Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

yes, clearly you’ve been working with the metronome and getting a steadier rhythm. Once you got going, you stayed in time pretty well

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

If yu tap your foot on every second beat, you will get a better pulse, imo. you are doing ok.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Arthur, is the metronome set at 90 bpm?

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

the metronome is set to 180

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

That’s what I thought. Why?

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I think because of cut time and stubbornness.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

At risk of opening up a silly argument we just got through burning out on, THIS is what you get when you play a reel in 4/4 instead of 2/2 (cut time). A more perfect example I cannot give you. As Richard Dalton notes above, the pulse is all wrong in 4/4. Gotta be in 2/2, you lot, or this is what you get.

Go thou forth and do likewise. :)

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Cheers, timmy.
Arthur, your timing is improving. I agree with Nate & Richard’s comments.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I say give Arthur a break on his metronome setting. He’s trying to get his tempo barrier up and so he’s playing 2 notes to a click because its easier for him to work with a metronome that way and keep things even.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Good improvement, Arthur. If you want that 2/4 feel, try one of those Acoustica Beatctraft 2/4 percussion backing tracks I sent you. Can’t remember what the tempi were, though …

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

So is it ‘wrong’ to play reels like that? I should play only emphasise two notes per bar? I thought it was optional? and like how swing with increased note length is added every two notes, likewise emphasise could be added every two also?

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Arthur, it’s not optional if your intention is to play a reel. Also, if you want to play with others or with a recording, you will clash severely. Finally, it is a very bad habit to develop if it keeps you from knowing the difference between when you are playing a reel and when you playing the tune of a reel in another time signature.

As a matter of taste, though, I find the very choppy sound unnerving. Some reels sound fine if played in 4/4, most don’t. But the fact remains that once converted to 4/4, you utterly change the sound and will ace yourself out of ever playing in a session, and in most cases, your rendition simply won’t sound like Irish music.

By the way, it is the pulse of the tune that is emphasized, not the actual note. If you listen to flute player Matt Molloy, you will notice that he is not very rhythmic. His playing is very even. His virtuosity lies in how his tunes flow and how they are ornamented. Still, the pulse of two beats per measure is unmistakable.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Ailin, assuming you have listened to Mr. Gondolor’s previous recordings, do you think his timing is improving?

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Mr AB, I know the question was not directed at me, but yes, it doggam well has. A lot! :)

Happy New Year to you all!

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Happy New Year, Jim!

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I think Mr. Gondolor’s timing has improved tremendously, compared to his early efforts, no question!

My own humbly offered suggestions:

Now that you have the mechanical skills to play the right notes at the right time, forget about the notes. It’s time to play phrases, not notes. Right now there’s a sense in your playing that you’re playing a series of tones that don’t really have context… that aren’t related to the notes before or after. Don’t play notes, play phrases!

Let the musical phrases suggest different ways to bow them. So you have more options than just the one-bow-to-the-note style. You’ll probably have to slow things down as you integrate some different bowing ideas into your playing.

Identify areas of tension in your body as you play, and find ways to relax them. Bring that relaxation to the tune.

In that relaxation, let the tune and the musical phrases flow.

Go ahead and dial the metronome back to two beats to the bar, rather than four. You’re ready for it.

Happy New Year!

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I was always told they were called reels because they were "reel" hard to play. I know I can’t manage them at full tempo yet. I think you are on the right track here, you do need to emphasize beats 1 and 3 of each measure more and playing with your metronome setting in 2/2 would help that. However, its not mandatory. you just need to know and play the pulse which is of course easier said than done. Reels are also often lightly swung which might help as well although not always and this is where listening to recordings of good players can help. I would choose to benefit from the experience of others and work it the way they tell you. It often helps.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

someone told me they make metronomes (apps?) that alternate sounds, like boom-chuck, rather than chuck chuck chuck, might help do away with the need to use your imagination. sorry though, personally I can’t stand playing with a metronome. :p Arthur, that sounds good to me. Do you have a session to play with? playing regularly at a good session would be the way to go. You have plenty to contribute.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Actually, I haven’t heard previous recordings, so I can’t comment on improvement. Let me be clear, though, that I am not being critical of his playing. In previous threads, the notion that it is important to know the difference between 4/4 and 2/2 was denigrated by some as being not important to the trad musician. It was very important for me, and not knowing that I was doing it wrong seriously held me back. I don’t want that to happen to Arthur and I think his post substantiates that many of us have had to suffer confusion on this subject. If I can help clear that up, I’ve done my good deed for 2016.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

What many others said. Set your metronome to two clicks per bar instead of four (and that probably means bpm=90 instead of 180). You will still play the tune at the very same speed, but it won’t sound like you’re in a hurry. The timing is good though, no added or skipped beats.

Happy new year!

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

As an experiment guys, try tapping *your* foot two to the bar whilst listening to Arthur’s recording and, as best you can, ignore the metronome. I think he *is* emphasising two beats to the bar more than you are giving him credit for.

At that tempo it’s the lack of swing that I notice most.

My experience is that if a reel sounds hurried with a metronome at four clicks to the bar (but foot at two to the bar) I need to practice until it doesn’t. Then turn the metronome back to two to a bar - or off.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

[Mr AB, I know the question was not directed at me, but yes, it doggam well has. A lot!] Good to know as that had been my main focus of the last few months. :)

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Since I’ve been getting more interested in music theory I’d be interested in studying the time signiature stuff more. What thread were you referring to ailin; my other bpm thread or a different one again? If the latter, link please.

Also you speak of 2/2 being the correct signiature, but how is it 2/2 and not 2/4 since the bottom number is supposedly the note length right and the notes lengths don’t suddenly change do they it’s just the change of emphasis.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"Also you speak of 2/2 being the correct signiature, but how is it 2/2 and not 2/4 since the bottom number is supposedly the note length right and the notes lengths don’t suddenly change do they it’s just the change of emphasis."

The lengths of individual notes do not change, but the length of the beat is doubled - and there are only half as many beats. So it all comes out the same arithmetically.

If you were change the notation of a tune from 4/4 (or 2/2) into 2/4, it might imply that it was to be played twice as fast - or faster, at least - as the note lengths would all be halved. But even then, note values are relative - they only represent the relative durations within a tune. Some old tune collections do contain reels notated in 2/4. This is probably just down to the whims of the transcriber. Notational conventions in traditional music are all relatively recent. What is important is how it sounds.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

[*If you want that 2/4 feel, try one of those Acoustica Beatcraft 2/4 percussion backing tracks I sent you.*]

Sorry, I meant to say 2/2 earlier, not 2/4.

Although they are in fact exactly the same. (Just kiddin’ ya, Ailin) :)

On time sigs - it would be interesting to hear what time sig was implied from Arthur’s playing if the metronome clicks were removed.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Arthur, That sounds like a big improvement from previous recordings. I agree with David50 that if you ignore the metronome clicks the emphasis on the beats is pretty good.

I have probably been playing fiddle for a similar amount of time to you and also find it difficult to play reels at session speed. It’s something I’m really starting to focus on now as after 85-90 bpm it is a struggle for me (much more so than jigs and polkas at session speed). I do agree that the metronome at 2 beats per bar sounds much better than 4.

Also, what is the name of this tune and is it the same tune being played in the youtube clip linked to by Feargal earlier (https://youtu.be/r5wzw0vn94w?t=2m44s)? What was your original source for this?

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Cheers Frenchy boy I heard that recording a long time ago but had forgotten all about it.

RE the time signiatures, but still scientifically speaking they are still 2/4 aren’t they.

What is the point of notating time signiatures at all if you aren’t going to be accurate. If that’s the case just have the bare notes and ‘let them figure it out themselves’.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I just stumbled upon this and wanted to say good work, Arthur. Keep practicing! Best regards from another fellow who’s toiling away with with metronome to get the tunes up to speed.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

there is clear confusion here regarding duple meter, 2/2 and 2/4 , cut time. with 4/4 ;common time. there are no modern authorities that i am aware of that class reels as being in cut time. only classicaly trained musicisns who read it on the internet claim otherwise. from Tomas O Canainn to Liz Doherty the consensus is that reels are in common time. feel free to correct me if you can find anyone on record disagreeing with the professional opinion of educaters in this field such as the above named. the fact is that Martin Hayes beats 4/4 with his feet and states he playsreels in 4/4 . when internet experts disagree so strongly with the university lecturers on traditional music and top players such as martin i leave you to weigh those opinions .
pointing out the logical fallacies to the individuals concerned has proven a waste of time so i wont bother . enjoy your tunes . the question remains are Martin Hayes and liz Doherty unsophisticated and wrong, or is it our session.org warriors……

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

[If you were change the notation of a tune from 4/4 (or 2/2) into 2/4, it might imply that it was to be played twice as fast - or faster, at least - as the note lengths would all be halved.]

What makes this so?

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Will there is a difference between being right scientifically and right within your little sphere of influence.

I’m sure any fan of a popstar would say what ever drivel they uttered was true but that doesn’t make it so.

Not saying the ones you mention are talking drivel just giving an extreme example.

It is well known that most things the irish head honchos say don’t hold much empirical voracity. I think it’s generally understood whatever they say is just ‘shorthand’. Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you can exaplain how you do it.

I know a guy who is amazing at picking up girls; he probably rivals some rock stars but he’s also one of the stupidest people I’ve ever known and gives the absolute worst advice.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

[If you were change the notation of a tune from 4/4 (or 2/2) into 2/4, it might imply that it was to be played twice as fast - or faster, at least - as the note lengths would all be halved.]

That is only if you don’t know what each number stands for in normal musical notation?

If the top one is only to do with beats per bar it has nothing to do with halving then does it.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

This pseudoscientific method people adopt in trad seems silly. Either be scientific about it and do it properly or don’t do it at all. It just conflates the issue even more if you try and straddle the fence between both schools of thought.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Again with the time signature thing! Can’t we all just get along and play tunes?

Arthur, you are playing largely in time on this recording, and some parts of it sound nice and have a good swing. I can tell you right off the bat that you are trying to play it much faster than your technical ability allows you to. You need to slow down and learn to play the tune in time and with good intonation and phrasing slowly, and then gradually increase the speed. This will allow you to teach your brain and fingers to line up.

I don’t know if you already do this, but it’s worthwhile to spend time listening to recordings of yourself as well as recordings of other players. Actively listen to them, paying close attention to how you sound vs how they sound, and use the knowledge you gain from that to improve your playing.

I highly recommend taking some lessons from an accomplished teacher. It’s by far the quickest and easiest way to improve your playing.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

This has got very complicated. To me the beat is on the first note of each 4 and this is when I tap my foot and where the stronger emphasis should be. Tapping on every note or on every second note can encourage you to speed up the tune inappropriately. So on this basis Arthur should set his metronome to 45 - it will allow the music to swing a little better but still at the same pace.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I know it has been covered many places before, but here is a quick breakdown of time signatures.

The top number = the number of beats per bar
The bottom number = the kind of note that gets the beat
Beams go according to the beat
e.g. 3/4 = 3 beats per bar and a quarter note gets the beat. If there are beamed eighth notes they would be in sets of two.
e.g. 2/4 = 2 beats per bar and a quarter note gets the beat. If. There were beamed eighth notes they would be in sets of two. (this couldn’t be a reel because two quarter notes is only 4 eighth notes per bar and we all know there are eight eighth notes in a bar of a reel)

Unless it’s "compound meter"(which means beats are divided in three. e.g. jigs, slides, slip jigs, etc.).
Compound meter is:
The top number = the number of beats per bar multiplied by three
The bottom number is the "subdivision" of the beat (or the kind of note that there are three of in a beat)
e.g. 6/8 = 2 beats per bar, 3 eighth notes per beat

The 2/2 vs. 4/4 debate has there measures of both time signatures looking the same (except for the beaming). There are eight eighth notes in both time signatures. Do you count a reel as "1& 2& 3& 4&" or as "1e&a 2e&a"? It’s most often written as 4/4 in the time signature but the notes are beamed as 2/2. This has caused so much confusion to classical converts and anyone else that came to this music intentionally rather than organically.

Please remember this music in mainly an aural tradition that has adopted the most widely used music notation system. There is NO WAY to accurately write down the rhythm and pulse in Irish music. You have to listen to understand it completely. In listening and watching some players, you’ll notice a bounce between the two strong beats. Sometimes it’s marked with a tap of the other foot. Whether that tap or bounce is considered a beat or an offbeat is subject to interpretation and debate. The fact is that it is neither "1& 2& 3& 4&" nor "1e&a 2e&a". Those are both too hard on the beats and have no lift. Find your own way of counting. I’ve heard everything from "Black and Decker, Black and Decker" to "Surfin’ in Hawai’i Baby". Go listen to as much great music as you can and have fun playing tunes! This debate will never find one answer because there isn’t one.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

[If you were change the notation of a tune from 4/4 (or 2/2) into 2/4, it might imply that it was to be played twice as fast - or faster, at least - as the note lengths would all be halved.]

What makes this so?

# Posted by Arthur Gondolor

This is incorrect. Time has nothing to do with tempo. In 2/4 the note lengths are not halved. Each note is played at its full value, but your count is two beats per measure (the upper number), each counted as a quarter note (the bottom number). Mind you, this is how you count - there is no effect on the value of the actual notes in the measure.

The same in true in 2/2, except the bottom number represents the duration of a half note instead of a quarter note. Therefore, in 2/2, if you have two quarters, you play them in a single beat. If you have four eighths, you also play them in a single beat. Whatever group of notes add up to the value of a half note is played in a single beat. That’s how it works.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"there is clear confusion here regarding duple meter, 2/2 and 2/4 , cut time. with 4/4 ;common time. there are no modern authorities that i am aware of that class reels as being in cut time. only classicaly trained musicisns who read it on the internet claim otherwise. from Tomas O Canainn to Liz Doherty the consensus is that reels are in common time. feel free to correct me if you can find anyone on record disagreeing with the professional opinion of educaters in this field such as the above named. the fact is that Martin Hayes beats 4/4 with his feet and states he playsreels in 4/4 ."

Glad to oblige. If you have a copy of Fintan Vallely’s book, The Companion To Irish Traditional Music, please turn to page 307. There you will see Liz Doherty’s article on reels. She does indeed say they are in 4/4. Now, turn to page 308 and see the examples she gives. They are written with a C with a line through it in the time signature. That is how one denotes Cut Time, otherwise known as 2/2. So much for Liz Doherty.

Regarding Martin Hayes, the example Will provided in another recent thread on this subject is here:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1F1_0r8a0Og


You can clearly hear someone banging out the time with two beats per measure. You can certainly add an unaccented beat between the two beats to get four, but that is not how 4/4 is counted. What Arthur had on his metronome is how you count 4/4.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

[ there is no effect on the value of the actual notes in the measure. Therefore, if you have two quarters, you play them in a single beat. If you have four eighths, you also play them in a single beat. Whatever group of notes add up to the value of a half note is played in a single beat. ]

Yes when you put it like that I guess that makes it rather rendundant in terms of the bottom one anyhow.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Not at all. If it were redundant, you would not have 2/4 and2/2, you would have one or the other. Most hornpipes are in 2/4. Hornpipes do not sound like reels.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"Hornpipes do not sound like reels."

Agreed. Are you suggesting that the time signature alone is responsible for how a hornpipe sounds, and not say, the repeated patterns, the triplet cadences etc? If someone placed two tunes next to each other but covered the time signature, most of us could tell which was a reel and and which was a hornpipe - even if both were written in two groups of four. Don’t tell us that it’s because "hornpipes are in 2/4" (since when?).

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

What I am saying is that ANY tune played in different time signatures will sound unalike. If you normally play a hornpipe in 2/4 and decide to play it in 4/4, it will of necessity sound different. If this were not the case, time signatures would be of no value and would have no place in music.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

In the "Companion to Irish Traditional Music", under reel ( 2nd definition) it has, "In 4/4 time it consists largely of quaver movement with an accent on the first and third beats of the bar." Perhaps that doesn’t make rational sense but it does work out if you play it that way, regardless of how it’s counted.

Are the two examples (of reels) written in cut time transcriptions Breathnach used from O’Neill’s?
https://books.google.com/books?id=_xN1VS6sWsEC&pg=PA308

{sorry if the above link doesn’t work for everyone}

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I understand, but that doesn’t really make sense. You can do many things rhythmically within a tune, but it can only be counted one way. That’s why time signatures exist. It seems to me that if you are going to use four counts, but only emphasizing two, you are really counting in two and adding two additional and unnecessary counts. Much easier to count it with two and give your foot a rest.

Regarding where the written examples came from in LD’s article, if the article says one thing and the examples say another, somebody somewhere doesn’t know what they are doing. If anyone has the newer expanded edition of the book, I would be interested in knowing if either the article or the examples were revised.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I have CRE I & II. In Vol I the reels are in cut time. So are the hornpipes. In Vol II however both reels and hornpipes are in 4/4. :-D

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Cheers, Stiamh!

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Well, there you are. Somebody needs to study up on time signatures, and it isn’t me! :)

Thanks, Stiamh.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I am still no closer to understanding what they all mean.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Arthur, basically it comes down to how you play a reel, keeping a steady beat & accenting the beat so that it works with what experienced players are doing when playing a reel.

The point Ailin is making is in order to do that (at the tempo you’re playing) you should be able to set your metronome at 90 bpm & still be able to keep time with that beat.

Technically, by doing that, you’re using the metronome to count in cut time.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Perfectly explained.

If you do as AB suggests, the light bulb should come on when you hear the difference of how the tune flows as you play it.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Remind me again. In a bar of a reel with 8 notes are the 1, 3, 5, and 7th of those supposed to be perceived as in time with the clicks of a metronome set at four clicks per bar.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Is that a question or a statement, David?

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

yes and no david. for beginers its good to nail the beat on the head, in sync with the foot tap to be able to transmit the beat through the notes but this is a stage . advanced players bend this. the foot tap, the pulse, meter is taken for granted. its a reel. the art is to delay some notes and play some in advance. All fine micro timing, but the pulse has to be maintained as its dance music. there is a certain momentum in dancing a 2 or 4 hand reel. as long as the beat is consistent there is a wealth of pushing and pulling available to a tunesmith. listen to Paddy Canny who was a master.
dancing a reel is the key . once you can dance you will understand why a 4 pulse is so essential . its the kick in yr heels , the lift and drive . check the Clare Battering step. compared to a sedate Scottish country dance reel in 2 .
time signatures do not tell us how to play a tine , they tell us what beat we are aiming to maintain . modern Scottish reels are often played in duple meter. Irish reels in common time. old Scottish reels were played in 4 time but that changed ad the steps got more pronounced and exaggerated and the jump or lift greater.its not really possible to explain to someone who does not read pipe music what does what. it takes years of concentrated effort. like talking law to a layman, or military science to a civilian. a different language almost. sorry for errors etc im on my phone

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"Remind me again. In a bar of a reel with 8 notes are the 1, 3, 5, and 7th of those supposed to be perceived as in time with the clicks of a metronome set at four clicks per bar."

Yes, but I would advise against setting the metronome for four. If you do, you are likely to miss a beat somewhere along the way and get really lost.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Mr. Evans, are you saying 2 beats per measure (or 4 beats, depending on how one is counting), in reels, needs to be consistent; or not?

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Thanks Will. I asked "supposed to be *perceived* as in time" [added emphasis] with a dancer, or in my case foot-tapping listener in mind. Though maybe "to not seem out of time with" would have been better.

AB. I think Will is saying that a dancer should feel that they are consistent. With things like slurring and twiddly bits going on quite when a note actually ‘happens’ can be hard to define - but easy to tap in time with.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

As long as the tempo is the same the beat doesn’t change. Whether or not a note is played on every single beat depends on the tune & how it is interpreted. Same for emphasis. In any case lift does not change the beat; assuming the tempo is consistent. An individual player (or dancer) might play in front of the beat in order to emphasise the drive, but this need not accelerate the tempo (i.e. ~ the beat) unless a faster tempo is intended.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I would promulgate the spirit of Arthur’s earlier post re being scientific, etc.

The only real way to demonstrate the difference between playing reels in 4/4 or 2/2 is for some brave soul to record themselves playing the same reel in both time sigs, and post it here. Although, even if that did happen, the only problem with that is that it would simply generate another debate about which way was the correct way to play it (based on different, but equally valid, individual aural comprehensions).

For the same soundfile, one person could count 2 beats per bar, while another could count 4 - regardless of where the accent was, or how many perceived beats were in the bar.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Jim, I’m fine with Arthur setting his metronome at 1 beat per measure (45 bpm) as I am with 8 beats per measure (360bpm). The metronome is secondary. What’s important is his timing is improving, despite all the conflicting advice from themustard.org

Arthur, I don’t know how you manage this quagmire but I do appreciate the fact you have demonstrated improvement in your playing, notably in your most recent recording.

;)

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I nominate Ailin as a candidate for this, since he has been most vocal on the subject. :)

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Arthur, you can do this. Set the metronome at 90 bpm & play the reel.

You can play in cut time. Forget everything the mustard has told you, you can do this.

You ~ Arthur Gondolor.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I think Jim’s idea is easily accomplished without my having to record two versions of the same tune, although I most certainly could. However, since Arthur has already recorded a perfectly serviceable version in 4/4, I invite anyone here who knows the tune to do their own version. Don’t worry about the time signature (you already play it in 2/2), just play it as you normally would at Arthur’s tempo and note the difference in how it sounds. There’s your comparison and there is your answer.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Ailin, does this mean you’re excluding yourself from your invitation to record a 2nd version for comparison and contrast?

:-D

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Is there any purpose to this debate? Why does it matter? No one had even mentioned written music until you brought it up Ailin. What’s with the obsession with cut time?

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Wesley, the point isn’t about music notation or theory. Ailin uses these to make his case. But regardless of his [Ailin’s] personal bias Arthur’s timing on reels is trending more towards two beats per measure than the prevalent 180 bpm of his metronome. He [Arthur] is improving. I only hope Ailin may eventually acknowledge Arthur’s progress.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"I would advise against setting the metronome for four. If you do, you are likely to miss a beat somewhere along the way and get really lost." (Ailin)

I don’t follow that. Is it something to do with using written music? How does one miss beats if learning by ear?

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Well done, Arthur - you’re getting there, improving all the time. Thanks for making us aware of "Vocaroo", that could be useful to me in the future. Also, do you have a name for that tune at all ?

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

hornpipes are regularly used instead of and interchangeable with a reel. whether they are written in 2/4 or 4/4 just as reels are written in 2/4 4/4 and2/2 . whether a hornpipe is danced to a hornpipe or a reel. , or vice versa is the actual difference . obviously there is often a rhythmic difference leaning towards12/8 in HP but the meter is the same ;both common time.
again people confuse notation with what its trying to convey.
A jig can be notated in 2/4 6/8 4/4 and 12/8 . still a jig.
with single and double jigs there is often confusion in the notation. look st hag at the churn, a12/8 jig and hag with the money 6/8. the difference is subtle but obvious enough when you know what your listening for. the phrasing .the initial start of a phrase is the strong pulse . It obviously makes no musical sense to stress a note in the middle of a phrase as though it were the beginning.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

in reflection some hornpipes are cut time , just as some reels are; st Annes. the attempt to put all reels in a single category is pointless and divisive because they are not.
despite the obvious confusion in regards to notation with different books saying different things . the actual piece of music will indicate often enough what meter it is.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I’ve never been a foot-tapper - in some ways it is counter-productive in fiddle playing.

I’m just thinking of the mention earlier of players tapping out 2 beats to the bar, and others tapping out 4 beats, using two feet. Well, isn’t that really just a two-beat tap with the left, with the right doing 2 ‘balancing’ taps ? So (theoretically, at least) we only have two beats to the bar?

Same with a mechanical metronome. I don’t use one any more (I use the far superior rhythm tracks), but when I did, I always naturally counted on the left click only.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Ailin, you have been going on about this subject for the past 11 years. It seems your second contribution to the board was to introduce a topic about it ( https://thesession.org/discussions/3653#comment73278 ) and it looks to me as though you have never since neglected an opportunity to bring it up, and once you do bring it up, you are rarely (if ever?) content to make your point and let the matter rest.

From something you said somewhere, I think your concern with this subject derives from difficulties you, as someone with a classical background, initially had in interpreting reels written in 4/4 the way you now think they should be interpreted. A valid point, no doubt. But unless you have evidence of significant numbers of people being misled in this way, is it worth banging on about it in such a predictable manner?

Why not provide a personal demonstration of the difference between playing reels (and hornpipes) as if they were notated in both cut time and 4/4? If you won’t, then please consider the possibility of allowing other people to be wrong - for example, state your point and back off. :)

I have an open mind about the subject apart from thinking that it’s not worth making a fuss about. For one thing I don’t have enough of a music-theory background to have strong thoughts on the matter. But I also think that Irish traditional music (rather like the English language), is something much bigger and more varied and with more dimensions than any person’s idiom, style, experience, or grasp of it.

Happy new year, and here’s to your very good health.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I’m still acting for Ailin to weigh in on why this is so important to him. At this point I can only imagine that he was visited by some supernatural force alla Mr. Scrooge and subjected to terrifying visions of a world where people notate music different ways.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

[*Ailin, you have been going on about this subject for the past 11 years.*]

Stiamh, so you have been stalking him for 11 years, and that’s how you know? :)

And I’m sure to get my arse kicked for putting my sneb in :)

I still enjoy the discussion (and many of the other ones too), and there have been a lot of good points made by everyone.

Happy new year, and here’s to everyone’s very good health!

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Stiamh, I believe you have answered your own question by digging up the only thread I have ever started on this subject. At least you provided the link where all can see why the mistake of writing reels in 4/4 held me back and that I was interested in knowing how it may have affected others. Surely that was a worthwhile question and thread, no?

Since then, numerous others have brought up the subject and I have contributed my thoughts. The only reason I contribute more than one post per thread is because others see fit to challenge my posts. When challenged, I respond. Should I not?

Why anyone would challenge me on this defies credibility. At sessions, I tend to watch feet because a raised foot signals a change of tune or the end of a set. Never have I ever seen anyone tap four beats per measure. To do so at session tempos would almost be physically impossible because your foot would be going like a jack hammer.

A few posts back, Will Evans said he was open to being proven wrong on his contention that Liz Doherty and Martin Hayes somehow made the case for 4/4. I easily debunked that and you will notice he has not commented even though he has posted since then. Unless I’m missing something, he seems to think meter is subjective, but that defies all musical theory whether or not you read music. Will is the only one here who seems to be bent on selling 4/4. He has probably posted more than I have, so maybe you should be asking him the question you asked me. Or better still, if he thinks reels are not in 2/2, ask him for a sample of something that is. At least then we would know if he acknowledges that 2/2 exists and when it is used. I’d really like to know.

It seemed particularly worthwhile to post here because Arthur has fallen into the very trap I did relative to trying to play a reel in 4/4. I don’t know why you are asking me to demonstrate something he has already demonstrated. If you can’t hear the difference or if you can play the same reel along with him and have it sound like it would if you were playing alone, I don’t know what to tell you.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

debunk:-) yes quite . well playing reels in 4 hasnt held Kevin Burke or martin Hayes back now has it?
your op in that thread does show clearly your mistake. you mistake rhythm for meter. its no shame , its a complicated subject that can only be mastered by research and deep reflection. a reel is a rhythm And a rhythm can not be discerned from a meter. a meter is discerned from a rhythm. most music today is in common time as it always has been and trad is no exception. 4/4 encompasses a huge variety of rhythms.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Will, rhythm doesn’t enter into it. Meter and rhythm are mutually exclusive. Rhythm exists within meter. Learn bodhran and that fact becomes evident.

Better you should address my post than simply bypass the debunk which you mock with a smiley face.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Yes I don’t know why people avoid discussions. They are good for understanding when not practicing and it’s good to hear other’s opinions.

Thanks for the encouragment AB and others.

I am planning to try again in ‘normal’ two beats per bar as per recomendations.

Will are you saying that Kevin burke and martin hayes do play in 4/4? or they just tap their feet more :). Ie would you still be able to tell by the difference in sound alone?

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Good for you, Arthur. Let us know how you get on.

BTW, I think the beginning of your last paragraph says it all.

Cheers.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Agreed. The sound you can hear, however, is two beats per measure. Adding the extra two beats does not 4/4 make. You can add as many beats as your foot can keep up with, but it’s his right foot (he appears to be right-handed) that is maintaining the meter or he wouldn’t do it. I assume the action of his left foot is either a nervous habit or something to balance him physically. If he tapped in two on both feet, he might fall over. :)

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Yes the beat is 2 per measure. But the other foot tapping four isn’t some nervous thing, it is what is keeping time. It’s very hard to tap that slowly and maintain a constant beat - when you try to go that slow your foot is no longer acting as a pendulum, it becomes a case of ‘tap pause tap pause tap’ which is very hard to keep constant. But if you double the BPM and tap four to the bar with one foot that foot becomes a pendulum and keeps the pace steady, while the other foot taps at half the speed to give the actual beat.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I think you’ve got it!

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Great :)

Another:

http://vocaroo.com/i/s1i2BthQwK31

Regarding the emphasis. If doing the two beats per bar thing does that mean that you shouldn’t emphasis a crotchet if it doesn’t land on one of those beats or you should emphasis them wherever they occur generally?

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Hehe I just by chance stumbled acros this video where martin hayes attests to reels being 4/4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoOdcAUkpgw


Pure coincidence.

Wow and an interesting history lesson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFmk-2Krjyg


Here we see he only does the two beat tap with both feet like splashing his feet in a paddling pool. Hence we might surmise that if he developed the 2/4 tap later he may have found it superior rather than merely an old stubborn habit.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Arthur, the meter does not tell you where to emphasise a note, that comes from an understanding of rhythm and musicality.In a very real sense the meter tells you how to tap your foot.

Alan, you did not offer an authority stating they play reels in cut time. You offered a piece of music notated in cut time. Big difference. Regarding rhythm and meter . Your opening post clearly states you got the ‘right rhythm’ from the meter, which of course is not possible…… Kevin Burke, or Dr Liz Doherty university lecturer in traditional Irish music , pre- eminant fiddler could hardly be described as unsophisticated and wrong now could they ? Seriously!
The problem with nailing your colours to the mast with such insistance and mocking others wno disagree with you is that you put yourself in a position where you cant simply back down, pride forbids . Dismissing Liz Doherty as you so glibly do says much more about you that it does about one of Irelands finest fiddlers….. Your argument becomes a caricature. Especially when its based on a mistake you made 30 yrs ago…. .
There is a link on another thread today with clips of Kevin Burke talking about reels……
Your insistance that a meter tells you how to play a particular rhythm , a reel, as you did clearly in your first discussion linked above , is simply misguided. No big deal, but when you insist on being right when you clearly dont actually understand and by extension misguiding other neophytes is iresponsible IMO .
You are unable to engage with my argument because you dont understand the language I speak . When i point out the clear 4/4 in a pipebook from hindreds of years ago you cant see it…… Because your understanding of notation is limited by your education and you cant actually read pipe music…..
have you ever danced a reel? Ever been to Ireland ?
For all I know you could be an accomplished player , but even acomplished players can make basic errors when discussing notation , for example. i have friends who never read music yet play at a very high level. They wouldnt know 4/4 from 7/8 unless they heard it.
A meter like 7/8 has a number of diffetent rhythms…… Let alone 4/4.
To remind you i queried ;were there any acknowledged authorities who state clearly that the play in 2/2 , and that 4/4 is wrong. That still stands.
Im not apealling to authority because ive actually explained the difference based on lots of research and thought.
Ive already pointed out that I acknowledge that some reels are indeed in 2/2 but they are not Irish. Generally I’m talking to ’ the crowd ‘in general rather than any specific individual but as you insist on making this a personal matter Im addressing you specifically.
I would much rather not get embroiled in another argument. You state your position and I will state mine. You explain your thinking and experience and I mine. Thats enough. Please refrain from addressing me personally in future as I do not intend to respond again as I am now . Cheers and happy new year.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Bravo, Arthur, you’ve got it!

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

cool :)

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Huge improvement over the first clip in this thread, Arthur! You’ve turned a corner!

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

>>"Regarding the emphasis. If doing the two beats per bar thing does that mean that you shouldn’t emphasis a crotchet if it doesn’t land on one of those beats or you should emphasis them wherever they occur generally?"

Generally you don’t need to give emphasis to crochets. Certainly don’t do it automatically. The added length gives the crochet a certain natural emphasis anyway, and remember there are two things going on: the rhythm of the reel and the phrasing of the individual tune. There will be places where you emphasize other notes or reduce the emphasis on 1 & 5 for the sake of the phrasing, but it has to be done sparingly to preserve the feel of the reel. You often get crochets as the last note of a phrase, and in that case they are usually de-emphasized to let the phrase die away, then the next phrase starts with a kick on the next emphasized note.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I will say, in fairness, that when im trying to get a novice (pipe music) drummer to get working quickly, the bane of my life but there you go, gotto earn a living. I get them to cut time. This leaves a lot of space for the subtlety and intricacies of the music, in particular strathspeys and the like. Rhythmically the music I play is complex and busy. If the drummer knows the tunes there is no need to cut time because they are there with me for every snap. But the most frustrating thing for me as a piper is drummers who flatten everything out , all the detail is buried under a busy hand that knows not what it is doing.
Its like a small country boreen being bulldozed and tarmaced in a straight line.
its fairly easy to see many reasons why tunes could be backed and notated in 2/2 It seems to me that with Martin and Dennis. Martin plays 4 and Dennis 2/2. Leaves a lot of space for the fiddle to drive the music and rhythmically Irish music is not as complex.,IMO ,as Scottish pipe music. Melodically far more expressive and a much wider range of tonality and pitch but rhythmically less complex . Presumably to make up ,in some sense, for the lesser dynamic range and only having 9 notes compared to 15 plus on the UP.
This is not a value judgement, rather a matter of interest and curiosity.
I am a fairly handy percussionist and Bodhran player myself as it happens and do know my way round a drum kit but I specialise more in complex compound time. i wouldnt however consider myself able to be lead Tip , not even close.
Anyhow…

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Will your. Sentence structure. Is. Very
Confusing.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

[Huge improvement over the first clip in this thread, Arthur! You’ve turned a corner!]

Well I have to say I’d have Ailin to thank for that for bringing it up in the first place. :) So cheers to him.

And thanks for the clarification mark.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Sorry, im on my phone…..Hope you could get the general idea..

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Ah, I shall forgive then :)

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

mark can you give an example videos where crotchets are not emhasised on the off beats? Because I was just looking and actually couldnt find any.

Its just that the videos I’ve looked at the crotchets have always lain on the strong beats however I know alot of the tunes I pratice they aren’t, and crop up in random places hence why I asked and would be interested in examples.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Crotchets ’ never’ crop up in odd places. They are structurally important as they can indicate an ending at the end of a phrase ,Or as an extra strong beat at the begining, or as a pause in the middle.
They are essential in a basic sense though an advanced player might ornament them this shouldn’t, IMO , detract from the function.
They are an important part of the art of phraseing.
Duntroon
http://www.ceolsean.net/content/Logan/Book01/Book01%2026.pdf
Plenty of crotchets. See how the important ones are stressed at the begining but at the end they act like a rest almost. Where a whistler might take a breath.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Oh and i much prefered the first recording you uploaded here. It had more drive and lift.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I asked for recordings. I already have plenty of sheet music where they occur.

[Crotchets ’ never’ crop up in odd places. They are structurally important as they can indicate an ending at the end of a phrase ,Or as an extra strong beat at the begining, or as a pause in the middle.]

So you are basically saying they can crop up at the beginning middle or the end? :)

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Your second recording sounds much better to my ears - more like a reel.

All this business of notation, 2/2 and 4/4 passes over my head, I’d have to admit.

There is I think a certain amount of variation in the way reels are played. I think all you can do is try and develop an authentic approach, that is one that has and is used by other musicians in the tradition. It’s a bit pointless trying to say that one way or the other is ‘correct’ - just play the music in your own style in an authentic way and you’ll be grand. My two cents, although 2c coins are gone here now.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Im saying wherever they are, there is a musical reason .
The point im making is that a reel need have no sime signature to play it from the dots. There are , as standard,2 groups of four 1/8 notes or in more complex forms might well have 4 groups of 2 x1/8 or with plenty of triplets even 4 groups of 3 ….. Whatever, its a reel.
There is nothing in the time signature that says anything about a rhythm such as a reel or hornpipe , march or polka.etc
The time sig is much more fundamental in a sense that it indicates where the beat is….. Beat…. :
To strike repeatedly .
synonyms: hit, strike, batter, thump, hammer, punch, knock, thrash, pound, pummel, slap, smack, crack, thwack, cuff, buffet, maul, pelt, drub, rain blows on…….
The confusion as regards what a time sig does is prevalent. I hope that ive cleared this up once and for all, but I doubt it :-)

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Arthur, take a look at this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o850Z0EtAKc


The Highlander’s Revenge. Several phrases start with two crochets. If you listen, the first is emphasized, because it is on the beat, the second isn’t. Some phrases end with two crochets and a minim, or two quavers, a crog=chet and a minim. Again, the crochet that isn’t on the beat doesn’t get emphasized.

It might be useful to listen to Bruce playing it whist following the sheet music, I think you will then see how it’s the notes that fall on the beat that get the emphasis, regardless of their length.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

sounds like all crotchets get emphasised to me…

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

^When did Scottish fiddle tunes become part of this??

Posted by .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Agree with Tom. Scottish fiddle players are not the best musicians to learn Irish music from.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Always have Tom . Specifically because the concept of 2/2 came from 18c Scottland and the attempts to notate and understand Scottish Reels as being in cut time. Its just unfortunate that this assumption , despite it being incorrect, was widened to include Irish reels too.
The cultures diverged dramatically after the clearances and plantation of the highlands. The youth of the ruling class being educated and indoctrinated in English Universaties. As is still common practice.
The highlanders revenge sounds American, not scottish anyhow.
The confusion partly stems from the assumption thatScottish and Zirish reels are the same beast. Hundreds of years ago yes, when the Scotts went to Ireland to study Medicine etc the cultures were close.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I’m well aware of the history Will, that wasn’t my point at all!!!

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

You asked a question tom, if you intended to make a statement then I misunderstood. subtle aspects of verbal communication are lost in the dots
I simply answered your question. Perhaps you meant what Kenny said and anyhow i was explaining for anyone who reads the thread, not just you.
Perhaps you meant :why use a stylistically Scottish player playing a Scottish tune as an example of how to play Irish fiddle music and I obviously agree strongly.
However The fact is that we play plenty of Scottish tunes in Ireland and vice versa.
Also some Irish players have absorbed Scotts and Classical influences as well as Jazz for that matter.
The session.org is not restricted to aparticular stylistic approach much as we might , individually , prefer a say a ‘Clare style ‘to a ‘Donegal style ‘or a ‘shetland style ‘or an American style for that matter, or any combination . My own fiddling reflects my youth in Scottland plus my life spent in Ireland so stylistically I have a wide range to choose from.
If Arthur feels drawn towards Johny Doherty Or Sean Maguire as opposed to Paddy Canny . So be it , we play the same tunes to an extent and for similar functions, but in our own fashion.
We have too, to an extent, move with the times. Recording technology has played a powerfull influence on most of us. Without that where would we be ? unless we were brought up amongst the tunes many of us would never have heard a reel or a jig.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"Specifically because the concept of 2/2 came from 18c Scottland and the attempts to notate and understand Scottish Reels as being in cut time. Its just unfortunate that this assumption , despite it being incorrect, was widened to include Irish reels too."

Hang on there… The reel itself only migrated from Scotland to Ireland in C18, so at that time Scottish and Irish reels were pretty much the same thing, there were no "Irish reels" to be unfortunately included.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I meant that since the divergence , in fact reletively recently , the 2 streams have been lumped together all under the catch all ’ reel’ . Rather than Irish Reel or Scottish Reel or for that matter Cape Breton Reel.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

[*synonyms: hit, strike, batter, thump, hammer, punch, knock, thrash, pound, pummel, slap, smack, crack, thwack, cuff, buffet, maul, pelt, drub, rain blows on…….*]

Shut it, Will, or Mr Callison will be will be asking where to find the abc symbols for them!! :) :)

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

My point for posting that reel was just to make the point that a reel could still sound good, to my ears at least, without the 2/4 ailin champions.

Just to encourage a compare and contrast/more divergent discussion :)

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

@Arthur, these discussions are doing you good, and your playing is improving a lot as you take in the concepts that I and others have talked about.

Nice one, Sir :)

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"My point for posting that reel was just to make the point that a reel could still sound good, to my ears at least, without the 2/4 ailin champions."

That’s 2/2, Arthur :).

And I think a reel can sound great however one likes to play it. Whenever I play Maids of Mitcheltown, I play it the way The Bothy Band plays it - In a slow 4/4. Then I play it like a hornpipe, and finally, like a reel. The change in meter for each is stark and makes for an interesting set without ever having changed the tune. However, if someone calls a reel at a session, the 2/2 you have just mastered is what you will find yourself playing. You now have the luxury of knowing what you are doing depending on how you count it whether or not you ever use written music at all. That’s the value that I have been trying to get across.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Ailin: "Whenever I play Maids of Mitcheltown, I play it the way The Bothy Band plays it - In a slow 4/4. Then I play it like a hornpipe, and finally, like a reel. "

Any chance of uploading a recording of these three versions? That might help resolve this debate once and for all :-)

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I’d be happy to if someone can tell me how and for free.

Posted by .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Follow Arthur’s example and use Vocaroo - http://vocaroo.com/

It’s free of charge and the storage is temporary.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Ye I found that randomly as the first result of a search in google since I was fed up of having to convert all my audio to videos for youtube.

It’s a nice find if I do say so myself.

Much impler than the other options I’d come across.

So no more excuses for you ailin :) we eagerly await your uploads.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I’m going to a session tonight, but I promise to tackle it tomorrow. If it goes well, I may also do a demo of a reel done in all three forms at the same tempo, which may be a better demonstration of how the meter changes the sound of the tune. I have a great electronic metronome that will serve the purpose nicely. I’ll do it at a setting of around 180 bpm. The only thing that will change is the meter. People often think reels sound the way they do because of the tempo. The demo will debunk that notion.

I want to do a reel most people know. Suggestions?

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"Maids of Mitchelstown"

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

That one is a given. Are you suggesting to do that both gradually getting faster, which is what I normally do, and at the same tempo, as well? I thought I might do something different.

Posted by .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

For the sake of demonstration I would keep it as simple as possible. Playing two different tunes could just create more variables. But if you think it will help in your demonstration then go for it.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Hi Ailin,

If you could play it in 2/4, 4/4, 2/2 and 8/8 that’d be great. I’d also like to hear it with and without a metronome. Plus, if you could do it with a few scales and arpeggios beforehand I’d be very happy. Additionally, a bodhran backing track would help matters further.

In addition to the above, I’d like to hear it in the Cape Breton, Kerry, Sligo, Sliabh Luachra and Donegal styles, with your instrument tuned to both Equal Temperament and Just Intonation. Furthermore, play it in the style of Martin Hayes and also Frankie Gavin.

Finally, I’d like to hear a "before and after" clip where you read 1000 of Llig’s comments on thesession.org.

Thanks very much, I think we might have this Irish music thing sorted by the end of it!

Trad love,

Tøm x

Posted by .

Re: Tøm x

Who poured battery acid in your milk?
:-P

Posted by .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Tom, I can do all that and am currently in negotiations to have the Chieftains and U2 play back-up.

What I won’t do to prove a point!

Watch this space!

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Re: a point to prove?

Ailin, I’d suggest a new thread.

Posted by .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

It is good, but I can’t see how you can hear it as anything other than 2/2. Count it, it’s ONE two THREE four. Watch the guitarists hand - he’s strumming crochets, strong weak strong weak. Watch his foot tapping minims. (The box player is tapping double time to keep the tempo, for reasons I’ve mentioned earlier.)

Re: Reels. Any improvement?

I cannot believe after all the years the mustard has been sorting out traditional music the main topic under discussion is … how to count reels.

Incredible!

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Mark find the back beat , it is on the and ……
Its either 1 +2+3+4 in 4/4 or its 1 +2+ in 2/2 find the back beat and you find the beat.
Some the feet are tapping 2 to the bar , some four to the bar. Now if tapping 4 to a bar is not 4/4 then what is he beating time to? A beat that does not exist? But by tapping 4 he is making the music 4 . Just as does Martin Hayes, etc
The yanks demonstrate what 4/4 reels sound like. Exciting, bouncy, drive and lift. Perfect for dancing an Irish reel.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Question. If something is in 2/2, counted "1 & 2 &", can the "1 &" and the "2 &" be swung ? Are there any conventions about that?

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

The beat needs to be maintained. What the tune itself does is seperate. In Irish music its straightforwards, but think of easter european music, the melody might be mostly rests and long notes ….the beat is still maintained , despite the melody going all over the place.. 2 works with four, but four doesnt work with 2 ….. The 2 over 4 leaves a lot of space for intricate rhythms. But its still 4 .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I was trying to keep four (and reels) out of it for a while.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I think if Ailin did (even just the A part of) Maids of Mitchelstown in 2/2, then 4/4 immediately afterwards, that would be a very good demo.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

>>"Some the feet are tapping 2 to the bar , some four to the bar. "

The feet in that clip are doing two jobs: The box player is leading, the guitar player is following. If the box player’s foot speeds up, so will the music. If the music speeds up the guitarist’s foot will follow, but if the guitarist’s foot speeds up on it’s own he’ll get out of sync.

The box player knows the tune, he knows where the beats fall, so he doesn’t need to tap his foot to keep track of that. But he needs to keep the pace constant. To do that he could tap 1, 2, 4, 8, or even 16 to the bar, he just needs a regular tick-tock that fits with the tempo and is held steady by the laws of physics, not his brain. He chooses whether to tap 2, 4 or 8 time per bar simply according to the desired tempo and which will fit in the limited range of speeds where his foot will tap as a pendulum, it has nothing to do with the beat of the music, only the tempo.

But the guitarist is following - his foot is reacting to the beat of the music, so that is the one you need to watch if you want to see the beat.

If you’re still not convinced, count it. If you count quavers (in time with the box players foot) you get ONE & two & THREE & four & . If you count crochets (in time with the guitarist’s foot and strum) you get ONE two THREE four. If it was 4/4 you would be counting ONE & two & three & four & or ONE two three four.

The only way you could hear that as 4/4 is if you double the BPM and assume the box is playing crochets not quavers, and there are 64 bars in the tune not 32. But that still wouldn’t be right, because it would imply that the emphasis on THREE was as strong as the emphasis on ONE (which it isn’t)

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

>"Question. If something is in 2/2, counted "1 & 2 &", can the "1 &" and the "2 &" be swung ? Are there any conventions about that?"

Of course they could, anything is possible. But if you are in 2/2 and counting 1 & 2 & then you are counting crochets not quavers, and we don’t often swing crochets. The pair of quavers within each crochet can be swung exactly the same as the quavers within a crochet of 4/4.

Strictly speaking, if you are playing quavers in 2/2 you should be counting 1 & & & 2 & & &, (Which fairly obviously gives you the pulse of a reel) But it’s easier to count it as ONE & two & THREE & four &.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

The laws of physics don’t seem to help me tap regularly at the rate the box player is tapping. I’m all over the place. I would need to practice.

My hunch is that legs and their component parts swing with a period related to the most effortless walk and that the foot tap that comes easiest to us is close to what out muscles are used to doing. Sports physicists and the like know about this stuff.

I think physics is more relevant to the what the dancers are/would be doing. The lift comes from something other than the beat.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

No mark thats wrong.4 /4 is strong weak medium weak. 2/2 is strong weak.
You’d effectively Tap once per bar for 2/2 Were you to tap only on strong beats.
Strictly speaking its exactly as i put it,. Youve obviously never studied drum scores .1e+a 2e+a is duple meter , 1+2+3+4 is quadruple time.
David, hes not tapping his foot so much as dancing with the music.
Crotchet quaver demi- semi quaver whatever. Is irrelevant as the time signature says nothing about the rhythm of the melody.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

« Strictly speaking, if you are playing quavers in 2/2 you should be counting 1 & & & 2 & & &, (Which fairly obviously gives you the pulse of a reel) But it’s easier to count it as ONE & two & THREE & four & »

Mark: If I had to convey in plain text a typical reel pulse I would reverse your emphases and write: one & TWO & three & FOUR. That gives an exaggerated and overly mechanical idea of the offbeat I admit - but I’m surprised nobody seems to be talking about the offbeat in this discussion.

« Why anyone would challenge me on this defies credibility »

Ailin: That says it all. Thanks for the chuckle. :) Looking forward to your Maids.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I really hope this gets settled once and for all.
Thirty years from now when someone enquiries about 2/2, 2/4, or 4/4 reel at any session, I can just refer to the great debate of 2016 and everyone will silently nod in agreement.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

>>"No mark thats wrong.4 /4 is strong weak medium weak. 2/2 is strong weak.
You’d effectively Tap once per bar for 2/2 Were you to tap only on strong beats.
Strictly speaking its exactly as i put it,. Youve obviously never studied drum scores .1e+a 2e+a is duple meter , 1+2+3+4 is quadruple time.
David, hes not tapping his foot so much as dancing with the music.
Crotchet quaver demi- semi quaver whatever. Is irrelevant as the time signature says nothing about the rhythm of the melody."

I’m sorry Will, but that simply isn’t right. If you are playing 8 quavers in a bar:

4/4 goes 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & - FOUR strong beats in the bar, that is what the 4 on the top is telling you.

2/2 goes 1 & & & 2 & & & (or ONE 2 3 4 TWO 2 3 4) - TWO strong beats in the bar, as indicated by the 2 at the top.

Crochet, quaver demi-semiquaver or whatever IS relevant: If a 4/4 piece was just crochets you would count 1 2 3 4, but in quavers it becomes 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &. In 2/2 if it were minims you would count 1 2 , crochets it becomes 1 & 2 & and in quavers it becomes 1 & & & 2 & & &. In each example The strong beats are the numbers.

This is basic music theory and has nothing to do with drum scores.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

it actually is settled. Its been settled for a couple centuries. 2/2 and 4/4 are both written out the same and instrument players accent as they see fit.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

David50: "My hunch is that legs and their component parts swing with a period related to the most effortless walk and that the foot tap that comes easiest to us is close to what out muscles are used to doing. Sports physicists and the like know about this stuff."

It is all about the natural rhythm that comes effortlessly, without thinking, but different movements have different tempos, (remember we are talking about tapping to set the tempo, not following the beat, which is a brain/muscle controlled movement). Try it for yourself without any music playing start by tapping your hand on the desk or your thigh without thinking about what speed it should be going - start with very small movements, just lifting your fingers 1/4" or so. Unless you consciously control it you will be tapping very fast. Start increasing the height and you will find the tempo slows down. Try the same thing with your toes - just lift them 1/4" and note the tempo, then slowly increase the lift and see how the tempo slows. If you need to go slower still you can switch to tapping your heel - again, the higher you raise it the slower it goes. For an extreme example look at some clips of Fred Morrison. He often taps 2 to the bar, and in order to achieve a beat that slow he uses a strange movement where he swings his whole lower leg sideways as a pendulum pivoted at the knee.

I would reiterate that this is only applicable if you are using your foot to establish the beat, not when you are tapping along to music (when your brain tells you when to tap) and you do need to train yourself to play in time with your foot, rather than tap your foot in time with your playing.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Addition to my last post after I can’t edit: I’ve described your foot as working as a pendulum. That isn’t strictly true, a better way to think of it as a bouncing ball - when you drop the ball from a height it bounces at a certain rate, but as the bounces get lower, the rate speeds up. There is a natural relationship between the height of the bounce and the frequency of the ball hitting the floor, and it is that natural relationship between height and frequency that sets the pace of your foot tap if you are not consciously controlling it.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

« Why anyone would challenge me on this defies credibility »

Ailin: That says it all. Thanks for the chuckle. :) Looking forward to your Maids.

# Posted by Stiamh

Glad that I amuse you - the honor is to serve.

While you are chuckling, perhaps you could think of a way to demonstrate how reels are not in 2/2, if such is your contention. I recommend recording a reel in 2/2 to show how it would sound if it were played in 2/2. If you don’t feel like recording something yourself, maybe you could provide a link to something you consider to be in 2/2 so we could hear how that sounds.

Something else you could do is to post whether or not Arthur played a better reel in his opening post or when he subsequently took my advise and played it in two beats per measure.

I realize it may sound self-serving to state that I don’t expect to be challenged over my rightness, but in over ten years of posting on this and another site, I have never run into anything that was so self-evident for which there is disagreement. However, whereas in the thread of mine for which you provided a link, virtually no one agreed with me, now virtually no one agrees with you. I find that significant.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

@Mark M. I agree that it being easier to move small distances faster than big distances and small parts of the body faster than big parts gives the tendency you describe. But I think there are more variables than that.

Different people tapping the same tempo do it differently and they do it differently depending on how much they want to be heard. I suspect that it is more in the head than in the muscles.

Try tapping loud-soft-soft-loud-soft-soft etc (or whatever) at an even tempo.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

>"Try tapping loud-soft-soft-loud-soft-soft etc (or whatever) at an even tempo."

That’s not what I’m talking about. To do that you have to be consciously controlling your foot, fine if you are following or if you want your tapping to be heard by others. But doing something like that consciously won’t help you maintain a constant tempo. To keep a constant tempo you need to set something oscillating at its own natural frequency, so that it keeps going at a constant rate with no conscious control at all, just running at its natural frequency like a metronome. Then you play in time with it. If you are consciously controlling your foot to a given tempo, then you might as well be just controlling your bow/fingers/breath to the tempo, the foot tapping isn’t helping you at all.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Do you have any evidence that bits of the body have a natural frequency rather than them doing something that has been learned in some way? That tapping regularly without concious control is any different that playing a reel whilst reading a post here?

I keep learning to tap 3 over 2 then and then not practicing so I have to learn again (but faster). However, I am fairly sure that with practice I could get to the stage where I didn’t have to think about it (and maybe wouldn’t ‘forget’ how).

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Wrong again Mark, basic music theory it is. 4/4 indicates four beats a bar. Not four strong beats, youve already contradicted yourself as it happens. Strong weak medium weak, not four strong . Which contradicts your earlier post anyhow…. 2/4 strong weak, 3/4 strong weak weak, 4/4 strong weak medium weak.
As ive pointed out its not 1&&&2&&& thats simply incorrect . it is 1e+a 2e+a .this is indisputable. Just do a simple google search.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

David , study a few bass drum exercises, and double bass drum exercises.if your interested in keeping a solid groove. There is a particular technique for a double stroke on the bas drum. Resembles what MartinHayes does.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Okay, so I tried recording Maids as an air (4/4), as a hornpipe (2/4) and as a reel (2/2). Note that, even though the reel sounds fastest, I am counting the measures at about the same tempo I did for the hornpipe. Meter does not indicate tempo, but if you keep the beat steady, the reel will of necessity come out faster because of the difference in how the notes are written in each measure.

I don’t know that this will convince the naysayers, but I hope I have at least been successful in demonstrating that different meters yield different results, whether or not you agree that 2/2 is the standard for reels.

http://vocaroo.com/player.swf?playMediaID=s05QJ6D8MCqd&autoplay=0

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Have just been reading this http://people.carleton.edu/~jlondon/UK%20PPT/HTTAM%20Web%20Version.htm

Not the most polished piece of writing (typos in some numbers and the first clip is not what it says). However, I think the literature quoted in the first part suggests for any comparison of the type given by Ailin to be useful the tempo *has* to be the same. That it is not may be telling us something.

I was reading it regarding what Mark M was saying. My impression is that it is not a case of tapping one’s foot tp play in time with it but of a regular foot tapping being a part of what was was doing mentally and physically.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

David50 - In general, I agree with you, and such was my intention, but I found as a practical matter, you are 1. dealing with a tune written to be played one way and 2. playing in reel time, I could not possibly play at an appropriate tempo counting four beats to the measure. Notice that pop tunes can be very fast and yet very easy to count in four. Such is not the case with reels. Generally, they simply don’t work in 4/4, although some do.

Here’s another example of just 4/4 and 2/2 for the same tune (The Kilt Is My Delight).

http://vocaroo.com/i/s01FtmY54f70

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Ailin, you need to listen back to your recordings. When you play the kilt is my delight, the only difference between the two is that the second time through (the supposed 2/2) you played it about 10 bpm faster. There’s no noticeable difference other than that. On your recording of the maids of Mitchelstown, your "hornpipe" version is clearly the one which sounds most like a reel. I’m not sure what you are aiming to prove with these recordings.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I’ve long ago sated my own intuitions on the subject of meter as relating to reels but I would encourage anyone who’s still interested to read David50’s post from people.carleton.edu paying particular attention to what is defined as "comfortable beat", (120-86 bpm,) and “subjective rhythmicization,” or the tendency to hear notes grouped in twos, threes or four to the beat. Right on target IMHO!
Thanks David. :-)

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Will I don’t think I’ve contradicted myself anywhere, I simply haven’t been clouding the issue by bringing strong and weak beats into this conversation, because they aren’t relevant.

Forget reels for the moment, think about a straight forward 4/4 rhythm in quavers : 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &. The numbers are the beats, you can make some of them strong and some weak, but as beats they will always be stronger than the &s between them, so you always have 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & Tunes that clearly have that rhythm? Harvest Home, Boys of Bluehill, Soldier’s Joy. They’re all hornpipes.

2/2 in quavers you have 1 & & & 2 & & & again, it doesn’t matter how strong the 1 and 2 are relative to each other, but they are always stronger than the &s. Tunes that clearly have this rhythm? Maid Behind the Bar, The Congress, Masons Apron. They are all reels, indeed it is this rhythm of two blocks of four quavers that is often used (perhaps naively) to define a reel.

But the majority of real tunes (and real people playing them) don’t exactly match either of those two rhythms, they lie somewhere on the spectrum between them - introducing a crochet into a 2/2 bar will hint at 4/4, reducing the stress on beat 2 or 4 or cross-beat slurring can hint at 2/2 in a 4/4 tune. But it is the dominant feel of the tune that counts - if 2/2 is dominant it will make you want to tap your foot twice in a bar, as almost all reels do to almost all listeners (as is happening with the guitarist in the clip you posted). If it makes you want to tap your foot four times in the bar it is 4/4, and is probably a hornpipe (or at least, being played as a hornpipe).

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

<<ONE & two & THREE & four & . If you count crochets (in time with the guitarist’s foot and strum) you get ONE two THREE four. If it was 4/4 you would be counting ONE & two & three & four & or ONE two three four.<>
4/4 goes 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & - FOUR strong beats in the bar, that is what the 4 on the top is telling you.
2/2 goes 1 & & & 2 & & & (or ONE 2 3 4 TWO 2 3 4) - TWO strong beats in the bar, as indicated by the 2 at the top.<<
Seems to contradict yourself but both posts are wrong anyhow.4/4 is strong weak medium weak, not four strong beats. 2/2 is not 2 strong beats, it is 1 strong 1 weak.
Whatever , enjoy your music.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I’m sorry Will, I can’t see any contradiction there. Two beats in the bar in 2/2, 4 beats in the bar in 4/4 is what I I say in both posts where is the contradiction?

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"Ailin, you need to listen back to your recordings. When you play the kilt is my delight, the only difference between the two is that the second time through (the supposed 2/2) you played it about 10 bpm faster. There’s no noticeable difference other than that."

I expected to get a post like yours. The trouble with doing this is that I’m trying to put a square peg into a round hole. The tune can only work in 4/4 if I slow it down. Try counting the reel version in 4/4 and if you can do it at all, it is difficult at best. If the 4/4 version does not sound at least a bit more stilted to you as a listener, it certainly feels more stilted to me as a player. Counting in 2/2 just allows it to flow so naturally and smoothly.

The problem a beginner will encounter is that they can’t get to tempo playing in four and they will think that something magic has to happen to allow them to play at tempo, when it is the meter that is holding them back. The second problem, and I know because I personally experienced it, is that you can never get the easy flow of a reel counting in four; it is simply too choppy.

A similar problem exists in trying to play a reel as a hornpipe. The change in meter makes the flow bouncier, but then some like to play reels that way, so the difference is less dramatic. However, in my clip, I think the difference is evident, even if it does not comport with your expectation. They are simply not the same.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

@david50: "Do you have any evidence that bits of the body have a natural frequency rather than them doing something that has been learned in some way? "

Nope. But I don’t recall ever having taught myself to tap my hand and (or nod my head) at specific (repeatable) tempos linked to the height I tap from, and it does fit with what I see in nature - no one taught the ball to bounce faster from a lower height. But whether it is natural or learned doesn’t really matter, the important thing is that it works. If you have a tap metronome you could measure the tempo of your tapping at different heights, go away and do something else then come back and try again, and you’ll find that you tap the same tempos from the same heights. You could also try an experiment the other way - start tapping naturally fast from a low height then try to slow down - if you do it without thinking your tap height will increase, to slow down without increasing height you really have to concentrate quite hard, which suggests to me that you are having to over-ride a natural rhythm.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I didn’t notice a big difference either. At least from the ones I was able to listen to.

How did you cock up those urls ailin? You just copy and paste the url from the address bar into the text box.

I did notice a bit of a difference but not as much as my recordings tbh if I do say so myself :).

But that doesn’t detract from the theory of it.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I agree, Arthur.

I now have the hang of how to copy over the URL. The first time, I clicked on Embed and copied what came up. That worked, but I didn’t need all that code.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"I expected to get a post like yours. The trouble with doing this is that I’m trying to put a square peg into a round hole. The tune can only work in 4/4 if I slow it down. Try counting the reel version in 4/4 and if you can do it at all, it is difficult at best. If the 4/4 version does not sound at least a bit more stilted to you as a listener, it certainly feels more stilted to me as a player. Counting in 2/2 just allows it to flow so naturally and smoothly. "

This is plainly incorrect. You are playing it the same. You may be counting it differently in your head, but you sound the same to listener, except that the "2/2" is a little faster. That’s it. You need to work on developing your ear rather than arguing about the finer points of music theory on the internet. Maybe then you would be able to realize that this whole thread has been meaningless.

For reference, here is an extremely rough take of the Maids of Mitchelstown. http://vocaroo.com/i/s18EwmnICWIG

A casual listen should tell you that none of this rubbish about time signatures matters if you listen and play tunes.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I respectfully disagree.

Posted by .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

The only point I am making is that the time signature has no bearing on how the tune is played. You can’t differentiate it with your own playing, and you claim to be an expert on why time signatures matter. I played it with no regard for 2/2 vs 4/4, and it sounds fine, leading me to belive that it really doesn’t matter if you just listen.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

The point of the matter is that you cannot differentiate between the two supposedly different ones with your own playing. If you, the supposed expert in this cannot do t, then how can you say there is a difference? Will has provided a fair number of sources to say that reels are in 4/4, and your response has consistently been "no they aren’t". Now we have come to find that you can’t demonstrate the difference you suppose to tell us is intuitively apparent to the listener.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Have it your way :)

Posted by .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Did you listen to yourself at all Ailin? The only difference in each time through the maids was a bit of speed…

Posted by .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Nico, try doing what I did playing in 4/4 each time. Perhaps then you will appreciate the difference.

Posted by .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Why? I have ears.

Posted by .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

If you can’t hear the difference or don’t believe the tune would sound as I played it if the meter had not been changed, let’s leave it at that.

I only made the recording because I was asked to. As Arthur rightly stated, it’s easier to hear the difference in his two clips than in mine. My goal was to help Arthur and he has thanked me for doing so. I heard the difference in his second clip and he got it exactly right, so with all due respect, anything said to the contrary at this point lacks the proof that has already been presented.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

For reference, here is an extremely rough take of the Maids of Mitchelstown. http://vocaroo.com/i/s18EwmnICWIG

A casual listen should tell you that none of this rubbish about time signatures matters if you listen and play tunes.

# Posted by Wesley Mann

I finally got around to listening to this. It’s in four all right, but it’s nothing like how I played it, and the way I played it would be the way it would be played as a reel in a session.

Thanks for the clip. We may not agree, but at least now I know why.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Sorry Ailin,
Wesley’s clip has some nice lift/ pulse/ tone/diaphragm stopping /
0rnamentation that helped his phrasing and did not sound flubbed.
I fail to see what your clip demonstrated.
I learned to play a reel before I learned to read music perhaps that’s why?
I know which clip sounds like Irish music to me….

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I just listened to Arthur’s first clip again. I still think he *is* tending to emphasise two in a bar and now suspect that some of you are useless at putting the sound of the metronome into the back of your minds and listening to the fiddle.

To used to music with a drummer maybe? And if you are useless at that (as Arthur is not) then you are right not to run a metronome at 4 to a bar.

So long as the 1, 3, 5 and 7 eighths notes are perceptually even in time (as in a hornpipe) then why is having an *internal* clock running at four to a bar (like the box players leg in the clip above) a problem ? And if an internal clock is OK why not an external one if it is helpful to *you*.

The perceptual studies seem to agree that the notional ‘clock ticks’ are evenly spaced in time and that musicians move the notes around a little from that because listeners enjoy the discrepancies even if they don’t conciously know they are there.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Wesley’s clip sounds like a reel to me and is very well played. I also can’t detect much difference between the different versions of Ailin’s clips, certainly nothing to clearly demonstrate the difference between 2/2 and 4/4.

There doesn’t appear to be much argument over what a reel should SOUND like, so is it just a lack of understanding (or agreement) of what cut time and common time are? I’m certainly no expert, but from doing some basic google searching the theory seems to back Will’s definition:

"4/4 is strong weak medium weak, not four strong beats. 2/2 is not 2 strong beats, it is 1 strong 1 weak"

I tend to think of reels as being in two parts per bar, but this doesn’t necessarily equate to a 2/2 time signature. I know time signature and rhythm are not the same, but I learned the rhythm for reels from a bodhran instruction tape a number of years ago and always think of the phrase "Watermelon Watermelon". Even through the W of Watermelon is emphasised the M on the 2 and 4 beat is also emphasised to a lesser degree. So I find myself tapping my foot on the 1 and 3 beat, but the 2 and 4 are also clearly present (when I hear or play a reel). There have been no sound clips provided so far which demonstrate a clear 2/2, but again this may be down to individual interpretation of what that actually means.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

" You now come along and dismiss it with some notion that music theory doesn’t count."

This is precisely the point Ailin, music theory has no real relevance to these tunes and how they were or are played. I think it’s fair to say that the great number of traditional players in Ireland during the nineteenth, early twentieth and even in many cases up to this day could not tell or care a whit about differences in time signature and key and so on. They just played the tunes in the style they heard about them. And to be honest, if I wanted to learn the Maids of Mitchelstown I’d be more inclined to use ‘Wesley Mann’s version than yours.

The problem here is that you are trying to shoehorn these tunes into conventional musical notation, a language that whilst useful, seems to be generalised in nature and doesn’t quite fit or catch the subtleties. Hence the long repeated advice to go learn by ear from a good source.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I think it’s just difference strokes for different folks.

Theories and an analytical approach helps sort things in my mind.

Though I agree with the others that wesleys sounds more like a reel than ailin’s. Ailin’s sounded very drunken and wonky to me.

But it doesnt mean Id learn better from wesleys ‘just feel it and everything magically comes together’ (and most others). Ive found that kind of chat rather frustrating in my learning but I understand it works for them.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Arthur , i like your determination and stubborness :-) reminds me of me . You will no doubt achieve your own style and approach in time.
It seems to me that Johny Doherty might be a good player for you to listen to, and John Vesey.
My own preferance would be towards Paddy Canny and Bobby Casey.
Once your happy with your gnome training i suggest you concentrate on the gentler sounds of east Clare . To broaden your base so to speak.
Good luck.remember my advice in my first post to you.
It was download Bobby Caseys recordings and play along. Try to find how he made those sounds. The albums are free ……

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Thanks Ailin for your willingness to provide the clips and to further this discussion.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"It’s in four all right, but it’s nothing like how I played it, and the way I played it would be the way it would be played as a reel in a session."

I disagree. I play in sessions with several good flute players, and they sound more like Wesley.

Posted by .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"It’s common time, Jim, but not as WE know it."

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"Try counting the reel version in 4/4 and if you can do it at all, it is difficult at best.

By "reel" version do you mean the faster version?

"If the 4/4 version does not sound at least a bit more stilted to you as a listener, it certainly feels more stilted to me as a player."

By "stilted" are you asking if the timing specifically seems more difficult or the playing overall?

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Re: Any improvement?

Arthur, glad to see you are improving with your timing on reels. From my perspective it seems mostly due to your personal efforts and vital input from previous discussions (Yes, you Mr. Dorans, Ms. Lovejoy & a few other patient mentors). This discussion has also been helpful. Ailin, you have some good input yet there is always room for improvement so long as you keep an open mind.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

By "reel" version do you mean the faster version?

Yes.

By "stilted" are you asking if the timing specifically seems more difficult or the playing overall?

I mean counting four to the bar at tempo causes the melodic line to be choppy. A reel should flow like the gallop of a horse, not like a trot. I’m not evaluating anything regarding ability with Wesley’s playing, but he is playing in four. It may sound fine, but in playing with others, they would have to conform to his meter in order to play together. I chose that tune specifically because it does work in 4/4. If my slower version in four does not contrast enough to the faster version in two, I’m sorry the choice of tune doesn’t make my point better. I find all three versions distinct, if not dramatically so.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I also hope Arthur, as an improving player, hasn’t been totally confounded by the views and opinions expressed here, many of which I’m afraid are irrelevant and possibly misleading to your goal of playing a reel at the right tempo, while beating time (foot or metronome).
Just keep tapping away 2 to the bar at 90bpm, bit faster as you get more confident or select an easier tune. That’s all there is. Beating 4 to a bar? Forget it. Martin Hayes does it but most do not. Kevin Burke doesn’t. Reels written down in 4/4 or C cut time? No difference, just keep 2 beats to the bar at a good tempo.
I’m afraid Ailin’s demo, while not demonstrating much cos you can’t hear the beats, must have been done on a very off day indeed. And Will - what’s all that about strong weak medium weak? That’s the strathspey rhythm isn’t it? And why choose the roughest, crappiest pipe band recording from nineteen oatcake to make a point?
And with a quick reference to another thread, I just got my copy of a Trip to Sligo from Custy’s (20 euros). The reels are notated in cut time! Dear me, what should I do?

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

@Ben; thanks :)

Much better Arthur… lots of improvement. I’d agree with getting the clicker tool down to (dare I say it?) a cut time bpm number - like that 90 bpm instead of 180. And even slowing down overall a bit as has been suggested. It’s hard indeed to NOT speed up but especially as a beginner, playing fast too soon gets in the way of getting a tune’s mechanics "clean." All those connections you are making need reinforcement and improvement along the way. That happens during the more deliberate motions. But I think at this point halving that 4 beat clicking will indeed be better for you.

Love your determination. :) Of course, I’d still suggest the need for a few lessons at least to have someone with an experienced ear and eye help you with mechanics. I understand if that’s not something you can do but if you can (talking about "speed") - it will really speed up this entire process.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I was composing a post in my head while out for a walk and have decided to make it despite diane’s last.
I think the reason *my* playing or reels sounds ragged and rushed with a metronome at four to the bar is because ‘offbeat’ clicks reveal that it *is* ragged. I suspect that is the case for Arthur and it might be why Ailin feels that counting in four feels choppy to him. That doesn’t seem to be the case for Wesley (whose foot can be heard going 4 to a bar) or the box player in the clip above.

Having asked in a number of threads if the 1, 2, 3, 4 of a reel counted in four are notionally evenly spaced in time and not being told otherwise I will assume that they are. In that case I don’t understand the harm of having four clicks to the bar as temporal reference points. Yes, I find it harder. So I use both 2 and 4, and the 2 comes as a relief when I switch back to it - but I think my playing of the tune has improved.

I don’t count while playing and I didn’t count when listening until I had been listening to recordings of good players for years. So ‘my’ 4/4 may not be what those with book-learning assume. Though having read the Wikipedia page on metre I don’t see what the fuss is about.

I started learning to count because I realised I was sometimes losing the ‘one’ when listening to some respected traditional players playing in a style which someone who used to post here described as ‘freed from the constraints of dance’.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Yes Malcolm, strong weak medium weak is 4/4 . Strathspeys developed from reels. The same tune can and is played with the 2 rhythms but the same meter.
The fact that reels are notated in cut or common time, 2/4 2/2 and 4/4 does not detract from the actual beat. . Tapping 2 to a bar is fine, lots of people do it. They tap on strong and medium.
Look at a compound 2/4 jig, strong weak. If its played 2 strong the rhythm is lost it become 3/8 .a compound 4/4 jig is strong weak medium weak.
A 2/4 polka is strong weak.
The quality of the recording might not be so good but the player is Willie Ross. And the other was a random choice. I chose them because they are a recording of the tune in dots i linked earlier .The fact that he plays nearly twice as fast as a modern player might mean something totally different to you and me.
A look at the harmonic movement in a reel might emphasise my point. Pick a random reel someone .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Yes malcolm I know by know how to tune out the noise :).

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I’ve never heard of this John Vesey you speak of. The only one I find online is John Veasey an ex- philadelphia mobster?

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Will you’re leading me on a wild goose chase there pal. Those links point to threads and sheet music. No recordings…ie actual audio files that I could find.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Anyhow I don’t see why I was recomended to listen to a sligo fiddler when I’ve given no indication of a particularity for tht sound.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Lol wow now that is a funny coincidence that the other fiddle playing john vesey also lived in philadelphia :D

And dare I say it johnny boy’s playing sounds 4/4 to me :D

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

Theres plenty music in the second link.
I recommend you listen to all sorts of players. but yes I had to buy the Album, well worth it. I Bought both Johny Doherty Albums as well, amongst many.
Get to know the Roots Mon .8-)
nice one Dougal

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

That’s John Veasey that’s the capo for one of the Philly families. John Vesey is the fiddler.

so if one of them says he’s going to "play you a tune on his violin" make sure its the John Vesey with no "a" in his name, or its going to be a rainy night in Philadelphia, if you follow my meaning

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

David50: I think the reason *my* playing or reels sounds ragged and rushed with a metronome at four to the bar is because ‘offbeat’ clicks reveal that it *is* ragged.
[..]
Having asked in a number of threads if the 1, 2, 3, 4 of a reel counted in four are notionally evenly spaced in time and not being told otherwise I will assume that they are. In that case I don’t understand the harm of having four clicks to the bar as temporal reference points. Yes, I find it harder. So I use both 2 and 4, and the 2 comes as a relief when I switch back to it - but I think my playing of the tune has improved.

David50, doesn’t the difficulty stem from the fact that a metronome blasting a (straight/unswung) 4 to the bar beat messes up your playing a 2 to the bar beat / makes it harder to place the right accents and swing?

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

I have a few points left to make and then I’m going to call it a day:

1. The point that I find irrefutable is, at a session, people tap their foot twice per measure for reels. I don’t think anyone taps their foot twice per measure for a tune or song in 4/4. Martin Hayes may claim to play and/or tap in four, but the clip posted here is in two. Wesley’s clip for Maids is in four, perhaps because that is the way the Bothy Band plays it, but that tune is one of the exceptions. That is why I like to play it as the Bothy Band does and then play it as a reel. Note that in the BB version, the tune is played more slowly than they would play it as a reel. Call it a slow reel, if you like.

2. I have no intention of taking ITM from the world of the aural to the world of the academic. Those who have mastered ITM aurally need not know or care what meter they are playing in - they are already doing it right, so it doesn’t matter. My discussions on 2/2 are aimed to those who have been raised playing 4/4 as one-two-three-four not ONE-two-THREE-four. Playing in two is new to most, so there is a tendency to slip back to 4/4 (especially when working from sheet music notated that way) and that leads to confusion and frustration.

3. If you think ONE-two-THREE-four is the way to count a reel, I have no problem. We’re simply calling the same thing by different names, but the result is the same. I was never taught to count 4/4 that way.

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Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

"1. The point that I find irrefutable is, at a session, people tap their foot twice per measure for reels. I don’t think anyone taps their foot twice per measure for a tune or song in 4/4."

You need to get out more and stop being so prescriptive. Then you might be able to hear more than you apparently (judging from your clip) are currently capable of hearing. In fact in many sessions I have been to, with excellent musicians, I’ve seen many people tap in four to reels, and conversely tap in two to hornpipes.

Regarding your point 2, you’re still prescribing classical music rules and its notation rules onto a music that really can’t be shoehorned into that paradigm. Instead recognize that irish music contains multitudes - meaning reels are in four to some and two to others… *at the same time*. Neither group is right nor wrong. The subtleties of pulse are what you’re missing hearing. These subtleties lead to the glorious ambiguities that I love about irish traditional music.

Posted by .

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

@shaketree "doesn’t the difficulty stem from the fact that a metronome blasting a (straight/unswung) 4 to the bar beat messes up your playing a 2 to the bar beat / makes it harder to place the right accents and swing?"

I don’t think so. I think it’s that my internal clock, or my attention to it, is distracted by the mechanics of playing the instrument so I don’t notice that my timing is off. As I said, I don’t think the 1-2 and 3-4 pairs are normally swung.

I think it’s related to this business of ‘entrainment’. Our timing has to be good enough that a listener subconsciously expects regularity and enjoys it when we meet their expectancy or depart from it in an interesting way. On that suggestion reels sounding rushed or ragged is a sign that either the entrainment isn’t happening or we are failing to meet the expectancy in unsatisfying ways.

So the four to the bar is support my internal clock until I have got my fingers round the tune better. In one of the old discussions on metronomes the most outspoken person in the "anti" camp *did* suggest using one with a swinging arm - but keeping in the corner of one’s eye with the click turned off **. That would give support for the internal clock.

** I suppose that might be like watching the dancers.

Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?

David50 said…

<<I was composing a post in my head while out for a walk and have decided to make it despite diane’s last…>> snip…

<<Having asked in a number of threads if the 1, 2, 3, 4 of a reel counted in four are notionally evenly spaced in time and not being told otherwise I will assume that they are. In that case I don’t understand the harm of having four clicks to the bar as temporal reference points. Yes, I find it harder. So I use both 2 and 4, and the 2 comes as a relief when I switch back to it - but I think my playing of the tune has improved.>>

Good post David…it actually fits perfectly in regards to learning something!

A teacher of any instrument will introduce a piece using a slower tempo as needed, for the level of the student. Which also means that even if the final product is (by default) a cut time tempo, that will never be how it’s first taught. And of course that means more clicks, not less. Not talking about aural learning only, with someone who can play reasonably well to begin with. Even then, it’s helpful just as David mentioned.

Sometimes we need to make the eighth note equal the beat depending upon the piece or exercise. Just yesterday one of my advanced girls was working on a Fandango type of piece she brought me from orchestra. Wicked little rhythmic section for 2 measures (1st violin) with 8th rests and so forth at odd times. Lots of fun, and nothing ever done to that extent in ITM, but frequent in orchestral music. We made the 8th’s = bpm just to get those evil measures right, slowed that down too, and it was a done deal in no time.

I only bring it up because the metronome is just a tool. A terrific one, but not any final authority on using clicks for quavers, crochets or whatever we all call them. Practicing in 4 vs 2 or 1 (or 3 vs 1) or whatever makes for a slower bpm is how I start any beginning musician who is new at playing the violin, let alone reading. And of course when the metronome itself is a help, not a hindrance. When ready, the player can cut that time all they want.

Thanks for pointing out going back and forth from 2 to 4 as needed David. :)