When walking through a Cotswold village in summer, you can often hear the sound of music; the homegrown variety of sticks and flutes, maybe even a violin or accordion. You know then you can expect to find a Morris dance side performing nearby. The music for Morris dancing has probably changed over the years but not that much. Historically you would expect to hear the music for Morris dancing played by a tabor and pipe, both capable of producing the rhythm required for Morris dancing but now we can find the accordion, violin and flutes setting the timing and rhythm. This rhythm surprisingly is not something any musician can play; there is a requirement to know the dance steps as they use complex formulas to set the rhythm. Most of Morris dancing music, like the dances, are lively, foot tapping, ‘let’s join in’ type music. Some modern Morris sides have introduced more goth type dances with stronger rhythms, using the drum which is not usually an instrument of choice for Morris dancing. The Beltane Fire Dance, which is performed by the Beltane Border Morris side is an example of this more dark, paganistic and rowdy Morris dance. Also, the music that accompanies it complements the dance with its rhythmic drum beats contrasting with the sticks. While a more modern interpretation of Morris dancing, it brings with it a sense of a time long lost to the mists, of magic and Druids, powerful and strong.
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