Strathspeys, so to speak

Ian Brockbank 05-Jan-1995 0951

Message 5294 · 23 Oct 1996 14:49:19 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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Norma Dahl <xxxxx@xxxxxxx.xxx.xx> writes

> What's a 'song aire' (love the spelling); what's the difference between
it
> and a strathspey; why have I never heard of it before in five years
> dancing; and what does it mean to a tone-deaf dancer?

A strathspey goes dum-bi-dum-bi-dum-bi-dadum (one dancing step) with a
snappy rhythm, and a slow air is much more gentle and lilting - da-da-dumm
da-da-dumm dee dum di dumm dumm (two dancing steps; attempting to
transcribe the rhythm of The Music of [the?] Spey - Autumn in Appin) and is
often a song tune. If you find yourself doing a vigorous strathspey step,
it's probably a strathspey. If you find yourself singing along, it's
probably a slow air. (But of course there are exceptions - The Piper o'
Dundee is a strathspey, for example). For musicians (who probably know
anyway, but hey!) the characteristic strathspey rhythm which I have tried
to describe above is a dotted quaver followed by a semi-quaver (dotted 8th
note followed by a 16th note) 3 times, followed by the same thing with the
positionbs reversed (semi-quaver followed by dotted quaver).

And to forstall the inevitable next question, the difference between a reel
and a jig is that a jig is in 6/8 time while a reel is in 2/4 or 4/4. In
other words, a jig has a dadada dadada beat while a reel is based on a
dadadada dadadada beat (eg the reel Mrs MacLeod of Raasay goes dum dum
dadadada dum dada dum dada... while The Mucking o' Geordie's Byre, a jig,
goes de dadada dadada daa-de daa-...).

Hope this helps. Hope you can understand what I'm trying to say. It's
difficult without being able to actually sing the rhythms.

Cheers,

Ian

Xxx.Xxxxxxxxx@xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
Edinburgh, Scotland

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