It's very hard to dance without music, and Morris is no exception. Music is a very important part of Morris dancing, and every side has at least one, or in some cases a large number of, musicians. Playing the tunes is only a part of the musicians task, making them danceable is another skill that requires practice with the dancers and a knowledge of what gives tunes that Cotswold lift.
In looking for ways to celebrate our 50th back in 2020, we produced a book recounting the origins of the team and a photo album of team members over that 50 year period. To complement those, we produced a compilation of tunes for all the dances we had performed, or at least attempted, over the 50-odd years plus guidance notes on the art of playing for dancing.
We realise that the best way to learn dance tunes is to listen to the experienced musicians and to practice with the dance team, so reading scores is probably not everyone’s tankard of ale, but having this reference book will prove helpful in reminding yourself of old tunes and remembering the quirks that go with each dance.
After many hours of listening to tunes, editing and and re-writing much of the text, Version 14 of our Musicians’ Handbook is ready and can be downloaded below. With well over 100 changes, a set of comprehensive indexes including a new one of dance name synonyms, sets of notes for musicians where tunes have peculiarities that are needed to fit the dance, we hope you will find this new version helpful.