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re: sher questions

I will toss my couple of cents in on this one. I am currently working with 
Steve recreating music to go along with the Workmen's Circle sher that he 
collected last summer with Deb Strauss and first presented at this past years 
KlezKamp. First some general background on sher;

Each town would have its own medley for sher, see Zev's article on the Bulgar 
for some of the rules. Basic breakdown is that once melodic material is used 
it cannot be used again. Almost all sher dances figures us 32 beat (16 bars in 
2/4, be this 8 bars that are repeated or a 16 bar segment). If you find that 
there are extra beats, you have found a sher with an added dance figure. 
Example, second section of the Phily Sher, and I think it should happen every 
32 beat area. It is bow music, and I think that it should occur everytime a new 
person goes out to lead, but that is just my theory, and this is the first 
time that I am presenting it to anyone.

The key to sher is that the music and the dance must stay in sync. When 
playing or dancing sher one should be able to hear the cues for the dancers as 
when major changes in the figures to the dance are taking place.

To add to and change the basic rules, the WC sher is in a verse chorus 
relationship. The chorus is always the same music, but each verse is different. 
after the 8 verses are played, there are two concluding elements to the way 
the dance was done according to the informant.

To give an example of the amount of music that is needed for the average 
sher, there are 8 people, each dancing with everyone else. (32 beats per 
relationship, of which there are 24 relationships. That is 768 beats or 384 
bars in 2/4 
time). Plus one has the group dancing which if it is a dance where this is 
done in a 32 beat section is still done 8 times (256 beats or 128 bars in 2/4 
time). Which makes a short sher, 512 bars long in 2/4 time. Or a slightly 
sher like the WC sher has 768 bars of music. These examples are all computed 
without repeats, so divide by another two if all the sections of the music are 
8 bar sections in 2/4 repeated. (If one is lazy with the bar lines, one could 
write out a sher in 4/4 cutting the numbers of bars in half, while still 
keeping the relationship of beats to musical sections the same.) 

Now can we see why musicians loved playing the sher in the old country when 4 
couples would pay them to play this long dance. [Maybe one of the reasons 
that the sher was almost lost in this county is that the weddings weren't long 
enough for enough groups of couples to each be able to do the sher.]

Roger, I hope this confuses the issue even more. The only way to really check 
and make sure everything is kosher with a sher is to get out your Arthur 
Murray footprints and dance along to the music. (And you better hope that you 
the right footprints to go along with that version of the sher.)

Matt Temkin

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