Marches

Marches

Hi all,
I’m a new member (but a lurker for some time). My main interest is in sean-nós singing, but I’ve been playing fiddle for about six years and I’m trying to understand some things better. I was going through the discussions about marches, and I’m still confused. It seems that marches can be called a jig, reel, polka, barndance, hornpipe, etc. Is it simply that it’s a march if the title says it’s a march? Sorry for the confusion, folks; I’d just like to figure this out. Go raibh maith agaibh!

Re: Marches

I heard an interesting thing about marches once: 4/4 time for infantry, but 6/8 for cavalry. Something about the difference in the gait—people go "hup-two-three-four," but horses go "clop-e-ty, clop-e-ty, clop-e-ty."

Re: Marches

There’s no "march" category because marches can come in any number of time signatures.

Re: Marches

Tunes on this site are entered into the system by dance type, rhythm and key (key’s irrelevent to this case).

For example: Drowsy Maggie is a reel in 4/4,
Harvest Home is a hornpipe in 4/4,
Whitehaven Volunteers is a barndance in 4/4.

So you see, more than one type of tune can go with a given rhythm.

However, *all* the tunes of a given type have the same rhythm: e.g., all reels are 4/4; all polkas are 2/4 - etc., for the purposes of this site anyway.

Marches (at any rate, tunes named as such) don’t fit into this system. This is because they do not come all in the same rhythm, like reels, but in a variety of rhythms. Thus, a 2/4 march will be shoe-horned in under "Polkas", a 6/8 one under "Jigs", and so on.

If you type "March" into the tune title search box of the Tunes section, you’ll get some of them (well, a lot!), but obviously not the many that don’t have "March" in the title though they were originally composed as marches. But try "Major", "Pipe-Major", "Captain", "Guards" and what have you, and you might find a few.

Marches, as far as I can see, are either tunes composed to be marched to, or tunes composed outside a military context but imitating some aspect of the former. Either kind can be put to use as dance music or listening music, in the case of genuine military music maybe modifying its original speed, rhythm, etc.

The majority of extant march tunes in this site’s normal range of interest - if not actually in the Tunes base - are surely in the Highland Bagpipe repertoire, extended by the instrument’s long-standing use in the British army.











.

Re: Marches

Wow, thanks so much! It’s ever so much clearer now. I was led to my query by pondering "March of the King of Laois" (easy to play, very pretty, "march-like tempo," etc.) and wondering how such a clearly dotted rhythm like this tune fits into a 4/4 category. Your explanation makes better sense than my wild guess that it’s about the title!

Re: Marches

Many different tunes are used by the foot soldiers of the military as marches. The criteria being that the tune suits the marching pace of that particular regiment. For example most of the Guards Regiments of the British Army march at 120 paces or steps per min for what is termed the Quick March.. That would also be the standard pace of the Irish Army as well. However, the Light Infantry Regiments march at 140 paces per minute. The Highland Regiments march at 112 paces and many of the Pipe Bands when marching on their own use a pace of 60 steps per minute. The Royal Ulster Rifles for instance, being an Infantry regiment, marched at 140 paces per minute and used tunes such as Killaloe/Garryown/St Patrick’s Day/ Brian Boru’s March etc as their marching tunes,.

Re: Marches

Not forgetting of course ‘Tyrone Ditches’ A great march that always reminds me of playing for the Bridge of Athlone many moons ago. The Tyrone Ditches I’m familiar with is in the Tunes Section under ‘I wont be a Nun’