 2 is light and beat 3 is marked. So e.g. the accordion bass plays only beat 1 and 3.
For bar 9 -16 beat 2 and 3 are equal in the dance, so beat 1, 2, and 3 are almost the same. And there is no slur, no tie (ikke binde) from beat 1 to 2 as in waltz. The accordion plays with 3 equal beats. (I accept musicians that play bar 9 - 16 the same way as bar 1- 8, because the melody is not so different in structure, and good dancers may even like the little difference from music to dance).
In bar 3 beat 3 with g in the melody the first tone in the D chord above g is a. But that is too close, giving dissonance, so the next tone, d is selected. In bar 4 beat 1 a third above the melody tone f sharp is a, which (happens) to be in A triad, so a is OK. Bar 5 - 8 are created in the same way, using only triad tones from A (and not the seventh tone g which is (can be) in dissonance with the root a).
For proposal 1 we considered the tones on the beats. Should then the tones in between, the unmarked semiquavers (1/16), be chosen more freely as shown in proposal 1 in bar 4 with g sharp to give a more interesting melodic form for this voice? In the final selection also these small tones are chosen from the chord triads, because this makes the many parts of the whole score more easy to keep out of dissonant conflicts. This gives for bar 4 only the same tone, a, 5 times, which may seem a tedious melodic form. But this here is not the melody. Its is a supplement to enhance the melody. And when you get used to this way of making parts, the sound of parts should sound that simple to be in the right accordance with the simplicity of old folk tunes.
I was happy with proposal 1 for a long time. But you have more free means to make the other parts, the n parts of my score, if you use the simple principle, the more confined principle, of the final selection.
Intonation is not always easy for folk musician groups, for fiddlers. In concern of the correct intonation it is better with simple pure harmonies as proposed here. A few years ago I composed parts for this type of folk dancing music which even included other tonal systems. I liked the sound. At rare occasions you may hear such music from a couple of excellent Swedish groups. But among common folk music groups its is difficult enough to play even my proposals here with the wanted performance. And the common folk music groups, the ordinary person, is important for the continuation of our culture here.
But we want to use the tones of the selected chords on the 3 beats of
all bars, and then we get proposal 1:
When also the semiquavers off beat are corrected to be part of the chords
we get the final part B:
The A and B part are the basic parts, together with the melody. They could be made by a computer, when the chord text is there, or at least checked by a computer, like the spelling check. (Is there a program?) This may sound boring, because this is music alive, where it is the sound, and not theory that counts.
I have wanted to make a simple C1 part and a more lively C2 part. The C1 part should be more simple to play than the A part and B part, and should often be simple dance orientated in rhythm. Then the C2 part can be chosen more freely and maybe used as a so-called solo for a suitable instrument, with the rest of the band as an underlying "dance motor".
We shall here see how C1 and C2 can be constructed from A and B of proposal 1 in bar 1 - 4.
For C2 it is possible to use 2 f sharp, 2 d, 2 a, for (almost) the first 3 bars, and then a different figure in bar 4, all the way with the exact same rhythm pattern as the melody. (In the final proposal bar 4 of C2 has to be slightly different from what is shown here).
Constructing C1 we first observe that the dance rhythm is: marked beat 1 and beat 3. To emphasize those beats, the beat 3, I for beat 1 and 2 select 4 alike tones including semiquavers (1/16 note) + then a crotchet (1/4 note) of higher pitch on beat 3. So that you "kind of run" for the "pounding" of beat 3. (To make the 4 alike d I have to include d from the melody on one of the semiquavers).
C1 is easier to play than the melody, and even C2 is not so difficult. Mostly I want C1 to be easier, to be capable for not so well trained musicians, or to be used on the "slower" instruments (like bassoon and brass).
For bar 5 - 8 C1 and C2 are made in the same way. I want C1 to come to "and end" in bar 8 with 3 crotchets. The beat 2 with f sharp crotchet here gives a short dissonance with the semiquavers of A and B. There is no other crotchet solution possible here. With the A and B parts form the final proposal we do not get this conflict, see the score c1.
More C parts can be made according to these principles, e.g. "altered A or B parts" all below the melody to be played as two parts to the melody.
The voices made in this way resemble the melody in form, so that it
is felt as a type of imitation. The melody has proved its good dancing
abilities for generations, so this must be the right form.
Usually in a musical arrangement you want a simple low voice to give
the tonic feeling and rhythm. To widely use the root note on the first
beat of the bar is not always possible here because of my strict rules
for disharmony. So the melodic form may be more important. In n voices
tones from the melody can be included, giving more freedom. (But still
I prefer that most tones are two part to the melody, because it in bands
of folk musicians like ours usually is more easy to get a lot of musicians
"that happens to drop by" to play the melody than to play by note after
"strange constructed voices").
Usually there are 3 tones to select from in the chord triad, as we have in bar 1 and 2. But with f sharp in the melody on the important beat 1 of bar 4 in an A chord, the tone e cannot be selected, leaving c sharp and a to be used. The note before, g in the melody with D chord in bar 3 beat 3, leaves only one tone, the tone d to be used. (The minim (1/2 note) c sharp in bar 4 is not OK the last 1/16 with the melody semiquaver d sharp, but the other choice the minim a does not fit in melodically, I feel).
nss is simple and has the right tones. But ns is better in dance rhythm, which is: marked beat 1 and beat 3 and weak beat 2. To weaken beat 2 and emphasize beat 3 it is better to use the shown pattern with two notes on beat 2. The music must not be waltz like, what nss could easily be played. To avoid the waltz character also in ns the proposal of C1 with the same note in beat 1 and beat 2 is even better, at least to have in the first bar with a change of dance style.
So when the dancers shift to running steps in bar 9 I let the ns voice
have 3 alike crotchet tones in each of the first 3 bars.
There is also a shift in style in C1 and C2 in bar 9:
Dance no. 9, Stødt kanel (Pounded
Cinnamon) is also with the time signature 3/4, but this is all different
3/4. The dance is a waltz all the way through, with 3 beats = 1 pounded
beat 1 + the two lighter beats 2 and 3. So the ns part looks as shown here,
and is played with a slur from beat 1 to beat 2 to give a good "dance motor":
Dance no. 1, Sjijnmyravalsen (Sjijn Bog Waltz) is a waltz, with some figuring. So the first section, with waltz, has a C1 part that in the first 3 bars (hopefully) leads the musician to play waltz:
Dance no. 3, Trommelvalsen (Roller Waltz) is also a waltz in 3/4, but the dancers are running in the first section of the dance, so the 3 beats of the bar are more equal, and with no slur from beat 1 to beat 2 (do not tie beat 1 and 2). This is achieved by making the 3 tones alike, with the same pitch (tonehøjde):
In dance no. 6, Bitte mand i knibe (Little man in a fix), we also have running in waltz as a start.
Then we change to the time signature 2/4, to Tater
hopsa (Gipsy Hopsa), dance no. 7. Here we have 2 beats per bar, or
on accordion even 2+2 beats per bar (in a very fast play). But beat 1 is
so much heavier than the rest that you could consider having only one beat
per bar. So to facilitate this one beat per bar, C1 is started with 4 alike
tones per bar:
A polka has also 2 beats per bar (2+2 beats per bar on accordion) (in a slower tempo). But here beat 2 is more marked (beat 1 is still as always the most marked). To facilitate a marked beat 2 I let the melodic course change direction on beat 2, as we see in dance no. 5, Bedstefars rheinlænderpolka nr ½5 (Grandfather's Polka no ½5):
We walk a gånglåt in Denmark with 2 slow steps per bar to adjusted tempo of music. The melody of Gärdeby gånglåt (Gerdeby Walking Tune), dance no 4, facilitates this walk with the many groups of semiquavers. And I have made the ns part with 2 tones per bar = 2 beats per bar. Sometimes you may see a gånglåt used as a quick march in Scandinavia, played slower and walked with 4 steps per bar. I have here made a C2 part that is better for 4 steps per bar, but here to have an interesting solo (e.g. flute, piccolo) as a contrast to the good underlying motor of the rest of the band playing other parts in clear 2 beats per bar. (The quaver should be before the two semiquavers to make it a typical two-beats-per-bar melody). So the musical leader must think of how the band as a whole sounds in dance rhythm and what the dancers want (and their skill).
In Fætter Mikkel (Cousin Mikkel), dance no. 2 you walk in the first section with two steps per bar, as also given by the contra part here:
I hope that I have made some very easy parts to Fætter Mikkel because this is a good dance and good music for beginners.
In 2-tur fra Vejle (2-trip from Vejle), dance
no. 8, we also walk in the first section with 2 steps (2 beats) per
In the second section there is polka.
There are still some types of folk dances and rhythms to come the next