Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Ok, im trying to explain the difference in timing between some different dance tunes. Its aimed at someone who doesn’t play and instrument and who doesn’t really know the difference between a jig and a reel. Now i didn’t get into the whole technical notation aspect of it, its not that important. i was just concentrating on timing. Do the following make sense to you? I would particualry like some advice on trying to explain a hornpipe.

Reels
This is the most common type of dance tune played in Irish traditional music, originally heavily influenced by similar dances in Scotland. Usually it consists of two or more parts which are played twice. Each part up of eight segments known as bars, and the time signature is 4/4. This means that there are four beats to every bar (each beat is counted in even measure as 1-2-3-4 I 1-2-3-4).

Jigs
The jig (or double jig) is another common type of dance of English origin. Like the reel, the tune usually consists of two parts made of eight bars, but the time signature is 6/8. This means that there are six beats to every bar (each beat is counted in groups of three as 123-456 I 123-456).

Hornpipes
Hornpipes are dance tunes that appear to have originated in the maritime tradition. The most common type of hornpipe is similar to the reel in terms of time signature (4/4), but instead of counting four even beats per bar there is an emphasis on the first and third beats, which give the tune a kind of ‘swing’ or ‘bounce’ feel ( each beat is counted as 1-2-3-4 I 1-2-3-4*).

*I was trying to make the 1 and 3 bold and slightly larger to emphasise them but can’t do it on this site.

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Could they learn the relevant dances?

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

I wish they could! The point is to allow the person reading to come away with an idea of what the differences are, so that when they listen to the music immediately afterwards they might have a better idea and be able to distinguish between them. This is sometimes hard though, particuarly* with likes of a reel and hornipes, when some people play the latter as if it was the former.

I can never spell particualry right, its just one of those words…..

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Forget all the counting and beats to the bar.

If you can say ‘carrots and cabbages, carrots and cabbages’ in time to the music its a jig.

If you can say ‘double decker, double decker’ in time to the music it’s a reel.

Hornpipes are harder, the rhythm is more flexible - many but not all go ‘Humpty dumpty, humpty dumpty’. But the real give away that it is a hornpipe is that each section ends with three even crochets (quarter notes).

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Good explanations, Beanstalk. I’ll just add this little trick which I learned from Glenn Graham at a workshop when he was explaining the different tune types in Cape Breton music to a group of people who were not immeresed in the tradition.

To tell the difference between a jig, a reel and a strathspey (I know this one isn’t on your list, but I think the same logic can be applied for a hornpipe), use the following sayings:

Jig: "JIG-i-ty, JIGi-ty | JIG-i-ty, JIG-i-ty". (1-2-3, 4-5-6| 1-2-3, 4-5-6|), with the emphasis on beats one and four.


Reel: "THIS-is how-a REEL goes | THIS-is how-a REEL goes," (1& 2& 3 4| 1& 2& 3 4| ) with the emphsis on the first and third beats.


Strathspey (or in your case, hornpipe): "COC-a CO-la, COC-a CO-la (1e&-a 2e&-a 3e&-a 4e&-a),

Now I realize that with strathspeys, the dotted rhythms are often switched so that you get what some call "scotch snaps", but I think for your purposes, you could use the above saying for a hornpipe and still get your point across.

I’m sure there are other little mnemonic devices to explain the rhythms of the different tunes, but this is what I was first exposed to and has worked for me quite well in explaining it to others. Hope this helps :)

-J

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

using words is definitely a good idea, ‘jiggery-pokery’ is another one i heard of for saying along with a jig or ‘butterfly butterfly.

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

To Trad people this Discussion sounds ridiculous, yet I have a son who is big (very big) into Musical Theatre. He can read music and with the aid of a keyboard learns his show songs from the dots. He was reared in a household surrounded by Trad music, and even went to Irish dance lessons for a time. We talk music regularly, yet, he still struggles to tell the difference between a jig and a reel. I find it amazing, but I think I’m getting there.

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

these explanations are great folks, would it be ok with you guys if i incorporated them into my explanations?

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

funny how every country has mnemmtechnical words to feel the differnet rythms… in Italy I heard them use : napoli napoli for a jig, and roma roma for a reel…
in french, I use : "clapotis clapotis", or "flic flac"…

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

There are tweo beats in every bar of a jig, not six.

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Ttry again:

There are two beats in each bar of a jig, not six.

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Thanks nigel that was a typing error on my behalf.

Was thinking of word devices for saying along with a reel, how about: reel-in good-time reel-in good-time….

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

As a mathematician, I like the following:
Jigs are "calculus calculus"
Reels are "logarithm logarithm"
Hornpipes are "cosine tangent secant angle"

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Enroll in an Irish Step Dancing Class! Best way to know the differences is to know some steps. I learned as a child a half century ago and I’m still at it! My nemesis is getting a reel to sound like a reel!

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Mmmmmmm. Carrots and cabbages.

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

I think "reel-in good-time reel-in good-time." can come out a bit too near a hornpipe for avoidance of doubt!

"Watermelon watermelon" is another reel phrase.

(But NB the recent swing discussion in all this!)

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Jig: 3 letters, three beats - count in threes. Crocodile, crocodile….
Reel: 4 letters, four beats - count in fours. Alligator, alligator….

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Gary-
Long live the math nerds. ;-)

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Rashers ‘n sausages for jigs (interestingly continuing the "food" theme as per carrots and cabbages!)


Black and Decker for reels

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

I already knew all of that.

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Mmmmmm. Rashers and sausages.

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Not to nitpick, but there are two beats per measure in a reel, not four. Using alligator (which I like), to get four beats, you would say "al-li-ga-tor" which is wrong. What you want is "alligator, alligator," with one beat for each "alligator."

When written, reels should not be in 4/4, but in cut time. If you play them in true 4/4, the rhythm is very choppy.

Posted by .

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Clitoris, clitoris, clitoris, clitoris…

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

yhaalhouse -

That was the funniest thing I’ve read all week. Thanks for that.

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Why on earth does the person want to know this stuff?!..

Seriously, I mean - what sort of handle does he / she want on trad music, or have on it already? Knowing where he or she is ‘coming from’ might enable some bright poster to angle a shaft of enlightenment straight through a chink in the armour of incomprehension…(!)

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

"Jig: "JIG-i-ty, JIGi-ty | JIG-i-ty, JIG-i-ty". (1-2-3, 4-5-6| 1-2-3, 4-5-6|), with the emphasis on beats one and four.

Reel: "THIS-is how-a REEL goes | THIS-is how-a "

………..yeah…….you’re not trying to put them off the music

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Mmmm. Cli…wait a second.

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Also with hornpipes, often but not always the two halves of the tune end with roughly the same 4 bar/measure phrase….and the distinct end notes (or some dressed up version of the three. bum, bum, bum or maybe bum bum-de- dum), as someone mentioned above.

My $0.02

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

I am surprised that yhaalhouse’s suggestion made it through the naughty language filter! I wish it hadn’t, because now it is stuck in my head. I can see it now, when I show up at the session on Sunday, "Hey, Al, why are you blushing every time we play a jig?"

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

"I am surprised that yhaalhouse’s suggestion made it through the naughty language filter!"

I’m surprised it made it through the filter between brain and keyboard.

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

sausages spuds bacon and eggs
washed down with beer.
nothing to do with the thread at all really

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

Yes! Cl*t*r*s gets through but H*t*w*t*r (bottle) doesn’t.
It’s a funny world.
My brain/ keyboard filter got clogged up years ago!

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

At the STD clinic;

jig= syphilis syphilis

reel= gonnorhoea gonnorhoea.

(Big clap for that!)

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

I wrote a long reply getting into theory and all that but I decided to toss it all.

If you are listening to some traditional music tap your feet and move to the music. If it feels square it’s probably a reel. Somewhat sharp and notes tend to be grouped in twos and fours.

Don’t get a reel confused with a polka. The difference is that a polka will be a bit more fast, more repetitive and really really bouncy.

If it feels round or wavy its a Jig. Jigs are kinda smooth and in sets of three. If it is round and makes you dizzy (dizzyer?) it’s probably a slip jig.

If it seems to make no sense at all like the others do, but still sounds ok, it’s a hornpipe.

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

It’s a question and answer thing as in

Drunk male flute player :"hey doll you wanna get jiggy"

Not so drunk female fiddler: "D’you wanna get real?"

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

I always use:

Liverpool, Everton. Liverpool, Everton.…

Crys-tle Pal-ace, Crys-tle Pal-ace,

Re: Trying to explain the difference between a jig, reel and hornpipe.

hornpipe; Alli-gator, Alli-gator, Alli-gator

slide: Humpty Dumpty sat-on-a wall

polka: Nee Nah!. Nee Nah!

fling, schottishe: 4 and 20 virgins went down to Inverness