Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

I’ve been listening to the The Lime Hill strathspey lately and comparing the playing of same to the written music. Everyone I’ve heard seems to snap the 3rd and 4th notes in the third measure despite the long-short pattern- i.e. dotted note followed by a short note.
At the risk of sounding too pedantic or difficult here, I’m wondering what the score is. Is it OK to play fast and loose with the Scots snap? Hardly?
I realise that I’ll be told to listen and, perhaps, to throw away the music, but I must admit to being quite curious about this matter. I learn by ear quite a lot and am not particularly reliant on written music, but I do try to be as precise as possible.
Thank you for reading to here!
(P. S. Dan R’s Ann MacNamara strathspey is a real beauty too.).

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Don’t throw away the printed music, but do realize that individual fiddlers will reverse long-shorts and short-longs in strathspeys at their own discretion. I have been assured that doing so, even when playing in a group, doesn’t really matter. It still sounds good and Scottish even if they are not all playing identically.

Some tunes, however, have particular measures where to replace short-longs with long-shorts would greatly change character of the tune, and so would rarely be done. That is where much listening and familiarity with the tradition comes into play.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

It does help the "tightness" of the overall sound if all in a performance or band group ARE doing the same thing: but if you play in sessions you are bound to encounter different ways of doing things.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

I’m very reassured here, thanks to the early responders. I can’t really ‘hide out’ in sessions as we live in the west of Ireland where sessions are generally wall-to-wall reels and jigs with the odd barndance thrown in. Strathspeys are hardly ever played, but we sometimes play a few in our own monthly session. One could get away with murder there, but I really don’t want to murder my strathspeys. Besides, we’ll be back in Cape Breton in the future, Deo volente, and…
Thanks for the sound advice thus far.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Thanks to Ergo for the great clip!

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Yes indeed. The clip is already posted on the Tunes section of this site, but it’s great to have a quick reference ergo thank you, Ergo. Er….!

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

I’ve only been its strathspeys (and Scottish in general) for about 6 months now, but to my surprise I’m loving them. I hate to get dragged into this written music argument again, but I can’t for the life of me see how people can write or read the snaps. To me it’s the pure feel for them that makes these tunes great to play. I doubt that I do them exactly the same every time I play now. It’s all energetic WITH FEELING, and for the feeling depends on how I attack the tune each time I play it. I guess that’s why I don’t bother reading music, i.e., I really don’t care how somebody else has written it down.

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Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Thanks, Gobby. I anticipated this!

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Well I play in 2 ceilidh bands, and like I said above, it does sound better if we’re all playing the same snaps (short-longs) and not fudging them. Highlighter pen is the answer! Very colourful!

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Hmmm! I never ‘fudge’ my snaps. I work hard on them, but how you do them properly can vary. I do accept the point though, that if there group of you playing you should all be consistent.

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Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

I never think strathspeys work particularly well as session tunes, they were written as performance pieces for a soloist + accompaniment, and that is how they work best. Once you have several people trying to play the melody in sync you lose the crisp snaps that define a strathspey. (BTW, ‘snap’ refers to the bowing technique, where two or more notes are played on the same bow stroke, with the bow stopping briefly between notes to give a distinct articulation, it gets used on any rhythmic form. The short-long pair is specifically a SCOTS snap).

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

*Once you have several people trying to play the melody in sync you lose the crisp snaps that define a strathspey.*
Is this because some people are playing fast and loose with the Scots snap and flinging it in wherever they like? How strict is strict enough? Presumably one ought to, dare I say, follow the music and take a tip from say, J Scott Skinner - even a colourful highlighter tip!
Solo performance certainly makes sense— & all the more reason to get it right.
Thanks again. All replies gratefully appreciated.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

>>"Is this because some people are playing fast and loose with the Scots snap and flinging it in wherever they like? How strict is strict enough?"

No, it’s because, no matter how good the players and how well rehearsed, you can’t get the timing precise enough, they would need to stop one note and start the next at exactly the same instant. A scots snap should sound like someone clearing their throat - eh-heh. It’s not the note that are important, but the tiny gap between them, which has to be very precise and crisp to give the snap. Once you have more than one player the edges of that gap get blurred.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Of course you don’t Gobby, but some do! They are also harder to play on some instruments than others.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

"I never think strathspeys work particularly well as session tunes, they were written as performance pieces for a soloist + accompaniment, and that is how they work best. Once you have several people trying to play the melody in sync you lose the crisp snaps that define a strathspey"

Several years ago, at the Vermont Bellowspipe School, Hamish identified at least 10 different styles of strathspey. One size does not fit all, and some strathspeys lend themselves well to sessions. For the 22 years I hosted the School, I heard Scotland’s finest (and others) play, in the late night sessions in my kitchen, brilliant, driving, close-to-the-floor strathspeys, e.g. Bogan Lochan and Tullochgorum, in wonderful unison.

By the way, perhaps it’s just me, I can’t stand the term "Scots snap". Brings to mind some of the worst, and misleading, images of Scottish traditional music. You know, Scottish Fiddle Orchestra and all that.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

P.S. I should add that some of those sessions included the likes of Andrea Beaton, Alasdair White and Sarah Hoy on fiddle.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Here’s a nice strathspey:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sdc-oL6VjIc


And here’s what happens to it played ensemble:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l54so14_ylk


I agree that ‘scots snap’ conjours up images of classical orchestras trying to sound instantly Scottish, but it is still the correct term if you want to refer specifically to the short-long pair, ‘snap’ only refers to the bowed articulation, and can be applied to any rhythm.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

The notion of Scots snap is a pure fabrication, it’s an invention of the upper class twerps who assumed Scottish culture ( for a few months a year on their hunting lodges) after they had cleared the lands of the locals. The patronage of these people over the reintroduction of a highly formalised and regimented way of playing traditional tunes was little more than to prove ownership of the local culture and was not a traditional thing at all.

The best players of Scottish music these days either ignore these ideas completely or play fast and loose with it. Pipebands and solo pipe competition music is full of it ( supposedly ) but normally if you can bear to listen to it ( and despite playing 40 years more I do struggle these days ) you’ll find that the best may indeed cut and lengthen notes but they will not be doing to any kind of formula. The formulas are the sole preserve of the people who don’t really understand the music, aren’t really attached culturally and generally have a table and chart to explain everything, except why people can’t stand listening to them play.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

If you want to hear the best and get hold of some of these tunes in as near to their original form as anyone can ascertain, you can do no better than to listen to the genius that is this man and check his tune books out. Traditional Scottish music completely stripped of all that ridiculous cutting and dotting.
http://www.allanmacdonald.com/

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Mark -

Watching Natalie carefully at the beginning of the clip, it appears she is bowing at least some of the snaps with changes of bow direction. I’m not convinced your definition of snap, at least as to bowing, should be so rigid.
I’ve taken fiddle instruction from a couple of Scotland’s finest, and I was never informed that the snap must be limited to the same bow stroke.

Not trying to be difficult. Perhaps I’m missing something here.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

"The best players of Scottish music these days either ignore these ideas completely or play fast and loose with it. "
And who would they be ?

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Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

You know more than me who they might be Kenny and you know too that Scots snap is a construction that may have come to represent what Scottish music ought to sound like but is not what it was and as a formula of does and don’ts is not what any of the contemporary folk artists are doing.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

No, I don’t. That’s why I asked, so why not give a few examples for us to discuss, please ?
There can be a huge difference between "contemporary folk artistes" and "traditional musicians".
And while we’re at it, can you name the "upper class twerps" whom you claim invented the "Scots snap" ?
There are certainly musicians who "play fast and loose with it", to use your phrase. Whether or not they are "The best players of Scottish music these days" is highly debateable, and most probably down to personal taste.

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Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Er, so we’re dismissing the likes of Niel Gow, William Marshall, and later, Scott Skinner are we? Can’t believe what I’m reading here.
The Scotch snap, as it was called in earlier times, is centuries old: of course no Scot likes to be called Scotch: that’s reserved for whisky!
It also occurred in Baroque music as the Lombard snap.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

"Er, so we’re dismissing the likes of Niel Gow, William Marshall, and later, Scott Skinner are we?"
Just to be clear, I’m not dismissing them. Much of the Gow and Marshall material was, if I understand correctly, pre-Clearances. Indeed, dot-cuts and cut-dots have been around a very long time.

Seems, also, it’s important for us to remind ourselves that more than one style of Scottish traditional music is out there. If I understand correctly, the folks Steve may be referring to are in the crowd I’ve encountered at the Vermont School and similar venues/events. Among those folks, it is not at all debatable as to whether they are among the finest players of Scottish traditional music today. I’m not sure I’d use the term "fast and loose" applies, but there is indeed among these folks a less rigid approach, with more emphasis on drive and rhythm. I agree that there are many fine players of the more rigid style(s).

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

>>"Watching Natalie carefully at the beginning of the clip, it appears she is bowing at least some of the snaps with changes of bow direction. I’m not convinced your definition of snap, at least as to bowing, should be so rigid. "

I think perhaps you are confusing ‘snap’ and ‘scots snap’, which is the confusion I was trying to dispel with my original post.

‘Snap’ refers specifically to two notes played on the same stroke, so if the bow changes direction there is no snap. In a strathspey the snap very rarely comes in the middle of a scots snap. A very common way of playing them is using J or hook bowing: in the sequence preceding note/short/long the bowing would be up/up/down. The snap is between the preceding note and the short, and the scots snap is played with a J or hook shaped movement of the bow - a short up separated from the preceding up by a stop or lift of the bow, running into a long down. Somewhere on youtube Aly Bain gives a very clear explanation and demonstration - I think it’s in one of his discussions with Nicola Bernadetti. There is also a fairly good explanation in Hunter.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

"Among those folks, it is not at all debatable as to whether they are among the finest players of Scottish traditional music today"….. Sorry, I don’t understand what you mean by this. ??

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Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Sorry once again, but it’s only just past 4.00am here in Oz and I mustn’t yet be understanding things. Steve T, among the other things you said that I can’t quite comprehend was, " it’s an invention of the upper class twerps who assumed Scottish culture"… Didn’t Scotland have any upper class twerps of its own?

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Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

[* I’m not convinced your definition of snap, at least as to bowing, should be so rigid.
I’ve taken fiddle instruction from a couple of Scotland’s finest, and I was never informed that the snap must be limited to the same bow stroke.*]

Players do play the ‘Scotch Snap’ in different ways.

In J Scot Skinner’s "A Guide To Bowing", he shows an example of the ‘Scotch snap’ where there are 4 notes : long, short, short, long, played with D-U-D-U.

He spells it as "Scotch" rather than "Scots", but that’s splitting hairs 🙂

He was the "Strathspey King", although things have changed a fair bit since his day.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

I ran with the term ‘Scots snap’ after consulting the Kate Dunlay /David Greenberg book ‘Traditional Celtic Violin Music of Cape Breton’. Can’t be playing fast and loose with my terminology or my, er, thingummy snaps!

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Like most musical rhythm the Scotch snap originates in speech rhythms. See https://vimeo.com/175910173 if you can stand it being a bit long and annoying. The ways the snap is played on fiddle are traditions which reflect an entire pattern of self expression in a particular community.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

"Among those folks, it is not at all debatable as to whether they are among the finest players of Scottish traditional music today". - again, please name names. Whom are we talking about here ?

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Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

You know, I’ve been playing Cape Breton Scottish fiddle for getting-on-to forty years - and I find this discussion pretty much incomprehensible. Just sayin’, as they say. I don’t know what goes on in Scotland - but the original post concerned Cape Breton strathspeys, and Natalie MacMaster and John Morris Rankin have come up as examples ……

FWIW, I’ve always thought of a ‘Scotch snap’ as a 16th note followed by a dotted 8th, played in two bow strokes. At certain places in certain tunes, they are pretty much necessary - they’re part of the tune - otherwise, they are decorations, to be added at the discretion of the player. Btw, some, if not many, of the older CB players - particularly those outside of the Inverness County loop - not only played ‘fast and loose’ with their Scotch snaps, but would at times play them in a more relaxed manner than the crisp, ‘snappy’ way that we’re used to from the more modern and mainstream players. For example, the way Dan Joe MacInnis plays the strathspey at the beginning: https://www.facebook.com/capebretonmusicmedia/videos/644212178943448/.

I don’t know if this has anything to do with what Steve T was talking about ….

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

*particularly those outside of the Inverness County loop *
Off the Beaton track so to speak? Thanks for the clip, meself. I think you posted a link to this archive here previously. I was delighted to discover it and then I lost it. And now I’m delighted again!
I’ll be listening more carefully to Larry, Paul, Papper, Fr. Francis & Co. next time I’m in Little Bras d’Or on a Thursday evening. That won’t be for a while though so I’ll just keep following the discussion for now. Most interesting and informative. Thanks again.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Glad to be of service! Now, Larry, Larry … who dat?

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

"- again, please name names. Whom are we talking about here ?"

At the Vermont School, instructors, and therefore session participants, over the past 29 years include, but are not limited to, Hamish Moore, Fin Moore, Gary West, Iain MacInnes, Anna Murray, Angus MacKenzie, Alasdair White (fiddle), Sarah Hoy (fiddle), Andrea Beaton (fiddle), Ryan MacDonald, Ellen MacPhee and many more.

Re:Snap!

Just had a great session. All our snaps were played by the musicians present. I can give you names but I doubt anyone on the forum will be impressed. But I was, tonight. (I was impressed by my fellow musicians)

Your Snap May Vary ~ YSMV

I get the OP’s question. It’s about setting the baseline; it’s not about setting it in concrete though.

;)

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Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

" it is not at all debatable as to whether they are among the finest players of Scottish traditional music today"… Well that comment itself is debatable.

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Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

§ off-topic post here §
@meself Curiosity prompts me to send you a private message after your last comment. Have a look when you get a chance. Thanks.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

I forgot to add that, among the instructors at the Vermont School, appeared Norman Chalmers (Jock Tamson’s Bairns, Ossian and Easy Club).

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Also, I think it’s worth noting that in all the years of the School, I do not recall the instructors ever using the terms "snap", "Scots snap" or "Scottish snap". I’m not suggesting that this was by rule, or design. But it is significant. I do recall specific references to and discussions about cuts, dots and various ways to approach strathspeys.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Maybe just using your local language? Scots (Scotch) snap is widely understood in Scotland!

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

A " Scotch Snap" sounds like some sort of biscuit to me.

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Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

"Maybe just using your local language? Scots (Scotch) snap is widely understood in Scotland!"

Perhaps. But I think it’s deeper, and more complex, than that. The term is common, in both Scotland and North America. And I’ve heard it in other contexts in Vermont. Yet the folks I’ve named, in a natural way, do not, or only rarely, use it. Included in my list are, either solo or via bands, four Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame inductees. Others of the group have played, taught, broadcast and written about STM their entire adult lives.

I think it’s to do in great part with the different strains of Scottish music. Use the term Irish Traditional Music, and most folks conjure up the same or very similar images. Pub sessions, the Chieftains, Bothy Band. Use the term Scottish Traditional Music, and it could mean very disparate things to various folks, e.g. Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, New Hampshire Strathspey and Reel Society, pipe bands, Ossian, pub sessions, "gaelic" piping, "kitchen" sessions, the Bairns, Skinner, Marshall, Dixon, Na Tri Seudan, and so on. The folks I’ve listed have spent their lives exploring, among other things, the roots, the old styles, the old tunes. Trying to peel away the latter-day layers of military piping styles and Victorian drawing room fiddle and see what may remain of the foundation. They are more interested in rhythm, drive, feel, dance, etc. than forms and terms of music that might represent or lend themselves to straightjackets of one form or another.

Let me be clear. I claim no personal expertise, either as a player or scholar. I’ve just been fortunate enough to be directly exposed, for three decades, to some of Scotland’s finest playing in a style that moves the body, the feet and the soul in, for me, profound ways.

Re: What?

What?

"I think it’s to do in great part with the different strains of Scottish music. Use the term Irish Traditional Music, and most folks conjure up the same or very similar images."

What?

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Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

So we’re going into CVs and pedigrees now are we? I was born in Scotland, brought up by a Scottish mother, who actually set up Caledonian Societies down in England, so I have been immersed in Scottish music since day one (now over 70). I have also lived in Scotland for the last 30 years and learned a huge amount more about Scottish music (including snaps!) since we moved here. Of course a lot of music has crossed the pond and developed in its own way over there, but please don’t try to tell me they know it better in Vermont or wherever: they will all have their own way of doing it, as do different bands within Scotland, but who is to say what is right or wrong unless you go back to the original composers’ scores? And people who try to learn tunes from CDs will do it as they hear it played by whichever artist or band, hence the disparity in versions heard in sessions or transcribed to notation.
Yes, you can go back to original scores, and if you are in the position of entering competitive playing, you may well get marked down for not getting your snaps (or other ornamentation) in the "right" place.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Sorry, I’m completely lost trying to follow this discussion.
Carry on though. I promise not to reply on this thread again.

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Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

"So we’re going into CVs and pedigrees now are we?"

Kenny demanded names. I complied, against my better judgment.

"Of course a lot of music has crossed the pond and developed in its own way over there, but please don’t try to tell me they know it better in Vermont …."

I said no such thing. Just relating my experience. And I named folks from Scotland and Canada, not Vermont. If you disagree, take it up with the folks I listed. They were the ones who taught here.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Trish -

Lastly, I meant no offense. I apologize. Whether we’re snapping, or dot-cutting, or whatever, it’s all brilliant music. Tomorrow I’ll play a strathspey or two on the borders and the fiddle, and just enjoy, terminology notwithstanding.

Cheers. Off to bed.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

"Tervs and Tunes" - I didn’t "demand" anything, I politely requested clarification as to the musicians you were making reference to, and I thank you for your reply. Those are certainly top players of Scottish traditional music, and Vermont has been very fortunate to have such a high quality and inspirational guests.
"I’m not sure I’d use the term "fast and loose" applies, but there is indeed among these folks a less rigid approach, with more emphasis on drive and rhythm. I agree that there are many fine players of the more rigid style(s)". - no disagreement from me on that.
It was the sweeping statements made by "SteveT" which I disagreed with, but that’s cool. Everyone has their own opinion, and is entitled to it.
I just noticed that "slainte" posted a link to this video of Hamish Moore and Sarah Hoy 4 years ago - nothing fast and loose" in there, but if you ever heard Hamish with Dick Lee [ saxophone ] - that was as "fast and loose" as you’ll ever get in Scottish music before it transforms into something else. Anyone for "snaps" ?

https://youtu.be/AnE0CpdZmDk

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Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Ginger snap:

A strathspey performed by a red headed fiddler

A well known biscuit popular in Scotland

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

On a more serious note, there is not really one strict strathspey style in Scotland but I wouldn’t describe the variations as being down to "fast and loose" either or lack of discipline.
There are many regional styles too which are quite significant. For simplicity, I could give an example of East Coast V West Coast but, of course, it’s much more than that.

Of the good modern players, you could compare Paul Anderson with Sarah Jane Summers for instance who are excellent strathspey players but their styles are quite distinct. Sarah has a particularly Highland style while Paul is more "East Coast" Aberdeenshire. Both of them are highly disciplined and "strict" in their own way, however. I’ve had workshops and tuition from both them and I can assure you that I’d never get away with being "fast and loose". 🙂

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

"strathspeys… were written as performance pieces…"

Most strathspeys weren’t written as anything, they’re traditional dance music.

You dance to them. I’ve spent hundreds of hours dancing to them.

About where to put the snaps, many years ago I heard the Scot Colin Gordon, a Scottish fiddler, say how you could put the snaps anywhere, and he demonstrated it by playing a part of a strathspey twice, the second time putting the snaps in the opposite places of the first time. Both sounded equally musical, which was his point.

About how to play the snaps, as mentioned above there’s a variety of different timings heard.

In piping there’s a thing of putting a bit of weight on a snapped note that occurs on a major beat. It’s subtle. Any snapped note of a short-long note pair is probably going to be longer than the short note of a long-short note pair, which to notate on a computer music writing program I’ve had to reduce to gracenotes to get them short enough, writing the long-short note pair as a quarternote followed by a gracenote.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

>>"Most strathspeys weren’t written as anything, they’re traditional dance music. "

Yes, and dance music of the time was played by A fiddler with some accompaniment, not a room full of melody players of varying ability all trying to keep in time with each other. If you read "strathspeys… were written as performance pieces…" in context, that is all I was saying.

For fiddlers strathspey bowing does require special technique (J bowing) which as far as I’m aware doesn’t occur elsewhere and is fairly counter intuitive, but once mastered it can be used freely as you suggest. But once you do that the chances of a session staying in sync go from slim to zero.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Strict, tight, accurate, precise- as opposed to fast and loose & whatever you’re having yourself. I’m very pleased to be hearing from so many highly informed players on this topic. Thanks again. I’m an adult learner, ten years on fiddle now, and have had so many mixed messages on so many things that it’s difficult to know what’s what. In general, however, I like to be aware of (dare I say)
best practice, whether or not I’ve got the skill to execute same.
Ashley MacIsaac visited Gaelic College, Cape Breton last August, knocked around for a few days and gave a two - hour workshop one evening. Here’s a brief extract from a recording I made :
"For all intents and purposes… I suppose notation is incredibly important,however, because…ah,you don’t.. you can’t really play the tune right if you don’t see the notes… something that’s taught to people very often here is that it doesn’t make a difference… play it the way you want to play it… that’s not how I was taught growing up.. Buddy MacMaster said- you play a tune right or you don’t play it at all - so the right way is the way it’s written… And then you take it and you may learn a little bit of how one fiddler played it… or another fiddler played it… for their grace notes…and you learn to copy things that way by ear… But if a tune is two parts and you’re only playing three quarters of one of the parts right… then you’re playing the tune wrong.. so there is a wrong way of playing the fiddle in Cape Breton music…. "
This extract will undoubtedly fan the flames again. I’d really prefer if it didn’t just this once. And I’m fully aware that this is Cape Breton speaking.
PS. Ashley went on to say that he pays $14. 95 for his bows…" It’s not the truck, it’s the driver…. & the rosin is the gas"(he uses cello rosin).

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

Much of this discussion is similar to what you find Highland pipers going on about. Talk of "original scores", "written music", "performance pieces", etc. I am not disagreeing with the approaches to strathspeys that emphasize that kind of thing. Indeed, I have no dog in that hunt. But what about "written" music for the likes of the old, old tunes? Skinner wrote variations on Tullochgorum, but the tune is far, far older, and countless written versions exist that pre-date Skinner and indeed pre-date the 19th century. There is no original score for countless ancient traditional tunes. There may be, instead, a score for competition purposes, or as to some styles the only correct approach, but the word "original" is a slippery slope.

And not all modern scores are to be considered definitive. Fred Morrison has written many wonderful strathspeys that have already found their way deep into the tradition. My guess is he’d be the first to say he constantly deviates from the versions set forth in his tune books, and invites others to deviate.

In so many ways, this discussion mirrors the various very different ways that strathspeys can be approached. As I said in a very early post, Hamish identified at least 12 very different styles. I had earlier said 10, incorrectly.

And at the risk of bringing down criticism of the Vermont School again (taught by Scots, and Canadians), all teaching is done by ear. There are no scores. By design. I’m not arguing this the only way, but given the level of instruction, it certainly is a legitimate, and indeed ancient, approach.

Kenny - You are right. I read your request as a demand. Sorry. It’s the internet thing.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

I should add, given the fact that the Vermont connection appears to be somewhat triggering, that the majority of the Vermont School instructors I’ve listed have taught at Ceolas, in South Uist, with which I have absolutely no connection.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

About Highland piping and sticking to "the scores", and the composers’ intent, with Strathspeys it’s not usually like that.

In the Highland pipe typical medley of March, Strathspey, and Reel, the Marches (2/4 competition marches) will be by known composers, the Strathspeys and Reels traditional.

The Strathspeys and Reels will usually be found in numerous collections going back, in some cases, to the 18th century. The Strathspeys usually started out as fiddle tunes, and were borrowed by pipers. They have no known composers. You can trace the tunes in various printed sources over the last 200+ years and they show up in a large number of variant settings. So there’s not a single "right way" to play them.

Very few "composed" strathpeys have been accepted into the MSR competition repertoire, the most widely-heard is probably Susan MacLeod (by Donald MacLeod, probably the greatest composer of pipe music in the 20th century). Its popularity is due, I think, to the 3rd part which has piobaireachd-style ornaments in it, and is often heard bungled.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

"Yes, and dance music of the time was played by A fiddler with some accompaniment"

Yes indeed, "the time" being for example in the 1980s when I was an avid dancer.

There was an Alasdair Fraser concert. He played concert stuff for an hour or so. Then the chairs were folded up and stowed away and we danced for hours, to the most amazing strathspeys and reels and jigs, tune after tune I’d never heard before, nor since, the playing brilliant, a perfect coming together of the spirit of the fiddler and the spirit of the dancers.

Re: Apropos the Scots snap : How strict are your ears on this?

" In the Highland pipe typical medley of March, Strathspey, and Reel, the Marches (2/4 competition marches) will be by known composers"

Good point, Richard, and one that I hadn’t thought of until now. Almost of the competition-style 2/4s that I play are, indeed, by known composers.

Also, you mentioned Alasdair Fraser playing for the post-concert dance. Are we talking ceili dance? Or Scottish Country Dance?