Open Band Nights

The Country Dancers of Rochester Open Band plays for CDR’s regular Thursday dances whenever there is a fifth Thursday in the month. An experienced fiddler and pianist will always be present to lead the band. Any and all musicians are welcome to come and play.

The Open Band is developing a repertoire of tunes and medleys. The tunes are chosen to represent the standard repertoire of fiddle tunes for dance — often the first tunes a fiddler learns — and also the local repertoire of dance tunes — tunes that have been played for dancing here at CDR over the years. They are generally easily playable: they’re in accessible keys and aren’t too “notey.” The goal is for musicians to come and play along without rehearsal or practice, and also without sheet music if possible: many tunes will be familiar to dance musicians, and all could be picked up by ear. However, beginners should also be able to participate — the tunes are mostly easy to read. All tunes will be posted here as we add them to the repertoire.

If you are a beginner, some things to work on are playing the tunes smoothly with lots of repetitions, switching from one tune in the medley to the other and back, and getting the tunes up to tempo. A metronome tempo to aim for — if you want to go that route — is 120. Many dances will be a little slower than that and we won’t get faster than that. It’s common to drop out for a time or two through a tune. Also, notice the “modal” quality of some of the tunes — some of the key signatures may seem unusual if you’ve never played this kind of music before.

Most tunes are organized in medleys of from two to four. Broadly, there are medleys of reels and jigs, with some marches and waltzes.

Please spread the word: get people to come and play. All instruments are welcome. So far, we’ve had lots of fiddles, other stringed instruments (both bowed and strummed), and occasional woodwinds and brass. Play one dance, play the whole evening; it doesn’t matter. For those of you who teach this kind of music, please encourage your students to come. Let’s overflow the CDR stage!

Tune books are available at the dance. Bring a music stand if you have one. Try to arrive between 7:00 and 7:15. The leaders will play for all the dances. The rest of you should feel free to play as often (or as little) as you want. Feel free to dance, feel free to listen.

Here’s a word for you if you’re new to this: heterophony. It happens when two or more musicians play different versions of the same tune at the same time. It will definitely happen at these dances — the experienced musicians will undoubtedly know slightly different versions of the tunes than the ones in the tune book. Embrace it — it’s part of the genre. It happens at most dances.

See you at the dance!