Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

By Sean Softley

Thirteen comments

Re: Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

"Sean Softley is an author, musician and teacher based out of Calgary Alberta, Canada.
Softley has been fortunate to perform and record for and with a variety of excellent and high profile musicians throughout his career, playing and travelling across Canada and all over the world.
To date, he has written more than twenty short stories and has published two novels.
Softley now works as a school teacher and loves journeying with students as they develop passions in music, literary arts and social awareness."

There is some good tunes I couldn’t find name for, probably his own compositions. Feel free to fill the gaps.

Re: Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

If they are “his own compositions” don’t you think he might have given them titles ?
Track #6 starts with “Mairi’s Wedding” - if he doesn’t know that, I’m not going any further with this.

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Re: Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

Re: Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

"Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance - Vol. 1 features all tracks needed for Irish Dance competition and feisianna. All tracks are performed to the correct tempos.
The album was created to be correct for practice and performance, but also to be artistically and musically appealing for the non-dancer as well!
Sean Softley performs all tracks with his signature energetic fiddle style and guitar accompaniment. Featuring both original compositions and traditional tunes."

Re: Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

“It’s not that he doesn’t know the names of the tunes, it’s just that he didn’t share it”.
a - how do you know that ?
b - what possible reason would anyone have for not providing the titles of the music they are playing other than ignorance ?

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Re: Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

It’s possible that Damien doesn’t have the liner notes (which presumably have most or all of the tune names). I think that’s what he meant. Correct me if I’m wrong Damien.

If bought on iTunes, all that is given is the set names (such as “Beginner Reels”, aka, polkas).

Re: Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

Yes, that is what I meant. Thank you for making me understandable Nathan. I never found any liner notes online but maybe the physical album only provide it?

Re: Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

The reason tune names aren’t generally listed on Irish dance recordings is because it’s not necessary. All teachers / dancers need is the correct time signature and speed. A reel at 113 is a reel. The name is inconsequential

Re: Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

‘The reason tune names aren’t generally listed on Irish dance recordings is because it’s not necessary.’

Not naming tunes means no collection of royalties for those whose work he’s used. I hope that’s not true, but it would be rather devious.

Matt Cunningham names all the tunes (or as many as he can) in his ‘Dance Music of Ireland’ series, which is aimed solidly at dancers.

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Re: Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

This album appears to be the exception rather than the rule. All of the Feis CDs I’ve checked give the tunes’ names.

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Re: Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

I once had that Dance Music of Ireland cd and as I recall, you could use some of the tunes for a performance but definitely not for serious, competitive Irish dance…it was really lacking and at some point I tossed it, so that tells you something. I appreciated the effort, though, because even though all these tunes are supposed to be dance music, in my 40 year experience of Irish music and dance, 99 percent of musicians I’ve met (obviously not feis musicians) are dismissive of Irish dance and are ignorant of how something like how jigs can or should be played (i.e.single vs what we call “light”). It’s all played so fast, so unrealistically. It’s so disconnected from the reality of what the music is for.

Honestly, though, dancers don’t care about the names and feis musicians are generally former dancers. Who buys Irish dance cds? Irish dancers and teachers.

You have to realize we can’t get too hooked on certain tunes because we don’t know what they’ll play in competition for jigs, reels, hornpipes and slip jigs. We have to be ready for any random tune. As a result we are constantly rotating tunes so you don’t get to used to just one. All we care about is the time signature and speed. You literally can’t dance a hornpipe choreographed at 72 bmp at 74. And Dance Music of Ireland had none of those nuances, as I recall. So most cds have the same hornpipe recorded in multiple speeds. We don’t care about the name (except with set dance music because the name there is all-important, as the choregraphy is “set” to that particular melody.)

Lots of tune names would just make it harder for teachers to do what they need to do, fast. Imagine, you’re in the middle of dance class, you’re trying to quickly find the right tune with 15 little kids all getting swirmy while they’re waiting in the back of the room to dance. Time is of the essence. I.e. you need to act fast before the shenanigans begin. You don’t need to know it’s “Harvest Home,” you just need “hornpipe at 72”. I.e. there are methods to our madness.

Re: Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

Logically, if all you need is “hornpipe at 72”, why don’t you all just stick to the one single tune for “hornpipe”, etc. Maybe then you could remember the name of the tune.
PS - “the reality of what the music is for” - now what would that be ?

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Re: Feis Strings: Music for Irish Dance, Vol. 1

Because we don’t only need the one hornpipe at 72 and the tune name is irrelevant, as i said before. Some dancers are doing choregraphy at 74, others at 69, depends on the level. And, like I said before, you don’t want the dancers to only hear one hornpipe ad nauseum because when you get to the feis, they might play A DIFFERENT ONE! This can throw a 10 year old, trust me. Me knowing the name of the tune has no bearing on whether s/he will remember the step. So I’ll repeat myself: other than set dances, where the individual melody is the entire point (i.e. the dancer isn’t just dancing the rhythm but the actual melody) tune names are irrelevant.