I've been thinking a lot about this question for a number of years, both from
a dancing standpoint and a musical one. Some people have heard all my
opinions several times already so I'll try to be brief.
Once you include "hornpipe" among Scottish country dance "tempos" (or
"types"), then you are talking about the music. Once you are talking about
the music, then you might as well include "2/4 marches," "4/4 marches,"
"rants," "songs," "Scotch measures," etc., along with "reels." Same with
jigs ("jigs," "6/8 marches," "two-steps") and strathspeys ("strathspeys,"
"hornpipes," "2/4 marches," "4/4 marches," "songs," "Scotch measures").
Categorization does get tricky, subjective and possibly controversial, as
there are many tunes which might go into more than one category, or not
cleanly into any category. Different people will have their own
categorizations which make sense to them; there is no one correct way. I may
have left out some possibilities. Even among hornpipes there are several
So, when putting dances and tunes into my own databases, I have two columns:
one for "dance type" (jig, strathspey, reel) (since these are the
RSCDS-recognized and otherwise-widely-accepted terms) and one for music type
(jig, strathspey, reel, hornpipe, march, two-step). When giving ball
organizers my band dance list, I try to list the dances in such a way that
they can look for high-energy reels (as opposed to marches & hornpipes) for
endings of sets if they wish, and to list non-strathspeys separately from
strathspeys, so they can avoid too many slow-moving tunes if they wish. I
think it's very useful if non-musician ball-organizers and teachers begin to
get a feeling for the different types of tunes so they may take these into
account when planning programs. Although I love any and all good tunes, and
even some not-so-good tunes, I don't like to play what in my opinion is a
musically "unbalanced" program, so when asked I try to nicely elucidate.
Every little bit helps!
I agree that according to some of the above reasoning, that "jigs" and
"reels" could be lumped into one, but it's a long-standing division and
easily done (calling all 6/8s "jigs" and everything else in quicktime
"reels"). So, I continue to keep them separate, even though they are
sometimes danced the same.
I could go on! --I think several people, as well as myself, wrote some things
about "reels" here about a year ago. Holiday cheer to all,