GOSS9@telefonica.net May 28, 2006, 10:42 p.m. (Message 45417)
Re: Reels and Hornpipes
Triple time music either 3 (as in a typical waltz), or 6 (as in a typical minuet) notes to the bar has been around long before the term "waltz". The word "Waltz" is associated with the turn or rotation of the couple in the style of dance and does not apply to the 3/4 beat necessarily. For example in Spanish country dances, the word "Valse" is the name for the figure we associate with the non progressive pousette (our 8 bar progression, is a Milliganism) as indicated by the dancers positions (Petronella - already progressed), or musical notation (4, instead of 8 bars). The use of "hornpipe" in translation to refer to a bagpipe fits in that many mediterranian pipes I have seen, specificly from Calabria and Sardinia recently have wooden drones, but animal horns for the one or two chanters. Possibly the syncopation is related to the need to use non melodic passing tones when moving up and down the scale without the ability of tonguing as one would use a flute or oboe, or the little "plunger" on some types of Irish pipes. Having a reed mouth piece has nothing to do with the difference between a mouth blown or sack blown instrument. Here in Mallorca, the president´s band (dressed as one would for an original reenactment of the Watermusic Suite), uses ancient instruments, including a "xeremia" (Mallorcan bagpipe), basic difference is that the drones (bordons, 1, 2, or 3) hang down in front. Its leader, "pipe major" if you will often plays as one would expect, however some renaissance music is not correct with passing tones. In this case, he simply unplugs the chanter (grai) from the bag which he drapes over his shoulder, and plays it like a simple oboe, which it is (the air in the lungs substituting for that in the bag, the pressure of the cheeks substitution for that of the arm on the bag. The grai, an ancient folk instrument of Catalunya, now may have keys attached to increase its musical possibilities, but in its simplest form, still used, has an indentation for string or cork for plugging it into a bag. In both the 3/2 and 2/4 hornpipes, there is the sense of syncopation. As I mentioned before the "dum dum dum" at the phrase or half phrase seems to be more modern. One should be careful when using old music texts to justify such traditions as the syuncopated (dot and flag) rhythms. Using language as a parallel, no alphabet perfectly fits its language as spoken when considering dialects and exceptions, no matter how phonetic. The same goes for music. When working with the School of Scottish Studies in the late 70´s to early 80´s, I was involved with transcribing traditional music from field recordings, and reconciling these with printed sources. This was very difficult for several reasons. 1. In the same recordings, folk musicians would float from single jig to hornpipe, without changing the tempo of the two basic beats (only the ration from 2:1 to 3:1 when all four notes were analyzed). Because most of us "know" the difference between a jig and a hornpipe, it is very difficult to deal with music played by musicians who learned by ear and play it as they heard it, as opposed to how it "should" be played. 2. Many tunes were transcribed quickly, or from memory and simply are lacking in the more sophisticate rhymic notations, such as the "dot and flag" pattern. As a result the written tunes are simply an aid to the melody, not as actually played. You can find this by analyzing classical solo musicians as compared to the scores from which they are playing. 3. Many historic transcriptions are only strings of notes without bar lines or length indicated. In some cases, even the pitch is indicated as up or down without indicating how far. To see evidence of this even in tutored modern times one has only to compare the notation in Playford I, with that in Playford XVIII. As far as "Strathspey" is concerned, from a music history, this is not relevant, though it is in RSCDS dance history. A strathspey is a duple style associated with a particular region in Scotland, and considered "Scotch" by many outside that region, to the extent that its distinctive rhythmic patterns were incorporated into later music considered Scottish. The hornpipe pattern is one of these patterns. Thus a trend to play the tune even slower than a regular hornpipe (no metronome nearby, but strathspey tempo is close). At this speed, BTW, the dotted nature of the tune is even more important for it to stay interesting, so the musician slightly exaggerates that character.