How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Ive been thinking about picking up that book of english fiddle tunes to make a nice change ‘represent my roots’.

One issue I thought will be that unlike the irish tunes where there are copious tunes online to listen and leanr from i doubt i will find nearly any for the tunes in those books due to the lack of popularity of enlgish folk.

So how does the general emphasis differ from irish for those song types? do you still generally emphasise the first and 4th and first and fifth respectively?

All ive heard people say about english folk tunes is that they are more ‘lumpy’ than irish tunes which really doesnt help at all :D

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

It is a generalisation, but probably not an unfounded one, to say that English playing puts a much *stronger* emphasis on the downbeat (1 & 4 for jigs, 1 & 5 for reels) than you hear in Irish music, which gives the music a ‘heavier’ (lumpier?) feel. The emphasis also tends, to my ear, to be more regular, with less of the expressive secondary accenting heard in Irish music.

As regards the tunes themselves, a higher proportion of the jigs in the English repertoire are what would be called ‘single jigs’ in Irish music - more crotchet-quaver groupings than three quaver groupings and a tendency to fall into 2-bar (in 6/8) phrases. Likewise, reels composed mainly of quaver passages are much rarer in the English repertoire than in Irish music, with crotchet passages being quite common - some English reels would probably be classed as (and played as) polkas in Ireland.

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Quite a big subject Arthur and can be a bit of a can of worms!

One problem is that there are multiple strands within English music, you’ve got the cheerful straightforward English melodeon session/barndance style, 4:4s tend to be very polka-ish and jigs tend to be very rumty-tumty, two strong beats in every bar. You’ve got the fairly subtle Scandinavian/French-influenced style, Chris Wood/Andy Cutting, Methera Quartet etc. From there you can go via Spiers and Boden into a Big Band style with Bellowhead and Whapweasel etc. And that’s just part of it.

From a quick look I’d suggest this clip as a good example of "where things have got to…"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niREBD-K7MM

You might want to jump in at about 30 seconds.

Obviously this is an Irish music forum and replies will tend to reflect that.
I find it very interesting just how much English instrumental music there is now at the mainstream festivals I go to, (southern England.) Theres’s not much Irish/Scottish at all. Huge difference from a few years back.

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Arguably there aren’t any reels in the English tradition but given that you have fast 4:4 tunes, two in a bar, it all gets a bit academic! English hornpipes aren’t necessarily "dotted."

If "the glory" of ITM is the reels, the last few years would suggest that the equivalent in English music is the 3:2s……
(Sometimes called "double hornpipes" just to be okkard.)

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

"Arguably there aren’t any reels in the English tradition…"

https://thesession.org/tunes/12028
https://thesession.org/tunes/10304
https://thesession.org/tunes/7072

You could argue that they’re not reels because they dont have the same rhythmic structure as Irish or Scottish Reels. But, if they’re traditionally called reels in England, who’s to argue?

Then there are tunes like these (more typical of N. England, I think)
https://thesession.org/tunes/12041
https://thesession.org/tunes/1162
which bear a much closer structural resemblance to Scottish or Irish Reels.

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Yes, but take the well known tune "Dorset Four Hand Reel" - how is it normally played for the dance? I’d suggest pretty polka-ish. The term reel may be used in the English tradition, but I suspect it refers to the dance, not the tune.

And yes, things chang as the Scottish border gets closer.

I think I’ve seen the term reel in connection with Welsh tunes?

But "arguably" and "gets a bit academic."

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

"The term reel may be used in the English tradition, but I suspect it refers to the dance, not the tune."

But these are dance music traditions - the dance and the tune two are parts of the same thing. What is a reel (tune) if not a tune used to accompany a reel (dance)?

"how is it normally played for the dance? I’d suggest pretty polka-ish."

It might sound ‘polka-ish’ to a musician from Kerry. But I wonder whether a musician from Bavaria or Bohemia would recognise an English reel (or and Irish Polka) as a polka. Granted, The Dorset 4-Hand Reel is not the same type of tune as The Congress Reel. So there is different usage of the term ‘reel’ between Ireland and England - and between Dorset and Yorkshire.

In Portugal, a melodeon is called a ‘concertina’πŸ˜‰

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Hmm since you say that creadur id probably say the lumpiness people tlka of its perhaps due to the more crotchets invilved then?

I actually don;t like that even in irish tunes and often replace them with 3 thingys instead since i like how tunes flow with the more notes.

So maybe english tunes arent for me. Even listneing to them they sound stilted I prefer a continuous rythmic flow.

But it is still nice to know about these tunes. Im interested to leanr some more and see ifanyhting takes my fancy or at least get a history lesson on things closer to home. What would be the closest equivalent/the most flowing style of tune in the english repertoire? since all of it so far has sounded the same plodding kind of pace.

Also apart from john dipper and some woman whose name i forgot what are some of the known english folk players?

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Ye this english stuff just rmeinds me of morris dancing :P with all its uncoolness.

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Mr Gondolor, how come you are qualified to dis Morris as you have demonstrated a very poor/ naive knowledge of traditional music?

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

I think it’s a quotation

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

because.

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Trying to start something up, Arthur?

Posted by .

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

No but I dont have to be an authority on something to say what i perosnally dislike about something.

Besides I grew up with morris dancing in my family so i think im qualified to have an opinion on whehter i like it or not. πŸ™‚

my uncles both were/are in morris danicng sides and now my mum is too.

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Arthur, if you had been a bloke in the pub’ that I had been speaking to, I’d walked over thrre and left you to it now…

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Hey yhall, Arthur only asked a simple question. No need to go all London on him πŸ™‚

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

All part of the fun of a good discussion on the session πŸ™‚

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Ah, Jim, there you are unmaking trouble again.

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Without suggesting that one music style is better than another, an English jig doesn’t really sound like an Irish one (and vice versa). Creadur and TomB-R talked about the crotchet-quaver rumty-tumty rhythm. It is present in Irish tunes as well, but still, they don’t sound alike. Recently, we had a thread about a Swedish schottische. While I wouldn’t say that it sounded like English schottisches, at least it sounded just as non-Irish as would an English/French/German/Scandinavian one. And the same goes for polkas and many other tune types.

So, in a way, it seems as if Irish music is the odd man out here. πŸ™‚

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

"…I grew up with morris dancing in my family…"

…In which case you’ll know that Morris men are sometimes armed with big sticks. This is why we don’t dis Morris dancing on this forum - you never know who might be reading. Some Morris musicians have an uncanny ability to lighten their primary accents, slur across barlines, execute perfectly timed rolls and namedrop the most obscure of Irish musicians when it serves them to do so.

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

That is the second threat ive had now from the morris danicng mafia…

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

I can assure you, I am not one of them (…which is why I woke up this morning seeing in negative).

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Do morris dancers think of morris dancing as ‘cool’ ? Do they care about its "uncoolness" ?

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

hehe … I was playing in a session once, and it was in the middle of a folk festival where there where Irish and English / Morris tunes going on. I turned round to see a blackened face at the nearby crowded bar. I told one of them that his mascara was running, and he came closer to hear what I was saying. Only then I realized he had a big stick, was 6’4 tall, and was the size of a door frame. Luckily he saw the funny side πŸ™‚

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

As a morris dancer I can advise you that we do not wish to be seen as ‘cool’. In our natural environment of pretty English pubs on a summer’s evening we fulfil our role of entertainers to most people’s approval. WE then go in the pub and play typical English tunes, again to general acclaim.

So we are not purveyors of ITM but, on the whole, we feel no need to say that all ITM is rubbish, which it would seem is not necessarily reciprocated.

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Now, does anyone else than Creadur and TomB-R have anything to say about the actual topic? Any musicologists out there who would care to elaborate on the differences?

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

@goldfrog —

Pardon the board here — that morris slag was Arthur being Arthur and not representative of an ITM worldview…

Posted by .

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

A much older use of the term "jig" in England folk music was with reference to a dance that involved jumps (think of a child "jigging up and down"). So a tune can be called a "jig" but it may not necessarily be in 6/8, 3/8 or 9/8. An example here in Tunes is "The Coleford Jigge", in 4/4 and classified as a Hornpipe. It’s called "Jigge" (a very old spelling) rather than "Jig" because the database here would not have allowed "Jig" in the title.

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Coming back to the original point, whether the OP is interested or not, I’d suggest that by the time you get to anything in English music that is similar enough in sound to an Irish reel to be an interesting comparison, you’re not sure whether it’s English any more!

A "compare and contrast" of jigs seems a lot more interesting, (never mind that as with reel, the word sometimes means two things that are entirely different.) Does it just comes down to emphasis, an English jig has two very strong beats in (almost) every bar. In an Irish style jig the two beats are lighter, and (I think) the first beat will often be noticeably stronger than the second, or there’s a slight stretching of the first note? (Heading the same way as an Irish reel?)
I know by feel, but by analysis I’m not at all sure.

Looking for a "nice" example of an English style jig here are (a very young looking) Chris Wood and Andy Cutting. The music starts at about 55 secs.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ct-oGOAQAzk

Nobody’s going to think that’s Irish, are they?

How about Kevin Burke by way of comparison…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIO9Qhqe4RQ


Hornpipes now….

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

@Tom, those are interesting! Mightcha be stacking the deck giving English in major and Irish in minor? πŸ˜‰

This is a new topic to me, *but* I notice in the English one a lot of emphasis on the "pah" in the box:
1 2 *3* | 4 5 *6*
accent on the upbeat.

And some interesting tweakage of the lengths of the subbeats.

Maybe along with what you say, longer breaths in the phrasing. (Interesting that the English fiddler is tapping every 8th note, looks like!)

BTW, you know you can link right to a certain spot in a youtube video?

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

I’m not really sure it’s about tweaking/delaying the beat, but simply how the melody goes. I’d say that the tunes that differ most are more hmm…. melodic? Chord "friendly"? Think of the non-Irish sounding English tunes, the chords that they have, and where those chords are played. You have to look for either very old or recently composed Irish tunes to find implied chord sequences like that.

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

I have been to some workshops on playing for English dancing. As a flute player the most obvious thing was that all almost the tunes are played with a much more ‘punchy’ rhythm. I found it hard work on a flute - possibly why flute is not common in English dance music; whistle seems a better suited wind instrument.

On the rhythms the most striking thing was emphasis on the downbeat, which is often played stacatto. To get ABC code to render a jig into MIDI roughly with the rhythm of one tutor tape by a D/G box player G2G sometimes needed to be GzG (and/or the first note indicated as stacatto) - the variation in the phrasing involving mixing the two.

English dance is generally much more high stepping than Irish dance - one story is that the Irish dance closer to the floor to allow dancing in small rooms without knocking things of the dresser. So the music has to leave time for higher and often longer steps - in morris there are sometimes high jumps requiring the music to wait until the dancer has landed.

But isn’t listening better than asking on the web ?

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

It is a pretty good rendering of Kirkpatrick/morris style. I guess I was thinking in terms of areas where English/Irish come closer together, and the differences are a bit more subtle, but it may be more helpful to start "further apart."

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

For something closer recordings of English players playing familiar Irish tunes in an English way (knowingly or otherwise πŸ˜‰) or playing Irish tunes that have been in the English repertoire for a couple of hundred years, may be better.

‘Shared’ tunes such as Haste to the Wedding and Rakes of Mallow played in each style may also help.

(I though of that earlier - but it’s much harder work to find examples !)

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Yes I am still quite interested in this. but its a bit confusing keeping up with peoples idiosyncrachratic explanations of whats going on.

i think comparisons of shared tunes is a good shout if anyone has any more to add.

Re: How does the emphasis/rhythm work in english reels/jigs compared to irish?

Whats the difference between the above and morris music? sounds the same to me? plodding and a bit silly. Like the type of music youd hear on a scampish children’s cartoon :P

I still havent relaly heard any decent melodies form english stuff if melodies is the right term.