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Square Dance Music

Tulika Nair
A folk dance that can be exactly what is needed at a social gathering, square dancing can be a lot of fun, especially if you have the right type of square dance music as an accompaniment.
Originating in the 17th century, square dance was inspired by dances like quadrille and Morris dance. While the traditional type of square dancing remains popular, the dance has been innovated upon and modernized over the course of time.
This dance is popular not only in Europe (especially countries like France and Europe) but has a huge fan following in the United States where it is the official dance of almost 19 states. A dance with a fast pace, this form of dancing is extremely popular at societal gatherings and huge parties because of the amount of interaction it demands.

Square Dance: An Overview

If you have ever been to a social get together where the square dance is being danced, you'd know that this dance is always danced by 4 couples who position themselves to form a square. When you start and finish the dance, you end at the original formation of a square. Two of the couples are designated as the head couple and the other two as the side couple.
When the couples dance, there is someone known as the square dance caller who is responsible for calling out the names of various steps and moves that the dancer should perform. The dancers are directed as the dance music plays by the caller.
The traditional form of square dancing is known as old time square dance and this style was hugely influenced by regional styles and trends. There are some traditional square dance styles that are still danced in parts of the world. This is especially true for the New England and Appalachian form of dancing that has been documented very well.
Traditionally square dancing served as an alternate between rounds of freestyle dancing and contra dances. It served as a break from other form of dances. The modern form of square dance is more popularly known as the Western square dance.
It is also known as contemporary Western square dance, modern Western square dance, or even modern American square dance. It was in the late 1930s and early 1940s that some form and basis was defined for modern square dance. This was in attempt to preserve the folk dancing tradition of America.

Music for Square Dancing

The type of music that plays for square dance depends on the style of square dance. Depending on traditional square dance or modern Western square dance, the kind of music played will differ. For traditional form of square dancing, generally traditional folk music will be played.
The popular music includes music from Canada, Scotland, Ireland, and England. The music that is played is generally live music and the instruments used include banjos, guitars, fiddles, etc.
Modern Western square dance does not restrict the type of music played and is more all-encompassing, and therefore, is you witness such a dance you will notice that the music played is varied from pop to country to rock, musicals, contemporary music, and even techno, everything finds space in square dance music.
The only thing to be kept in mind is the pace of the music which needs to be around 120 - 128 beats per minute as that is the speed at which the dance is done.
While choosing music for square dance, it may be a good idea to take into account the skill of your dancers.
With experienced dancers, you can choose an extremely fast pace of music but with beginners it may be a good idea to choose songs that have a slightly slow pace, so that they can get used to the music and the idea of the calls. Don't choose songs from the genre but mix them up with songs from different styles so that the audience can enjoy a large variety.
There are many record labels that actually specialize in producing music for square dance and focus on this type of music. You could also choose to visit a couple of websites that allow you to download music meant specially for square dancing.
At any social gathering, the biggest problem can be if there is some sort of lull and boredom that creeps in. Square dancing to the right type of square dance music can be exactly what you need to ensure that your gathering never slips into that space.