- This is Constantia Innocenti and I am "in charge"(yeah, right!) of the
Lilies ball music pit (eeks!).
I would like to hear some opinions that people may have regarding the
solemnity levels of music performance in the SCA, particularly during balls.
I have quacked, barked, meowed and screamed my way through "Hole in the
Wall", witnessed a lovely version of Mickey Mouse during one particular
dance and seen marshmallows flung precariously at wayward dancers and nearby
musicians. I have not played at many balls so I can only imagine what
strange mayhem I might have missed.(Katriana, I bet YOU have some stories!)
What I want to know from the dancer point of view is,
1. What is it that musicians do during balls that irritate dancers?
2. What is just NOT funny coming from the musicians pit?
3. Is ANYTHING funny from the musicians pit, or is it only funny to the
4. What is more fun at a ball - an ambiance of regality and dignity, or is
it something looser,
and less refined? like more of a comradery sort of thing?)
5. Why do dancers dance? (I've tried it, but not much so I am curious)
6. What makes a musician pit good to dance to?
From the musicians, I would like to know,
1. Is this serious stuff for you, or is it - something else? What else?
2. Have you ever been talked into performing something in a certain way that
(Maanshaft on Kazoo, perhaps?)
3. What makes playing for a ball satisfying for you (speak now or forever
hold your piece, I
4. If you've ever had a bad time playing at a ball, what made it bad?
If anyone has anything they don't want to say in public, you can email me at
ironfist@... though hopefully most opinions out there that can be
- I'm sending you a longer message in private.
Most music during a ball is pretty "serious." There
is a limited amount of time to get through the ball
sets. After the ball is the time for "funny" stuff.
A lot more weirdness happens at Pennsic just 'cause
we're all there, night after night, doing many of the
same dances over and over. Still, most of the playing
around happens later at night when the casual dancers
The musicians messing around with the music can really
throw inexperienced dancers, so it is best done with
experienced people. If the dancers stop dancing
because they don't "get it", it really isn't any fun
When we have really good musicians playing, who can
ornament the music, few "weirdnesses" happen because
the rest of us are just trying to keep up :-)
Do You Yahoo!?
LAUNCH - Your Yahoo! Music Experience
- Gosh, you've really posed some interesting questions! I'm looking forward to
hearing some dancers' perspectives.
>From the musicians, I would like to know,1. I have to admit that I view dance music more as a service than as an art. I
> 1. Is this serious stuff for you, or is it - something else? What else?
> 2. Have you ever been talked into performing something in a certain way that
> you regretted?
> (Maanshaft on Kazoo, perhaps?)
> 3. What makes playing for a ball satisfying for you (speak now or forever
> hold your piece, I
> 4. If you've ever had a bad time playing at a ball, what made it bad?
take the strictly instrumental music a lot more seriously. With dance music,
the beat is the most important thing; nouances that I might put into
instrumental music might go unnoticed with dancers who are busy dancing and
musicians who are also trying to keep the beat steady for the dancers. And I'm
usually so hung up on the steady beat goal that there's not much time for
anything else. Not much room for creativity; but I know that going in to dance
music, so that's not a complaint; it's just the reality. (And now I'm trying to
learn the other parts, so that's keeping things interesting for me.)
2. Since it is all volunteer, I'm sort of bugged when I'm asked to sit out a
song or play it on an instrument that I don't feel like playing at the time. I
have regretted trying to muddle through songs I could "kinda" play, only to
have a trainwreck in the middle of a dance. When in doubt, go with a CD, if
3. I really, really like it when the musician gel, and we play really well
together. This is hard to control. It seems to happen when the stars align and
God smiles down on us. Usually when all the musicians know and like each other.
We listen to each other, and we're all just a bit more in tune with each other.
Like we're a 5-headed musician, rather than five separate musicians each
playing a part in isolation. Maybe a big group hug at the start of the ball
would help this ;-)
4. The bad experiences come from mean people. I don't think that's allowed in
- As an interested outsider who is unlikely to attend Lillies, I will
respond and you may take it for what its worth. If you find wisdom in
my words, you may please use it. If not, just ignore my feeble rants.
I am a dancer who has been to several Pennsic Wars, a couple of Estrella
Wars, and KWDS II & III. I work with our local musicians on occasion to
coordinate dance music, so I will try to see their side as well.
> What I want to know from the dancer point of view is,I really haven't seen much, if anything, that constitutes
> 1. What is it that musicians do during balls that irritate dancers?
irritating. I am immensely grateful to the musicians who play for us.
The worst thing for dancers is an unpredictable beat, so musicians
that hesitate over unfamilliar music can be irritating. Next on the
list is a beat that's hard to follow, especially when other musical
queues are absent. Bassa dances, for instance, need strong beats and
tenor lines. Many dancers with limited experience rely on a specific
known recording: dancers who can only dance to a familliar recording
are not the musicans fault, though.
> 2. What is just NOT funny coming from the musicians pit?Anything that seems to be deliberately disruptive, such as changing
the dance without notice or otherwise making it impossible for the
dancers to participate, is just NOT funny. I've never seen this, I
mearly suggest that anything less than this MAY be funny.
I guess my caveat would be: don't over do it. Try the fun stuff
sparingly at first until you have a good feel for how it fits in. This
works both on the level of learning from the experience of several
events and on the level of the course of a single evening of dance.
> 3. Is ANYTHING funny from the musicians pit, or is it only funny to theOur local musicians harbour a propensity to speed up and slow down
the music semi-randomly. They have been know to stand up and wander out
amoungst the dancers. These actions could be irritating for new dancers
or dancers with carefully rehersed performances, but our musicians are
wise enough to avoid disruption in these situations. The first several
repetition of the music are done straight; only when the piece is
becoming boring (even to some new dancers) do they "play" with it so
severely. When compelled to play endless repetitions of
Hole-In-The-Head, they will signal that the dance is ending by wandering
out amoung the dancers and generally being a nuisance. Personally, I
find this endeering.
> 4. What is more fun at a ball - an ambiance of regality and dignity, or isIt depends. What is the nature of the event? At a Feast of Fools
> it something looser,
> and less refined? like more of a comradery sort of thing?)
events, I would expect foolishness from the start. At formal event
where great effort has gone into carefull preparation for the ball,
dignity is the order of business. At a multi-day event, such as Lillies
War, some days need not (and probably should not) be too serious. At
least *some* time, however, should be serious for those who want or need
it, even if its the first hour of the Saturday evening ball and no other
time. Such diversity can be indicated in play lists and advertisements,
so the dancers and musicians both know what to expect.
My generic preference is to start with some dignity and
predicatability and then become less formal as the evening pregresses.
This lets performers and new dancers begin without fear of unexpected
weirdness. It also alows a comradery to build as everyone gets used to
each other, culminating in more casual fun as the evening winds down.
From some descriptions, this coincidentally seems to be how the Inns of
Court Revels progressed.
> 5. Why do dancers dance? (I've tried it, but not much so I am curious)My interest in dance has grown over the last ten years to the point that
I concentrate much more on dance then any other SCA activity (and I have
many other SCA activities). I feel that dance should be a core activity
for any serious SCA participant. I have thought long and hard about how
to entice others to take up dancing. As yet, I have no idea why I find
dance such a pleasing pastime, let alone how to convince others. Partly
its the fliting, partly its the formal movement, but in the end I just
don't know. I try to lead by example.
> 6. What makes a musician pit good to dance to?The ambiance. The ability to taylor the performance to dancer's needs
(instead of CD recorders' needs). SCA players can perform the correct
repeat structure with an identifiable beat and, when sufficiently
comfortable, can interact with the dancers in surprising ways.
>OK, I can't really answer this, except to say that I have met some very
> >From the musicians, I would like to know,
> 1. Is this serious stuff for you, or is it - something else? What else?
serious musicians, and they often have the best sense of humor. The
audience seems to be important to them (otherwise I suppose they
wouldn't show up for dancing).
> 2. Have you ever been talked into performing something in a certain way thatI seek feedback from our musicians before, during, and after our
> you regretted?
dances. The only complaint that sticks in my mind is playing a dance
that they have not been given sufficient opportunity to practice. I
suspect that being forced to share instruments or go too long without a
break would be issues.
> 3. What makes playing for a ball satisfying for you (speak now or foreverSince I'm not a musician, I'll pass on this one (can't even answer for
> hold your piece, I say!)
dancers, and I are one!).
> 4. If you've ever had a bad time playing at a ball, what made it bad?The bigest complaint that I've heard was that visiting musicians were
treated as beginners simply because the other musicians did not know
them. Its not much fun for the two leading musicians from a kingdom to
be told "here, play this bass line, we'll play the hard stuff," just
because the others didn't know them. I suppose the best way to address
this is simply to ask new musicians "what have you done before/at home,
and what do you think you can do here?" Some music may be unfamilliar
to the visitors, but they may also play unusual instruments beautifaully
on the pieces that they do know. Just don't treat them as unwelcome
guests after they travelled so far to participate at the War.
OK, not exactly a short post, but not too bad for ten questions.
I would add a personal request to try move away from Grosely Our Of
Period dances. We have so many period dances that we could do, I hate
to see them displaced by dances that don't especially belong in the
SCA. I'm not asking that every non-period dance be instantly purged
from our experience, just that, when deciding between which dance to do
next, consider giving the period dance a higher priority (especially
early in the evening). I think its unfortunate that many people do not
know the difference, and I think it falls to the dance leaders to be
honest about which dances are out of period.
Enough rambling. Let's dance!
Keith / Guillaume S:}>
Denver / Caerthe, Outlands
- Greetings. I am Lady Ursula Strom from the Barony of Small Gray Bear in
Meridies. Every year we host Diamond Wars and have many people from
Calontir attend. This year we are trying to include the Calontirians in our
event. I am autocrat for Diamonds this year and am searching for someone to
run the ball. The war takes place the last weekend of September and is
located outside of Malvern, Arkansas. Is there anyone who might be
interested in running the ball? I can provide a jambox and most of the