4/4 & so much more

4/4 & so much more

At our session we tend to play mostly reels. Any tips on how to bring in more variety?
That sounds like a loaded question but it is not. We do slides, slip jigs, waltzes …
but it always seems to go back to reels. If I had to say what we play most
in descending order it would probably be:
Reels
Jigs
Waltzes
Songs
Slides
Hornpipes
Airs
Polkas & Mazurkas
Slip Jigs
7/8 Tunes

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Re: 4/4 & so much more

Same problem at our session. It’s pretty clear what the solution is, though. Just play more tunes that aren’t reels. Or is this a trick question?

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Anything is possible on TheSession but no it is not a trick. Does anyone play more jigs than reels? Personally I could play slip jigs for hours.

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Re: 4/4 & so much more

Bring out the flings and barndances! This will appease those who crave non-stop 4/4, and will give you the variety you crave. Plus, they are fun tunes!

Re: 4/4 & so much more

We play a fair number of jigs at our session. Not sure why. Our randomly strung together jig sets can go on and on.

A lot depends on who shows up for a particular session. Some people are reel hounds, others like to mix in a bunch of hornpipes, slip jigs, barndances, etc. We’re also lucky to have a handful of wonderful singers.

Yes, we sometimes run nothing but reels for a good spell, but more often we mix it up. So much depends on a red wheelbarrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens. Ooops, erm, sorry. So much depends on the inclinations and moods of the players on hand each night.

Posted .

Re: 4/4 & so much more

My problem is that the first tune that pops into my head is likely to be a reel, and if not, a jig. And of course, once it’s popped into your head, you want to play it. It’s only afterwards that I look back on it and think that it would’ve been nice to have more variety. And then I start thinking maybe we should play some polkas or something, but then I think nah, there’s that nice reel that goes |d2ge dBAG|FDAD BDAF|… screw the polkas!

Re: 4/4 & so much more

We usually play more jigs than reels, in fact, we’ve been on a jig jag for the last year or so. When it’s my turn to start a set, I usually try to play a jig if the last tunes were reels, and a reel if they were jigs. This is a nice reminder – tonight I’ll try some hornpipes, too. Wish I knew more polkas besides the Ballydesmonds, that Planxty set (all fine tunes, mind, IMO) and two or three others.

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Lots of plain polkas make the rounds—too few of the more melodic ones see the light of day. Wish more people would play O’Keefe’s Polka, Jessica’s, etc.

Posted .

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Another way to have it both ways is to vary the way you play your reels. Maybe play a set in a breakneck Donegal style, followed by a set of lugubrious West Clare reels.

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Let’s hear for the marches and 3/2s.

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Pardon my ignorence, but what is 4/4?

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I admit it. I am a reel hound.

I can’t even name most of the jigs we play in D or G Ionian… one set of those is fine but small doses only please.

Re: 4/4 & so much more

As everybody knows, there is a great demand from the Green party to cut down on the number of 4 X 4’s we are using, as they guzzle up too much petrol, and are contributing to global warming.
I’m particularly worried about a nice session I know in Norwich, which is very close to sea level.
So, please, people, play more 6/8s, 9/8s, and 3/4’s, or, as Mary Macaslin used to say, three-quarter time. You know it makes sense !

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7/8 tunes, The Muse mate? Coo, you lot are clever!

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so muse, ye play songs over hpipes???? wtf ? dey totally rock, i play (fiddle) hpipes almost 2nd r 3rd in list, they’re sooooo coollll, heres one for ye, try goin from jigs to reels like on sum lunasa album, tis qware gud wen its done rite! now if dat wont jazz up a sesh, den i dunno….

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Does anyone know what 4/4 is?

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I think 4/4 a fancy pants way to say "full-sized" fiddle.

Re: 4/4 & so much more

is a

Re: 4/4 & so much more

I thought 4/4 was a golfing term.

Muse, how can you possibly play more slides and waltzes than hornpipes? Hornpipes are awesome!

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4/4?- ‘Tis a place in Angus is it not? Just next to Kirriemuir!

Re: 4/4 & so much more

4/4 is when it goes dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba dubba dabba

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Btw, 6/8 = doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity doppity duppity
9/8 = dop-ti doppity duppity dop-ti doppity duppity dop-ti doppity duppity dop-ti doppity duppity dop-ti doppity duppity dop-ti doppity duppity dop-ti doppity duppity dop-ti doppity duppity
7/8 = dubbada dubba dubba dubbada dubba dubba dubbada dubba dubba dubbada dubba dubba dubbada dubba dubba dubbada dubba dubba dubbada dubba dubba dubbada dubba dubba
OR doppa doppa doppada doppa doppa doppada doppa doppa doppada doppa doppa doppada doppa doppa doppada doppa doppa doppada doppa doppa doppada doppa doppa doppada
11/8 = doppa doppa dappada dappa duppa doppa doppa dappada dappa duppa doppa doppa dappada dappa duppa doppa doppa dappada dappa duppa

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Identify these timings then:

1. dubby dub dubby dub dubby dub dubby dub dubby dub dubby dub dubby dub dubby dub

2. dubba dabba dub dubba dabba dub dubba dabba dub dubba dabba dub dubba dabba dub dubba dabba dub

3. dubba dubba dubba dubba dubba dubba dubba dubba dubba dubba dubba dubba dubba dubba

4. Errr….. I’m off to bed!

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Damn - beat me to it!!

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I still say it is a place in Angus!!

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1. Polka
2. Mazurka
3. could be anything…

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Well, Joe, it’s a relief to know we have alternatives available in 7/8 tunes.




Flippin’ ‘eck, mum…

Re: 4/4 & so much more

1. Nope
2. Nope
3. Nope

I do like your suggestions though!

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Damn

Re: 4/4 & so much more

To be serious for a moment, and to provide the real information which some may need,

4/4 means 4 quarter notes (crotchets) in a bar (or measure). This is 4 beats in a bar, and is the correct time signature for hornpipes, but is often used for reels.

2/2 means 2 half notes (minims) in a bar. Strictly speaking this is what should be used for reels (2 beats in a bar), but reels are often notated as 4/4. It can be argued that 4/4 implies you can have 4 harmony changes in the bar (one on each beat), and that 2/2 implies no more than 2 such harmony changes. If 4/4 is used for hornpipes and 2/2 for reels this in part explains why hornpipes are naturally slightly slower than reels. To my ear, a reel with 4 harmony changes in a bar would sound uncomfortable and a little messy.

6/8 means 6 eighth notes (quavers) in a measure, but played as two groups of three. This is the time signature used for jigs. Technically, it is a duple (2 beats in a bar) compound rhythm.

9/8 means 9 eighth notes in a bar, split into 3 groups of three. The rhythmic effect can sometimes sound complex. Used for slip jigs. Not used in set dancing, but found in step dancing. Not all that many slip jigs are played in sessions, but those that are, are good tunes.

12/8 means 12 eighth notes in a bar, but played as four groups of three. The effect is that of a fast 4-in-a-bar. This is used for slides.

2/4 means two quarter notes in a bar. This is the 2 beats in a bar used for polkas.

3/4 means 3 quarter notes in a bar, and is mostly used, as far as we are concerned, for waltzes, although slow airs are often squeezed into a 3/4 format so that they can be accepted in the Tunes database here (although Jeremy and a few others don’t really approve!) Also used for ballads.

7/8 = 7 eighth notes in a bar. A rare oddball. It’s almost, but not quite, like a jig, but is usually played as 3/8 + 4/8, or 4/8 + 3/8. I only include it because there is a well-known tune in 7/8 by Grey Larsen called "Thunderhead", but even that is quite easy to convert into a more manageable 6/8.

5/8, 10/8, 11/8, 13/8 etc. Forget ‘em as far as Irish music is concerned. They’re usually the result of someone’s attempt at notating the complex and essentially unnotatable rhythms of Eastern European music, which cannot be learned through the dots, but only by ear.

For reference,
1 eighth note = 1 quaver
1 quarter note = 1 crotchet = 2 quavers
1 half note = 1 minim = 2 crotchets = 4 quavers

Re: 4/4 & so much more

I forgot to mention 3/2s. They are 3 minims in a bar (sometimes written as 6/4), and are characteristic of certain Northumbrian tunes and old English hornpipes. There are a few in the Tunes database. See Dow for further detailed information.

Re: 4/4 & so much more

You didn’t mention 6/4 either. I have the well-known Carolan tune She Begs For More in that time signature somewhere.

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The Famous Bridge is another good example of a 7/8 tune.

Very detailed analysis lazyhound there - most impressive at having the patience to type it all. I would just add that slow airs and ballads can really be found in any time signature - they do not have to be 3/4s.

Also Marches (which are not listed above due to a long standing insistence of Jeremy can be found in a number of time signatures including: 2/4, 3/4 (retreat marches - I think), 4/4, 6/8, 9/8 and probably others.

Re: 4/4 & so much more

"We do slides, slip jigs, waltzes … but it always seems to go back to reels."

If it didn’t, you would have played your last reel. Ever. I hope it always goes back to reels. And all the other rhythms, as well.

Re: 4/4 & so much more

I said it before All your dubs dubbys dupities your 4/4 s 6/8 s and whatever go out the window when you listen to the likes of Micho Russell.

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Re: 4/4 & so much more

Thank you Joe CS. So it has something to do with timing, or a beat. I do not understand that aspect of music. Personally I am a bit like Saint describes below, I just play. You play a tune, I’ll back it on a bodhran. If you start talking to me about bars and such, I wouldn’t be able to play at all. Sometimes ignorence really is bliss.

Re: 4/4 & so much more

I can’t believe no one mentioned Strathspeys yet, there are loads of great Strathspeys which are like a mixture between a Reel and a Jig, with a jumpy rhythm.

Also Set Dances often have unusual beat patterns

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Hey bliss, sorry if my post seemed rude. There has been so much discussion of rhythms on this site before that I didn’t realise you were serious. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that not everyone knows something you do, especially if it’s something which has been ingrained in you for as long as you can remember. I didn’t intend to be rude, so sorry.

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I knew JoeCS’s post would suit you bliss.

As always my bodhran playing ‘friend’ requires a unique way of musical explanation.

That one is up there with "you just F&*cking blow it"

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Strathspeys are in 4/4. They are reels. They are jumpy but they are not really like jigs. They are however, often, great tunes. Some tunes have a strathspey and a reel version. It is converted by playing it more straight (and usually speeding up).

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Quote: "Strathspeys are in 4/4. They are reels."

Strathspeys are reels danced on hot coals….

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Great description!

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Reels are the favourite ones! But we used to play more jigs than reels before

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Just need to find out what a bar is, in musical terms.

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Yeah, Bliss I wasn’t quite sure if you were serious and I didn’t want to be gulled so I gave a smartass answer.

"Can I read music? Not enough to hurt my playing." - attributed to an old-time fiddler.

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Strathspeys are NOT Reels, they may be notated in 4/4 but most Strathspeys have long triplet passages towards for the last few bars of each section which could in effect by notated in 6/8 thus making them Jig like, that is why I said they are like a mix between a Reel and a Jig. When a Strathspey is played as a Reel the jig like triplets are usually taken out, and that’s what makes them Reels! Highlands sometimes have these triplet runs too and Highlands are sometimes played as reels also, but again lets get one thing straight Strathspeys are NOT NOT NOT reels!

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Yes they are portnajkngkfjbnasfjbasf (whatever!). They are reels from, historically, the Strathspey area of the Highlands. This is how the musicians there chose to play and write their reels. They are a form of reel, very stylised and certainly very prone to triplets but that does not make them jigs. I can see why you might say they are somewhat akin to jigs but ultimately you can not class them as jigs or half way between jigs and reels. They are in 4/4, they are a regional style of Reel, end of!

Regarding Highlands, geographically from Donegal I believe, they are very much akin to Strathspeys, predomniantly due to the close links in terms of migration, historically, between the two areas. Many Highlands will have older versions to the tunes that originate in Scotland.

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Wow! I just got back on line & saw all the comments. I realize it does depend on who shows up.
Mainly I just like a variety of rhythms.
We do play flings, barndances, strathspeys … we have like one Strathspey - Calum’s Road;
https://thesession.org/tunes/3016
Sometimes we do something to alter the tempo. For instance start a reel slowly, play one A - one B & then launch into double time at the top.
But back to the question. (4/4 & …)
How come no one really said anything about slip jigs?
Our 7/8 tune is Waterman’s.
https://thesession.org/tunes/3367
Speaking for the wind section Lunasa does know how to mix it up. Good call fish.
Anyway thanks all.

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Re: 4/4 & so much more

Now Calum’s Road is one of those tunes that are difficult to classify!

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No Cause for Alarm, you cause me alarm! Just cos your scottish doesn’t mean you are right in saying Strathspeys are Reels. Here is a proper definition and history of the Strathspey courtesy of wikipedia.

A strathspey is a dance tune in 4/4 time (usually set to quavers or eighth notes). It is similar to a hornpipe but slower and more stately, and containing many snaps. A so-called Scots snap is a short note before a dotted note. An example of a strathspey would be the song "The Bonnie Banks O’ Loch Lomond", provided you sing it staccato:
"You’ll tak the high road, and I’ll tak the low road, and I’ll be in Scotland afore ye"
Other examples are the tunes to Auld Lang Syne and Coming through the rye - both probably based on an old strathspey tune called The Miller’s daughter.
Strathspey refers both to the type of tune, and to the type of dance usually done to it (although strathspeys are also frequently danced to slow airs).
The strathspey step is a slower and more stately version of the skip-change step used for jigs and reels.
The strathspey also forms part of the musical format for competing pipe bands - modern high grade bands are required to play a March, Strathspey and Reel for competition purposes.
Strathspey is one of the dance types in Scottish country dancing. A Scottish country dance will typically consist of equal numbers of strathspeys, jigs and reels.
It is named after the Strathspey region of Scotland, in Moray and Badenoch and Strathspey.
The Strathspey may have originated as bagpipe tunes, but arguably the greatest tunes were written in the 18th and 19th C by composers such as William Marshall and James Scott Skinner, who utilised the full range of the fiddle to produce many memorable tunes. Skinner distinguished between dance tunes, which retained the staccato bowing (Laird o Drumblair), and airs which were to be listened to (Music of Spey). More recently, Muriel Johnstone has written some elegant piano strathspeys. These days there are at least four, some would say seven, varieties: the bouncy schottische, the strong strathspey, the song or air strathspey, all three of which can be enjoyed for dancing, and the Competition strathspey for the bagpipe, primarily intended as a displaty of virtuosity

Re: 4/4 & so much more

It has got nothing to do with being Scottish. Just because you can copy from Wikipedia it does not mean you are right, and anyway, Wikipedia does not back up your case that Strathspeys could be notated in 6/8 format. I know fine well that Pipers will play sets of March, Strathspey and Reel. But significantly the marches will be 2/4 marches or, perhaps 4/4 marches. They will not be 6/8 marches because they would not fit.

I have acknowledged that Strathspeys are very distinctive and different from your normal reel. As Dow unearthed in his links in the other thread I have already discussed the unique differences of Strathspeys, albeit briefly, a long time ago. They should be given seperate significance from a normal reel but they are still a form of reel and no amount of shouting from you is going to change that. I don’t claim my knowledge by being Scottish. I also do not cry your ignorance because you are not. I am quite sure there are bucket loads of Irish people (if you are Irish) more knowledgeable about Strathspeys than me. It is just that you are clearly not one of them! Good day, Sir!

Re: 4/4 & so much more

NCFA I agree with you on this one. Although the strathspey is a separate type of dance/tune in its own right, it’s much more closely related to the reel than the jig. I can think of quite a few strathspeys that have developed into reels over time, but this just doesn’t seem to happen with jigs. I’m sure portnabpucai won’t be interested in backing down on this one, but hey, my 2 cents.

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I used Wikipedia because it explains very well things I already knew. It may not back up my case that Strathspeys could be notated in 6/8, nor am I saying that the whole of a Strathspey can be, but most Strathspeys contain constant triplet passages in the last few bars which if you isolate them are just like jigs and thus could in theory be notated as such, but like everything in trad its not about the notation, its how they sound and to my eaer a Strathspey sounds like a Reel or a Hornpipe or a Highland with a bit of a Jig at the end!

Perhaps they derived from reels, but that does not make them reels, next you’ll be saying a Highland and Hornpipe and a Barndance are all reels too. Also remember that most tune types get their names from the dance and a Strathspey dance is completely different to a reel dance.

It is a particularly good thing that Strathspeys are not reels because it shows they are a distinct style of tune form that originated in Scotland, I’ve no idea why you would want to dispute this point because it makes you Scots look good for a change 😉

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Cheers. There are certainly tunes that have jig and reel forms to them, although I am damned if I can think of any of them just now. Are there any jig timed tunes that have more of a Strathspey style to them? What I mean is is there a class of tunes that relates to Jigs in the same way that Strathspeys relate to reels?

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Other than 6/8 marches - which are perhaps a different kettle of fish (now that is a wierd expression!).

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I remember reading somewhere (I think it was a GHB’s blog) that Strathspeys do not always have to have Scotch snaps—-that the distinctive feature is that the emphasis of the rhythm is always on the first and third beat—-the snap can accentuate this, but it’s not required.

Re: 4/4 & so much more

hello portnabpucai. I tried to start a new thread. Would like to see you up there.

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Re: 4/4 & so much more

My "Cheers" was obviously to Dow. We do not need to deny that Strathspeys are Reels to have something new. Reels are Scottish anyway. 😀

Strathspeys are just a particularly great form of reel. Strathspey dances may be different to Reel Dances but they are both very different from Jig dances. As far as the tunes go, for starters Jigs are not generally as pointed as Strathspeys and they tend to flow more than reels too - whether the Jig is Scottish or Irish.

I would argue that Highlands are an Irish derivation of the Strathspey. I am not sure how barndances fit in. Hornpipes are not reels. They are hornpipes. You can often play them as a reel however as they can fit the same time signature.

Ultimately you can play a strathspey as a reel but you can not play a Strathspey as a jig (unless you want JS Skinner’s ghost chasing you for eternity!).

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Anyway I better log off now as I have lots of packing to do before making a coast to coast drive (all the Americans reading this will be panicking about now at such an idea!). I have not had any dinner yet either. I am sure we can continue this debate when I am safely ensconsed back in Dunoon.

Re: 4/4 & so much more

There was a young man of Dunoon
Who always ate soup with a fork
For he said as I eat
Neither fish, fowl nor flesh
I should otherwise finish too quick

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Re: 4/4 & so much more

Someone told me that the old "One, two, three, four," would be four beats to a bar, and "123" three beats. So what size is a bar then. I know about nine bars, but this music theory is highly confusing. They say the elderly are slow learners.

The best story I know on this was a fiddler, even older than me, who played with us. Finally I learnt what scales were, well in a doh,ray, me fashion, but he could never grasp it. Then one night he says, "You mean you can play the same tune, putting your fingers in a different place?". Suddenly the mystery of scales became clear to him.
Many of you probably think I am exaggerating, most unlike me, but this is true, as is my inability to grasp theory.

Re: 4/4 & so much more

I presume a triplet of short notes in a Strathspey forms together a crotchet length in a 4/4 bar, not a trio of quavers as in 6/8 time.

Re: 4/4 & so much more

Probably

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well, there’s always the occasional thelonius monk tune.

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9 bars - ha

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I know a great English tune rescued from oblivion a 100 years ago by Cecil Sharp. It’s in 6/8 with 6 bars in the A-part and 10-1/2 in the B. Might post it one day.

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I’ve submitted that 6 + 10-1/2 tune; it’s called "Black Joak". It turns out it has an Irish origin way back in the early 18th century.

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Yes that’s also called the Sprig of Shillelagh. Apparently there are other Jokes - Red, Yellow and so on. Morris tunes?

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Thanks for that information, Danny. I hadn’t realised that there is already another version of "Black Joak" on the tune database under the name "Sprig of Shillelagh" (tune #2302). I think they are sufficiently different, especially in the B part, to stand alone, but I’ll put appropriate links in the discussions.
The “joke” (or “joak”) tunes in 6+10 are all morris tunes, and go back centuries (a printed copy of the music was published in 1731) and were very popular at the time.
Pete Cooper, on his “English Fiddle Tunes” CD plays Black, White, and True “joaks”. In his on-line commentary http://www.petecooper.com/eftnotes.htm#19 on the CD Pete goes into detail about the origins of these tunes, and further mentions Yellow, Red and Brown “joaks”. This proliferation of colours raises an interesting question in my mind about bodily decoration customs in that period – for an explanation of this particular remark of mine see Pete’s comments on “Black Joak” in the link above 🙂