Time Signatures - Reels, Jigs, etc

Anselm Lingnau

Message 52924 · 24 Jun 2008 08:55:09 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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Martin I Campbell-Colquhoun wrote:

> As a non-musician, how does one tell the difference between jigs and reels?
> I did hear there was a catchy phrase for each which I have forgotten.

In reels, the notes come in groups of four, as in, »AL-li-ga-tor,
AL-li-ga-tor«. In jigs, they come in groups of three, as in »CRO-co-dile,
CRO-co-dile«. The issue is muddled somewhat by the fact that many tunes
feature long notes which count for two or more of the syllables in the little
ditties above.

Incidentally, if you're looking at the sheet music printed alongside a SCD
description, the first line of the tune starts with a weird squiggle which
musicians call a »clef«. (If you're studying music, expect to spend the first
semester learning how to draw those.) Right after the clef there are usually
two numbers on top of each other. If these are »6« and »8«, the tune is (for
the purposes of SCD) a jig. If these are »2« and »4«, the tune is a reel.
Sometimes there is a »C« with a vertical line through it instead of the
numbers, in which case the tune is also a reel. Just a »C« with no vertical
line, or the numbers »4« and »4«, could be a reel or a strathspey, and you
will have to look at the dance description to figure out which. Also remember
that even though these numbers look vaguely like fractions you're not doing
mathematics here -- »6/8« is something completely different from »3/4«, and
you don't get the gold star for pointing out that »4/4« is really »1«.

> Perhaps some well known tunes as examples please.
> Hornpipes seem easy enough to pick, also strathspeys of course.

Yes, but there are strathspeys and then there are *strathspeys*.

I have taken this opportunity to put on-line an MP3 file I compiled some time
ago for our group's internal teacher training programme. This file contains a
sequence of 16-bar-or-so snippets of various musical styles for SCD,
blatantly ripped off from favourite recordings. You can find it at

http://www.strathspey.org/practice/musicdemo.html

Anselm
--
Anselm Lingnau, Friedberg, Germany ..................... xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
Software engineering, as a discipline, makes astrology look downright
scientific. -- Bill Gribble

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