Erik Hoffman     

Old Time Music and Dance

Old Time Music

Here I use "Old Time" to mean music for contra and square dancing. Modern contra and square dance music uses root music from New England, French-Canada, the Appalachians, and Ozarks, and anywhere else, as long as it fits. If you listen you will hear anything from Rock and Roll, to Ellington, to TV theme songs thrown in for fun. As long as the beat and rhythm fits, and we like it, we'll use it.

The most common instruments heard are the traditional ones: fiddle, piano, guitar, banjo, mandolin, whistle, and bass. If you're lucky, the band might have a piper or saxophone player. Anything is fair game as we all share a love of the music and dance.

The music ranges from beautiful waltzes to jumping jigs to rousing reels. Some is upbeat, some haunting.

We play for listening, and include songs and instrumental tunes; or dancing, and play to the feet; or we can keep it soft for background to conversation.

In recent times, the label "old time music" has been adopted by many to mean fiddle and banjo tunes and songs from the Appalachian hills of Virginia, West Virginian, North and South Carolina, and the Ozarks in Missouri. However, I think of Old Time Music as any music that's old or sounds old. Thus there is Old Time Chinese, Indian, African, Native American, etc. music. The Old Time music we use for Old Time dancing is primarily music with northern European roots.

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