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New work for Forbes Town & District Band completed!

I've just finished writing a commissioned work for the Forbes Town & District Band (central NSW). It's a medley of folk tunes collected by local dance musician Harry Schaefer. Harry was born in 1876 and died in 1954 and kept handwritten books of tunes he used for dances. Many of these were popular tunes of the time and traditional songs, but some were tunes he heard other bush musicians play. It's yet to be officially named, but I'm going with 'Schaefer's Old Time Dances' for now. 

There was a lot of material to choose from and I spent time in January researching suitable melodies. Firstly they had to suit being played on wind and brass instruments for players around a level 2 - 2.5 standard. They had to be interesting for the player and the listener. Finally they had to be free from copyright. So, then the task was to create a medley with contrasting ideas from those tunes that fit the criteria.

I've used five tunes - first a well known Scottish Air 'Will Ye No Come Back Again' that introduces itself in a traditional way before being given a faster bush dance backing and a style change to a 'strathspey'. It's this very untraditional style that appears in Harry's notebook. An interesting feature of his arrangement of the melody is sections have been repeated presumably to suit the steps of the dance he used it for. You certainly wouldn't sing it this way. Next is a waltz section that uses two almost unknown Australian Bush tunes - 'Echuca Waltz' and 'Schaefer's Waltz'. These would have been performed very rarely since Harry played them. A 6/8 section follows to the tune 'Going To Scotland'. After sometime researching on the internet, Harry's notebook is the only place I could find this name for this piece. Around the world this traditional folk dance tune has a number of other names, different dance steps and is played at different tempos. Some very conservative and others more like a Jig. One feature that is common to all was a deep bow from a dancer or dancers nearing the end of the tune. I've done my best to add a bit of 'Aussie larrikin' behaviour at this point! The finale is a fast tune in 2/4 that Harry simply names 'One Step' - a popular dance of American origin from the early 20th century.

Good luck with it Forbes Town & District Band! I hope you enjoy it!

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