What’s a barndance?

What’s a barndance?

I think I got the jig/slide thing more or less. But I heard two or three tunes called barndances and they sound quite different to me. What are they supposed to be like?

Re: What’s a barndance?

Barndances are generally in 4/4 and are a bit like something between a slow reel and a hornpipe with less notes (not so much emphasis on triplets). There is a big difference between barndances from the Clare and Doengal traditions too, particularly in tempo, the are generally played a good deal faster in Donegal and some of them seem to be in 2/4 rather than 4/4.

Posted .

Re: What’s a barndance?

I believe barndances are kind of spiritual cousins of strathspeys, in that they are the Irish version of "that kind of reel-hornpipe thing that sounds funny but awesome" : P

As far as playing them goes, the key is definitely bounce, methinks.


Re: What’s a barndance?

Would that be a schottische or a march?
1-2-3-kick, back-2-3-kick, turn around and face your partner etc

Re: What’s a barndance?

A dance held in a barn.

Re: What’s a barndance?

Of course the old standard hornpipes such as the Boys of Bluehill work fine for a barndance. However there are quite a few well structured hornpipes which would lose their musical impact if played as a barndance. The Golden Eagle or Johnston’s for example, to name but two of many. A typical barndance type tune for me would be The Stack of Barley.

Re: What’s a barndance?

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Re: What’s a barndance?

tune: "Lucy Farr’s"
dance: The 7-Step

tune: "The Sliabh League Schottische"
dance: a Schottische/Barndance

tune: "Paddy McGinty’s Barndance"
dance: a couple of barndances/highlands

tune: "Down the Glen"
dance: a Schottische

tune: "Peach Blossoms" - barndance
dance: Barndance - short / long

tune: "Hayes’ Barndance"
dance: The Canadian Barndance / Barn Dance

Barndances galore ~

For more go to ‘Tunes’,
click on the tab for ‘Search’,
type in Barndance,
& leave the drop downs as they are ~ ‘All tunes’ & ‘All keys’…
Play and enjoy… Be sure to chase up some old recordings of the form too, for ear training…and better, if you can, learn and do the dances…

Re: What’s a barndance?

They sound particularly sweet on the mandolin…defintely swung…or as someone earlier said, with ‘bounce’…

Re: What’s a barndance?

Oh, all that was already here. Thanks so much.
I really liked the only one I learnt yet, Lucy Farr, but I’d heard others that seemed to have another feel. Lots to read!

Re: What’s a barndance? ~ & "Lucy Farr’s"

The melody called "Lucy Farr’s" was known in Ireland long before she got ahold of it and added extra measures to it to make it ‘even’, but you’ll find that in the comments for the tune. Other names predate her being credited for it. The likelihood is that someone else introduced it to the sessions in London but she, being well known, helped to spread it, if in her adjusted version for it. It was one of the classics, tune and dance, for the early ceili bands, as well as for gatherings in house and hall… It belongs to that subgroup known as ‘Germans’…

Re: What’s a barndance?

Hey ceolachan,

Did I mention this tape I have with Sean McGuire, late 60s, he plays something he calls the Canadian barndance? I was mystified by the title for a long time, finally found the first tune played on an old 78 by the Stripling Brothers, "Big Eyed Rabbit." Then last year I found all of Sean’s medley on a Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald LP - Southern Melodies/Polo March. Definitely not your typical barndance tunes, more like hoedowns. Winston’s tunes are transcribed in Paul Cranford’s book of WSF music.

I keep wondering where Sean picked up material like that, was he getting the fancy hornpipes and Scott Skinner tunes out of books back home, or was it the NYC fiddle crowd that influenced him in that direction?

Friend of mine wrote of meeting up with Sean in the 70s: http://chiffboard.mati.ca/viewtopic.php?t=52875

There’s a few barn dances recorded on cylinder at the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/index.php, by artists like the Indestructible Military Band, who I assume were affiliated with the Indestructible Military. Watch out for those boys!

Re: What’s a barndance?

Howdy Kevin, thanks for the links…

Yes, Sean McGuire read and used books and any other sources he could tap into ~ including recordings and living sources. As some know, he fancied himself a cut above, as more than the Scott Skinner or Paganini of Irish music…

Thanks for the link to the discussion, I enjoyed the read and the photo. There is no disputing Sean Maguire’s talents, and Josephine’s…

I love those ucsb sources, but they seemed to have vanished for awhile…. For ages I haven’t been able to link back up with the UCSB site, I’m glad it is back up and running. I think I’ve added it here to the links already but maybe the address has changed. I’ll have to check…

‘German’ was an apt name for the dance and tune (also known as "Lucy Farr’s"), as they did travel from there to here, including the infamous "7-step", the other name for both and what was to become the ‘official’ 7-step used by ceili and step dancers, under stylistic adjustments…

So, how’s the weather down your way? 😎

Re: What’s a barndance?

Pretty pleasant, after a month or so of more wintry murk. Didn’t really have much of a summer in July.

Fellow on that thread about McGuire wanted a sound file of Sean piping, which I have a few of. You’d not think it was the same musician, good stuff too, more like his Da’s whistling though. There were all these Rowsome fans/students/customers like Tommy Kearney, Sean MacAloon, Mattie Connolly, Al Purcell, Sean Seery, good solid pipers.

Funny about Sean’s ambitions not really rubbing off with the fiddlers. I took a lesson with Kevin Burke a couple years back and he spoke of not seeing the point of playing in flat keys, mentioned Jerry Holland playing the Banks very expertly of course, but why not just play it in G? Which he proceeded to do! Of course Kevin plays tunes in G minor like Splendid Isolation, which is Relatively the same thing as Bb.