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Opinions needed!

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  • Valdemar and Constantia
    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
    Message 1 of 5 , May 19, 2002
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      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
      musicians?
      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
      you regretted?
      (Maanshaft on Kazoo, perhaps?)
      3. What makes playing for a ball satisfying for you (speak now or forever
      hold your piece, I
      say!)
      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
      openly discussed.
      Thanks, Constantia
    • katriana
      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.
      Message 2 of 5 , May 19, 2002
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        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
        have left.

        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
        for anybody.

        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 :-)

        katriana


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      • Carol O'Connell of Graphic World
        Gosh, you ve really posed some interesting questions! I m looking forward to hearing some dancers perspectives. ... 1. I have to admit that I view dance music
        Message 3 of 5 , May 20, 2002
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          Gosh, you've really posed some interesting questions! I'm looking forward to
          hearing some dancers' perspectives.

          Constantia wrote:
          >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
          > you regretted?
          > (Maanshaft on Kazoo, perhaps?)
          > 3. What makes playing for a ball satisfying for you (speak now or forever
          > hold your piece, I
          > say!)
          > 4. If you've ever had a bad time playing at a ball, what made it bad?
          >

          1. I have to admit that I view dance music more as a service than as an art. I
          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
          possible.

          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
          Calontir, right?

          Conna
        • Keith McClune
          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
          Message 4 of 5 , May 20, 2002
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            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,
            > 1. What is it that musicians do during balls that irritate dancers?

            I really haven't seen much, if anything, that constitutes
            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 the
            > musicians?

            Our 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 is
            > it something looser,
            > and less refined? like more of a comradery sort of thing?)

            It depends. What is the nature of the event? At a Feast of Fools
            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.
            >
            > >From the musicians, I would like to know,
            > 1. Is this serious stuff for you, or is it - something else? What else?

            OK, I can't really answer this, except to say that I have met some very
            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 that
            > you regretted?

            I seek feedback from our musicians before, during, and after our
            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 forever
            > hold your piece, I say!)

            Since I'm not a musician, I'll pass on this one (can't even answer for
            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
          • Deborah Fairchild
            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.
            Message 5 of 5 , May 23, 2002
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              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
              music.

              Sincerely,
              Ursula
              mka: Deborah
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