Strathspey Quadruplets

Strathspey Quadruplets

Quick question about quadruplets when playing strathspeys (in the higland scots style, not so much cape breton) better to bow them all or slur them? I would think they’re supposed to be bowed, but it can sound too rigid - but slurring them sounds too wishy-washy.

Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

There is no rigid formula. It depends on where they appear etc. Frequently, they are played by slurring the first two notes and bowing the second two. Scott Skinner and William Honeyman both published guides, neither of which can be taken as gospel.

Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

try slurring the first 2 and bowing the next 2..also dot/cut them….hold the first one as if dotted and cut the other 3

daaaaa de da da

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I know you didn’t ask for this, they are usually bowed in the Cape Breton style… four quick, snappy notes. I have no idea if they are played the same way in the "highland scots style"….

Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

I never encountered quadruplets in any of the strathspeys I ever played on the GHB. That’s going back a bit., but I don’t think it is ‘the highland scots style’.

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Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

"I never encountered quadruplets in any of the strathspeys I ever played on the GHB. That’s going back a bit., but I don’t think it is ‘the highland scots style’."

You’d have a job playing them on the Highland pipes - throws would be a substitute. It’s a fiddle thing, and very much part of the style.

Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

Check out first bar of https://thesession.org/tunes/3526.

Listening to recordings of Skinner and ppl like that, their triplets and quadruplets sound very staccato, like the bow’s bouncing off the strings.

Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

In this example:

X:1
T:Duchess of Gordon
S:Honeyman Tutor
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:A
A,3/2C/2 E3/2C/2 D/2F3/2 E2|F3/2B/2 B3/2c/2 d/2c/2B/2A/2 G/2F/2E/2D/2|
C3/2D/2 E3/2C/2 D/2F3/2 E2|
F3/2B/2 A/2G/2F/2E/2 A2A2:|
c3/2e/2 A3/2e/2 c3/2e/2 d/2c/2B/2A/2|
G3/2B/2 E3/2B/2 G3/2B/2 E3/2d/2|c/2e3/2 A3/2e/2 c3/2e/2 d/2c/2B/2A/2|
F3/2B/2 A/2G/2F/2E/2 A2A2|c3/2e/2 A3/2e/2 c/2e/2f/2g/2 a2|
F3/2B/2 B3/2c/2 d/2c/2B/2A/2 G/2F/2E/2D/2|C3/2D/2 E3/2C/2 D/2F3/2 E2|
F3/2B/2 A/2G/2F/2E/2 A2A2|]


The quadruplets in bar 2 are played by slurring the first two and bowing the second two - the same all the way through until bar 10, where they are played staccato with a bow to each note. The quadruiplet in the final bar is back to the slur 2 bow2 pattern.

Maybe better with a score that shows the bowing:

ttp://img.villagephotos.com/p/2007-2/1242588/Duchess%20of%20Gordon.jpg Big picture!

However, like I said earlier, the Honeyman guide isn’t gospel.
Paul Anderson is one of the finest strathspey players today. He has videos on his site:
http://www.tarlandfiddler.info/

Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

I’ve always enjoyed Bruce MacGregor’s strathspey playing and he’s very good to listen to if you’re intrested in the Highland style. There’s a video of him on youtube playing a couple of strathspeys and from what I can tell he plays his quadruplets all seperately which is something that I would also probably do. It does take some work to get them so crisp at the speed he’s playing though!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EI0-AQNEqEA


Another Highand fiddle player to look at may be Lauren MacColl. I remember one contributor here, Domnull, saying her strathspey playing was some of the finest he’d heard in a while. Her second album, Strewn With Ribbons, can be found on Spotify along with a couple of videos on Youtube.

There’s also a large number of James Scott Skinner recordings if you’re looking for more of a North East influence. If I remember rightly, the Miller O’ Hirn features a quaduplet in the first part of the tune which to my ears sounds quite staccato.

If you’re interested in looking further, Alastair Hardie also brought out a book called the Caledonian Companion which features notation for many strathspeys (although more in a North East style I’ve been told) but he explains the bowing behind them all too. There’s also a lot of other tunes in the book. It’s quite useful.

(Sorry for such a long post!)

Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

Another possibility is a down-bow staccato on the first and a slurred up-bow staccato on the other 3. You could even do these slurred up-bow staccatos on a run of 4 or 8 sixteenth notes (eg 6th bar of the B-part of the Duchess of Gordon). wll.

Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

Ach - there was me thinking the new parents were to be congratulated on their new arrivals!

I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a quadruplet - is it not realy just a note followed by a triplet😉

Personally, I’d bow them singly, and wouldn’t give them all the same length.

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Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

"I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a quadruplet - is it not realy just a note followed by a triplet"

Aye there is (even things like nonuplets - though it is tuplets rather than twins in music), but, strictly speaking, they would be played within the space of three notes. However, the OP appears to be referring to the groups of four semiquavers found in strathspeys. Never thought of them as a note followed by a triplet, as they span the space of four semiquavers, but, an interesting concept if you want to give weight to the first note.

Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

Great - thanks everybody

Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

As someone brought up, for some reason these strathspey quadruplets didn’t become part of the traditional Highland bagpipe style. The pipers turned all the quadruplets into triplets.

Some of the old traditional strathspeys which are played both in the fiddle tradition and in the piping tradition exhibit this- where there’s a quadruplet in the fiddle version there’s a triplet in the GHB version. Don’t know why, because it’s perfectly simple to play these quadruplets on the pipes.

Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

"Don’t know why, because it’s perfectly simple to play these quadruplets on the pipes. "

I’d be very interested to hear scale runs of semiquavers played staccato on the Highland chanter without gracing.

Re: Strathspey Quadruplets

In Cape Breton, the quadruplets are almost exclusivity played unslurred for each note.

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