Roche, Francis - Collection of Irish Airs, Marches and Dance Tunes, Volume 2, Issue 1, Page 67

Roche, Francis - Collection of Irish Airs, Marches and Dance Tunes, Volume 2, Issue 1, Page 67
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periodical Publisher
Pigott & Co. 1927
periodical Editor
Roche, Francis
periodical Title
Roche, Francis - Collection of Irish Airs, Marches and Dance Tunes
volume Number
issue Content
NOTE ON IRISH DANCING.A few remarks on certain aspects of Irish Dancing, as they affect our National Music, may form a suitableintroduction to a Collection in which our dance tunes are such a prominent feature.Up to the beginning of the present century, or for some time thereafter, the traditional style of daneing theJig, Reel, Hornpipe and many social figure dancesfour and eight-hand jigs and reels, etc.was in vogue amongsta considerable number of our people, and was still taught by a few of the old masters of the art, but as these retiredor passed awa r a notable and regrettable change set in; the old style began to wane until, as time wore on, it becamesubmerged in what has been called revival dancing, with injurious effects on our dance music.This deterioration did not materially affect the double Jig tunes as these continued to be extensively played,the dance itself having been kept up with vigour, but the style peculiar to this, and the hornpipe for fema es no longersurvived, and it was not unusual to find numbers of both sexes competing in the same items, and dancing the samekind of steps at Feiseanna and Aeridheachta.It was unfortunate that in the general scheme to recreate an Irish Ireland the work of preserving or revivingour old national dances should have largely fallen to the lot of those who were but poorly equipped for the task. Forthe most part they were lacking in insight, and a due appreciation of the pure old style, and had, as it appears, but aslender knowledge of the old repertoire.For instance, the Single and Hop Jigs, the FlingI7ish versionthe fine solid Double Reel for men, and thesprightly Single Hornpipe for females, as well as many of our Set Dances must, if known to them, have been regardedas possessing neither Artistic, Social nor National value, as they all either languished or died out during the periodof their activities, the result being that some of the best and most characteristic of our dance tunes were neverheard at all.The musicians were, apparently, as slack in tunes as most of the others proved to have been in dances.Despite the great extent and variety of our dance music a few only of the more commonplace single reels and doublehornpipes were to be heard during the years under discussion. The Double Reel and Single Hornpipe were nevertouched, but those few were specialised in; they were served out on all occasions with unfailing regularity, and anassurance not always commendable, until, through constant and excessive hacking, they had become a downrightinfliction. But the musicians were not entirely to blame, for the dancers, having in most cases been taught certaindances to one particular tune only, could keep time to no otherthe single. and figure reels danced invariably to thetune of Miss McLeod is an example.The spectacular and difficult dances for the few were cultivated to the neglect of the simple ones for the many,leaving the social side untouched, except to criticise, or condemn. The ballroom dances in vogue at the time werethe Quadrilles, or Sets, Lancers, Valse, Polka, Schottische or Barn Dance, Two Step, and Mazurka. These were allbanned and nothing put in their place but a couple of long dances.An exception should have been made, one would imagine, in favour of the popular old Sets (that had becomeIrishised), if only on account of the fine old tunes with which they were usually associated; but they were decriedamongst the rest.It seems strange that such a policy should have been decided upon and pursued considering that no substituteswere provided beyond those mentioned. A few years later, however, the Bridge of Athione, Siege of Ennis, and anincomplete form of Haste to the Wedding were introduced, but, as might have been expected, these simple contre dancesproved inadequate as substitutes for all those that had been prohibited. The showy and intricate four and eight-hand jigs and reels of the Revival, although interesting to the spectator, were generally looked on as designed onlyfor competition or display on account of their difficulty, and, consequently, had no appeal as social dances. Apraiseworthy effort was made some years ago by Bean Sheain 0 Cuirrin of Limerick in arranging a new dance for coupleson Irish lines suitable for the ballroom, but it has not so far, appeared beyond a rather limited circle. It is to beregretted that this, and others of a similar nature had not been provided earlier, and popularised, as they would haveremoved the anomaly complained of as well as helping as a protection against those corrupt foreign influences that havebeen creeping in, and spreading so widely amongst us, for the past decade, or more.Bfheidirna taithneoch gach a bfhuil scriobhte agam thuas le cach, ach ni mor an fhirinne a radh mas mianlinu an sceal do leigheas.The object of this Note is not to apportion blame or affix censure, but to suggest that a united effort shouldnow be made to remedy as far as possible the mistakes and errors of the past.V
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Roche, Francis - Collection of Irish Airs, Marches and Dance Tunes, Volume 2