Glasgow Highlanders Progression and Two Chords at Start

Ian McHaffie

Message 34835 · 6 Apr 2003 15:59:31 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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Unless I missed the comments, I haven't seen these (my!) views among
those on this topic, so here goes:

1. One of the attractions of SCD is the fact that in a lot of dances
there are unexpected (and sometime unique) twists or idiosyncrasies or
inconsistencies that add to the special feel of the dance. GH is one
of them. (Jessie's Hornpipe is another, where 1W starts by dancing
behind 2W rather than in front, as might be more usual if the dance
were devised today.) (Another thread could explore other dances with
unique features?)

The progression in the GH has just such a feature. I think that, if it
were somehow standardized to be consistent with all or most other
dances, something would be lost. What is particularly unusual is that
the couple about to join the dancing must anticipate that fact during
the 8th bar of the previous phrase. Also, the movement is different
depending on whether the waiting couple is at the top or the bottom of
the dance. This is quite different from, say, The Blooms of Bon Accord,
where each iteration of the dance results with the bottom two couples
"improperly" placed ready to start the figures.

2. Surely there is no sensible alternative to the "waiting couple"
waiting in 1st or 4th place on their own, normal sides, regardless of
how they get there. 2nd & 3rd places are taken by the dancing couples.
Waiting on "improper" sides would have little point as there would
still have to be a move of positions during bar 32 of the ongoing
section of the dance

This raises another question (lest the matter die!): Are there other
dances where a non-dancing couple must anticipate their participation
and get ready into a starting place before their first dancing bar
actually starts (other than the previously aired "2nd chord" issue? If
there are not, does this reflect on how restrictive we have become
about the "right" way to go about things? Or, to put it another way,
would the GH be accepted widely, if the dance were devised today?

3. The answer to the "How to do it?" question is surely "neatly". I
doubt if there ever was a clear description of just where 2W should be
precisely, bar by bar. If a dancer stands or shifts around and looks
lost before ending up in the right place, the move will neither look or
feel right, but if a dancer moves confidently and smoothly into the
right place the feel of the move is much more likely to . . . . . . etc

4. I haven't seen a comment on iterations – Jimmy Shand (in O'er the
Border, I think) plays the GH 9 x 32. The convention presumably in
place at that time was that the 9th repetition was danced only by the
couples in 3rd and 4th places, so all would finish back where they
started. Current convention for 2 couple dances is, of course, 8 x 32,
so the couple that started in 4th place only gets to dance the sequence
twice as dancing couple. I hope GH is always danced in 4 couple sets
and not, as so many 2 couple strathspeys, in 3 couple sets. In a 3
couple set everyone would miss the moments when all dancers are going
down the middle and back together.

5. FInally, the name. Presumably The Glasgow Highlanders refers to the
regiment, raised in 1868 and finally disbanded after many
reorganizations in 1973. Or does it simply refer to highlanders (in
general or in particular) who made it south to Glasgow?

Sorry for the lengthy ramble (if you made it this far!). On
re-reading, it reminds me of the 11 year-old's book review: "This book
tells me more about penguins than I want to know!"

Ian McHaffie
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