fff2.at has some examples.


Conventions for abbreviations

Please see the page Friends of Zwiefacher for more detailed information such as email address or homepage ...

What is a Zwiefacher?

The Zwiefacher is a category of dances with changing rhythm. There are some hundreds of patterns and some/most?/all? of the different patterns have a text to easily remember the pattern.

In Austria there is only about a dozen of patterns common.

The "Alte Kath" for example is a special tune with a special text and a special pattern. And it belongs to the category (!) "Zwiefacher".

From the Lehrbehelf für Volkstanzleiter:

Zwiefache gehören zu den Werbetänzen. Zwiefache sind taktwechselnde Rundtänze, wobei es regelmäßige und unregelmäßige Taktwechsel gibt.

Please see Elisa's definition as well.

Is Zwiefacher Austrian or German?

I think it comes from Bavaria (Germany) but many people in Austria like it, especially the advanced dancers.

From the Lehrbehelf für Volkstanzleiter:

Das Kerngebiet des Zwiefachen liegt in Niederbayern und in der Oberpfalz.

The History

From the Lehrbehelf für Volkstanzleiter:

Man glaubt, daß bereits Mitte des 16. Jhdt. taktwechselnde Tänze bekannt und gebräuchlich sein müssen, da sie des öfteren in Lautenbüchern dieser Zeit auftauchen. Leider fehlen dazu Zeugnisse der Tanzart.

Die Blütezeit des Zwiefachen muß vor dem 19. Jhdt. liegen.

In English:
It is said that there must have been dances with changing rhythm since the midth of the 16 th century. The heydays of the Zwiefacher must have been before the 19 th century.

Please see Elisa's comment as well.

Resources in English

See below.


Lehrbehelf für Volkstanzleiter

"Sänger- und Musikantenzeitung" 27. Jahrgang, Heft 1

In der "Sänger- und Musikantenzeitung" 27. Jahrgang, Heft 1, ist ein Artikel "Die Zwiefachen" von Karl Horak. Er schreibt unter anderem: Einige wenige Zwiefache sind ... aus dem mittleren Schwarzwald bekannt, ... ebenso aus den deutschen Sprachinseln in Mähren, Schönhengst und Kuhländchen ... Der Beethoven-Biograph Anton Schindler berichtet, daß er in den Wienerwalddörfern um 1830 noch Tänze gesehen hat, in welchen der Dreivierteltakt plötzlich in einen Zweivierteltakt überging.

Lists of Zwiefache

Singing Zwiefache

From Elisa's page:
They [i.e. Zwiefache] are often accompanied by words [...] which help to show where the changes are located.
I have collected some (traditional) folk songs in German language and some of them are Zwiefache:

Examples of Zwiefache

's Luada

This Zwiefacher contains a part which is commonly called a Boarischer in Austria. The Boarischer is a category of Austrian folk dance and very similar (I would say identically) to the category Scotish in e.g. French folk dancing (e.g. dances from the Bretagne).

In Austria this is a big exception from the rule. The rule is: The Zwiefachen are danced with simple turning.

Die Alte Kath

"Die Alte Kath" is standard German; in dialekt it would be spoken "Die oide Kath" or "D' oide Kath" or "Die olte Kath" or something like this ...

's Suserl

Gickerl wannst net krahst

Standard German: Gockelhähnchen (?), wenn Du nicht krähst, ...

Wer den net kann

Standard German: Wer den nicht kann; this means "Who is not able to do this one ...". The text of the song is making jokes about the dancers who are not able to dance this - rather complicated - Zwiefachen.

How to play a Zwiefachen

From Elisa's page:
Zwiefache sheet music written in the traditional way (traditionellen Zwiefachennotierung) is not played the same as modern sheet music. What I mean by this is that traditional Zwiefache sheet music the 3/4 time measures the quarter note is played like a quarternote, and in 1/4, 2/4, or 4/4 time measures, the 1/8 note is played as long as a quarternote. If you have Zwiefache sheet music, check it out before you play it.

How to dance a Zwiefachen

From Elisa's page:
Another common misconception is about the flow of this dance. It is actually a stationary dance, with the best dancers in Germany boasting that they can dance in a small area. Many people ask me where I know this from. There are multiple sources, I have included two here for the skeptical. One was a folkdance teacher from Germany who taught at a workshop I attended, and that was how he illustrated the dance, and another is a passage from a book about dances that says:

"Ubrigens: Schlechte Zwiefachen-Tänzer erkennt man daran, daß sie wie der Blitz über die Tanzfläche rasen und hin- und herschwanken; gute daran, daß sie ruhig fast auf der Stelle tanzen."

which translates approximately to

"BTW: One can recognize poor Zwiefache dancers by the way they race like lightning over the dance floor and totter here and there; the good ones are those that dance quietly almost in one place."

- Tanz rüber, tanz nüber, Kurt Becher, Bayerischen Landesverein für Heimatpflege e.V.

I would agree and add that this is true for polka as well. Some people would not believe it ...

However, I saw that the Bavarians are dancing it more stationary than we [the Austrians] do. Although we are doing it rather stationary as well. (I would say that Austrain traditional folk dancing in general it more based on turning than on moving ahead.)

Zweifacher or Zwiefacher and spelling?

"Zwiefacher" is the common term as I know it.

I could not find the word "Zweifacher" in the German dictionary by Wahrig and I've never heard the word "Zweifacher", however, in Wahrigs dictionary I found the term "Zwiefaltiger" as well, which I've never heard before neither ... ;-)

From Elisa's page:

Now that you know what the dance is, do you know how to spell and pronounce it? The pronunciation and spelling of this dance is often in error. It is correctly spelled zwiefacher (or zwiefache or zwiefachen based on case), and pronounced "zwee-facher" not "zwii-facher". The prefix "zwie" has the implication of duality, one entity with two aspects, rather than "zwei" which means the number two and implies two separate entities.

Zwiefacher, Zwiefache, Zwiefachen, ...

Some comments on German Grammar. - Just for the EXTREMELY interested people!

Please see Elisa' s hints as well.

In German the 4 different grammatical cases have specific endings but the question is, if this should (and could) be transformed into other languages. The following examples shall demonstrate the principle, however, I do not think that it is very important and sometimes in English for me it sounds better to use the "wrong" form ;-)

Examples for the 4 German cases (in singular):

(If you just changed the German words to the corresponding English ones and you don't mind if it makes sense, you'll get the following examples. - Just to give you an impression how it would be correct in German.)

Of course there are also forms if you have more than one "Zwiefachen" (here "Zwiefachen" is 4th case singular, for example).

A complete table ...


1. der Zwiefache 2. des Zwiefachen 3. dem Zwiefachen 4. den Zwiefachen


1. die Zwiefachen 2. der Zwiefachen 3. den Zwiefachen 4. den Zwiefachen

Singular (no Plural)

1. ein Zwiefacher 2. eines Zwiefachen 3. einem Zwiefachen 4. einen Zwiefachen

Examples of usage ...

I do not know of rules about the usage of the word "Zwiefacher" in English and I think my opinion depends on the extent an English sentence reminds me of the German eqivalent. So the following list is rather subjective and I'd like to hear your opinion.

Again, I do not think that it is really important to know of German Grammar if someone wants to talk about Zwiefache in English, however, it might be fun to confuse people with using different forms of this word.

What form to choose?

There seem(!) to be some rules:

If you want to do it correct

Then you have to choose between (See above.)

If you want to do it simple

I think (just my opinion!) you can avoid the form "Zwiefachen" and then you have to choose between The form "Zwiefachen" is substituted with "Zwiefacher" or "Zwiefache" according to singular or plural. It seems that substituting the (singular!) form "Zwiefachen" with "Zwiefache" does not sound nice since it sounds as if the word were feminine which is a bit confusing.

If you want to do it very simple

If you liked to use just one form, I'd recommend I think this is better than "Zwiefache" in most cases but you should avoid sentences where you want to talk about a number of Zwiefache such as "Zwiefache are dances ..." To use the singular form would sound a bit strange here ...

The revolutionary choice: zwiefach ;-)

I would not be surprised if sometimes in the future this dance will be simply called a "zwiefach" in English and - in my humble opinion - I see this as being rather consistent with the English language and not too shocking for us German speakers: The relation between the two words seems to be similar to the relation between the English word "waltz" and the German word "Walzer". Even the plural form "zwiefachs" could be easily built.

However, I do not know if this has advantages in pronounciation ... Any comments?

A request, concerning Zwiefache ...

I got the following request, concerning "Zwiefache". If anybody can give some hints, I will put it on this page.
The music isn't easy to get in Seattle,
So I've got the old Otto Ebner EPs,
which don't fit my CD player too well, and two CDs.  If you know of sources
for others, I'd appreciate knowing. (especially; has the Ebner music made it
onto CD?)

Sigi Ramstötter und die Teisendorfer Tanzlmusi have a pair of fairly
difficult Zweifachers on their CD, along with Weiss Blau.  Mary Lea has an
easy one, Nüdeli, (PPWW) and a difficult one, Zwei Kapellan, on her Cascade
of Tears CD, recorded in USA.  Unfortunately Cascade of Tears is a
"Romantic" CD, so the melody line is carried by a piano, the folkdance 
(cheap) sound systems barely let it be heard.  Oboe, violin and flute
accompany, making the tunes sound wonderful, except they sound like they
escaped the bier garten for the castle tea room and lost most of their souls
somewhere along the way.

The only Zweifacher I have ever found on tape is "Bim Bam Bellala +
Saulocker" by Le P'tit Blanc, a French group.

Both Zwei Kapellan & Bim Bam Bellala have a part that sounds like a Scottish
two step or an open Reinlender.  Do German Zweifachers include such parts,
and if they do, are they danced turning or in some other formation?

Arrangements from Munich

Date: Sun, 22 Jun 1997 09:19:49 -0400
From: Joe Niemczura <josephn@acadia.net>

here is some information which musicians will be
interested in: I got my arrangements of Zwiefachermusik from:

Bayerischer Landesverein fur Heimatpflege e.V.,
Ludwidtrasse 23 Rgb, 
8000 Munchen 22.

The arrangements are titled: Zwiefache aus der Oberpfalz, consisting of
parts for 12-piece brass band ( with score suitable for accordion). the cost
was approx $30(US). This may have changed. The tunes included:Bohmischer
Winde,Saulocker, Seidas Fuata,Eisenkeilnest, Habervogl, Der Finkler,
Bachmuhlert, Eichelober, Schellen-Neuner, Aoanzigs Hendl, Neun Dorfer,
Wintergrun, and Schubkarren. ( my computer doesn't add German punctuation
such as umlauts, sorry)

Another request ...

I am interested in obtaining other collections of this music, for brass
band.  ( we do have an accordionist so it would be great if a score with
chords were included). any suggestions as to where to get such arrangements? 

Resources about Zwiefache

Please see the section about literature as well.

Internet resources

Resources in German language

English resources

Sorry, there are very few English resources and I have even problems to give you German resources. (However, you can ask the many institutions.)

Books, tapes, CDs

The pages of Elisa list the titles of many books & tapes & CDs and the publisher and the names of the dances/songs included. There are many there which contain Zwiefache, and the contents at the top is coded to indicate which.

See as well ...


I've collected the information above with the help of some people and I want to thank them: Maybe this list will be shortened later when it will be obvious that someone must have contributed information to the page ... ;-)