5 Barndances

Barndances (a type of tune)were popular the mid 20th century. They have a 4/4 time signature and an even more pronounced rhythm than hornpipes. They have seen somewhat of a revival in recent years by Irish traditional musicians such as John Carty. ‘Some say the Divil is Dead’ would be a barndance with a very commonly known melody. Barndances would have originally been played for dancers dancing all same facing 2-step dance. This type of dance is still performed in Ceilis( an Irish folk dance usually performed at a social gathering).

They have been recorded sporadically by music groups such as De Danann(On an album called ‘The Star Spangled Molly’)and by the Sligo Master fiddlers such as Micheal Coleman, James Morrison(Biography) and Paddy Killoran.

James Morrison

Playing a barndance on the fiddle usually requires a certain approach to bowing(and rhythm). Because they are especially rhythmic the bowing will often require more attack to accentuate the emphasis in each bar. The bar structure isn’t dissimilar to a hornpipe (both types of tune often have 2 parts with 8 bars repeated) but barndances often have more crotchets rather than hornpipes having 2 groups of 4 quavers(or dotted quaver and semi quaver to be more exact). If you are not too well up on musical theory, barndances have more longer notes therefore the rhythm is punctuated more. To get the flavour listeing to Barndances is an absolute must. Make sure to add barndances to your repetoire.

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