This page contains a list of tunes suitable for stepdancing. Each of them links to a page about that tune. This site is currently under construction, and when complete, each of these pages will contain as many as possible of the following: notes about the tune, a recording, a slow recording, notation, downloadable pdf of the tune, where recordings of the tune can be found.
Theses tunes are of the type that would be used for Dartmoor step dancing. They are particular in that they are straight hornpipes [but need to be played rhythmically] and the second half of the tune is even. This is important, and means that not all hornpipes are good for this of style of stepdancing.
The Gypsy tradition of step dancing is a freestyle tradition. Individuals may copy steps from other dancers or create them from their own experimentation. Any tune may be used, jigs and hornpipes are commonly danced to, with the occasional waltz. These tunes are the ones that Tommy and Jean Orchard most commonly dance to, and are taken from the Orchard Family's album 'Holsworthy Fair - Songs, Tunes and Stepdances from a Devon Gypsy family’. Released by Veteran Records [VT151CD]. Tom, Jean and Ashley Orchard can be heard singing, dancing and playing on the album.
The album notes state, “The Orchards are one of the best known Gypsy families in the West Country and through marriage they are related to other local families including the Birches, the Crockers, the Roberts and the Sanders. Tom, Jean and Ashley play, sing and stepdance in a style which is true to their Gypsy roots. While their repertoire has been gathered over the years from many sources, much has also been handed down through their family networks. Theirs is a robust and important tradition which they are now keen to share with a wider audience and in their hands long may it continue!”
When playing for stepdance competition it is essential that a steady rhythm is kept, and that it's the same for each dancer.
That's less crucial when playing for social stepping, but even then the dancers needs to know what's coming next. There are a small number of tunes that are regularly used for stepdancing, but there's no reason why others could not be used, and no doubt in the past there would be a much wider variety of tunes used.