Recorded tempos

Anselm Lingnau

Message 25778 · 24 Apr 2001 08:42:51 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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Richard N Goss <>:

> I think, I posted something to that effect based on earlier stats.
> In WYJTD [non RSCDS and the first RSCDS version, tempos were litedd]. When
> someone told the RSCDS about the difference between published and practiced.
> They simply deleted the tempos from all further editions.

The RSCDS do have tempo information in the current Manual (the
loose-leaf thing). The first edition had some ludicrous numbers but they
put them right -- according to current practice -- in a set of updates
that came out a few years ago.

> Both the RSCDS and SOBHD have slowed down. I guess the lack of new young
> blood means that the average age is going up and our tempo going down.

I don't buy this explanation as far as the SOBHD is concerned. The
average SOBHD dancer is something like a 9-year-old girl and has been
for some time. On the other hand, the recommended speeds for competitive
Highland strathspeys are even lower than what the RSCDS suggests for
social dancing. It probably has more to do with making the dancers work
harder and giving the competition judges more opportunity to spot

> Check the strathspey tempo, and then try to do a Highland setting step to
> it, then you will really feel old as it is easier for us elders to do a
> faster strathspey than a slower one, the converse of quick time.

Yes -- but musicians will usually play faster for slow dances that do
contain Highland setting steps. Check the available recordings for
dances like the Garry Strathspey or Schiehallion.

> The question is, has the society authorized a change in tempo, or they
> just going with the evolutionary (or in this case devolutionary) flow?

I don't think the Society is really in a position to control this across
the whole SCD scene, other than by influencing its own musical
productions (they can presumably ask a band recording an RSCDS record to
play the same thing over again so much faster or slower) and trying to
`brain-wash' teachers to go along with their ideas at St. Andrews or so.
It is probably more a matter of `peer pressure' where musicians receive
feed-back about their speed at dances and balls, at RSCDS functions and
elsewhere. I suppose if you're always being asked not to play so fast
then after a while you will get used to playing slower in the first
place, and vice versa. If anything I'm even under the impression that
recorded speeds are going up again in many cases (although not to where
they used to be in the 1950s, yet, anyway). Personally I don't mind
current tempos on the whole, and am more bothered by music that is too
fast than by music that is slow (and I'm still on the lower side of 40).

Also it turns out that, depending on the tune and the manner it is
played other than speed, people will often perceive SCD music to be much
faster than it really is. It is sometimes instructive to sit down with a
metronome and actually time some of those recordings -- many of them
are slower than they seem.

Anselm Lingnau ..........................................
Putting smokers and non-smokers in the same room is like having a urinating and
a non-urinating section in a swimming pool. -- Ross Parker

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