Irish reels shuffle

Irish reels shuffle

Hello.
The most interesting question for me now is a question of shuffle in Irish music. Let’s talk about reels.

(By shuffle I mean some movement of ‘eights’ to more ‘triplet’ pulsation. Not exactly like jazz shuffle but the idea is close. So really played ‘eights’ will sound a bit different. We can call it ‘swing’.)

It is easy to find some sort of such a shuffle in recordings of dance music bands. It’s also very easy to catch them in special ‘dancing music’ (which sounds a bit strange but it is comfortable to analyze).
It is easy to find it in upbeat dance music (which sounds a bit like country music).
But we also can see it in modern recordings, in bands that use a lot of 3-3-2 pulsation instead of upbeat in their accompaniment.
And even in very fast tunes - it is still there.

For myself - I’m not basically a soloist, more a bodhran and a guitar player but now I’m studying playing some banjo and used to play a whistle.
I want to understand the soloist play better and help the new guys to find the proper way to Irish reels.

So my question is
-what do you think about that?
- do you have any more interesting examples?
- how will it change on the other instruments (winds, for example)
- and what else could be useful for my little investigation?

Thank you so much.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

I’d never associated a 3-3-2 pulse with reels before - but I’ll probably never be able to listen to another reel now without hearing it.😉

This type of pulse forms the basis of a lot of Latin and Carribean (and African?) rhtythms, of course. I would be surprised if it did not also occur in Indian classical music, since that employs just about every possible rhythmic permutation. It is also the underlying pulse of the *bulgar* rhythm in klezmer music - interestingly, one that developed in America in the early C20th, following the mass immigration of E. European Jews at that time. I wonder whether its appearance in Irish music is a subtle bit of American influence creeping in (it wouldn’t be the only one).

Whether or not this pulse can be heard in Irish reels, I feel it could be a dangerous thing to avdocate its use (or that of any rhythmic ‘pattern’). One of the things that characterises the rhythm of Irish music, as played by good players, is that whilst there is a solid, regular pulse underpinning the melody (by which I refer to the pulse in the melody itself, not backing), the secondary accents are free to move around, following the phrasing of the tune, so that each tune (or even each iteration of the same tune) has its own unique rhythm.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

Are you looking for tunes where (parts of) the melody has a kind of shuffle rhythm? (I’m thinking of for instance Frank’s, Mouth of Tobique, Up and Downey). We also have the 3-3-2 (or rather 3-3-1-1) bowing pattern.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

Dose this one count ?
( listen to the last part )
f4
X:7
T:Guns of the Magnificent Seven, The
R:reel
C:Fintan McManus
D:Altan: Island Angel
Z:Devin McCabe
M:C|
L:1/8
K:ADor
EA A/2A/2A ABcA|EAFA GEDG|EAAG ABcd|egdB BAAG:|
|:ABcd eAA2|gedc B~G3|ABcd eaaf|1gedB BAAG:|2gedB BAA2|
|:egdB A2eg|[M:3/4 L:1/8]dB GA B/2c/2d|[M:C| L:1/8]eBdB Aa2g|1eg dB BA
A2:|2eg dB BAAG||

Re: Irish reels shuffle

I don’t think that’s quite what the OP is talking about, FIDDLE4. That tune is a special case, as it has an irregular bar in the third part. This is more concerned with the emphasis of beats within a 4/4 (2/2 or 8/8) bar.

Great tune, though.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

jeff: "Are you looking for tunes where (parts of) the melody has a kind of shuffle rhythm? (I’m thinking of for instance Frank’s, Mouth of Tobique, Up and Downey)"

That’s not how I interpreted it. I thought the post was referring more to 3-3-2 emphasis as a more general rhythmic feel in reels, rather than to specific tunes where the melodies have that type of syncopation built in.

Incidentally, I have never come across the term ‘shuffle’ used in this context. ‘Shuffle’, to me, means something a bit like swing but with a tenser feel, like what you hear in boogie-woogie piano playing. (But the linguistic deck is constantly being shuffled, so perhaps its meaning has shuffled along a bit since I last encountered it.) The type of rhythmic emphasis that the OP refers to is what I would call *syncopation*.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

Oh ! Thank’s CreadurMawnOrganig .
Bu that’s the only tune like that I know, except this one .
I wrote many year’s ago for a Flute player friend,
when she was just a young lass then.
( But, It’s better on Whistle, and maybe Flute, that on a fiddle .
And she was a bit younger then, than even in this Video .
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93ELpmwhINY

And was exactly like the title say’s 🙂
( Flute Player Here )
f4
X:1
T:THE BALLYMONEY TOM-BOY
R:REEL
C:JIM McAULEY
N:DEC-Deirdre Havolin.=
N:FLUTE PLAYER , BALLYMONEY
M:4/4
K:G
D2||~G2BG DGBG|ede^fgedB|~G2B GD GBG|-A~^F3D~^F3|
|~G2BG DGBG|ez^fzg3.e|g^fe g^fedz|-edBe dBAB:|
|~G2dB.GdBG|dBGBAG^FA|~G2dB.Gd BG|-A~^F3D~^F3|
|~G2dB.GdBG|dBGBAG^FA|~G3E D-E GB|-AG^FA G3z:|

Re: Irish reels shuffle

Incidentally, I’ve just noticed that evikki refers to the 3-3-2 emphasis being used by accompanists in bands, not in the tunes themselves (although the accompaniment can undoubtedly influence the way the melody players play). That changes things a little. Yes, I have heard guitarists and bodhran players play that way. I don’t mind a hint of it now and again - sometimes it’s what the tune is asking for - but I think I would find it tiresome if it were the dominant rhythmic feel.

Performing with a band, how you play is between you and your bandmates - you can be as traditional, as wild and wacky or as dull and clichéd as you like. As a backer in a session (whether on bodhran or a chord instrument) you need to be sensitive to the tune and its players - restrained but responsive. Using syncopation where none is suggested by the tune could off-putting to the players and could weaken the overall cohesion of the music. Bear in mind that, as a backer in a session, you are (or should be) outnumbered by the tune players, so if you try and steer the music in a particular rhythmic direction, you might find a lot of resistance. Expertly done, perhaps that confrontation could actually create a desirable musical tension, but any less than expertly done, it could well suffocate the music - besides, tension can only be desirable some of the time, or else it loses its power.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

3-3-2 is a classic Scruggs forward roll pattern on the 5 string banjo in bluegrass….giving the ol’ banjo syncopation feel. I’m not sure it works with Irish reels on the whole….

If by "shuffle" the OP means "swing" then that’s another whole thing….and I’m sure has been discussed here many times before…

Re: Irish reels shuffle

What Creadur said. Don’t add any funky rhythms (or for that matter spicy chords/chromatic runs/whatever), unless you’re in good company and know that it will be appreciated. I once played in a couple of sessions where the backers forced this 3-3-2 rhythm as well as handled any simple major tunes as mixolydian.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

Oh man I forgot to apply the examples! Will fix it soon!

Re: Irish reels shuffle

The main problem might be my explanation. Yes I meant ‘swing’ - as playing almost triplets instead of straight eights.
The question about backbeat or 3-3-2 in backing is secondary question then.
I’ll try to apply a couple of the examples.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

I don’t think ‘swing’ is the right term, either. ‘3-3-2 syncopation of 4/4’ describes it pretty well, I think - or put another way, accents on beats 1, 4 & 7.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

Please listen to these examples
I hope that will explain my question about soloist movement, having strong shuffle (again I mean changing to almost triplets instead of straight eights)

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/24930126/clareSLOW.mp3
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/24930126/Dervish_slow1.mp3
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/24930126/Lunasa_slow.mp3

Why did I say about 3-3-2 style of accompaniment? Because it usually means to look more modern, and in fast modern recording I did not suppose to meet that strong shuffle. Before last research I would think it is more common in the recording of set dancing music or something like that.

Did I explain myself well now?

Thank you for your patience.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

I think I understand now. You are referring to two separate things:
i. ‘Shuffle’ or ‘swing’ - the tendency towards a ‘dotted’ rhythm in reels (1/8-notes alternately lengthened and shortened, rather than played evenly);
ii. ‘3-3-2 syncopation in accompaniment to reels).
I should have taken more time to read your post properly.

The degree of swing in reels (and hornpipes) is a theme that comes up a lot in discussions here. The consensus tends to be that most players swing their reels to a greater or lesser degree, but the amount of swing varies depending to both regional and personal style, the tune, mood etc.

The early recordings of Sligo fiddlers a considerable amount of swing in reels, as exemplifie by Paddy Killoran here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvjNJX1AWQA

&list=PL7BLjmfrgiiw2ipinPpIMc2yHHVgGdroO

Reels played entirely without swing are most associated with Donegal (and possibly other parts of Ulster) - most notably Johnny Doherty.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL_9r0kSGYA


These two Donegal players show only a little swing (reels starting about 1.05):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-4uU9EeC-A


Hugh Gillespie, on the other hand, also from Donegal, played reels with plenty of swing:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL_9r0kSGYA


Macdara Ó Raghallaigh plays with almost no swing (….yet his music still swings - explain that😉)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH6qSHHnTm0


That’s a very limited number of examples, I know. But it illustrates that there is quite a range, from ‘straight’ to ‘dotted’. You say that you would expect more swing in music for set dancing; I would say that a heavily swung style is universal for ceilí bands, regardless of what region of Ireland they come from, or how the individual players may play outside the band.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

It occurs to me that I have focused mainly on fiddle players in the above post. The preferred amount of swing does also vary from one instrument to another - pipers and concertina players, for example, typically play ‘straighter’ than players of other instruments. The way a certain player plays may be influenced by the other instruments they are used to playing with. Macdara Ó Raghallaigh, whose brother Micheál is a concertina player (albeit quite a ‘swingy’ one, as concertina players go), is a classic example of this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7elrAvT-_mI

Re: Irish reels shuffle

As regards 3-3-2 syncopation in reel accompaniment, my guess is that it would not have been heard much before the 80s (although I only began to get familiar with this music in the mid 90s, so perhaps I’m speaking out of turn). I suspect that is partly an influence from pop and rock styles - even modern (electronic) ‘dance’ music - and perhaps, indirectly, from Latin and Carribean rhythms. Fusing traditional music with, or incorporating elements of, the current popular styles is something that has been going on at least since the beginning of the recording era, with the Irish Music Hall performers, through the Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners, The Horslips, The Bothy Band, Stockton’s Wing, Moving Hearts, Afro-Celts etc.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

Don’t like the 332 thing in most reels, I prefer a straighter beat, emphasizing 3 and 7, without any rhumba syncopations interfering with the natural accent of reels.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

It can feel draggy (and ‘daggy’ as our antipodean cousins say…) I would say ‘cheesy’, it seems to create a ‘circular’ feel rather than a ‘forward moving’ feel if you get what I mean…I think creadur nailed it the first reply to this thread when he (she/?) mentioned the importance of flexibility in accompaniment rhythm. It’s ok at certain times, but relentless 332 syncopation does my head in as a melody player..

Re: Irish reels shuffle

Any dogmatic or relentless anything in accompaniment should be avoided.

Please let flexibility be your watchword.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

Thanks a lot! I will listen to these all carefully and will answer a bit later.
I should put my examples at the first place.

Re: Irish reels shuffle

"Any dogmatic or relentless anything in accompaniment should be avoided."
Absolutely. For this music accompaniment is not dogmatic thing at all )