Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

Can anyone tell me, other than tempo what is the difference between a hornpipe and a reel? Can it have a run of quarter notes in two measures and still be one or the other?

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Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

There is the dsitinctive Irish hornpipe rhythm of course, but then some reels can be played with so much lift that they verge on hornpipe (interestingly, this doesn’t work with some reels).
Technically, I understand the basic difference is that reels are in 2/2 time but hornpipes are in 4/4. They both have 4 quarters notes (or crotchets) in a bar, but 2/2 implies two chord changes in a bar, but 4/4 implies the possibility of 4 chord changes.
And if I’m wrong on this have no doubt that someone will shortly put the matter straight :-)

Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

lazyhound, Meter has nothing to do with the frequency of chord changes, it is the frequency of the most prominent pulses in the tune.
Jacie, In addition to meter differences, hornpipes tend to be "swung" more, with the first note in a pair being a bit longer than the second, as opposed to reels, where each note is more apt to get equal value.
And I am also ready to be corrected if I am wrong on any of what I have said! ;-)

Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

Unfortunately the lines get blurred. I hear many great hornpipes thrashed to death by people trying to play them like reels, and worse, many many great reels reduced to skippy tedium by people who don’t know the difference.

Technically, of course, there is no difference between 2/2 and 4/4, it’s just the way you decide to notate it (notation being not the ideal way to pass these tunes around).

The dances are different, of course, but that doesn’t stop you playing a reel to a hornpipe dance and vice versa.

The actual difference, when it comes down to it is pretty esoteric, because of the amount of swing you can, or should not, put on either. I would say it’s down to the skippy bits. If there are loads of them in the tune, best play it like a hornpipe.

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Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

Thanks guys! I kinda thought hornpips were "swung". The way they are written and the way they are played are two different things as goes alot in fiddle music.

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Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

yep, just remember the mantra:
"The way they are written and the way they are played are two different things"

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Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

There are structural differences that distinguish hornpipes from reels, most notably the endings of their parts, which typically feature three quarter notes:

e/f/g|f2 d2 d2 z2|

They also tend to feature runs of chromatic triplets as integral parts of the melody:

|e/f/e d/c/B A/B/A G/F/E| etc.

The degree of swing is up to the player so is not diagnostic.

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Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

re the above posting:
The way they are written and the way they are played are two different things

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Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

…and yet it’s entirely possible to transcribe how a tune is played and reveal its characteristic structure, which distinguishes it from other types of tunes.

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Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

Oh. Because they are after all DANCE tunes and go with different dances. The structural differences between a hornpipe and a reel correspond to differences in the dance steps.

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No. It is entirely possible to transcribe how a tune was once played (though the density of the dots on the page would make it unreadable). Bu this is entirely different kettle of fish to how it goes.

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Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

i always thought that reels were ‘straight’ and hornpipes were ‘swung’ until i started teaching them…what i found was that the meter in a roll in reels has to be played with hornpipe rhythm otherwise it sounds wrong. I don’t know if its that both types of tunes have the same rhythm but it’s harder to hear in reels, given the speed, the difference between the first and second notes would be hard to distinguish; OR if its that they are different except for ornamentation….that’s the beauty of ITM, you’d never be up to it!!

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Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

Its simple really - listen and learn! I wouldn’t know a meter from a demi, semi meter or whatever, but I sure do know difference between hornpipes and reels. You want to really know the difference? find a set dancing class and learn how to dance! You’ll get the ‘swing’ of it then!

Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

Having listened to a great group of musicians from the Éigse concert at Letterkenny on this week’s Comhaltaslive programme playing flings, I’d say the real difficulty is distinguishing these from reels - the difference seems very subtle to me and I’m sure I’ve heard the first tune played as a reel in the past.

Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

I like the term "skippy bits" that Michael used above. I had never heard the term before, but it fits what we are trying to put into words!

Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

I once heard the difference explained like this……..
"Hornpipes are played slowly, but have more notes. Reels have’nt as many, but are played quickly so you think they have! ;-)

Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

As people said before, the rhythmic feel of a hornpipe is different from that of a reel. Where the (2/2) rhythm in reels tends to be "One-e-and-a Two-e-and-a", the (4/4) rhythm in hornpipes is more of a "One-and Two-and Three-and Four-and".

Hornpipes are often played "swung" as well, but that’s not really universal.

One feature nearly ALL hornpipes I’ve heard share, is the telltale "daa-da daaaaa" at the end of each part (ABC example: "BE E2"), but musicians’ variations will often gloss over it every so often.

Now the big question: what’s the difference between hornpipes and BARNDANCES? I find I can tell them apart, but I have no idea what the distinguishing features are… ???

Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

I learned to play Irish hornpipes by listening and watching set dancers. The dancers do a sort of… right-left-right *hop* left-right-left *hop* right-left-right *hop* left-right-left *hop* right-left-right *hop* left-right-left *hop* If you do this yourself you’ll notice it feels awkward at a speed that’s either too fast or too slow. The speed where it feels natural is where you want to be. You’ll also get an idea of how much swing feels right. (if at all)

Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

I wasn’t being facetious when I reiterated earlier that the way they are written and the way they are played are two different things.

reels / hornpipes
hornpipes / barndances
reels / flings
jigs / slides
etc

It’s one of the problems of taking repertoire from written forms. On the one hand, it’s very important to be able to simply hear the differences between these forms. Not necessarily to be able to pigeon hole them instantly, but to just know the differences on a subconscious level. And having a physical knowledge of dancing the forms is a great help.

And beyond dancing, where you can stretch or condence the pace of them, it’s still very important to be able to distuinguish.

And particularly, if you want to make a feature of bluring the differences - I love, for example, the tension between what is a slide or a jig - the most important thing is to have nailed the differences first.

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Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

I’ve very recently been asked the question "what is the difference between an Irish hornpipe and an English hornpipe?" - I’ve been learning a couple of English hornpipes and posted one (Henry Cave’s) in the Tunes section a few days ago.
So I’ve been asking around, and the two main answers I got were:
1. An English hornpipe isn’t swung as much as an Irish hornpipe; and,
2, An English hornpipe would be played in more of a "classical" style than an Irish hornpipe.
So again, it’s not so much of a structural difference as the way in which they’re played.
Would anyone like to add to this, or correct me if I’m wrong?

Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

It also occurs to me in reading Michael’s post that there isn’t much possibilty of confusing a polka or a slip jig with anything else. And three-two’s are pretty distinctive too.

Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

ha, there a quite a few people I’ve come across that confuse jigs and slip jigs. But this is a good thing, as the feel of them should be the same. The three is a huge difference when you write it down, but really not that important when you play it (the skill in the best slip jigs being to disguise the 3/3/3/3 into compound combinations)

and as far as horpipes go, it wouldn’t surprise me if they form came from england in the first place.. Importantly though, and quite a few in this post concur, the amount of swing is not universal.

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Re: Hornpipe/reel…whats the difference

I asked this of my teacher once and he said its in the phrasing.

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