Folk dance music with improvisations

Spillemand spil lystigt op (Yule Tree Dance)

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

Old tune used for folk dancing in Denmark 1998 arranged with improvisations

Link to index to other dances.

CONTENTS: (remember: you can use Ctrl Home in usual browsers to get to the top of this page, to the links here)

Photo of big circle around the Christmas tree

Photo 1 of Christmas week: big circle around the Christmas tree on 5' Christmas Day in our home for folk dance Yule feast.
The following year and for some years we made it a tradition with open Yule house. Then even 3 big crowded circles could not hold everybody (50 to 100 folk dancers would pay us a Yule visit). It is reasonable easy to have that many folk dancers as guests as they all help with food and sit where they can or prefer to stand. Musicians are always there to play for joy, and as soon as they play there is dancing for as many as there is space for, while others chat and get to know each other for more than just dancing. The social life and concern that has evolved from this folk dancing group is amazing.

Photo of Yule dance in the living room

Photo 2 of the Christmas week: Yule dance in our living room with limited space.

Big circle of Yule candlelights in Fiddlers' Dance

Photo 3 of the Christmas week: Yule dance in Fiddlers' Dance last Tuesday before Christmas. We stand in a big circle holding Christmas candle lights and singing: Holy Night and other traditional Danish Christmas songs. This gives a nice mood.

A little story:

Christmas starts the 24th of December at 12 noon and lasts until the 6th of January, in my childhood tradition. That is from lunch on the day of Christmas Eve and until the Day of Epiphany (helligtrekonger, 13th day). The lunch of Christmas Eve is special, as it is the first time you get the special fried Vendsyssel green kale or borecole (grønlangkål) with cold cooked bacon and yule beer (nisseøl) (without alcohol, I am non alcoholic). And on the Day of Epiphany the christmas tree is dismantled, after it was used the eve before for the last time, on the 12th night, burning the special 3 armed stearin candle.
We like to think of Christmas as white, with picturesque new fallen snow and calm clear weather. In Denmark 1 out of 5 Christmases is white. The most important time of the year is Christmas Eve, where you more than anytime want to be together with your family.
About 75 years ago my older uncle and aunt had moved more than 5 km away from home to another farm. But they wanted of course to spend Christmas Eve as usual on their (childhood) home farm with their parents and brothers and sisters (a big family, see photo of the 14 children). But on the 24th of December the weather got bad with a snowstorm. Late afternoon they left their place in a sledge with their 2 horses that had gone this trip several times. The people sat back in the sledge in lot of clothes, well covered up against the tough icy wind, steering the horses on their right way. But the snowstorm got worse and worse and it started to get dark. No landmarks were visible any more and soon it was hard even to see the horses. The coachman was completely lost now and did not know if they were on the road or on the fields. He just left that to the horses to decide. Would they end their Christmas in the dangerous icy stream? Well, they think they heard the snowy soft horse tramping on the wooden bridge across the stream, but that was all. Destiny was now left to only the horses acting. After an hour the horses suddenly stopped. What was wrong? Looking up the people discovered that the horses had taken them all back to their own stable. And were my uncle and aunt ever glad. They did not get to their goal, the Christmas feast, but they were safe now, so what a wonderful blessing Christmas.

Dance of the Christmas week, 1998:

Spillemand spil lystigt op. 

(English: "Yule Tree Dance").
Dance of many couples.
Music and dance from Denmark

The melody can be heard in midi on computer piano in my tempo (if you have a sound card). (The melody will loop here until you stop it. In the table below it will play once). (I have not played the tunes here with the "drive" I want for dance music).

Music description:

The music notes are written as a score of 12 staves on one A3 page = two A4 pages side by side (= an open A4 book).
Place the two note sheets side by side. Then staff 1 (= melody) on the left page continues as staff 1 on the right page.
The 12 staves:
1 melody the traditional good dancing melody, polished through generations of use on the fiddle
. chord
Midi metronome = 110 simple (folk music) chords, natural for playing the accordion;
these chords are used to make the other parts or voices in triad harmony;
there should be no tension from dissonance anywhere including in octave
2 A (Above), parallel part nearest above in third or little more above
3 B (Below), parallel part nearest below in third or little more below
4 ns simple n part; often with the tonic feeling and often with the basic dance rhythm ("motor part")
5 C1 C parts are made from A and B parts, and so they are two parts to the melody
6 C2 C2 is less simple than C1
7 C3 .
8 mod = 
contra part
voice up and down (mostly) contra to the melody; it is also made from A and B
9 n1 n is a less constricted part, and tones from the melody are freely included
10 n2 .
11 C1 octave up
12 blank . blank staff for making your own part according to the principles here

If you play this tune for a continues polka, play it as noted in the music note sheet, with a normal quick transition from the last bar to the start bar.
But if you play it for the dance I have described here on this site, the last note, a crotchet (1/4 note), should have a pause to double its value, like when you are playing the melody for singing, or the last bar is 3/4 instead of 2/4 ending with a minim (1/2 note). I have played the above looping melody in midi with this minim end note between the first and second play. When it loops after second play etc. I do not control the rest needed for the melody to start again, so maybe disregard that.
Although the song text may indicate this to be a melody for fiddlers it is not so easy a tune to remember by heart to play naturally well for everybody. But the song is very much Danish Christmas.

Use also octave, up and down in the parts to vary the music.
Where wanted, notes can be changed according to the principles (use a colour pencil), e.g. to improve the B part  with some notes from A.
The music is aimed at dancing, so part of the orchestra can be the underlying "motor" when another instrument group is playing its "solo" part (improvisation) as one of the many repetitions.
The double bass may play its usual notes, because of its low pitch.

It is better to choose a more simple part and play it well.

Accordion: beats per bar: 2+2

Music scores:

Each score consists of 2 pages: page left and page right. They are given on separate pages with links on the top of this page (use Ctrl Home to go to the top). The links are repeated here:
(c1, c2), (a1, a2), (b1, b2), (e1, e2), (f1, f2), (bass1, bass2)
When you click a link the music note sheet will (should) open as a new page on top of this main page, so that you can easily return to this main page. And you can easily open 2 windows of note pages to have both the left and right page in smaller windows, the right below the left.

(Help coming back from that note sheet: CLICK the note sheet to come back to this page, or just close the note window.
Remember: the note sheet opens in a new separate window, and that may cover the whole screen. The back button in the tools bar does probably not work because the window is new, with no history. All you see on the page are notes because I have placed no link back here for not disturbing easy submitting to the printer. Close the note window with a click at the top or with Alt F4, or minimize or reduce the window, or ..., and you are back to the main page that was there behind all the time).

The melody and song here is very traditional Danish for our Christmas. But it is not quite from before 1860, and can therefore not be considered a genuine Danish folk dance melody according to those rules. This does not bother me though, as long as the dance and tune enjoy all right. Even though the song text encourages the fiddler to play, the melody proves not to be among the most easy to play by heart.

This here was the fist dance I made for the internet web, to make a start in 1998. I then wrote it in the Danish language. But a book told me that the language should be English. So I have revised it to this, here in April 1999, to add it to my collection before I have to stop, because my web site MB is getting filled up.

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