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  • Steve Wyrick

    Steve Wyrick June 1, 2006, 5:53 p.m. (Message 45445)

    Re: Divided by a common language (was Reels and Hornpipes)

    On Thu, 01 Jun 2006 15:15:46 UTC
      John Chambers <> wrote:
    > The same things seems  to  happened  with  "reel",  which  apparently
    > started  life as a term for the sort of dance figures where you weave
    > or zig-zag among the other dancers. This is still how dancers use the
    > term,  but somehow musicians decided to apply it to a particular sort
    > of very busy duple rhythm. A reel can be done to music in any rhythm,
    > so this was a nonsensical use of the word.
    > My general theory is that most of these things happen through various
    > sorts of misunderstandings. If you watch interactions between dancers
    > who aren't musicians and musicians who aren't dancers, you'll see all
    > sorts  of miscommunications.  It sometimes seems amazing that the two
    > crowds manage to communicate at all, despite their obvious  symbiotic
    > relationship throughout history.
    Regarding the various meanings of "reel" this sort of evolution happens all 
    the time with laguage. [an aside: according to, the English word 
    with the most definitions is "set", with 464 different definitions in the OED! 
     How many definitions for set in SCD? I can think of 3...]  I think the 
    confusion we have now is because (what I assume is) the original use of the 
    term--a Scottish dance containing a loopy figure--hasn't been totally 
    superseded by the more modern definitions (a specific figure for 3 or more 
    dancers; a quick-time dance done with steps having beats of equal length; a 
    specific tune type).  By the way, musicians in the various Celtic and American 
    folk traditions who DON'T play for dancers have no confusion about what's 
    meant by a "reel"; it's a type of tune!
    Steve Wyrick - Concord, California

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