Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

I’ve been playing a bit of Appalachian old-time music lately, and encounter quite a few Irish tunes that have evolved into old-time standards. They are all reels, though.

What happened to the jigs? There don’t seem to be any.

Mr Sims, in snarkier moments, suggests that the guitar players kept screwing up the jig rhythms, so the melody players just quit playing them. I could not possible comment on that, given previous discussions. However, he does play guitar, so…..

I’ve always been interested in the migration and evolution of the tunes, but my knowledge base is admittedly shallow. (Consisting of University of YouTube, festival campgrounds, rooting around in old records and living in Tennessee for a few years.) Just wondering if anyone here has any thoughts about this.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

It’s an interesting question, and I’ve never heard a really convincing answer. The usual one is that jigs didn’t suit banjos, but it can’t be that hard to work out a suitable pattern!

I think it’s relevant to ask where else 6:8 is found. In Europe I’d have guessed mainly Britain, Ireland and Italy?

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

I’ve noticed this, too. One contributing factor might be that Appalachian music came more from a Scottish/Ulster Scots tradition than from ‘Catholic’ Irish music. Reels might have been more prominent in the 1800s in Scottish music. It also seems to me that Appalachian music is more stripped down—most of it seems to be somewhere between a polka and a reel in terms of melodic complexity. Maybe this process happened to rhythms, too, and simpler, sturdier rhythms tended to survive.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Joe, "stripped down" is putting it mildly. A little too much for my taste, but at 3am with not many brain cells left, it can let me keep playing when I should be sleeping. And besides, there are all of those great oddball tunings

The settlement of the Appalachian mountains was heavy on Scots—but they had/have jigs. Perhaps they ran into baggage limitations.

Tom, I sometimes wonder if the 6/8 just slid into 3/4 and they started dancing differently. Whenever an old time dancer dances a ‘jig’, it’s to a reel. But they do dance waltzes—fast.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

27 March 2015
Jigs did in fact make it across the Pond in respectable numbers. The first 455 tunes in O’Neill’s "1001" are jigs, and there are several more towards the end of the collection. The "1001" tunes traveled across the Pond during the 19th century from Ireland to the U.S.A. where Capt. Francis O’Neill of the Chicago Police collected and selected them "from all available sources", which included immigrants. He compiled other tune collections, doubtless with more jigs.
The 6/8 rhythm is alive and well all over Europe, including the Germanic countries and France.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

The New England fiddle tunes tradition has a long history of jigs, as well as French Canadian music, Cape Breton, etc. I think the phenomenon of having little to no jigs is limited to southern old-time.

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Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

@fidicen: Jigs did indeed make it to Chicago - and anywhere where Irish immigrant communities settled. They also made it into the N. Appalachian (New England) tradition, but not the S. Appalachian tradition.

I don’t know the answer to why there are no jigs in S. Appalachian music; no doubt, Ethnomusicologists have written papers on this very question. But my own feeling is that S. Appalachian music owes less to Irish and Scots music than is often supposed. They have undoubtedly been significant influences but, rather than a development of Irish and Scots music, I think of it more as a fusion of Irish, Scots, English, French, Spanish, Scandinavian, Central European, African-American and Native American. Bearing that in mind, it might be just as pertintent to ask why there aren’t more bourrées à trois temps, polskas or 12-bar tunes in S. Appalachian music. Also, why are there so many crooked tunes? (These are not typical of Irish or Scots music).

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

X-posted, jjw ;)

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Yeah those crooked tunes are great! They show up in French Canadian music too. In that case it’s because the foot percussion and dance styles don’t rely on there being any specific number of beats per measure (ie it doesn’t mess anything up, so why not?). I don’t even know, is there a dance tradition connected with southern old-time? Maybe there are clues there as to why certain kinds of tunes are more common?

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Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

As indirectly noted above, jigs are not uncommon at New England Contra Dances, but that is where a lot of Irish settled after coming in through Boston and New York.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

"The 6/8 rhythm is alive and well all over Europe, including the Germanic countries and France."
Not doubting this is true but can you point to an example or two?

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

The answer isn’t in this old discussion, but some place’s to look are mentioned. Fiona Ritchie from the ‘Thistle and Shamrock’, co wrote a book, called the ‘Wayfaring Stranger’, that is about the Scots migration through Ulster to Appalachia. I haven’t read it, but maybe there’s something in there.
https://thesession.org/discussions/10873

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

I’m not sure if this video has been posted before, but Alan Jabbour talks a bit about the topic during an interview with Jamie Laval and Henry Benagh.

"They didn’t win out, what can I say…" - Alan Jabbour. … So there you have it; LOL!

On a serious note, some did make it across the pond, but got turned into Marches.

Jamie Laval suggests it could be because of the banjo’s part in Appalachian tradition; that "Boom chicka boom chika" thing they do doesn’t really translate well to jig time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9taIwi2SoDA


Start watching at 25:00 for their discussion about tune types.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

As for the crooked tunes, I suspect they were pretty effectively killed off by those writing down music - wihtout the wit to understand that not everything fits into eight bars, they labelled these tunes as wrong and corrupted. There are still a few out there. Rona Lightfoot can bang them out for one.

As for the jigs, the answer is probably in the dance tradition, at a wild guess.

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Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

The 6/8 rhythm is alive and well all over Europe.
Some examples:
France: cercle circassien, chapelloise, rondeau
Belgium: maclotte
Italy: tarantella
Spain: muiñeira

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

It is interesting that the 6/8 rhythm doesn’t come easy to the claw-hammer banjo player. We had such a player in Canberra - the late Tim Shopen - who came up with a solution. He’d been watching a sitar player, and took note of his fingerpick design - a loop of wire around the fingertip connected at two places with a piece of wire to go over the finger tip from front to back. When viewed side-on, that piece took on the shape of a gothic-arch.

With that on his forefinger, Tim could now pluck up as well as plucking down, and that filled in the missing notes. Clawhammer is the art of missing notes, but there’s a limit to how many you can miss without losing the sense of the tune.

I made him a number of such picks over the years. I found phosphor-bronze spring wire effective. Bendable, but able to hold its shape. I soft-soldered the joints to avoid losing the temper of the wire.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Old minstrel banjo tune books are chock full of jigs. They played in a different style than today’s clawhammer and bluegrass pickers. Also my great grandfather from NW Kentucky played a number of Irish jigs on the fiddle. Tunes like Haste to the Wedding, The Washerwoman, Garryowen, Rore O’More, Come Under My Pladdie, etc. These are tunes that travelled across the US and were eventually phased out by newer forms of music. It only takes a single generation for traditions to die out.

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Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Apart from the "Banjo players can’t play them" argument, which I think banjo players should take to task more often, I’ve heard that they were associated with military music. If you moved with your family into the American back country chances are you wouldn’t see as many military bands as you would in Ayrshire or Derry.

I think another possibility might be that Protestant church music was rarely in 6/8. One of the main places a player could go to hear music would have been in church. This book has a whole chapter devoted to the influence of church music on today’s (and yesterday’s) Southern vocal and dance traditions:

http://www.amazon.com/Scotch-Irish-Influence-Country-Music-Carolinas/dp/1609499530/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427509332&sr=1-5&keywords=scots+irish+music

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

There is also the point that fashions change in music over time. There is a tune book in Manchester Central Library (UK) published in 1730 containing maybe 50 tunes. I can’t remember the exact figure off-hand, I’d have to look it up. I do remember that approximately half of these were 3/2 hornpipes. Hardly anybody plays 3/2 hornpipes today. Perhaps none in Ireland, but in 1730 they were 50% of the repertoire. Tastes change.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

I posed almost the same question last year [discussions; Advanced bluegrass fiddle]
but the video above from Anonymous fiddler goes some way to providing an answer - the only problem
being that the fiddle repertoire was already well established in the Appalachian region by the time the
5 string banjo arrived [after the Civil War c.1865?] that repertoire would presumably have included jigs along with reels, hornpipes and marches so did fiddlers just get tired of trying to compete with
banjo frailers who couldnt play a 6/8 rhythm?

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it into old-timey?

"Why didn’t jigs make it into old-timey" might have been a better title for this thread. But I understood what the OP was getting at, right enough.

Maybe a tricky rhythm for 5-string banjo frailers, as has been suggested - but surely not insurmountable.

Old-timey has long been associated with stepping/clogging, which lends itself more to 4/4 and 2/4 than it does to 6/8. And you also have all those contra dances and square dances where 6/8 isn’t used. So maybe it’s more to do with the associated dancing.

More questions!

1) Why, in old-timey sessions, do they usually play tunes as singletons, rather than in sets?

2) Why didn’t pipes, woodwind and free-reed make it into old-timey? Or, for that matter, bodhrans. But they let the guitars in …. ;-)

The OP has raised a very interesting question, but I don’t think that we’ll ever get to the bottom of it, even if we debate it until the cows come home. The Texas Longhorn cows. that is …

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

"Old-timey has long been associated with stepping/clogging, which lends itself more to 4/4 and 2/4 than it does to 6/8." Only as far as old-timey stepping clogging goes. English stepping/clogging is substantially 6:8 or 12:8.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

It’s a fascinating question!

The OP is talking about Appalachia. My own family were the "first settlers" or "first family" in what is now southwestern West Virginia, and they arrived there in the late 18th century. The settlers were almost entirely English, Scottish, or Ulster Scottish.

Keep in mind that Irish didn’t come over in large numbers until the 1840s. The 19th century immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Poland gravitated to the big northern cities such as New York, Boston, Philadephia, and Chicago and had practically zero impact on Appalachia. I know; my own family, which includes a complex cousinage involving a large number of early Appalachian families, contains only British last names.

The old Appalachian traditional music is a fascinating window into the English and Scottish folk music of the 18th century. The earliest Appalachian fiddling which has been recorded sounds more akin to Shetland fiddling than anything else, to my ears.

In any case the Appalachian fiddling for whatever reason focused on the reel idiom, with strathspeys and jigs not making any appearance as far as I can see. There were marches of a sort, and airs. Jigs weren’t all that much a part of early Highland music anyhow, from what I’ve gathered.

About the influence of guitars and banjos, guitars even today aren’t universally accepted, and banjos are relative latecomers to the music. Appalachian and Cape Breton music were originally fiddle-based.

Another Appalachian question is "why no bagpipes?"

They made it over to Cape Breton, why not Appalachia?

One aspect of Appalachia often overlooked in the German component, due to Appalachia having Pennsylvania as its northern border. Dulcimers moved south from the German settlements and became typical Appalachian instruments.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

TomB-R: "English stepping/clogging is substantially 6:8 or 12:8."

Really?

- I’ve just done a quick Google YouTube search with the following reults:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xfHY8q3tpA


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHXfPsQ88bI


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4DUT_ctFKQ


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwIcpV_p6a0


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvyJyVhXcaI


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIpC3tEk3IA


Not one of them is using a jig!

Or are you suggesting that the jig rhythm is so commonly used that they don’t bother to video it?

I’m no expert, but I’ve watched a lot of it. And I’ve even attended a workshop and had a go. I’m not saying that jigs are never used - I simply don’t know. But all the stuff I’ve ever seen has been hornpipes and reels.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Thanks for the vids Mix, my comment was based on about twelve years of playing for English step clog including a substantial proportion of jigs, but I was including hornpipes within 12:8.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

I came across this really interesting book about appalachian fiddle tunes a while ago:
http://www.mne.psu.edu/lamancusa/tunes/hct/index.htm

There are some 6/8 tunes in there, some called quadrilles, some jigs, that look quite jiggy to me.

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Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

TomB-R: "I was including hornpipes within 12:8"

Are we on the same planet? 12/8s are slides, surely - and hornpipes are 4/4 …

TomB-R: " …. including a substantial proportion of jigs"

OK, Tom - I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt - but the jury’s still out …

Q. Which jigs - and which dances - just curious?
Q. Can post any video links of these dances?

On a similar topic, but not related to this thread, rapper sword dancing (from NE England) involves stepping, and it’s exclusively danced to jigs - often Irish jigs.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

R. P. Christeson recorded many Midwest fiddlers during the middle decades of the twentieth century and published two volumes of tunes. There are quite a few "quadrilles" in 6/8 in these books and many sound like Irish or Scottish jigs. By the time I started playing fiddle in the late 1970s there were very few fiddlers still playing these tunes in Missouri, where I lived at the time.

I think the advent of bluegrass had something to do with the decline in jig-playing, as well as the abundance of pop music in 4/4. People quit having jiggy thoughts, I guess!

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

It seems that when you say "across the pond" you are referring strictly to the USA. Canada has LOADS of jigs in our traditional repertoire. Perhaps it’s because the majority of those emigrating from the British isles was later than the USA. Despite the fact that thousands of United Empire Loyalists fled persecution in the American colonies after the Revolution, the bulk of emigration to Canada from "back home" came in the latter half of the 19th C.

Canadian old time fiddling is noted for the quantity and quality of jigs.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Hi Mix, here are the admirable Stony Steppers to a tune you’ll recognise.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydFoe-MKUTA


I totally agree that hornpipes are traditionally notated in 4:4, but that doesn’t describe how they are played for dancing, so is pointless for this purpose.
My next witness is Grey Larsen - writing from within the Irish tradition of course - "Sometimes as when playing slowly for step dancing horpnipes are played such that the notes that are on the beat are twice as long as the off beat notes. One could accurately notate this fashion of playing a hornpipe as being in 12:8 time"

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

"Canadian old time fiddling is noted for the quantity and quality of jigs." said Brad.

I hope Canadians will forgive this! We played one jig at a session one evening, in England. Someone said they thought it sounded American. An American player said she thought it sounded English.
Turns out it was Canadian - The Lemonville.
https://thesession.org/tunes/3323

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Hi Tom - thanks for the link - but I bet that you had to search long and hard to find it …

Incidentally, I didn’t think that the Eyewasher tune fitted their dance particularly well - the music and the stepping seemed out of sync.

And given that dance team’s name, maybe they should be using this tune:

https://thesession.org/tunes/3106

… which is a hornpipe … ;-)

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

"I bet that you had to search long and hard to find it …"
I think my learned friend is clutching at straws M’Lud :-)
(Checked current dances list for "my" clog side - 40% = 6:8.)

Thanks for the tune, I’ll try that one when we see them in July.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Canadian step dancer Stephanie Cadman dancing to Giga from Bach’s second violin partita: http://youtu.be/CSW8JZHXgvg


Sorry, it’s in 12/8.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

"And you also have all those contra dances and square dances where 6/8 isn’t used. So maybe it’s more to do with the associated dancing."

In 32 years, in New England, I’ve never encountered a contra dance that did not feature numerous sets with jigs. I’ve also contra danced in West Virginia, and encountered numerous sets with jigs.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

@Tom: "how typical is your clog side?

As it happens, I have a friend who something of an expert on this topic. Dances all of the various English clog traditions. I’ll raise the question next time we meet. The tradition that I tried at the workshop a couple of years ago was Dartmoor, which (according to my friend) is the easiest one of the lot. Definitely no jigs - it was all 4/4.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

"@Matt - but mostly reels, surely. Then again, there’s some that are called "jigs", but are actually reels (in the musical sense of the word)."

Perhaps it’s a New England thing. I know what a jig is. :) I’ve played in numerous contra dance bands. And I’m a dancer. I would agree that the majority of dances use reels, but jigs are quite common.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

The Lemonville….yes, very well known in England.Most people I have encountered at sessions in England think it IS English. Written by Jack Hayes from Toronto. He died in the late 1970’s. A good friend of mine, Ian Bell, used to play with him in square dance bands and has a load of his manuscripts, including a tune that jack wrote for Ian. www.ianbellmusic.ca

As far as how it sounds, I understand how people in England think it sounds English. It does, but it definitely sounds Canadian to me. Just like Aunt Mary’s Canadian Jig…I’m trying to define WHY it sounds Canadian, but it has certain elements in it that are a dead giveaway.

Tom BR…I see that you are from Gloucestershire. My second home is in Stroud. I spend about four months of the year there. I’m doing a solo gig at the Winchcombe Folk Club Sept. 1

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

This is an uneducated response, but it makes sense to me: The jig is a specific dance that requires study and skill. I think the jig likely survived in Irish communities, but in general, old-timey music probably developed as music anyone could dance to, without the need to learn specific steps, even when such existed. Common time (4/4) is just easier to play and easier to dance to as a folk medium that is about the fun of playing and dancing to a steady beat. Jig rhythm simply doesn’t come as easily to either musician or dancer not raised with it.

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Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

"Common time (4/4) is just easier to play and easier to dance to as a folk medium that is about the fun of playing and dancing to a steady beat. Jig rhythm simply doesn’t come as easily to either musician or dancer not raised with it."
Fair enough, my experience of playing for "barn dances" often for a completely un-dance-educated gathering is that they find jigs much easier to dance to. "Raised with it"? well, mainly English, a scattering of other nationalities and some groups of international students.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Much of the music making the trip from the isles to Appalachia was transformed into the "2/4 like" reel that’s played by old-time musicians here today. The melodies were stripped-down, notes left out, and tunes became more rhythmic than melodic. (Listen to an OT fiddler play "Fisher’s Hornpipe" and see if you can recognize it!)
This may have occurred to accommodate, (as Ailin suggests,) the dance styles that evolved such as "buck dancin", (which to the untrained eye looks like jumping up and down in place.) The dances though are well suited to the shuffle-shuffle style of OT fiddlers and particularly clawhammer banjoists. On the other hand, I’ve seen many good, really good, clawhammer players who struggle with an Irish jig.

The jig however is alive and well in the US among the drum & fife cores. Legend has it that the Garry Owen was Custer’s favorite and the last tune played before he led the 7th Calvary off to its destiny. It remains the regimental tune for the 1st Cavalry division into which the 7th was merged.. I don’t think they play it on clawhammer banjo though. :-)

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

I think John Hartford was the first to suggest that 6/8 didn’t translate well to clawhammer banjo. I always thought that was peculiar, that musicians would have found a way to make it work somehow, modifying their playing style as needed, or come up with the right kind of thimble or fingerpick, like Terry mentions above - those sitar fingerpicks are called mizrabs, btw. I used to make them out of paperclips when I was trying to play Irish music on the banjo with the fingers.

Jabbour et al mention the paucity of jigs in America from the start, though, which might explain their poverty in much of the country. It was just an obscure time signature and got short shrift, like 3/4 in Ireland. Sure, there are a good few waltzes and the odd mazurka/versovienna around too but all in all 3/4 is vastly overshadowed by other meters.

"Hill Country Tunes" is linked to above, I have the big Sam Bayard Pennsylvania collection Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife, which is chockfull of 6/8 and 12/8, and, as its title suggests, has lots of material contributed by fifers, which is another obscure American tradition. Jigs weren’t unknown among midwest musicians either, such as Indiana fiddler John Summers, and Pennsylvania fiddler Jehile Kirkhuff had plenty of jigs/quadrilles under his belt too. These were pretty exceptional musicians though. You hear the odd jig on some of the Rounder field recordings of midwest old time music, or the compilation Dear old Illinois.

There are more than a few Scottish jigs too of course, one wonders why more of those didn’t travel across the ocean. Maybe there just weren’t enough of them around to bother when the bulk of the Appalachian people emigrated.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Samuel Preston Bayard collected fiddle and fife tunes in southwestern Pennsylvania during the first half of the 20th century. There are many 6/8 tunes in his collections. Some are 6/8 marches but many sound like jigs and even slides. However, it does seem like the old time fiddlers of today know "Irish Washerwoman" and "Haste to the Wedding" and that’s about it.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

The clawhammer banjo vs. jig theory is a bit suspect to me, too. (Sure, the banjo could be one factor in the paucity of jigs in the southern Appalachians, but I doubt it’s the whole story.)

I play with a clawhammer player who is pretty adept at playing in 6/8. Surely she’s not the first or only banjo player to do it. And, as has been mentioned, the migrations to Appalachia and the tunes that were brought along predate the widespread inclusion of the banjo in old-time music.

By the way, hornpipes aren’t just in 4/4—as mentioned a ways up the thread, there’s a whole history of (English) hornpipes in 3/2. Multiply times 4, and you get 12/8—so it’s not a surprising time signature for a hornpipe.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

"there’s a whole history of (English) hornpipes in 3/2. Multiply times 4, and you get 12/8—so it’s not a surprising time signature for a hornpipe."
Sorry, I seem to be swimming against the tide today! 12:8 makes sense for a "clog hornpipe" as actually played, rather than as notated, viz Grey Larsen quotation above, but English 3:2s, although sometimes called "double hornpipes" (!!!) are genuinely in three (most of the time.) One of their main features is the large number of ways you can divide up a bar of 3:2, which makes them surprisingly funky for their age, and I guess accounts for their popularity amongst younger players in the English trad revival of the last fifteen or so (?) years. As I understand it, it’s not that clear how they were originally danced to, but they work well for brisk walking contra-ish dances.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

@mcswiss

Yes, I do know about 3/2 hornpipes, but I wasn’t talking about those.

For the minute, I just elaborate on the notation of 4/4 hornpipes. Tunebooks of old usually had a hornpipe section, and in that section the time signatures were given as 4/4 and the notes were scored undotted. The implication was that you would play a tune with a "swing" if it was classified as a hornpipe. In recent years, this convention has changed somewhat. Hornpipes are still written as 4/4, but they are often scored dotted if meant to be "swung" or scored undotted if not. The problem with this newer convention is that dotting a note increases its time value by one-half, whereas when playing it, you would only increase the time value by a third - or maybe even a bit less. Not WYSIWYG.

Trad musicians understand this, whereas classically trained musicians often do not. So "swung" hornpipes are sometimes scored 12/8 for the benefit of of classically trained musicians. They will just play what they see, and thus impart a one/third "swing".

But that’s not needed for traddies or folkies who understand these things - and in most cases won’t be looking at dots anyway.

And yes, Tom, I was just winding you up earlier in the thread when said that a 12/8 must be a slide … But in any case - in session.org terms - it is.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

We have from time to time a clawhammer banjoist drop in our sessions.
We offer them one piece of advice when attempting jigs, "less is better". This usually means two down strokes per measure on the 1 and 4 notes, as explained in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUvrRjBYnZE


Sometimes it works for them but many times they just don’t play.
Ken Perlman has published articles (book?,) on playing jigs on clawhammer. He uses a lot of left hand technique, pull-offs, hammer-ons, etc., to get what he thinks is the "proper" jig rhythm. You can listen to some of his stuff and decide for yourself whether he hits the mark.
Clawhammer banjo players develop a natural right-hand technique that is tough to overcome when playing jigs.
(I’m talking about the melody not rhythmic accompaniment.)

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

If a "musician" can’t figure out what degree of swing to give a hornpipe irrespective of how it’s written out they aren’t worth listening to in the first place, if you ask me. That’s pretty sad about having to notate those in 12/8 for the benefit of these classic musos. BTW a friend of mine wrote a thesis on piping in america and notated reels from Liam Walsh and Patsy Touhey in 12/8 to illustrate the swing in their playing, Willie Clancy on the other hand made fine sense in 4/4.

Ryan’s had straight 8ths for the hornpipes and dot/flag for the clogs - he at least made that distinction, whether or not his customers cared. I prefer straight 8ths myself, less clutter. With strathspeys it makes more sense, somehow. Sometimes that’s necessary to impart where to give it the ol’ Scotch Snap. Well do I remember the ceolachan/Phantom Button flamewars over such an innocent topic! Or was it Dr. Dow who couldn’t abide them?

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

response to a question from Mix a while back, quite a few old timey sessions I’ve been to revolve around
the banjo players tunings so unlike an Irish session where you might have, to use a famous example of a Michael Coleman reel set -
Tarbolton [Emin] Longford Tinker [Gmaj] and Sailors Bonnet [Dmaj] Old Timey banjo players are stuck in
whatever key theyre tuned to - so they they might start with D tunes - they’ll hammer away at Angeline the Baker, then Soldiers Joy then Arkansas Traveller etc then maybe after an hour they ‘ll retune to ’ Mountain Minor A’ and play Little Sadie, Cold Frosty Morning, Old Joe Clarke and so it goes on through G tunes and C
tunes. So basically its all down to the banjo players……………….

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Modern American musicians playing Irish jigs seems beside the point of the OP, which is asking (I think) why there aren’t old indigenous Appalachian jigs.

About jigs, I just leafed through The Simon Fraser Collection and of the 221 tunes I only see two called "jigs" and only three others called "dances" which are in 6/8 time.

Five of 221… no wonder that idiom died out in Appalachia.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

I think the title of this discussion needs to change. Jigs DID make their way across the Pond…just because some may think that they are not common in the US traditions is misleading. Canada is "across the pond" from Britain and Ireland.. My point is; there are lots of jigs here in the Great White North. so, they DID make it!

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

There definitely seems to be a line in the U.S. (somewhere in the vicinity of the Mason Dixon line perhaps), where north of which jigs were a common part of the tradition, and south of which, jigs were much more rare. So the question is, why did jigs take root in the north, but not in the south? Both regions had plenty of immigrants from Ireland and Scotland.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Wow. Thanks for all of the thoughtful comments.
I know that there are loads of jigs north of some line in the Americas. It’s just the absence in southern Appalachian old time that I wonder about. You have all made some interesting points.
I also wonder about the instruments that ended up as ‘old-time’ friendly. I can only figure that fiddles were probably relatively easy to come by and maintain, along with banjos.
It must really come down to what you needed to play for dancing. While I have played plenty of jig sets for contradancers, they were dancing in reel rhythm, just slower.
And yeah, why don’t they play sets of tunes, not just the same …… tune for a half an hour?
Thanks for the homework. Lots to think about.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

You’re right Al. It’s not that jigs don’t exist in the south, it’s just that they’ve been pushed out by clawhammer banjos. If you don’t believe it, just go to any old-time jam in the Nashville area, pull out your fiddle, throw down a jig and listen to the moans of banjo players. But I’ve seen fiddlers get "giggly" when no banjo player shows up so they can play a jig or two or don’t have to play all the "D" tunes first and wait for the banjos to retune for the next key!
Not saying it’s right or wrong, it’s just the way it is!

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

@Michele Sims, Not to sound snarky myself but you mentioned instruments in Old Time. I have heard from some pretty trustworthy sources that guitars and mandolins did not come into wide use in Southern Appalachia until after WWI and the wider history of the US backs that up with "roaring 20s" hype and the first cheaply made instruments becoming available to every coal miner or farmer with a Sears & Roebuck catalog. The oldest players are often recorded as saying that their earliest musical memories were of fiddle and banjo. Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley’s mother was one such musician that played mainly for fiddle and banjo dances. Check out his clawhammer record. It is a stormer. I think its called Old Time Pickin’: A Clawhammer Banjo Collection

There’s loads of great stories of dances in a tiny house with two rooms, musicians on the porch, dancers filling up the house. Great living WV fiddler Frank George tells of people diddling (or more familiar to Irish players as lilting) the tunes and sort of hand jiving to keep the rhythm if no musicians could make a dance. We put our artificial labels on music but it boils down to people wanting to have a good time. I guess we do have more of a choice nowadays. 1880: dance to a fiddle and banjo…1980: go to a contra dance, go to a disco, go to a rock concert, and so on.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

I think it has a lot to do with local demographic. Obviously the jig did make it to America as cited above. Long ago, when I was a kid in Australia before American music became ubiquitous, you could ask a person to make up a little ditty just for fun. They would invariably fall into jig time, diddly diddly diddly. It was annoying.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Here’s my two cents, related to the "jigs aren’t idiomatic to clawhammer banjo" theory:

I play whistle and guitar mainly. In the past year, I’ve been learning old time tunes on mountain dulcimer. I picked up the strum pattern for your standard reel-ish old time tunes very easily. Waltzes, planxties, hymns, or whatever in 3/4 aren’t a problem either. But currently, when I try to play tunes in 6/8 (jigs, marches, whatever) on the mountain dulcimer, I sprain my brain—even though I can accompany a jig just fine on guitar!

I think it’s the difference between simple and compound meter. The number of beats per measure doesn’t seem to make a difference. In simple meter, every beat can easily begin on a downstroke. In compound meter, either every other beat begins on an upstroke, or you have to break up the even up-down-up-down strum into something more complicated. I can strum chords in a DUD UDU rhythm, but add in the melody and I fall apart.

I’m definitely going to put some dedicated practice into 6/8 on dulcimer, because I want to be able to do it. It feels silly *not* to be able to do it. But, I bet this has had something to do with there being so few jigs in Appalachian music.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

stanton135: "I can strum chords in a DUD UDU rhythm, but add in the melody and I fall apart."

Try using this pattern for jigs: Dud Dud, with heavy emphasis on the capital "D" or the 1st & 4th eighth notes.
Not that DUD UDU can’t work but it takes a lot more work to make it work.
Just a suggestion. Hope you figure it out. :-)
As to the compound meter issue, fiddlers and whistlers have no problem with it. It’s the technique used in clawhammer that hamstrings the player trying to master jigs. The pattern used is ideally suited to 2/4 reels or boom-chika, boom-chika but playing jigs that sound like jigs on clawhammer requires some nifty left-hand gymnastics. Not many can, need to, or even want to, attempt it. So, in areas where the music is made by fiddles and whistles you’ll hear plenty of jigs. Enter areas where the ch banjo rules and you’ll be hard pressed to hear a jig.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Aren’t whistle players and accordion players rare as hen’s teeth in the southern Appalachians? You see them in contra bands, and certainly Irish bands, up north, but I don’t see them in bluegrass bands, and I’m not sure they appear in Old Time music either.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond? ~ they most assuredly did!!!

There are numerous sources, Canada and the U.S. of A., but here are two proofs, mostly listed in these collections as ‘Quadrilles’:

"The Old-Time Fiddler’s Repertory: 245 Traditional Tunes" - 1973
~ & ~
"The Old-Time Fiddler’s Repertory Volume 2" - 1984
Compiled and edited by R.P. Christenson
University of Missouri Press

& not forgetting Roche’s / Cole’s

There are early recordings as well, and the act of composing in jig time has been unbroken… Why some modern ‘old-time’ musicians (possibly mostly in the U.S.A.) restrict things to strings and ignore the wider variety of tunes is something I’ve never understood… Historically the tradition has been rich and varied, including unstrung instruments, and tune forms other than 4/4 and 3/4…

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Anyone who has listened to Mike Seeger’s Southern Banjo Styles has to realize that claw hammer banjo is not the only Appalachian style and may even be a minority style. OT music these days rarely uses .two finger and three finger styles even though the most famous banjo players of the mid twentieth century were raised on three finger styles in the Soupthern mountains. Lack of jigs in that part of the country probably cannot beg blamed on banjo players especially since the fiddle is the seminal instrument there.

Mike Keyes
Http//:itmbanjo.blogspot.com

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

@stanton135:
"I can strum chords in a DUD UDU rhythm, but add in the melody and I fall apart."

Some popular melodies which I’m sure you can pick up in one listen just to prove that you can play in a jig-like rhythm:
Laurel and Hardy theme - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwhxc3OCBjc

Addams Family theme - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFD7KGBUtKI

Monty Python theme (a.k.a. Liberty Bell) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRgflR3xdbk

For S/he’s a Jolly Good Fellow
Row, row, row your boat

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Thanks, Roads to Home and jeff_lindqvist, for the encouragement and suggestions. I’ve spent some time working on it, and it’s getting easier. I’ve tried DUD UDU and DUD DUD, as suggested. I also tried DD/U/D DD/U/D, which is easier to get into the rhythm of, but it’s kind of heavy. It sounds more like a sped-up waltz than like a jig. DUD DUD, at this point, takes concentration to keep the downstroke on the beat, and not lapse into DUD UDU. Really, the opposite is true as well.

I just found a guy playing his dulcimer in 6/8 today. It looks like he’s using all of the 3 patterns I’ve tried. I don’t know whether he’s switching between them consciously or just playing how it comes naturally. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri7eO2n0rOc


I didn’t mean to hijack the thread, though.

mikeyes, that’s an interesting take on it. I didn’t realize three-finger style was older than Scruggs. Of course, I’ve just gotten interested in 5-string banjo in the last few months. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a 3-finger banjoist play in 6/8, either. When playing in 6/8, whether clawhammer or three-finger, do they feel unsure of where/how to add thumb on the drone string?

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

I’m not trying to blame the absence of jigs in southern old-time music on claw-hammer banjos. I’m just pointing out an obvious fact. Here’s a link to the Nashville Old Time String Band’s (NOTSBA) tune list. You can listen to mp3s of the tunes played at their sessions and you will hear fiddles and c-h banjos galore knocking out 2/4 reels. You will hear not one jig.
http://www.nashvilleoldtime.org/Tunes%20-%20Listen%20and%20Learn/tunepackages/index.shtml
As to other banjo styles, 3-finger is actually well suited to jigs. Even though it’s rare to hear a Scruggs style jig, melodic 3-string players love to play jigs. (This style originated with Bill Keith who grew up in Boston and probably had a lot of exposure to Irish music there.)
There are still "pockets" of Irish music in the south, particularly in the Carolinas, where you will hear jigs played on fiddle/whistle and even the occasional melodic banjoist. The c-h banjo at those session will be, as Al referred to, "rare as hen’s teeth."
BTW, stanton135, if you’ld like to attend a true old-time session and hear for yourself what I’m talking about, PM me and I can set you up with a contact to attend a NOTSBA session.
Best of luck with in your pursuits. :-) RTH

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

People didn’t like em and forgot all the dances for them, there for flatlanders !
The British Army songbook, Fife and Drum band and music collections of olde all have jigs in them from areas bordering Appalachia. Cecil Sharp collected songs from the olde country when he toured Appalachia, so there is an element of preservation of some music. As dances in all countries, not just Appalachia, often only had just one instrument playing, if people wanted a jig to dance to,
a fiddle could of easily played it. Maybe over time the hills and hollers, and different lifestyle, the ‘Appalachian’ Mountian’s were still kind of frontier territory, and almost got by passed America, took the jig out of the people, regardless of the influence of the ‘banjo’. Areas of Ireland have different regional styles, ‘Highlands’ are pretty exclusive to Donegal, NW, Slides Kerry SW. Musicians in Appalachia, may well have gone into the Mountains with the same tunes but over time have developed their own style, which is jig less ! Edden Hammons would be a figure a bit like Seamus Ennis or Padraig O’Keefe, was recorded in the 50’s for posterity. This article tells a little bit about him and lists some of the tunes he played: http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/eddn_h.htm
There’s few jigs, and 50 years later most olde time players have zilch that they have learnt from an olde time mentor, but perhaps a few they have learnt from cross training.
If you write your DUD, or whatever out like, Dud, Udu or Dud, Dud, you get more of the Jig e ty rhythm, and yes, you would want to mix them up
a bit.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Having been born and raised in North Carolina (currently residing in County Forsyth), this is a most interesting and informative thread for me. Lots of great knowledge here, thank you all. I would like to say a few things. Although I understand the meaning of playing hornpipes with a triplet-like lilt, to say that it makes a hornpipe "jig-like" is stretching it beyond the breaking point. The purpose of the lilt is not to make it sound jig-like, but to emphasize and liven up the rhythm. The notation of hornpipes into 12/8 or 6/8 time signature is most often done in beginner’s anthologies and teaching material. Most collections I have do not notate hornpipes in those time signatures. Now turning the hornpipe into a reel- that’s a different story. Many tunes can be either/or (there is in fact on this website a, uh, spirited discussion as to whether Devil’s Dream is a hornpipe or a reel.) I often hear reels played with a lilt as well, particularly with local or regional performers. Kildare’s Fancy is definitely a hornpipe, and I play it with a lilt at a "relaxed" hornpipe tempo as it is played by many accomplished ITM players. But Rob Abernethy and his band arranged this tune at a faster clip and, although strong hints of the hornpipe lilt is there, this opening theme tune to "The Wood Wright’s Shop" PBS show feels and sounds more like a reel to me. This arrangement of Kildare’s Fancy is, in fact, a good example of how Appalachian performers take traditional music from abroad and modify it to local standards.

I have noticed how jigs are quite absent in Appalachian repertoire but have never given it much thought until this thread. I think that the traditional Appalachian instruments play a part but can’t be the entire answer. Although I don’t play mountain dulcimer, I know that jigs can be easily played on it, a Youtube search on "jig mountain dulcimer" gives a number of good examples, and there’s even a tutorial on learning The Kesh on mountain dulcimer. The hammered dulcimer (my instrument of choice) is another popular Appalachian instrument, and I can tell you jigs are quite easy to play on the hammered dulcimer. The hammered dulcimer can trace it roots in the USA back to the mid- and late 1800’s. However, the popularity of the hammered dulcimer took a nosedive after the turn of the 20th century. After that time, when it was played, it was mostly used as a backup instrument rather than a lead instrument. The hammered dulcimer, however, has begun a renewed popularity since the 1960’s and today performers of traditional music always include a generous sampling of jigs. I myself have learned a number of jigs, my jig to reel ratio being about 50/50. (For the record, I play the Devil’s Dream as a hornpipe.)

David E.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

"1) Why, in old-timey sessions, do they usually play tunes as singletons, rather than in sets?"

I think it makes more sense to turn that question on its head and ask: Why, in Irish sessions, do we play tunes in sets, rather than on their own?

It was once (until the early C20th?) the norm for a tune to be played singly. It was usual for dances to be accompanied by one musician alone, who would repeat the tune as many times as required by the dancers, adding variations with each iteration (as is sometimes still done for sean nós dancing). I have a couple of thoughts on why this changed:

1. The recording industry: Once recordings of traditional Irish dance music proved commercially viable, the mindset of the musician and/or producer turned to maximising popular appeal. Presenting tunes in pairs or threes could, in part, have been a kind of marketing ploy - "Two/three for the price of one" - or perhaps it just made it that bit more exciting than what people were used to. Whatever the case, commercial recordings became a primary source of material for many musicians, who learned and played the tunes as they heard them, so playing in sets became more commonplace in the wider traditional music community.

2. The Public Dance Halls Act f 1935: This forced the music and dancing off the streets and out of private houses into large, purpose-built dance halls. Whilst, previously, one musician would have played for, perhaps 8 or 16 dancers, in the open air or a small house, they now had to play in a large, reverberant hall, with the noise of, perhaps, 200 or more battering feet to contend with. In the absence of electric amplification, the solution was to form a band of musicians. With 5, 10 or more musicians playing together, each musician playing personal variations was not effective. So instead, there was a trend towards playing in strict unison and, in place of variations, changing to a diferent tune after 2 or 3 times round.

I have no doubt that playing tunes in medleys (sets) was heard of before both the Public Dance Halls Act and the invention of the Phonograph. But I strongly suspect that these two factors had an influence.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

"1) Why, in old-timey sessions, do they usually play tunes as singletons, rather than in sets?"

One reason might be because of the style, or more precise, a musical form developed in Appalachian/Old Time/Bluegrass tradition, namely, the "break." When a band performs a tune, each lead instrument in that band get his solo turn at the tune (the "break"), often with his own embellishments in multiple passes. So each instrument performs a "break." The entire piece is called the "breakdown." In fact the words "breakdown" are often part of the tune’s name, like "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." So with the typical four or five piece band, the tune is played first in ensemble or by the primary lead instrument (say the five string banjo) with the guitar, fiddle, and mandolin playing backup; and by the time each of the other instruments get their turn that one tune is easily stretched out beyond three or four minutes long (although often one or more soloists are left out of the break rotation depending on the arrangement). Much of the time the breaks are played mostly true to the tune, with some embellishments. Sometimes, especially with Bluegrass, the soloist gets so far out in left field with the original tune that it becomes barely recognizable to the audience. With all that in mind, there really is no need to stack multiple tunes into a set. Now I’ve noticed that some Irish/Celtic/Folk bands are occasionally using this concept, although they don’t call it a breakdown. This is especially true with state-side bands.

Another reason perhaps is, sometimes, the complexity of some of the tunes composed/arranged by American musicians. Unlike your "typical" ITM tune with AB form in 16 measures with repeats, the Bluegrass or Old Time tune can take on an irregular format, with three or more parts, often with "missing" or "extra" measures. The band or soloist can cover quite a bit of real estate with just one pass of such a tune. "Jerusalem Ridge" by Bill Monroe is a good example of this irregular format. Below is Jerusalem Ridge played as a breakdown, although this is only a two piece band, so the two musicians alternate the breaks. Fiddler Michael Cleveland plays the first break mostly true to the original tune, then it gets weirder after that!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxnP8Z5JAXQ


David E.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

"1) Why, in old-timey sessions, do they usually play tunes as singletons, rather than in sets?"

The question should perhaps be the other way around. As I understand it, back in the day it was fairly common to play one tune per dance, rather than a set of tunes. I’ve heard the reasons for moving to sets variously attributed to commercial recordings, the popularity of Ceili bands, a Comhaltas conspiracy, Scottish influence (where apparently tune sets were well established by the 19th century), and the rise of the pub session. Probably a mix of those, plus a good key change tends to give a set that extra bit of juice to player, listener, and dancer.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

"1) Why, in old-timey sessions, do they usually play tunes as singletons, rather than in sets?"

I can’t speak to whatever historical reasons there may be, but here are two observations based on modern day OldTime jams I’ve attended in the past (USA Pacific Northwest variety).

First, and possibly the main reason, is that the OldTime players I’ve known like to get into something like a musical trance state… playing the same tune over and over, and over again… until everyone starts to fade, and someone lifts their foot to stop the endless tune. It’s like a form of musical meditation that seems weird to someone outside the tradition, but the players I’ve known enjoy that kind of trance music.

The other reason for "tunes as singletons," at least for modern OldTime jams, is the way they’re often an entry point for beginning string musicians, or people taking it up later in life. There is a saying I’ve heard — maybe a little uncharitable, but I think it’s often true — that "OldTime is music for people who can almost play their instruments. "

Obviously, that doesn’t apply to the masters of the genre (and there are masters, I’ve heard them!). But the focus on single tunes repeated over and over, does make it easier for beginners to learn new tunes on the fly, or at least get them into their ears. One of the common complaints I’ve heard from OldTime players who first start getting into Irish music and attend local sessions, is that we "only" play the tunes three times each, and that’s not enough to learn the tunes.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

When I lived in Texas, some friends and I went to their hometown to celebrate two of them getting married. We visited the grooms grandparents and low and behold they played Old Time. His grandfather played guitar and the grandmother played hammered dulcimer. It was funny how they would play the whole tune once, then give the other the solo. I had only knew one Old Time tune but it was nice playing that one tune with them. We played it 6 times and that was with only three of us! I could imagine what it would be like in one of those big jam circles of 12+ musicians! That would explain why they only play them as singles!

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

"One reason might be because of the style, or more precise, a musical form developed in Appalachian/Old Time/Bluegrass tradition, namely, the "break." When a band performs a tune, each lead instrument in that band get his solo turn at the tune (the "break"), often with his own embellishments in multiple passes. So each instrument performs a "break." The entire piece is called the "breakdown." In fact the words "breakdown" are often part of the tune’s name, like "Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

Old Time musicians don’t take breaks. That’s a Bluegrass thing. OT is all about unison and groove. And I’ve never heard anyone connect the taking of musical breaks with the word "breakdown". Interesting theory.

Cheers.

Matt

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

@David Elosser - yes, I know about the "break" thing - it nearly always happens in bluegrass.

Haven’t seen much evidence of that in old-timey, though.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

While discussing the incicidence of the use of jigs in English clog, earlier in this thread I said:

"As it happens, I have a friend who something of an expert on this topic. Dances all of the various English clog traditions. I’ll raise the question next time we meet".

I’ve since spoken to my friend:

Answer: Jigs - probably 10%. Maybe 15% tops in some traditions.

Apparently, hornpipes are the most common form - followed by reels, schottiches and waltzes.

- then jigs.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Such things have varied over time, and it seems by all accounts that jigs were in greater favour in the 1800s, 4/4 time growing in popularity since, just as instrumentation has changed, strings now dominant, and sadly by many now considered the only way to go as far as old-time is concerned…

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Several years ago we played a gig at a vineyard in the low hills of Kentucky. It was harvest time and vintners from the surrounding area came to harvest grapes of all varieties. A press & de-stemmer was set up at the end of a gravel road and the harvest was turned to juice on the spot to be trucked off to the various wineries. A table had been set up to feast after the pressing and wasps circled in the warm autumn sun hoping for a sip of the juice.

After the feast we began play with a reel set followed by a jig set. About half-way through the jig set, to my complete and pleasant surprise, an older gentleman got up and started dancing the jig and afterward clamored "more jigs, more jigs"!! That alone made our day. To find someone who knew what a jig was in that company was totally unexpected. In the hub-bub, I never got the gentleman’s name but always wondered where he came from!

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

@ceolachan: " … strings now dominant".

Come now, ceolachan - surely there are other brands used … ;-)

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Looking back, my post about the breakdown was quite ambiguous. You are all correct, the "breakdown" is a bluegrass concept. What I was trying to suggest is that the breakdown was the reason for rarely if ever playing bluegrass tunes in sets, and then this concept of playing single tunes bled over into other styles of playing in the south east. Bluegrass has always had a strong influence on other styles of music in the SE. Just a theory mind you, as I’m sure there was no Magna Carta of performance structure in the south east traditions. But another ingredient in the pot is the influx of African Americans and their musical traditions. Negro songs, tunes, and spirituals have had a profound impact on American music in general, especially in the folk traditions. I have a book on the history of Negro music in America somewhere and if I can find it I’ll see if it discusses how the Negro tradition influenced the two questions in this thread, namely, why no jigs (or other style in 6/8 time) and why sets are generally not played.

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

in fact its such a good video, it got posted to this very thread about 8 months ago :)

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

Sorry Nate, still worth a look for those, as I, overlooked it the first time.
:-) RTH

Re: Why didn’t jigs make it across the pond?

There is so much focus on southern Appalachian fiddling that the other parts of the region and the USA as a whole have been largely disregarded by those who say "there are no jigs." Sauel P. Bayard collected hundreds of them in the Mid Atlantic region. SHawn Craver is a modern fiddler who specialises in this music. But fiddling is in a poor place in the US right now because of homogenization. If a fiddler doesn’t play in well defined "oldtime" style akin to the popular styles of fiddlers like Tommy Jarraell (who was great), then they’re not given much attention. The recent hipsterization of the traditional music… "hicking it up" being fashionable, has only worsened the situation. Many of these "oldtime" ensembles are just a shade away from being bluegrass bands. The timing is crammed into a simplified rhythmic format with a few chords and it’s all hoedown, hoedown, hoedown… none of the stately reels, jigs, or marches that make up a vast repertoire still out there… Even some of the fiddlers these people emulate are misconstrued. There is a tutorial online of a revivalist fiddler teaching a tune from Estill Bingham of Kentucky. Bingham’s bowing is unique, single notes, but the teacher in the video crams the tune into a "bow by number" mechanical shuffle that may be effective in the short term, but in no way represents the older tradition of long bow, single note styles… For example see Joe Coe on youtube fiddling Phoebe Ice.