The Barn Dance

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      From Illustrated Sydney News  8 August 1889

      The music is provided by various members of the company who perform on the tuneful concertina; and the extras are given by a miner who has brought his beloved fiddle along with him. The concertina is par excellence the music of the provinces, as it is of the forcastle. It is not patronised to any appreciable extent by the lasses, who prefer the piano that Daddy buys them after a ‘good year;’ but every gay young spark in the district has his concertina. Not unfrequently the performers on these instruments exhibit a rare talent for drawing music from what, to most ears, sounds almost as wild a source as the bagpipes, and many a country dance would be a thing unknown but for the unassuming ‘screamer.’ In fact too much can hardly be said in praise of this little instrument; it is delightfully portable, and, in a district where all the travelling is done on horseback, that is the chief consideration. Then it is easy to learn, and repays in a short time all the trouble expended on it: the aspiring musician has not time to tire of his art before he is able to launch forth into the intricacies of ‘Belle Mahone’ and ‘Jack Sheppard.’ Cases are very numerous, where a young farmer, after a trip to Sydney and a visit to the Opera, returns with his brain stocked with every aria in the piece; and he forthwith produces them one and all on his concertina, adapting them to waltz, march or polka time as the occasion requires. Such a young man is regarded as a public benefactor by the surrounding population. In a wonderfully short space of time the whole country round rings with the more or less mutilated melodies that he has introduced.

      Barn Dance

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