ABOUT DANCE TUNES
1. An Introduction
Most button-accordion (melodeon) music seems to invite movement for both players and listeners. Such movement may be as simple as foot-tapping and hand-clapping or as complicated as step dancing and country dance sets.
The focus for this part of the tunes2play4fun site is on the accordion music that accompanies these various dances, and includes the jig, reel and waltz families, just to name a few.
As well, many military marching tunes are similar to, and perhaps derived from, or the source of, dance tunes, especially those in the jig and reel families, with appropriate adjustments in tempo.
2. The JIG Family of Dance Tunes
The family of JIG tunes are all played in one form or another of compound time. It includes single and double jigs (two pronounced beats per bar), slip jig (three pronounced beats per bar), and slides (four pronounced beats per bar, but not always considered to be a jig).
Single Jigs are rather simple tunes in compound time, frequently playing two notes for each pronounced beat, with one held twice as along as the other, with somewhat of a "skipping" feeling. In my accordion notation, the symbol for each pronounced beat interval is the semi-colon ( ; ) or its equivalent ( . " or " . )
The Christmas song "I Saw Three Ships" can be played as a "single jig" with a lively "Irish step-dancing" tempo, as shown above.
3. Learning Accordion Tunes: Using the Tune Pages
The tune pages, from the four drop-down menu categories, make up the bulk of this web site. Each tune has its own page, mostly with three parts:
- Musical information, such as time-signature, sometimes a suggested tempo or pace (for some tunes in beats per minute, but often with descriptors such as slowly, moderate, lively, etc.), and the name(s) of its composer(s), included in the header. Extra lyrics and other background information may be included at the end.
- The tune's button-accordion notation, with some lyrics in the case of songs. This notation includes the treble buttons to be played, the duration that each button is held, the bar lines for beat patterns, and, in some cases, the melodic phrasing identified in songs.
- A number of youTube videos of the tune, along with each video's musical key, performer or poster name, and, in some cases, the performance tempo (pace).
How these components are used is up to each person, with his or her individual approaches to learning tunes. Some may dive directly into the accordion notation, and still others may move immediately to the embedded youTube performances. Some may stick with playing the right-hand melody, while others may want to play the left-hand bass and chord buttons as well. Whatever works!
However you do it, do it for fun. A number of short sessions will usually be better than one long tiring one. Also, don't "try" to memorize tunes, as that might make it burdensome; rather, just let it happen, and take pleasure in the progress you are making. Finally, you may want to begin and end each playing session with a tune you already know and enjoy, thus starting with a warm-up and ending with a warm-feeling!
Heads-Up 1: The tune pages assume an awareness (though not necessarily an in-depth knowledge) of the contents of the various "intro" pages, especially the introductions to the youTube, the Accordion and Accordion Music. If you are a beginner you perhaps should also look at the "basic" Accordion Music, Button Layout, and Accordion-Notation pages. For those at the Intermediate and Advanced levels of learning, there are additional materials, if you are interested. Don't try to memorize this stuff; a single reading should make you aware of what it is and how to find it again if you need to; you can always come back to it.