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strathspey@strathspey.org:45425

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  • John Chambers

    John Chambers May 30, 2006, 7:53 p.m. (Message 45425)

    Re: Reels and Hornpipes

    Pat wrote:
    | Both the C and the 4/4 indicate to me that there are 4 beats to the bar, yet
    | we dance to 2 beats per bar.   I don't understand this at all.  Can you, or
    | anyone, explain this?
    
    Very simple: It's wrong. ;-)
    
    Reels are conventionally written, with 4 8th-notes and two beats  per
    bar.  So the correct time signature is 2/2, or the C-with-a-bar (M:C|
    in ABC), which is a synonym for 2/2. It would be better to write them
    with  8 16th-notes per bar, and 2/4 as the time signature.  Sometimes
    you see that, but not often. To understand why, you have to study the
    history of musical notation.  The reason isn't logic; it's history.
    
    But musicians can be quite sloppy about such things. They often write
    4/4, implying four beats per bar. Among other things, this shows that
    they really have no idea what a "beat" is. This is something that can
    be  rather  subtle,  and  lots of musicians can play it right without
    knowing the right terminology or notation.
    
    Few musicians are ever really taught much about music notation.   The
    result is a real mess. So you have to learn to try to figure out what
    was meant by music notation despite all the errors.  And  it  doesn't
    help that dancers often count things differently from the musicians.
    
    
    --
       _,
       O   John Chambers
     <:#/> <xx@xxxxxxxx.xxx.xxx>
       +   <xxxxxx@xxxxx.xxx>
      /#\  in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA, Earth
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