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The Zwiefacher (German pronunciation: [ˈtsviːfaxɐ]) is a southern German folk dance with a quick tempo and changing beat patterns.


The Zwiefacher is danced primarily in Bavaria, especially Lower Bavaria, Hallertau and Upper Palatinate; it is also known in the Black Forest, Austria, Alsace, the Czech Republic and Sudetenland.


The first documented usage of the word Zwiefach was in 1780. It loosely translates as "two times" or "double". Although this may be indicative of the two different time signatures, it is believed that the title refers to the couple being tightly wound against each other, a departure from earlier traditions. The dance is still known by various other names in different regions, such as Schweinauer, Schleifer, Übern Fuaß, Mischlich, Grad und Ungrad, Neu-Bayerischer and, above all Bairischer (meaning Farmer Dance a name sometimes confused with the Bavarian Polka).

The number of different names for the same dance should not be surprising, the dance is older than the modern German language. Nor should one be surprised that the tunes themselves have multiple names. One German dance researcher, Felix Hoerburger, catalogued 112 different Zwiefacher tunes with 474 different names.[1]


The Zwiefacher alternates between odd and even time signatures, changing from 3 to 2 beats per bar. The changes may occur regularly - for example, two measures per time signature, may change only once or may change irregularly throughout. Early Zwiefachers were played before the modern bar line was invented.


The couple turns very quickly in a closed position, similar to the Waltz. Physically, the rhythmic shift looks like a change from normal waltz steps to drehersteps (pivots), occasionally also to polkasteps.


Lyrics were often created as a mnemonic device to help learn Zwiefachers melodies by heart. This led to many songtexts for the same melodies. New lyrics are still sometimes used together with old melodies, as in the McDonald's parody "Hunger kriag I glei" by "Bayrisch-Diatonischer Jodelwahnsinn" which uses the same music as the Suserl-Zwiefache.

Examples in European classical music[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Die Zwiefachen, Gestaltung und Ungestaltung der Tanzmelodien am nördlichen Altbayern, 1956

External links[edit]