Lots Of Stuff About Modules

Barry Clasper (barry@clasper.ca)
Last Update
2023-04-18 12:08:15
This summary article aggregates a great deal of material on the use of modules in square dance choreography. Modules provide a powerful mechanism for creating and presenting square dance choreography and they are a tool that all callers need to be familiar with. This article provides a brief overview of what modules are, an introduction to the terminology involved, and pointers to many other sources of information.
Introduction To Modules (click to view)
What Are Modules?

A module is a pre-written series of calls that performs some known transformation of the square. Perhaps the most familiar example is a singing call figure, which transforms a Static Square (SS) where everyone is at their original home position with their partner to Static Square where each man is at home with his original corner. Modules also can be used to achieve more granular changes in the square, for example: chaining the ladies, moving from one formation to another, changing sequence, etc.

A module will start from a specific square situation (Formation, Arrangement, Sequence, Relationship – FASR) and end in another specific square situation (FASR). The starting and ending FASRs may be the same or different, but the essential point is they are known ahead of time. In practice, most modules are designed around a few particular FASRs, which are described below. Some of the names given to these familiar FASRs have changed over time. In the titles below, the most current terminology is given first with its common abbreviation, but older terms for the same FASR are listed after it so that you can interpret documents written before the current terminology came into use.

Static Square (SS) / Zero Square (ZS)
All dancers standing in their home positions. Commonly SS means standing in their original home positions (as they squared up), but ZS can also be used for square that has been rotated, for example by a bucket stir module.
Corner Box (CB) / Zero Box (ZB) / Box 1-4
This FASR is the 8-chain formation obtained by having Heads (or Sides) Square Thru 4 from a Static Square (SS). You will often see the function of such a module indicated with something like “SS to CB”.
Right-Hand Lady Box (RLB) / Across The Street Box
This is the 8-chain formation obtained by having Heads/Sides Square Thru 2 from SS.
Partner Line (PL) / Zero Line (ZL) / 1P2P
This FASR is facing lines of 4, normal arrangement, all with original partner, in sequence. It’s what you get from a SS when you have Heads/Sides Lead Right, Circle to a Line.
Types Of Modules

Modules are categorized according the nature of the transformation they apply to the square.

Conversion Modules
Conversion Modules transform the square from one FASR to another. They come in several flavors:
Getins move the square from its current FASR to the FASR required to start a particular module. Most common are Getins that do SS to CB or SS to PL transformations.
A Getout moves the square from its current FASR to a resolved square. Commonly they start from CB or PL FASRs.
CB to PL
Converts a Corner Box to a Partner Line
PL to CB
Converts a Partner Line to a Corner Box
Rotates the formation, typically 90 degrees. For example, from facing lines, Pass Thru, Bend the Line (note: this particular example also reverses the sequence).
Inverts the centers and ends. For example, from a CB created from SS by Heads Square Thru 4: Star Thru, Pass Thru, Bend The Line, Star Thru creates another CB but the Heads are now on the outside and the Sides in the center. This particular example also rotates the square, so this module is often termed an “Invert and Rotate”.
A Zero is a module that returns the square to the same FASR it started with. As with Conversion modules, Zeros come in several types:
Geographic Zeros
Returns each dancer to the exact footprints they started in.
True Zeros
Returns the square to the same FASR, although dancers may not be in the same exact footprints. For example, from Ocean Waves, All 8 Circulate Twice results in the same FASR, but all dancers are on the other side of the formation from where they started.
Fractional Zeros
A module that becomes a zero after multiple repetitions. A module that becomes a zero after being executed twice is termed a “Half Zero”. A “One Third Zero” must be executed three times, a “Quarter Zero” 4 times, etc.
Technical Zeros
Are zeros only when certain conditions are met (for example, boys and girls must be in the same sequence state – both in, or both out).
An Equivalent module is a series of calls that duplicates the action of a call or another module. For example, from any facing couples: Pass Thru and Partner Trade, is equivalent to Right and Left Thru.
One hopes that any module would exhibit good flow, but sight callers in particular often talk about Flow Modules. The term refers to a series of calls known to create a pleasurable dancing pattern and that may be inserted without having a complete understanding of the starting FASR. Typically, knowing the starting Formation and Arrangement is sufficient – often only the Formation. Similarly, the resulting FASR is not known completely either, usually only to the degree the starting FASR was understood.

Hanging Modules On a Framework

A Framework is merely another sort of module that is used to provide some structure to the use of other modules. It is a module which provides a number of opportunities for inserting other types of modules to create a wide variety of sequences.

The most famous Framework is called “Chicken Plucker” and it is taught in most caller schools. Chicken Plucker is a Half Zero that starts in an Eight-Chain formation. Starting in the Eight-Chain formation, one version of Chicken Plucker is:

Right and Left Thru, Dive Thru, Centers Pass Thru.

Repeating this a second time returns the dancers to their original starting position (hence it is a Half Zero). After the first repetition the center dancers are said to be “across the street” because they are now looking at the opposite outsides from where they started.

The utility of this Framework lies in the opportunities it offers for inserting zeros, equivalents, and conversions in a controlled fashion. For example, from the original starting position a zero could be called before beginning the Framework module. Then after the first repetition of the Framework the same zero could be used in the “across the street” formation – or a different one, if desired. Equivalents can be applied for further variety. For example, Square Thru 3 and Trade By could be used to replace Right and Left Thru, Dive Thru, Centers Pass Thru.

The power of using a Framework is that it allows the caller map the modules they plan to use into an easily remembered structure. For example a caller could visualize a sequence like this:

  • SS to CB Getin module to a CB
  • CB to PL Convert CB to PL
  • PL to PL Apply a Zero that returns a PL
  • PL to CB Convert PL to CB
  • CP1 Chicken Plucker part 1 to create a Right-Hand Lady Box
  • RLB to RLB Zero that preserves the Right-Hand Lady Box
  • CP2 Second repetition of Chicken Plucker returns to a CB
  • CB to SS Getout from CB
Pointers To Further Material On Modules (click to view)

The following table points to a variety of additional material on modules. Click on the item(s) in the Link column to view or download the material.

Item Type Author Link Description
Presentation Handout Cal Campbell PDF

This sheet contains several useful Equivalent modules from Cal Campbell.

Presentation Handout Paul Henze PDF

This handout provides a general description of modules and their use as well as several tables showing different types of modules.

Presentation Handout Cal Campbell PDF

This handout is a 4-page primer on what modules are and how they work.

Presentation Handout Tim Marriner PDF

This document is a 4-page overview of the principles of modular calling and an explanation of terminology.

Presentation Handout Doug Davis PDF

This handout has a short form overview of modular calling and usage.

Presentation Handout Tim Marriner .DOC

Tim Marriner’s handout on how to work with Chicken Plucker.

Presentation Handout Doug Davis PDF

Many samples of various types of modules.

Presentation Handout Virgil Forbes PDF

Many samples of unusual Getout modules.

Presentation Handout Jon Jones PDF

Many samples of unusual Getout modules.

Website Vic and Debbie Ceder Website

Vic and Debbie Ceder maintain a choreo database on their ceder.net site. It contains hundreds of examples of modules of various sorts.

Document Barry Johnson PDF

Many people avoid technical zeros because they seem unpredictable. Barry Johnson explains what they are, how they work, and how you can use them to your advantage.

Forum Cal Campbell Website

This discussion forum on modules is moderated by Cal Campbell. It contains hundreds of articles relating to modules.

Book Cal Campbell Info

This comprehensive publication on modules by the late Cal Campbell may be downloaded from the Internet Archive.