strathspey Archive: Long or Great Set

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Long or Great Set

Message 19005 · Freeman/Pavey · 24 Oct 1999 22:41:15 · Top

Wow, As someone new to SCD what is a long or great set and how do you
dance a two couple dance in one?

Thanks,
Susan,
Maberly

Long or Great Set

Message 19009 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 24 Oct 1999 23:36:59 · Top

On Sun, 24 Oct 1999, TayHaven wrote:

> Wow, As someone new to SCD what is a long or great set and how do you
> dance a two couple dance in one?

Until the early part of this century, all country 'longways' dances, what
we now call Scottish, English and American contra, were done for as many
people as fit in the room in one long set. For a time in the late 18th &
early 19th century, the top couple started the dance as first couple and
the dancers waited until the that first couple joined them before dancing.
Of course, this practise gave the dancers the opportunity to talk, flirt,
and/or gossip. When they were not dancing together, they might not have
had the privilege of speaking to each other. We no longer have those
social restrictions, we dance more strenuous dances, and we attempt to be
more athletic at a more advanced age. The short set is ideal for Scottish
footwork; however, the longer set is still used in English and contra
dancing, but every other couple starts in a duple minor. If the supporting
couple has little to do, we shorten the sets to keep everyone busy.

The custom of four couple sets as a limit probably came from classes in
which each couple would get a chance to dance twice to learn the dance.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)

Long or Great Set

Message 19010 · Marjorie McLaughlin · 24 Oct 1999 23:58:48 · Top

TayHaven wrote:
>
> Wow, As someone new to SCD what is a long or great set and how do you dance a two couple dance in one?
>

Susan,

Find a friend who enjoys English Country dancing or contra dancing and
they can show you. The "longwise for as many as will" is one of the
earliest forms of country dancing dating from the 17th century. Our four
couple set is a very modern adaptation. As Nicholas pointed out that is
probably due to the contraints imposed by recorded music. Even the
original Scottish Country Dance Society Book 1 from 1924 says "sets are
usually made up of 5 or 6 couples".

Long or great sets are formed as we do today in SCD but, instead of
counting in groups of four couples, the MC asks dancers to take "hands
four" - that is groups of two couples - for a duple minor or two couple
dance, or to take "hands six" - groups of three couples - for a triple
minor or three couple dance. Most of our Scottish country dances would
be triple minors. The "minor" is the small set within the "great" or
long set.

If you start out as first couple anywhere within the long set, you stay
as first couple until you reach the bottom, and if you begin as second
couple you stay as second couple until you reach the top. If the music
continues you then work your way down or up as the other couple. Dances
in this form aren't specific in number of repetitions as our modern
SCDances are. Depending on the length of the set, the mood of the
evening, the music, and the energy of the dancers, the MC determines how
many times the sequence will be repeated and instructs the musicians
accordingly. The same tune is played for each repetition, and the
musicians are cued when the MC decides it's the next to the last time
through.

Triple minors are trickier since the second and third couples alternate
roles on their way up the set, and it's intriguing to me to see Scottish
dancers who perform these roles routinely in a four couple set, become
baffled in an English triple minor.

I appreciate Nicholas' suggestion that we incorporate the long set into
contemporary Scottish Country dancing and it offers the delight of
seeing the whole room dancing simultaneously. But it also raises many
questions about how to handle now-common conventions, not the least of
which is how the music is arranged using multiple tunes and not one
"signature" tune. But it sure solves that pesky modern dilemma - how to
get gracefully to the bottom of the set after the second repetition,
especially when the new third couple is needed immediately.

Marjorie McLaughlin
San Diego, CA

Long or Great Set

Message 19081 · Bryan McAlister · 27 Oct 1999 00:34:02 · Top

In article <3813520D.EC5A2707@rideau.net>, TayHaven <tay@rideau.net>
writes
>Wow, As someone new to SCD what is a long or great set and how do you
>dance a two couple dance in one?
>
>Thanks,
>Susan,
>Maberly
>
>--
>TayHaven <tay@rideau.net>
>
In olden days, as they say, dances were done in long sets, not in groups
of 4 couples, which are a relatively modern invention. Every second
couple starts at once...

however you may have noticed references to particularly eminent couples
leading of the dance suggesting that first couple started and worked
down the set others joining in afterwards.

One point however worth considering is the length of the set. The band
in which I play use a number of long set dances and they get stale if
they go on too long. Maybe 6-8 couples is a good length then no one gets
completely knackered.
Bryan McAlister B Arch RIBA ARIAS
Web page www.bryanmac.demon.co.uk
Mobile phone 07801 793849

Long or Great Set

Message 19083 · Richard L. Walker · 27 Oct 1999 01:59:54 · Top

This topic reminds me of a question I have from time to time but never
remember to ask (until now).

When you have one full set (of four) and only part of another set (but not a
full set), there is a way to "share" dancers (somehow) between the sets to
allow more to dance. Could someone explain how this is done?

Long or Great Set

Message 19084 · Norah Link · 27 Oct 1999 02:20:56 · Top

> From: Richard L Walker
> Sent: October 26, 1999 6:00 PM
>
> When you have one full set (of four) and only part of another
> set (but not a
> full set), there is a way to "share" dancers (somehow)
> between the sets to
> allow more to dance. Could someone explain how this is done?
>

Sounds like you're thinking of the 7-couple set for 3-couple dances. Top 3
couples stay in their set. Bottom 4 couples stay in their set. When the
top couple of the bottom set is standing out, they become 4th couple in the
top set (3rd in the dance) for that repetition only. They then become 1st
couple (as normal) for the bottom set. The active couple in the top set
finish their 2nd round in 3rd place and stay there, becoming 3rd couple for
the new top couple.

Round 1: T1 T2 T3 B1 B2 B3 B4 (T1,T2,T3 dancing & B1,B2,B3 dancing, B4
standing out)
-- -- --
Round 2: T2 T1 T3 B2 B1 B3 B4 (T2 standing out, T1,T3,B2 dancing & B1,B3,B4
dancing)
-- --
Round 3: T2 T3 T1 B2 B3 B4 B1 (T2,T3,T1 dancing & B2,B3,B4 dancing, B1
standing out)
-- -- --

Make sense?

For 5-couple sets, we generally have 4th & 5th couple share their rounds.
Couples 1-3 dance twice and to the bottom. Couple 4 dances once, then stays
in 2nd place to become 2nd couple while Couple 5 (now at the top) gets one
round as 1st couple.

Are there other permutations and combinations for other #'s of couples? I
guess you could find a way to use 6 couples, but it would be less
straightforward than the 5- or 7-couple sets.

Norah Link (Montreal)
norah@cae.ca


Long or Great Set

Message 19085 · Keith Grant · 27 Oct 1999 02:36:57 · Top

Richard L Walker wrote:
>
> This topic reminds me of a question I have from time to time but never
> remember to ask (until now).
>
> When you have one full set (of four) and only part of another set (but not a
> full set), there is a way to "share" dancers (somehow) between the sets to
> allow more to dance. Could someone explain how this is done?
>
> --
> Richard L Walker <rlwalker@granis.net>

What it sounds like you're thinking of is a seven couple set.

Consider a 3 couple dance with a full set immediately below a 3-cpl set.
I'll use T to denote the top set and B to denote the bottom set and numbers
for the original position of the couples, giving

(music) T1 T2 T3 B1 B2 B3 B4

So T1 and B1 start the dance as active couples. After the first time
through, we have

(music) T2 T1 T3 B2 B1 B3 B4

Since B2 are sitting out the 2nd time through (with respect to their own
set), and since T1 and T3 need another couple, they borrow B2 for the 2nd
time through.
B1, B3, and B4 just keep dancing normally.

Following their stint with the top set, B2 immediately become active couple
in the bottom set for the 3rd time through and T2, T3, and T1 (in that
ordering) dance in the top set.

And so it goes. Every time the active couple in the top set starts from 2nd
place, there is an inactive couple at the top of the bottom set that they
borrow. Only the couples reaching 1st postition in the top set or 4th
position in the bottom set get to rest out, requiring a bit of awareness to
resist that temptation to let weight drop onto your heels (voice of having
done the opposite too many times).

...Keith

--

+-----------------------------+-------------------------------------------+
I Keith Eric Grant I Common sense and a sense of humor are the I
I I same thing, moving at different speeds. I
I Atmospheric Science Div I A sense of humor is just common sense, I
I P.O. Box 808, L-103 I dancing. ... Clive James I
I Lawrence Livrmr Natn'l Lab I I
I EMail: keg@llnl.gov I (or perhaps dancing is just common sense) I
I FAX: (925) 422-5844 I I
+-----------------------------+-------------------------------------------+

Long or Great Set

Message 19086 · B. G. Charlton · 27 Oct 1999 02:56:28 · Top

G'Day all,

Richard L Walker writes:

>This topic reminds me of a question I have from time to time but never
remember to ask (until now).

When you have one full set (of four) and only part of another set (but no=
t
a
full set), there is a way to "share" dancers (somehow) between the sets t=
o
allow more to dance. Could someone explain how this is done?<

We fairly often use the 'seven-couple' set, which works quite well for 3
couple dances, though there are some dances where it creates problems, so=

it is advisable to be careful in its use.

The 'first' couples for the first time through the dance are in positions=
1
and 4. At the end of the first time through, the original 5th couple (now=

in 4th place) act as 3rd couple for the original first couple. For the
third time through, the original 2nd and 5th couples start - the original=

first couple staying in third place.

Thus, the original first couple get to dance an extra twice at the end an=
d
the bottom four couples dance the normal number of times, except that the=
y
don't get a rest at the top of their part of the set.

The essential thing to remember is that the top three couples never get
below 3rd place and that the bottom four couples never get above 4th plac=
e.

It is theoretically possible to dance in other odd number configurations
(7, 9, etc), but I have never had the need to do that and I have never
worked it out. Heinz Duewell of the Hunter Valley Branch published an
analysis of this in "The Rant" some years ago and I haven't got beyond a
first read of his analysis.

I hope that I have been clear enough in this explanation, please ask if
there are any points that need clarification.

Brian Charlton,
Sydney, Australia.

Long or Great Set

Message 19087 · Richard L. Walker · 27 Oct 1999 03:28:31 · Top

Thanks for all the answers. I'll try this out sometime.

Long or Great Set

Message 19101 · John P. McClure · 27 Oct 1999 20:44:05 · Top

I think the idea of the "seven couple set", or "borrowing", works for any
number of couples that is of the form 4 + multiple of 3, i.e., for 7, 10,
13, ... couples, but is practical only for the numbers mentioned. Even
there, people usually seem to prefer to arrange 10 couples as two 5 couple
sets, and 13 couples as two 4s and a 5. I don't think the idea works for
9 couples. Also, it only applies to 3 couple dances - although I have seen
people trying to apply it to 2 couple dances!

Regards,

Peter McClure
Winnipeg, MB

Long or Great Set

Message 19108 · cnordj · 28 Oct 1999 04:29:25 · Top

Hello John and all,
Wow, there's a mind-bender.
With seven couples, the couples waiting out at the top and borrowable are:
Round 2: B2
Round 4: B3
Round 6: B4
Round 8: B1
So, with a middle set of three couples, additional borrowing would be:
Round 2: M2
Round 4: M3
Round 6: M1
Round 8: M2 again? Couple M2 would dance all 8 rounds?
Now there's an idea for testing advanced dancers, or youthful ones... :-)
Happy Dancing,
Carol Johnson, LA,CA,USA

On Wed, 27 Oct 1999, "John P. McClure" <joptmc@cc.UManitoba.CA> wrote:
>I think the idea of the "seven couple set", or "borrowing", works for any
>number of couples that is of the form 4 + multiple of 3, i.e., for 7, 10,
>13, ... couples

Long or Great Set

Message 19109 · Richard L. Walker · 28 Oct 1999 04:45:56 · Top

What would that look like if programmed in FORTRAN?

-----Original Message-----
From: cnordj@sprynet.com [mailto:cnordj@sprynet.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 1999 7:29 PM
To: strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
Subject: RE: Long or Great Set

Hello John and all,
Wow, there's a mind-bender.
With seven couples, the couples waiting out at the top and borrowable are:
Round 2: B2
Round 4: B3
Round 6: B4
Round 8: B1
So, with a middle set of three couples, additional borrowing would be:
Round 2: M2
Round 4: M3
Round 6: M1
Round 8: M2 again? Couple M2 would dance all 8 rounds?
Now there's an idea for testing advanced dancers, or youthful ones... :-)
Happy Dancing,
Carol Johnson, LA,CA,USA

On Wed, 27 Oct 1999, "John P. McClure" <joptmc@cc.UManitoba.CA> wrote:
>I think the idea of the "seven couple set", or "borrowing", works for any
>number of couples that is of the form 4 + multiple of 3, i.e., for 7, 10,
>13, ... couples

Long or Great Set

Message 19115 · John P. McClure · 28 Oct 1999 18:37:46 · Top

Good point about M2 in a ten couple set; another instance of the potential
for exhausting people in _long_ sets. Dare I say, another point in favour
of 3 couple sets for 2 couple dances?

Regards,

Peter McClure
Winnipeg, MB

Seeking Don Bartlett

Message 19116 · Etienne Ozorak · 28 Oct 1999 21:20:37 · Top

I would be grateful if someone could send me pianist Don Bartlett's
telephone number. Reply in private to: etozorak@toolcity.net

Etienne Ozorak

Long or Great Set

Message 19209 · Kent Smith · 2 Nov 1999 01:03:13 · Top

Sorry to be tagging onto this so late, but one of our dancers has pointed
out a variation for the last of the 8 times through in a 7-couple set.
Using Norah's nice notation, the seventh time through is:

-- --
Round 7: T1 T2 T3 B4 B1 B2 B3 (T1,T2,T3 dancing & B4,B1,B2 dancing, B3
standing out)
This is the third time T1 is the leading couple.
-- -- --
If you continue the pattern, T1 will be active for the fourth time and B1
will have the privilege of being "borrowed" for the first time:
Round 8: T2 T1 T3 B1 B4 B2 B3 (T1,T3,B1 dancing & B4,B2,B3 dancing, T2
standing out)
-- -- --
One simple alternative to share the pleasure in the top set is for T1 to
remain in second place, but T2 takes the leading role:

Round 8A: T2 T1 T3 B1 B4 B2 B3 (T2,T1,T3 dancing & B4,B2,B3 dancing, B1
standing out, never having been borrowed)
-- -- --

The alternative our dancer suggests is for T1 and T2 to arrange for T1 to
end in top place and T2 in second place and for T2 to take the last turn,
borrowing B1. That undoing the progression works easily in some dances and
with some flurry in others. Either alternative for sharing is a good
alternative for T1 if they are in the "graying set" and it's an exuberant
dance.

Round 8B: T1 T2 T3 B1 B4 B2 B3 (T2,T3,B1 dancing & B4,B2,B3 dancing, T1
standing out having taken the lead 3 out of the 8 times)
-- -- --

As long as it's a dance that doesn't begin with all three couples dancing,
the selection of variations only involves communication among the top three
couples.

Kent Smith
Connecticut

Long or Great Set

Message 19246 · cnordj · 3 Nov 1999 22:34:44 · Top

Yes, I too would like to see 3-couple sets for 2-couple dances. So often I see
people's faces saying "you mean I have to do that AGAIN?" when their third round comes
up. (My reply is so late because of the really neat Asilomar weekend --
congratulations, RSCDS-San Francisco.)

On Thu, 28 Oct 1999, "John P. McClure" <joptmc@cc.UManitoba.CA> wrote:
>Good point about M2 in a ten couple set; another instance of the potential
>for exhausting people in _long_ sets. Dare I say, another point in favour
>of 3 couple sets for 2 couple dances?

Long or Great Set

Message 19249 · Norah Link · 3 Nov 1999 23:44:02 · Top

>
> Yes, I too would like to see 3-couple sets for 2-couple
> dances. So often I see
> people's faces saying "you mean I have to do that AGAIN?"
> when their third round comes
> up. (My reply is so late because of the really neat Asilomar
> weekend --
> congratulations, RSCDS-San Francisco.)
>

Well, I for one GENERALLY like 4-couple sets for these dances because I like
having the entire line dancing at the same time. Of course, this doesn't
work too well in crowded halls for some dances that need a lot of room (any
dance with Petronella, for example).

At the same time, I see no reason why people should feel obliged to exhaust
themselves if they find they don't want to do the 3rd round. We should all
be considerate enough as 4th couple to allow a couple to say "sorry, we've
had enough!". Okay, so it can be a bit boring to stand out yet another
round of the dance. But to me it's an adequate trade-off. (It can also be
a chance to finish that cross-set conversation you had going with your
partner!)

Maybe the MC can take a moment to test how the crowd is feeling before
having the sets counted off? (this assuming, of course, that you won't be
destroying the band's wonderful arrangement of 8x through - or let them play
it anyway, and enjoy a couple of extra rounds!)

Just my $.02.

Norah Link (Montreal)

Borrowing

Message 19111 · ferguson · 28 Oct 1999 11:48:28 · Top

We read:
> Wow, there's a mind-bender.

"Borrowing" is simple: it works for any number of 3-couple sets and
one 4-couple set forming one long row (but usually you have just 7,
rarely 10 couples). Dancers stay in their own set; no "stepping
down" to 4th place except in the 4C set at the bottom.

On the first and all odd rounds, three couples of each set are
dancing, the 4th couple of the bottom set stands idle.

On the even rounds, the top couple of the row stands idle, and
each other set "lends" its top couple to the set above, where they
end in 3rd place of the dance, and immediately become the 1st
couple for the next round in their own set.

If the dance is 8 times through, the 1st couple in each 3C set twice
dances as 1st couple twice through.

Eric
Eric T. Ferguson, van Dormaalstraat 15, 5624 KH EINDHOVEN, Netherlands
tel: +31-40-243 2878 fax: +31-40-246 7036 e-mail: e.ferguson@antenna.nl

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