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  • James Tween

    James Tween May 26, 2006, 4:15 p.m. (Message 45398)

    Re: Reels and Hornpipes

    That's great -- I guess that just shows that it's rare to hear hornpipey 
    hornpipes.  It's that trick of doing a tune with the lift and bounce of a 
    Highland strathspey and the speed of a reel.
    I know what you mean about being able to hear what makes a tune a hornpipe, 
    but it is hard to quantify or qualify.
    I think that the amount of discussion on this topic just goes to show the 
    difficulty in distinguishing one thing from another here.
    - James -
    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: "Steve Wyrick" <>
    To: "SCD news and discussion" <>
    Sent: Friday, May 26, 2006 2:58 PM
    Subject: Re: Reels and Hornpipes
    > James Tween wrote:
    >> The way hornpipes and reels are played in the SCD style, there is no real
    >> difference to me and I'd happily mix reels and honpipes in a set of 
    >> tunes,
    >> or dance a reel to a hornpipe track, or vice versa.  There are three 
    >> paces
    >> of dance -- reel, jig or strathspey -- and they may vary in speed, and
    >> straths may be slow airs or more Highlandy, but there are only really 
    >> these
    >> three.
    >> A hornpipe in Scottish step dancing, Irish, Welsh and English traditions 
    >> is
    >> usually most like a Highland-rhythm strathspey.  It typically has a 
    >> dotted
    >> rhythm -- 4/4 with bars split into dotted quaver / semiquaver -- but does
    >> not have the reverse comibnation (semiquaver - dotted quaver) as you find 
    >> in
    >> a lot of bouncy straths.  In the English ceilidh style, most hornpipes 
    >> are
    >> danced slower with a step-hop step, and is about the same speed as a 
    >> decent
    >> paced Highland strath, and if we've ever had nights with English ceilidh
    >> dancers doing SCD, they often find it easy to think of a strath as a
    >> hornpipe.  Saying all that, you can get hornpipes with straight, undotted
    >> rhythms, but they are usually played at the same kind of steady pace.
    >> When I catalogued a load of SCD CDs, I just grouped hornpipes with reels.
    >> I wonder if any of that makes sense.
    >> - James -
    > Personally I don't really like this idea of not differentiating hornpipe 
    > and
    > reel tunes in SCD.  When I play hornpipes I always try to put at least a 
    > bit
    > more of a lilt in them, to try to keep the bouncy feeling.  I also don't
    > really like mixing reels and hornpipes in a set (or reels and Scotch
    > measures, for that matter).
    > Regarding distinguishing characteristics for hornpipes if a tune 
    > identifies
    > itself as a hornpipe, I can generally hear the things in it that make it a
    > hornpipe however as others have said, there doesn't seem to be a foolproof
    > method for identifying a hornpipe from hearing it... -Steve
    > -- 
    > Steve Wyrick -- Concord, California

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