Dance Music in the Australian Tradition
Folklorist, collector Peter Ellis from Bendigo, Victoria has prepared this information
Musically the jig is almost certainly of Celtic origin. It is to the early bowed instruments (e.g. the ancient British fidel) with which its name is associated. For example an old Italian dance derives its name from the musical instrument used for accompaniment, an early fiddle, the ‘giga’, and the German equivalent is ‘geige’. Early Germanic invaders of Britain most likely applied their name of geige to the fidel (which predates the violin and from which came the layman’s term ‘fiddle’.)
In Shakespearean time the term ‘jigg’ applied to almost any light composition or theatrical play, and to any cheap entertainment with occasional dancing. The expression evolved “to jig off a tune”. Fiddling is closely associated with the playing of jigs in particular, a light and bright rhythm. The arrival of the classical violin in Britain resulted in its dispersion throughout, but particularly in Scotland and Ireland, as a layman’s instrument in which the older name of fiddle survived as a matter of course.
The jig is written indiscriminately in 3‑4, 6‑8, 6‑4, 9‑8, or 12‑8 time but for general purposes there are three main categories, namely single jig (6‑8), double jig (6‑8) and slip jig (9‑8).
The difference between the single jig and the double jig lies not in the length or rhythm but in the prevalent note value. It is believed the jig originated in England and that 9‑8 is its oldest form. However Ireland became its homeland, and, through exchange back and forth via Scotland.
The jig is normally in two parts of eight bars with each part played twice i.e. part A and part B played as A‑A’‑B‑B’ to a total of 32 bars. Occasionally three part tunes (e.g. The Sweets of May) and four part tunes (e.g. The Athole Highlanders) will be encountered.
On the continent classical forms of the jig (gigue) were composed and included in the works of great composers such as Bach, Handel, and Mozart.
In Australia‑a number of anonymous single jigs developed via the folk process for certain figures of favourite quadrilles, e.g. First Set and the Lancers. These are sometimes derivatives of British originals, and from other sources such as the music hall, sheet music for dancing, popular songs of the nineteenth century and so on. Generally the origins have been lost in antiquity and in changes between districts and players. Although lacking some of the vim of the revived Celtic tradition, the simple Australian tunes are pleasant and as with many bright single jigs, are often better played and suited for dancing purposes.
The Single Jig has the basic form [Ex. single jig] and can be phonetically expressed as a ‘dum de dum de’ rhythm. i.e. essentially a crotchet quaver combination to the beat; of which there are two to the bar.
Examples of single jigs are Off She Goes (Humpty Dumpty), We Won’t Come Home Till Morning (Jolly Good Fellow is a modified derivative of this), Roaring Jelly (Smash the Windows), and the simple Scottish version of Merrily Danced The Quaker’s Wife.
The Double Jig has a run of three quavers to the beat so that typically the bar has the full quota of six and the basic form can be expressed as [Ex. double jig] which is more subtly played as [Ex. dotted rhythm in double jig] and can be phonetically described as a diddledy‑ diddledy rhythm. As with the single jig, the bass rhythm in its simplest form is two beats to the bar consisting either of [Ex. bar in 6/8] and the tempo normally ranges from 58 to 62 bars a minute (Ex. dotted crotchet = 120‑126 metronome setting per second).
Irish jigs were sometimes played a little faster (60‑64 bars per minute) when used in the Australian ‘Royal Irish Quadrille’ or the Haymaker.
Examples of double jigs include Cock o’ the North, Irish Washerwoman, Haste to the Wedding, Rollicking Irishman, Bonnie Dundee, Humours of Donnybrook, Ap Shenkin, Garry Owen, St.Patrick’s Day, Irish version of Merrily Danced The Quakers Wife, and The Campbells Are Coming.
The Slip Jig or ‘Hop Jig’ is in 9/8 time and has three beats to the bar. The basic form is [Ex. slip jig] and the bass rhythm consisting of three beats to the bar can be [Ex. slip jig bass].
Examples of this very old jig form include Drops of Brandy, Sir Roger de Coverley, The Rocky Road To Dublin, and the Foxhunters Jig. The 9/8 rhythm is relatively unusual to the modern ear, and inexperienced dancers can be thrown by the timing, particularly if attempting the Scottish or Irish travel step associated with the single and double Jig. It is best to use a plain walking or running step (three steps to the bar) which is in fact the traditional style.
Two well known pieces in 9/8 time are Jesu Joy Of Man’s Desiring and Beautiful Dreamer.
In terms of beats the tempo of a 9/8 jig is the same as for 6/8 and is 120‑126 metronome setting per second. However, in expressing the tempo in bars per minute it must be remembered that the 9/8 jig has three beats to the bar in comparison to two beats a bar for 6/8. Therefore its tempo in bars per minute is two thirds that for a 6/8 jig and is between 38 and 42 bars per minute.
The Reel (Double Reel)
The reel is almost certainly of Scottish origin with perhaps a later Scandinavian influence. Its name originally applied to the dance (reill) which was circular, and the music for the ring was the ‘rant’. Phonetically the rhythm of the rant could be expressed as ‘dum ditty / diddle ditty’ In its development from the rant to the Scottish Measure the phrasing of the reel became accentuated by the strategic use of crotchets, within the general 8 quaver bar structure.
The rhythm could then be expressed as ‘dum dum ditty’ or ‘dum ditty dum ditty/dum dum dum’.
The reel is in common or 2/4 time (sometimes in cut common time 2/2) with two parts of 8 bars and these are repeated A‑A‑B‑B to a total of 32 bars. Each bar consists of 8 quavers (or semi-quavers according to the time signature) in two groups of four. Its basic form can be expressed as [Ex. of 4 /4 quavers].
Scottish reels are more chordal in structure and often feature a characteristic modal chord change of the whole tone; e.g. from A down to G and back again. This gives the music a rather craggy and warlike feel. When Mrs. McLeod’s Reel crossed to Ireland the seed was sown for the mass development of Irish forms of the reel. The Irish reel is brisk and light with much ornamentation to melody and rhythm.
Hornpipes are sometimes played as reels, in fact the hornpipe is similar in its structure, but usually played more slowly and with dotted notes (Ex. dotted quaver and semiquavers).
It is interesting to note that the occasional double reel that survived in the aural tradition in Australia, was played rather slowly in almost hornpipe style (e.g. Mrs. McLeod’s Reel and The Wind That Shakes The Barley). Presumably this style developed partly because of the action of the German style accordion or concertina which does not easily lend itself to the rapid style of the reel; and because the reel did not last as a social dance in Australia in contrast to the solo stepdance. This lasted to within living memory and for the layman was better suited to the hornpipe and slower form of reel music. Conversely the reel remains the most popular form of traditional music in Scotland and Ireland, also with specialist Celtic groups in Australia.
The Strathspey, originally from northern Scotland and exclusively Scottish is a kind of slow reel incorporating the ‘Scottish snap’ which is characterised by halved and dotted notes in the basic form [Ex. Strathspey form].
Whilst the double reel did not prosper in the aural tradition in Australia, it was sometimes used in combinations with the single reel by the city ballroom dance bands to pronounce figure work sections of the quadrilles (e.g. to highlight the change into the grand chain of Fig. 5 in the Lancers). Examples of these can be found on some 78 records of military bands and the English Harry Davidson’s Old Time Dance Band.
Reels of course remained the mainstay of dance music in specialist Irish and Scottish Clubs and their dance groups in Australia.
Popular double reels include:‑ Mrs. McLeod’s Reel, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Sally Gardens, The Dei’ll Among the Tailors, Timour The Tartar (or Peter Street) Fairy Reel, Drowsie Maggie, The Masons’ Apron, The Merry Blacksmith, Flowers of Edinboro’.
Equivalent tempo in 2/4 time is about 60 bars per minute (120 beats). Scottish reels are on the slow side whilst Irish reels, at least in the folk scene are often played a little faster. The critical factor for dance music is related to well phrased rhythm and a bright but comfortable tempo to suit the stepping of the dancers. The late Tim Whelan made the point is was often better and more sensible to play simpler well structured single reels (see below) and ‘Irish polkas’ (2-4) for dances than to muddle through the more complicated and rhythmically jumbled double reel.
Single reels are easier to play and to accent dance time because of their simplicity. They are in 2/4 time (sometimes cut common time) with an even two beats to the bar and a tempo generally between 58 and 62 bars a minute. (Ballroom dance bands sometimes play these set tunes as slow as 56 bars per minute, i.e. 112‑126 metronome setting per minute.)
Single reels (and jigs) most likely evolved as the preferred tunes for the country dances (long sets etc.) and then the quadrilles in the early nineteenth century ballroom dance scene, and then cross pollinated back through the aural tradition.
Examples of popular single reels include: Marie’s Wedding, The Girl I Left Behind Me, Soldiers Joy, Galopede, Yankee Doodle, MacGregor’s March, Rakes of Mallow, Barren Rocks 0’Aden, Bobby Shaftoe, Dashing White Sergeant, Rose Tree, Waves of Tory, Spanish Ladies, Finnigan’s Wake, British Grenadiers, Cornish Floral Dance.
Several of those mentioned are specific to a particular country dance or vice versa, and will be the ‘signature tune’ for that respective dance. It has become a practice in the folk scene to call the signature tune the set tune, which is a misnomer, as traditional musicians refer to any support dance tune used for a quadrille or country dance as a set tune.
There are many single reels of an anonymous nature that have developed through the aural folk process in Australia, and which were localised favourites for particular figures of the quadrilles. Some could be derivatives of British originals, whilst almost certainly others were derived from popular music and songs of the day, now lost in time as well as most likely changing considerably through the generations and the exchange between districts and players.
Often they would ‘make up’ sections of tunes. One example of a good tune was that of Bill McGlashan for the first figure of the First Set and which, as Harry McQueen relates, McGlashan’s family dubbed ‘God Bless You And Bugger Me’. Another, Hi Ho The Merrio, was adapted from a 1920’s foxtrot, whilst a favourite of the Wedderburn Old Timers, ‘Goodbye Tipperary’, is an Irish/American tune they learnt from a 78 record.
These tunes, along with the well known single reels and jigs, are known as “Set Tunes” in Australia because they were specifically used for sets (quadrilles) and occasional surviving country dances such as Sir Roger de Coverley.
Well known popular songs also broaden the repertoire and include Redwing, Swanee River, Oh Susanna, Camptown Races and Golden Slippers.
The Hornpipe takes its name from a very early double reed instrument (a hornpipe or sort of primitive oboe) on which pastoral dance music in 3/2 was played by shepherds and herdsman.
It later became associated with seafaring men whose main form of exercise was solo step dancing. At this time (by the end of the eighteenth century) the hornpipe had undergone radical change as it was turned into common time and altered in character.
It is now similar in structure to the reel but sometimes has dotted quavers [Ex. dotted quavers] imposing a type of schottische flavour and polka bounce.
Some hornpipes are played at the tempo of the schottische or barn dance (28/32 bars per minute) and in this form suits the slower step dances and the Northumbrian Barn Dance. For Irish step dances however, the tunes are played at least doubly fast in reel time and they are sometimes also used for the ‘Kerry Polka’ sets.
Hornpipe contests were extremely popular entertainment items in Australia in the last century, but the term applied to any form of step dance and music, whether jig, reel, or true hornpipe.
Examples of popular hornpipes include Portsmouth, Fisher’s Horn pipe, Bridge of Lodi or Lord Nelson’s Hornpipe, College Hornpipe (popularly known as Sailor’s Hornpipe although there is a lesser known tune under that name) Manchester Hornpipe, Harvest Home, Boys of Bluehill, Off To California, The Strand, Belfast Hornpipe and Londonderry Hornpipe.
Like the reel, hornpipes are possibly in double and single form, The well known Sailor’s Hornpipe and Fisher’s Hornpipe are in a brisk reel form whilst the Manchester Hornpipe or Off To California are more schottische style at a steady barn dance tempo.
The Waltz is the first of the closed couples dances followed subsequently with the Galop, Polka and Mazurka. It was not the first of the couples dances. La Volta, the Minuet and the Gavotte at the very least were from a century or more before. However the waltz was the first to depart from the mere touch of the hand and introduce the more intimate closed couple embrace and choice of rotary motion routine which included reversing , pirouette turns and other varieties of figure work. This by the twentieth century had laid the foundation of the ‘go as you please’ modern ballroom dances setting the stage for the advent (one hundred years later) of the One-Step, Foxtrot, Tango, Quickstep, Modern Waltz.
Musically the waltz is in 3/4 time but this alone does not make it necessarily different, as other dances, the Minuet, Mazurka, Varsoviana and earlier allemande dances all share 3/4 or 3/8 time as of course the waltz ancestors ‑ a collection of Germanic country dances ‑ Drehtanz, Dreher, Weller and Landler.
However, with the exception of the Mazurka, they all lack one vital intrinsic characteristic which so much makes the waltz, and this is its infectious vamp rhythm of 1‑2,3. This is the crucial factor created by the low bass of harmony sounded on the first beat of the bar, followed by the rest of the upper octave chord on the subsequent two beats.
The waltz had appeared also in disguise in the allemande form and absorbed into the English country dance towards the turn of the eighteenth century. This was later to become what we now know as the Waltz Country Dance and which was earlier known as the ‘Spanish Waltz’. The allemande form of dance had hybridised by the 1820’s and was then known as the Spanish Waltz. It is important to realise that the dance itself has nothing to do with Spain; it was the English country dance combining figure work with the allemande turn and pousette/waltz step. However the favourite tunes were Spanish and included various Guarachas and the Cachucha. It is from this popular music the Spanish Waltz derived its name.
The Spanish Waltz remained popular in Australia from the 1820’s until after the First World War and then it became incorporated in a variation of the last figure or two of the Australian version of the Alberts Quadrille. The revival of traditional dancing both in Australia and Britain, has seen the Spanish Waltz re-emerge as the Waltz Country Dance to 40 bar tunes at the preferred stately tempo of the Circular Waltz (48/50 bars per minute). 32 bar waltzes with an 8 bar waltz‑on suit the dance quite well.
The Waltz in its own right emerged from Austria and the German states about 1770 but was banned in many countries for several decades. It came at first from the native country dances (Ländler) where brief sections involved allemande turns under raised arms with appropriate stamping, and a few waltz turns with step hops in the closer ‘waltz’ hold.
The folk tune O! Der Lieber Augustin, which was later revived in the 1940’s as the Frothblower’s Chorus (The More We Are Together) was the critical tune that introduced the true waltz vamp and waltz as a couples dance in its’ own right. Weber’s ‘Invitation To The Dance’ also played a leading part in the introduction of the waltz. The polished floors of Vienna and light footwear transposed it from a stamping step‑hop folk dance to the smooth flowing and gliding ‘Queen of the Ballroom’. The ‘Viennese Waltz’ had come of age and so flourished to the whirling tunes of Strauss and Lanner. It was quite fast at a tempo of between 56 and 62 bars per minute or more and the lilt swing and uplift assisted by a slight anticipation of the second beat.
After its introduction to England from France about 1812 the waltz developed and underwent several changes. In its original rotary form at a steady tempo with three distinct steps to the bar, it was known as the ‘valse a trois temps’ and at first met with great resistance. It was sometimes introduced under the guise of the galop which had arrived by the 1830s. Dancing in this form to 2/4 and 6/8 music created a two-step chasse turn characteristic of the galop, and when this finally carried back to the waltz in 3/4 time at a slightly faster tempo, the ‘valse a deux temps’ came into being. Reversing was also fashionable by then.
Other forms of waltzing also became popular including ‘hop waltzes’ such as the Redowa to mazurka style music.
However the valse a trois temps remained the overall most favoured form. By the turn of the century waltzing competitions encouraged a very small stepping form of the trois temps in which the dancers revolved like slow spinning tops, no rise or fall and only just progressing around the ballroom or assembly. Under no circumstances was a heel allowed to drop to the floor or reversing permitted to ‘unwind’. During the subsequent revival of ‘old time dancing’ in the 1950’s this circular waltz was known as the ‘old time waltz’ and sometimes dubbed the ‘threepenny waltz’.
The Edwardian threepenny waltz became known as the Circular Waltz following the advent of modern ballroom dancing and to distinguish from the newer Modern Waltz, but prior to the 1920’s it was just a waltz and should not be confused with another circular waltz of the late nineteenth century which was a form of set dance. There is also the more recent ‘Circle Waltz’, a revamped form Spanish waltz.
The turn of the century old time threepenny waltz was danced to the popular tunes of the ‘Gay Nineties’ and the Edwardian tunes of the ‘Palm Court’. These include perennials such as Daisy Bell, Two Little Girls In Blue, After The Ball, Comrades, Alice Blue Gown, Merry Widow and The Pink Lady. The tempo was a sedate 48‑ 50 bars per minute and the dance perhaps a little staid in comparison to its lilting and vibrant Viennese ancestor. The Circular Waltz was an essential component of the newer emerging sequence dances, for example the Veleta Waltz of 1900. The Veleta in turn set the pattern for the revival style of old time dances of the 1930s. Such was the importance of the Circular Waltz that any old time program worth its salt commenced and concluded with it, and usually including several more and a waltzing competition, during the evening.
The sequences dances however are generally danced to a slightly brighter tempo between 52 and 54 bars/minute with steps that are not as constrained. South Australians use the English waltz step of 5 and a pivot, whilst Victorians use 6 distinct steps that pass through. A step‑close‑step turn has developed with the ordinary dancer.
Another product of Edwardian times was the Hesitation Waltz which apparently came about by attempting to tango in waltz time. Its tempo is slower than the Circular Waltz‑ about 45 bars per minute and includes a hesitating rest that lingers from the 3rd into the 4th bar, a little like the hold of the Varsoviana, except it is just a lilting momentary or fleeting ‘blip’, rather than a dramatic stop or hold. Most of the tunes that were composed for it are not now well known in contrast to the Viennese waltzes or the Gay Nineties evergreens. However one that might still be known and has the suitable hesitation flavour is ‘Wonderful One’. Other Hesitation waltz tunes can be found in Collectors Choice Vol 3 and the original piano sheet copies have been lodged with the National Library in Canberra.
By the 1920’s the waltz had slowed considerably with particular influence from American tunes of the period; and in England in 1923 Victor Silvester introduced the style of steps which launched the ‘Modern Waltz’! This is also known as the ‘Jazz Waltz’ in NSW. It is characterised by a long sliding heel lead with a dip on the first beat of the bar, followed by a shorter step and rise to the side on the 2nd beat, closing and lowering on the 3rd. Consequently the music accentuates the first beat with a pronounced low bass harmony note which sounds sustained in comparison to the 2nd and 3rd bass chord vamp. The tempo is between 28 and 32 bars per minute. Typical tunes include Melody of Love, Tennessee Waltz, He’ll Have To Go, Girl Of My Dreams, Ramona, Mull Of Kintyre, Edelweiss, In The Valley Of The Moon, Somewhere In France, etc. The routine of the dance is very much ‘go as you please’ alternating with reverse turns, hesitations, whisk and weave, locks and with much rise and fall. It is the most graceful and romantic of the modern ballroom dances and displaced the Circular Waltz as the final dance, with of course the lights dimmed.
The ballroom dance establishment refer to it simply as The Waltz although surely this should apply to the vibrant and whirling Viennese ancestor.
Old-time and New Vogue sequence waltzes are derived from the concept originally of the Veleta Waltz and are generally danced to Circular Waltz tunes with a slightly faster tempo of between 52 and 54 bars per minute. Evergreen melodies from the Gay Nineties through to the 1930’s or later are the most popular and include I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, In The Shade Of The Old Apple Tree, Till We Meet Again, When It’s Springtime In The Rockies, Only A Leaf, etc. The dances are usually to 32 bar sequences such as Parma Waltz, Waltz Oxford, Dorothea, Lucille, and dozens more. The Veleta and King’s Waltz respectively have only a 16 bar sequence, the ever popular 32 bar Pride Of Erin is generally danced to Irish‑American tunes such as Come Back To Erin, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, The Mountains Of Mourne, and Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms.
There are many collected Australian tunes such as the Mudgee Waltz and Starry Night For A Ramble which suit the above dances very well. The Swing Waltz needs a little uplift in its rhythm to a bright tempo so that Viennese waltzes and lilting tunes like Upstairs Downstairs, The Snow Waltz, Skaters Waltz, Du Du Liebst Mir Im Herzen, suit it very well, also tunes such as The Anniversary Song, Don’t Be Cross and Lara’s Theme are ideal.
The St. Bernard Waltz has a particular ‘click click’ emphasis between the 3rd. and 4th. bar of the tune to coincide with the light stamp of the footwork In the original English version this is played in every 16 bar section, whilst the Australian version only requires it on every 32 bar section. Mr and Mrs Harry Leggett introduced the two part Australian form in the 1930’s. Waltzes with a polka mazurka swing are often favoured for the waltz figures of the Alberts Quadrille and the Waltz Cotillion and particularly in the waltz chain section. Tunes with this emphasis include the Spanish Waltz (Cachuca derivative) itself and Shamus O’Brien, Pretty Polly Perkins, Kitty of Coleraine, The Ash Grove, Missouri Waltz, the verse of When it’s Spring Time In The Rockies, Tom Whitman’s Waltz , O! Der Lieber Augustin, Umbrella Man, Orotaba Waltz, Swiss Waltz. The tempo is 52‑ 54 bars per min.
The polka arrived as an 1840s dance sensation which became a world wide craze. The origin is far more obscure although it is said to have sprung from Bohemia. The essential characteristic of the music which is generally in 2/4 time is a strong 3 quaver beat accentuated by a hold or rest on what would be the 4th quaver and a semiquaver anacrusis leading into the next bar. This combination gives the music and dance its lift and bounce. Although the Czechoslovakian music (e.g. the Doudlebleska Polka) has some of the 3 quaver emphasis in its tune, as does the original’ Czech Polka tune, Czech dance steps do not have the hop. It is the German influence that created the ‘one, two, three’ hop step, characteristic of the polka.
German dance authorities say the dance was well known by their people long before the public Bohemian discovery.
Although, there are differences in style of the polka and its music between the various countries neighbouring Germany it is undoubtedly the German influence and adoption of that form into the world ballroom scene that consolidated its basic form which can be described. Its tempo can be as slow as 48 bars per minute and should not exceed 58 bars per minute or it will lose its intrinsic character and merge into a normal single reel or a galop. Many old timers seem to use a tempo of about 52‑58 bars per minute.
The name is sometimes said to have been derived from the Czech “polka” meaning half step and, whilst this is an erroneous assumption, one could not be blamed for believing that explanation.
The three quaver beat emphasises the hop or ‘half step’ on what would normally be the 4th step.
The revival of the polka in the 1880’s with the tune See Me Dance The Polka further consolidated the dance and its music rhythm and within living memory was frequently known as the 3‑hop polka. The other polka dances such as Princess Polka and Kreuz Polka are generally derivative of one of the figures of the original polka. Thus the polka or ‘three hop’ polka is also known as the “plain polka” to distinguish it from the others.
Typical three‑hop polka tunes include Brown Jug (English), Tell Me Ma(Irish), The Bluebell Polka (Scottish), Polly Wolly Doodle (American). My Mother Said, So Early in the Morning, Buffalo Girls, See Me Dance The Polka, Jenny Lind, and King Pippin Polka.
Additionally there are many other polkas, in published dance music and more anonymous tunes have been collected from the aural tradition in Australia that are well suited to the dance, in fact excellent. One by the late Charlie Batchelor admirably reflects the neat bouncy style of music essential for the dance steps.
It cannot be over emphasised that this style of music with the 3 quaver rhythm is common to the tunes mentioned. They come from different places, and also in classical music, printed dance , music, and in the aural tradition. The unique rhythm is essential to the polka dance whether it be the plain polka the Kreuz polka, or Berlin polka, Princess polka or heel and toe polka, polka quadrille or polka country dance, or the newer ‘cyclone polka’.
The absorption of the polka music into other traditions and fashions can result in changes to its style which are no longer suitable to the above mentioned dances.
One example is the modern continental style polka tunes of the 1930’s that suited the bounding American style polka, the quickstep (fast foxtrot) and the Australian gypsy tap, but which would not have been a good choice for the old traditional dances, e.g. the Beer Barrel Polka, Pennsylvania polka and Lichtensteiner polka.
Another is in the revived Irish dance scene of this century and the so called Irish polkas such as from County Kerry.
Most likely it is in the fusion of original polka music and/or steps into the faster Irish forms of dance and music this century that has created the anomaly. It needs to be stressed that the changes are so great that the tunes often more closely resemble fast single reels, and are fine in the Irish tradition, but completely unsuitable when removed from there and applied to ballroom polka dancing derivatives popular in Australia.
Irish music authorities at the turn of the century do not mention polkas except under the category of dances not of Irish origin and along with barn dances, varsoviana, redowas, waltzes and quadrille set tunes (Roche Collection). The polkas they have printed in this section (as with Tell Me Ma) are typical three hop polkas. This also applies to the Kerry Polka featured on a 78 record, the tune of which is Jenny Lind, but played fairly fast. The ‘Irish’ polkas have a tempo of 70 bars per minute and single reels and hornpipes are equally suitable for the Kerry set. It would probably be better to describe the revived Irish polkas as ‘polka reels’ which is a more apt description.
Conversely some of these tunes, as with single reels can be played in polka time by slowing the tempo and emphasising a 3 quaver beat and the anacrusis leading into the next bar.
Some Australian folk musicians have quite incorrectly applied the term polka to traditional single reels and caused confusion with dances that require 3 hop emphasis or vice versa.
Some forms of polka dance have special phrasing on certain bars to match the footwork. Examples are as follows;
- (1) Typical polka form and the general rhythm common to all. e.g.plain polka, polka quadrille, polka country dance.
- (2) Princess Polka ‑ 2 crotchet emphasis to match the heel and toe step on the first. bar.
- (3) Berlin polka (Nariel) ‑ minim hold on the 2nd. bar to emphasis the point and rest.
- (4) Kreuz Polka ‑ two‑crotchet beat on the 3rd bar to emphasise the ‘kick through and turn’ or ‘heel and toe turn’.
- (5) Brown Jug Polka (also known as the heel and toe or pat‑a cake‑polka. The chorus matches the words which in turn emphasises the 3 quaver hand clap. (The only actual polka stop is at the end of the dance section with half turn by the right and left arm.)
- (6) Armatree version of the Brown Jug polka is played in 6/8 time which reverses the emphasis of the hand clap to ‘clap/clap clap’.
- (7) Brown Jug Polka ‑ Joan Martins version from Q.L.D. same as above but with a third part involving an ordinary circular polka.
The galop is a very quick spirited couples dance, exhausting and quite in keeping with its name. Its music is in 2/4 time and whilst there is a certain spring in the dance steps it does not have the hop of the polka. Accordingly its rhythm is even but very fast and played at 67/68 bars per minute. The melody line often has one, or sometimes two triplets, and this adds to its character along with its very racy bass line. In terms of the piano bass, typically it consists of a quaver bass note followed by the 3 bass‑ chords in rapid succession. Sometimes alternating bass, as might be used for a single reel will take over for a passage or two.
There is not an abundance of (if any) galop tunes that have survived in the Australian aural tradition. By 1910 the dance had given way to an offspring, the two step, and this dance required only a short space in comparison to the galop; and an easier more sedate 6/8 time. The galop belonged to the city ballrooms as there would not have been enough room in the average bush barn or shearing shed in contrast to the two step.
One tune from the aural tradition played by the Wedderburn Old Timers for a two‑step, if not an earlier galop tune, certainly has the character to lend itself to a galop, The Old‑Timers’ Two‑Step. An English tune that similarly survived as a Morris dance piece is the Winster Galop, which by its nature must surely have originally been a galop. Again, if played at the quicker pace of 68 bars per minute it admirably suits the dance.
If we look at classical and printed music as a source, there are plenty of well known galops. The Can Can, William Tell, Ta‑Ra‑Ra‑Boom De Ay, Thunder and Lightning, Post Horn and so on.
A Hunting We Will Go converted to 2/4 time makes a good galop, and single reels such as Rakes of Mallow are quite suitable when played, up tempo.
A popular gay nineties medley printed in galop time was All The Nice Girls Love A Sailor and I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside, and is now held by the National Library in Canberra.
Caution should be given that country dances and quadrilles based on the galop step might not necessarily require galop speed and most in fact have been changed down to the single reel tempo of about 56‑62 bars/min. This includes the galopede itself, La Galopede, the galop quadrille, and galopede quadrille. Single reels suit these dances, and should galop tunes be selected the tempo needs to be reduced The Manchester Galop sequence couples dance based on galop slides and galop waltz turns has its own tune in 4/4 time. It is closer in style to the two step with a schottische tempo of 28 ‑ 30 bars per minute.
The Manchester Galop is so far only known from one district in Australia and that is Nariel which is in an isolated valley near Corryong In the North East of Victoria. Its tune however is known from other areas such as Moliagal in central Victoria, and in another form its first strain in a minor key is part of the tune used for the Berlin Schottische in districts near Brisbane, Q.L.D. (Part B of the tune for the Berlin Schottische is quite different however, and is in waltz time.)
These dances and their tunes were brought out by German settlers in the middle of the last century.
The Manchester Galop is still known in folk dance circles in Germany and Switzerland, simply as the Manchester, and the dance incorporates polka tunes rather than the smooth waltz glide of the galop. The dance was popular in the salons (ballroom dance scene) of Berlin in the 1850s but is derived from an older folk dance “Lott ist Tod (Dood)‑(Lott is dead) is known over much of northern Europe, i.e. Denmark. Sweden, Germany Switzerland etc. The slow steps represent the going to the cemetery, the quick steps getting away, and the polka the celebrations afterwards (wake).
The Nariel Tune tune is very similar to the Danish original. This dance is widely known throughout the Germanic and Scandinavian countries of Europe and features the polka step. It Is important to realise , however that the Australian form, as danced by the Nariel people, is based on the galop step not the polka, and that the steps are smooth and gliding and the galop waltz turns are exactly the same as those used in a barn dance or an evening ‑3‑step.
The Nariel dance has been quite bastardised in the folk scene by people who believe they are using smooth waltz turns but in fact still have an untidy polka bounce.
The musicians have often in ignorance contributed towards this by slowing the tempo for the first two bars to over emphasise the slow steps, and then speeding up out of proportion to accentuate the galop sections and to invite the polka finale. However the traditional musicians at Nariel play the tune admirably to suit their version of the dance. After all, the Australian form of the Manchester Galop is endemic to Nariel.
It is the time value of the notes that sets the style of the steps of the dance, not a variance in tempo. In the first bar, a 4 crotchet melody rhythm which continues into the second bar matches the four slow chasse steps ( A ‘chasse’ is a ‘chasing step’‑ side together side or forward close forward.) to 8 crotchets , and in the next two bars, dotted quavers (??) set the rhythm for the 8 quick galop chasses. This whole section is then repeated from the beginning. The final strain of the tune has combinations of triplet and dotted quavers which gives it galop/schottische flavour and which dictates the evening‑three‑step style barn dance waltz turns. Unlike Lott ist Tod, it is definitely a galop not a polka.
Throughout the tune the tempo remains in strict time and does not vary. Ideally it is played at 60 beats a minute (30 Bars / min.)
The Polka Mazurka
The polka mazurka is originally a dance based on a 1;1 ratio of mazurka and polka steps i.e. it consisted of an advance of one mazurka sequence followed by a half polka turn, and then repeated mazurka step and polka turn to complete the routine. Some authorities of the day argued that it should have been called the mazurka polka because of the order of the sequence. However that would have added to the confusion that already exists. Musically it is not and never has been a polka. The routine of dance steps is set to mazurka music in 3/4 time.
The modern polka mazurka of the twentieth century is ‘even more. ‘mazurka‑ised’ because there are three mazurka advances to three bars of music prior to the polka half turn. This is less exhausting than the original 1:1 polka mazurka.
Since the music is in mazurka time and the ratio of steps is 3:1 in favour, the polka mazurka is often simply called the mazurka. This was particularly after the turn of the century, and in N.SW. specifically.
Musically this is sound but it needs to be realised that the, original mazurka (in terms of steps) was quite a different complex dance with involved routine‑ the dancers’ dance of the select professor, and his assembly, and of the upper class ballroom. The true ballroom mazurka is unlikely to have percolated into the bush like its simpler polka mazurka offspring. The mazurka originates from Poland and then to neighbouring Scandinavian and Germanic countries and Russia. The polka mazurka is a simplified layman’s version of the mazurka and was one that was exceptionally popular in Australia, to the extent that it was also added to the Spanish waltz in Figures 4 and 5 of the Australian version of the Alberts quadrille.
Musically it is in 3/4 time (tempo 52‑54. bars per minute) and has the waltz vamp in its bass, but has a dotted two‑quaver [Ex. dotted quaver] and two crotchet combination to the bar. This gives it a distinctive bouncy style and differentiates it from a waltz. The order of quaver/crotchet combination does not seem to be important, at least as far as the Australian collected tunes and printed music indicate.
Some like Clementine have the dotted quavers as an anacrusis followed by the two crotchets and then more quavers whilst others like Moonwinks start on the first beat with dotted quavers, no anacrusis.
Authorities state the mazurka has an emphasis on the 2nd. or 3rd beat although it is difficult to tell if the polka mazurka is not sometimes emphasised on the first. beat. It may be that its bass rhythm is closer to a uniform 3 crotchet beat rather than the distinctive oom pah pah of the waltz.
0 My Darling Clementine is probably the most well known and widespread polka mazurka tune used in Australia, and most others are anonymous, handed down tunes. There are many excellent dance tunes of this latter group that have been handed on; some like Daisy’s tune could be no finer for the dance.
Several popular tunes also suit the dance if played in the correct style and include The Ashgrove, Pretty Polly Perkins, Kitty of Coleraine, and The More We Are Together (Oh Der Lieber Augustin). Even the opening strains of Strauss’s Der Fledermaus (The Bat) was used for the dance and more modern tunes including The Umbrella Man, On Mocking Bird Hill and Missouri Waltz.
Tunes with a polka mazurka emphasis were also frequently used in the waltz chain sections of the Alberts and Waltz Cotillion and include the Spanish Waltz (Cachuca) itself, Shamus O’Brian, Starry Night for a Ramble and so on.
Whilst the tempo of the polka mazurka is generally between 52‑54 bars/minute there are other versions of either this dance or a waltz mazurka which require a slower tempo (?? bars per minute). This is particularly so in some parts of N.S.W. where the dance has been ‘flattened’ to use little side steps and a waltz turn instead of the polka hop. It is not certain whether this form has been introduced via the modern ballroom or new vogue style of the 1930s from a Norwegian influence, or from simpler mazurka sequences from dance forms other than the polka mazurka. Either way the tunes are similar, simpler slower.
The Redowa waltz is a ‘hop waltz’ originally from Bohemia or Romania, based on the Redjovak. Whilst it attained some popularity in the nineteenth century it has not survived in living memory, so is difficult to reconstruct.
It consisted somewhat of a pas de basque step to waltz time, although the music has a distinct polka mazurka flavour. Old references to the polka mazurka and varsoviana often refer to the polka turn as the redowa step, so there may have been some similarity. American references say the Redowa Waltz remained popular there for a long time, out eventually smoothed out so that it was little different from their Boston Waltz.
There are many excellent Redowa tunes that can be found in old published music including First Love Redowa, Silver Wreath Redowa, and Dollys Redowa. It seems to have been popular in children’s editions of dance music around the turn of the century.
As the dance did not survive it is hard to know if any collected waltz or mazurka tunes were derived at some stage from the Redowa. Elma Rosels tune The Old Polka Mazurka if not a Redowa , would certainly lend itself to the style.
Redowa music has a tempo of 52 bars/min. but would need to be played much slower for reconstructing and learning the steps. There is a Redowa Polka in 2/4 time and the tune is not unlike the opening strain of Swedish Rhapsody.
The Varsoviana is a dance claimed by many European countries as their own, although it in now generally accepted that it is of Swedish origin. Its name means “Woman of Warsaw and this association with Poland was established in the mid nineteenth century as a show of sympathy by countries such as France and Britain to the Poles, who were oppressed by Russia. It is this show of sympathy that aided the popularity of other related dances such as the mazurka, polka mazurka and Redowa. The Poles maintained the dance had to be theirs as it was really “Warsawienne” after Warsaw. However the Italians claimed it was surely theirs; “La Versuviana” after Mt. Versuvius.
The Australians added to the confusion by quite accidentally corrupting its name to Waltz of Vienna. Most likely the French spelling Varsovienne caused the assumption, but the Varsoviana is neither a waltz of Vienna nor a Viennese waltz although some collected or related forms of varsoviana are known by these names.
The original Swedish folk dance is three part, the final section being a bouncy waltz, It would appear the American version may be a direct folk import from Scandinavia as it has the 3 part section and open extended or upper hold.
It is also likely that the early ballroom version was 3 part and that this was simplified to the current form. The Varsoviana tune listed in the Roche collection of traditional Irish music is also 3 part with the third section marked “tempo di redowa” which would emphasise a bouncy waltz. The varsoviana, like the mazurka, and polka mazurka, only received passing attention in Britain yet was rapidly taken up in the bush in Australia.
In the first instance this would have been the isolated nature of a frontier country causing a new sensation to be gulped up with great enthusiasm. But along with the polka mazurka, schottische(s) and the sets (quadrille) it staunchly lasted for a long time and even perhaps holding a higher place in the bush than the waltz. Amongst the musicians it seemed even more to be held with great vehemence. Most likely its unusual character and dramatic phrasing contributed to this although there was also some connection in a link with an old Varsoviana tune (Silver Lake), the English lyrics of Babes in the Woods, and children who became hopelessly lost in the bush in the Little Desert; and near Daylesford where they tragically perished.
The Varsoviana is in two parts of 8 bars which are repeated to make a 32 bar tune. Part A of the tune is in waltz time with a marked accent and stop or hold every 2nd bar (no waltz vamp) to match the footwork of the dance.
The rhythm is more an even 3 crotchet beat with a pause rather than the oom pah pah of the waltz, and the stops emphasised by either a crotchet rest or sustain. Part 3 is in polka mazurka time with the shops or holds on the vamp every 40 bars. Its tempo is best set at about 52 bars / minute, but on a good floor with appropriate footwear can be taken up to 54 bars/minute, but no more.
In parts of NSW the dance follows the English version which commences with the mazurka section, so the tune is played B‑B‑A‑A.
Harry McQueen maintains the dance (like the Princess Polka) should conclude on part A so the foot is not left in mid‑air, one step into the next beat; thus he plays (A‑A‑B‑B)‑‑A‑A.
There are several well known Varsovianas in published music, including The Silver Lake, Italian Skies, Merry Makers, Tender And True and Hand In Hand.
Additionally Australia is fortunate in having many tunes that have been developed in the aural tradition, including the ubiquitous Babes in the Wood. Others are Johnny Boughton’s tune, Daisy’s Vars, Madge Everard’ s, Frank McNiece’s, Bill McGIashans, Elma Ross ‘Turn Around And Then Stop, Kick Your Leg Up, Little Shoe Black, George Cadman’s etc.
Two well known songs that were originally Varsovianas are Hallelujah I’m a Bum, and Happy Birthday to You. The Nariel Band also converted A Pub With No Beer into Varsoviana time, and this has also been done at times by other players with the well known Spanish Waltz, Mayflower.
The Schottische and the Barn Dance
Schottisch is the German word for Scottish and the addition of the ‘e’ a perpetuation of a mistake in the English adoption of the name . The association with Scottish is quite obscure, however the dance itself is really derived from the German Polka. The original German folk dance was performed at a much slower tempo than the ballroom polka of the day, and it is interesting that a ballroom companion of the 1860’s states that any polka tune played at half speed will suffice for the schottische if appropriate music is not at hand. Authorities differ in assumptions of the Scottish connection, some believing the I’Ecossaise to be the forerunner of the schottische, and that Ecossaise was a French dance based on a belief or interpretation of what a Scottish dance might have been. There is some speculation that both the music and steps of the Scottish Strathspeys are inter‑related with the origin of the Schottische. However the dance is of German origin, not French. Scottish music found favour in Europe at that particular time, and also through Queen Victoria, fostered at the court of England. It may be the overlap of German and Scottish traditions at the Hanoverian Court that in fact holds the clue. Who knows?
The first dance appeared in the ballroom about 1850 and in the first instance was Der Schottisch Polka and the title simplified the Schottische. The original Schottische tune in 2‑4 time was German and played at a slow tempo. (If played up‑tempo it would be no different to a polka.) It may be that Scottish music was favoured for the dance and although a few early Scottish tunes were in 2‑4 time the majority were subsequently written in 4‑4 time with dotted quavers [Ex. dotted quavers], occasionally reversing the rhythm to give the Scottish snap [Ex. dotted quavers], and triplets. This established the typical flavour of the Schottische. Its rhythm has a steady 4 crotchet beat whilst its melody line of dotted quavers and triplets imparts a 6/8 feel and emphasises the step hops of the dance. The tempo ranges from 28 ‑ 32 bars/minute; the top end of the range (30‑32 bars/minute suits the old step‑hopping Schottische, and the lower end (28‑29) bars/min. suits other folk dances such as Uncle Ev’s Barn dance and the Four Sisters’ Barn Dance which need more time for the more involved figurework or stepping.
Popular Schottische tunes included the Rainbow Schottische, Mountain Belle Schottische , Dance of the Honey Bees and the Merry Makers Schottische. Some of the collected Schottisches in Australia are almost certainly derivatives of these. There are many other excellent collected Schottisches that have been handed down from the Nariel Band and players such as Charlie Batchelor, Clem O’Neale and Harry McQueen.
As the dance smoothed out in the twentieth century with gliding style and waltz turns, popular barn dance. music of the day was also commonly used , e.g. Side By Side, Grandfathers Clock etc. New Vogue schottisches (Charmaine, Yvonne Schottische, Venetian Schottische and Excelsior Schottische, Merrilyn) departed from any real recognition or flavour of the original folk dance and hybridised more with the slow foxtrot style, The preferred tempo for these is on the slow side of the range, preferably about 28 bars/min. Although schottische and barn dance tunes can be used, generally it is the slow foxtrot mood of tunes of the 1930s that suit this dance group the best. (Memories Of You, I’m Confessing, White Sport Coat, Love Letters In The Sand, Chloe, Tip Toe Through The Tulips, White Cliffs of Dover).
The Prince Of Wales Schottische is a smooth extended version of the plain schottische arranged to a 12 bar sequence with its own traditional tune.
The Maxina of 1917, although based on an earlier modern dance of Edwardian times the Maxixe, has barn dance or schottische style music. In fact one of’ the earlier forms of Maxina in Australia concluded with the plain schottische prior to its 6 bar waltz (personal communication from Harry McQueen). It has its own tune, the Maxina, which suits it best, and is a 24 bar dance. There are some parts of NSW where the dance has been somewhat truncated and even reduced to a 20 bar sequence which would be a musician’s night mare. This also results in the mutilation of the tune and the disposal of the long waltz finale, which was a feature of the dance.
Support tunes for the Maxina need to be in 24 bar arrangements. Some like Old Black Joe and Everybody’s Doing It are already phrased correctly, and Lily of Laguna can be brought up to 24 bars by adding in the verse.
Other tunes need to have the first strain repeated so that they are played as A‑A‑B. Tunes adapted for the Maxina include The Bells Of Saint Mary’s, The Glory Of Love, Music Box Dancer, Alley Cat, Massa’s In The Cold Cold Ground. Several Australian barn dance/schottische tunes suit the Maxina quite well if played in the A‑A‑B. format. These include The Drover’s Dream, Click Go the Shears and Waltzing Matilda. Waltzing Matilda can even more superbly suit the dance by combining the 8 bars of the Buderim version with either the Gowan or Macpherson originals.
The schottische found ready soil in Scotland to be taken up as a dance accepted as the Scots’ own. The similarity to the strathspey step, and music that lent itself a little to the Scottish snap no doubt facilitated this. Within a short time a Scottish derivative of the schottische evolved incorporating traditional setting steps and flavour. At first the dance was known as the Balmoral, but quickly became dubbed the Highland Schottische. Although ordinary schottische tunes could be used for the Highland Schottische, generally those selected have more direct Scottish ancestry and the endemic Scottish snap incorporated by reversing the occasional dotted quaver [Ex. dotted quaver]. (Refer to the Strathspey example under reels.) A northern English or ‘border’ tune, The Keel Row, has generally become accepted as the signature tune for the Highland Schottische. This is particularly so in Australia. Other typical tunes include Moneymusk, Cawdor Pair, Kafoozalum and the Orange And The Blue. Songs such as the Road to the Isles and Coming Through The Rye suit the dance, and others like Annie Laurie, Loch Lomond and Wee Doc And Doris are fine if converted into Highland Schottische time. The tempo in Australia would generally be the same as for the schottische between 28 and 32 bars/min. bit usually at the top end. Scottish dance bands often play a brisker tempo which almost doubles the time and makes it an even more exhausting dance. (The popularity of the highland schottische resulted in the ordinary schottische being designate the plain schottische to differentiate.)
The dance amongst ordinary Australians evolved into a simplified form which was barely short of the basic Heel And Toe Polka, and which may have caused it to be known as the “Half Highland Schottische” in some circles.
The barn dance is a schottische of American origin where the older plain schottische was modified from the waltz hold to a side by side extended hold, and called the “Military Schottische”. A favourite tune for the Military Schottische was Dancing in the Barn; When introduced into England in 1888 the dance was confused with the name of the tune, and so called the Barn Dance.
Some confusion also with a dance Pas‑de‑quatre led to misinformation on the origins of the barn dance.
Originally it was the hold and not the steps that differed from the plain Schottische, although waltz turns replaced the step hops mentioned earlier. Dancing In The Barn is in 4/4 time and was typical Schottische dotted quavers and triplets and 4 crotchet beat. Other early Barn dance tunes were written in 12/8 time, but the flavour similar to the Schottische. In fact Barn dance and Schottische tunes were virtually interchangeable for the two respective dances. If anything the 4 crotchet rhythm is stronger in the melody line of the Barn dance. However some tunes after the turn of the century particularly emphasised the stepping with the Barn Dance, particularly its ‘kick’ on the 4th beat. Although the melody line might have a minim at the end of the bar, it was played similarly to two tied crotchets, with a final up beat to emphasise the subtle knee lift and kick in the dance 4/4 [Ex. crotchet pattern]. A tune that emphasises this style is All By Yourself In The Moonlight. Over The Garden Wall is similar.
Closer examination of Barn Dance and Schottische tunes as played by traditional old time musicians and bands in Australia will usually reveal this subtle emphasis in old‑style of music. Typical tunes include Castles In The Air, Drover’s Dream, Click Go The Shears. As with Uncle Ev’s Barn Dance and the Four Sisters’ Barn Dance, the slower end of the range (28‑30 bars/min.) suits the old Barn Dance best. Both the Four Sister’s Barn Dance and Uncle Ev’s Barn dance have their own respective tunes and older collected Schottische and Barn dances suit them for support tunes.
The Progressive Barn Dance of 1917 gained momentum In the revival of Old Time Dancing in the 1930’s. More popular evergreen songs from the Gay Nineties onwards suit the progressive form. Its tempo Is generally a little brighter from about 30 bars / min.
Swing Foxtrot dance and 6/8 tunes are also used for the new progressive barn dance, sometimes 3/4 as a novelty, and its character much more modern in the ‘new vogue’ style, compared to the older traditional barn dance. (Compare with tunes recommended for the Charmaine and the Merrilyn.)
Two Step (or Four Step)
The two step is the more sedate or simplified form of the Galop. although its immediate ancestor in the Washington Post. The Washington Post was an unusual American dance made up a year after Sousa’s famous tune of 1694. It lasted only a season or two in Britain and Australia. The dance combined Highland schottische setting steps with two sets of 4 oblique galop chasses, and its hold was unusual in that the lady stood immediately in front of the man. In 1895 he must have had extreme difficulty in avoiding his partners train. The two step concept is derived from the chasse steps of the Washington Post and a change Into the waltz hold.
The Galop had not fallen out of favour until after 1900 and although the date of the appearance of the Two Step is uncertain it could be about 1905, as sequence dance ‑ derivatives The Boston and Military Two steps were out about 3 years after. The Washington Post tune was a Sousa march in 6/8 but the early Two Step like the Galop is in 2/4 time. However, unlike the galop, the Two Step was allied to the syncopated ragtime of the era and the dance In one of its forms finally absorbed into a variation of the foxtrot.
There were several forms of the Two step and one that survives in Australia was also known as the four step which is a more accurate summation of the actual footwork involved. In this form the two step at least in the aural tradition had generally converted to 6/8 tunes of tempo between 56 and 60 bars / min. Example of the those used are Mademoiselle From Armentiers, What’s The With Matter With Father, and Frog Puddles. One tune the Wedderburn Old Timers use is still in 214 time and possibly allied with the older Galop.
Sequence dances to 6/8 music associated with the two step were popular also by 1910 and included the Boston Two step (which has it’s own tune) and the Military Two Step. The latter was popularly danced to tunes with a martial air such as Blaze Away, Repaz and Betty Co‑Ed, whilst., Scottish two‑steps such as the Six Twenty are popular support tunes for the Boston Two step.
Further dances such as The Evening 3 step, Canadian three step and Sparkle two‑step became popular in Australia and danced to typical 6/8 two step tunes mentioned. The Teddy Bears Picnic was a popular Evening ‑three‑step tune in the dance’s early days.
The Evening ‑3‑Step is a derivative of the English eva‑three‑step whose original tune was in ‘Gavotte’ time.
March music at some stage is associated with martial functions and pageantry and the time signatures can vary with different types of music. The main thing is that the beat is well marked (so simpler tunes are best) and at a tempo that affords comfortable marching. The rhythm In simply Rum tum Rum tum. Generally stirring or rhythmically swinging tunes are selected, and national airs popular.
Celtic marches are often in 4/4 time and the tunes developed and moulded over the generations, and hence are anonymous.
Brass Band marches are played at 120 (beats per minute) and generally the tunes are in 6/8 such are Blaze Away Waldemer, Repaz, Liberty Bell, Washington Post or in cut common time such as Under the Double Eagle, Our Director, Colonel Bogey, and Invercargill.
In terms of dance music these were popularly used (particularly during the‑war years for the Lancers Quadrille, which has a martial air about the dance. They have always been popular for couples dances such as the Military Two‑Stop and the Evening‑3‑Step.
Scottish Bagpipe marches are at a slower pace (95‑100) and can include single jigs and reels such as One Hundred Pipers , Bonnie Dundee. Cock o’ the North and Scotland The Brave, Girl I Left Behind Me, and Garry Oven are two Irish tunes popularly used.
The Grand March is a processional parade that developed from the old Polonaise, and First Set of quadrilles or the Parisian Quadrille and sometimes the Circassian Circle, usually as a grand opening event at a ball. It could also be used, led off by a guest or person of honour later in the evening for a parade of costumes (such as fancy dress) for judging competitions and for the removal of masks at a masquerade ball. A later American derivative, the ‘Round Up, was used In a similar way as a mixer and to form up sets at square dances and hoe downs.
Grand March music is in two main forms. The older in 4/4 time at a tempo and Air not unlike the Schottische‑Barn Dance (28‑32 bars per min.) Well known Grand March tunes of this nature include then Sultan’s Grand March, Grant’s Grand March, Aida, and Soldiers of the Queen. In the aural tradition it was popular to play tunes in double time i.e. cut common time or 2/4 and examples include Golden Slippers, Men of Harlech, Scotland the Brave, British Grenadiers, Colonel Bogey. Invercargill and The Girl I Left Behind Me. In both styles of music the dancers marched at normal stepping rather than the slow chasse of the Polonaise.
The March Waltz was the Grand March to Waltz time (a step to the bar) and had limited appeal around the turn of the century. (1890‑1910). There is also a March Waltz in normal and the procession includes a complex serpentine figure and tunnel, then converted into 3/4 time for a waltz‑the‑hall as the finale. This is popular in South Australia and Queensland.