8x32 strathspeys (was 3 cple dance in 4 couple set)

Steve Wyrick

Message 61641 · 5 Aug 2011 05:49:26 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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The air tunes weren't intended to be danced to and it's probably only
because the strathspey dance tempo has slowed that they can be used as is,
but in my opinion only rarely do they work well for dancing and as a fiddler
I always feel challenged to figure out what to do with them. Yesterday I
was reading Johnson's "Music and Society in Lowland Scotland in the 18th
Century" which has a discussion of the practice of turning songs into dance
tunes that was common during that period. Musicians frequently modified
song tunes to make them danceable by varying the rhythm, adding
ornamentation, and adding a second strain to lengthen the tune as needed.
Johnson cites one tune (O'er the Moor Amongst the Heather) that started out
as a song, was published in 1740 as a country dance with a second strain
added, and published as a strathspey in the 1760s! I doubt a musician in
those times would have played an air "straight" for dancing but now I
suppose we couldn't get away with modifying them, and I'm not sure what I'd
do to "fix" Dutchess Tree at any rate! -Steve

On Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 10:13 AM, Jo Pickering <
xx.xxxxxxxxx468@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx> wrote:

> When we are dancing 'strathspeys' we are really dancing to two different
> types
> of tune. There are tunes which really are 'strathspey reels' - that is
> they are
> written in a strong dotted rhythm and were originally played much faster
> than
> they are nowadays; and then there are tunes like the Duchess Tree which are
> in
> fact song airs and are normally a lot slower. I think it would be nice to
> have
> some 'quick' strathspeys and some 'slow' strathspeys to vary things a bit.
> Incidentally the normal 'travelling' step for reels historically was the
> chassé, which to my mind was something like a quick strathspey travelling
> step
> rather than a skip change. Try it - it works very well in reels though not
> in
> jigs. My apologies to Niel Gow for saying he pinched Monny Musk (sic) from
> Daniel Dow - it is attributed to DD in Gow's Repository.
>
> Jo
>
>
> --
Steve Wyrick -- Walnut Creek, California

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