The Irish Reel from Hell

The Irish Reel from Hell

Hi guys! I just got done reading Alan Ng’s chart of structural variation of Irish reels (quite an intriguing report, by the way) at https://www.irishtune.info/rhythm/reel-structure.html This chart analyzes the different musical forms that the 2000 someodd reels in his database come in, and their percentage of the total number of reels. So doubled reels (AABB) are naturally the most common at 56.4%, followed by singled reels (AB) at 30.7%, etc., etc. The point is that seemingly the longest reel on the chart was not of the ABCDE form (Jolly Tinker), nor of the ABCDEF form (Lord Gordon). Apparently, there is one reel on the chart with the interminably long form of ABABCDCDEFEF. Add two G sections and it’s the reel equivalent of a Shakespearian sonnet (my next composing project?). Anyway, the trouble is that the chart does not give example reels for any of the forms that it lists. Any idea which tune this "reel from hell" could be? What about some of the other forms with only one or two reels listed? I’m just curious. Thanks.

Re: The Irish Reel from Hell

The link isn’t working. If you go to http://irishtune.info and click on Frequently asked questions > Rhythm types you’ll find it under reels on the rhythm table.

Re: The Irish Reel from Hell

The last one says it is a set of three tunes … no?

Re: The Irish Reel from Hell

Yup that’s the one I meant. How did you find that? Or did you already know that one (I mean it’s Kevin, after all)? Cool!

Re: The Irish Reel from Hell

Sligo version of the "Pinch Of Snuff", maybe ? But it has a 9th part which brings it back to the start again.

Posted by .

Re: The Irish Reel from Hell

It says "could also be considered a set of three tunes", which leads me to believe it’s not listed as such on the album.

Re: The Irish Reel from Hell

I forgot about that version, Kenny, and indeedh never actually heard it. I like the Donegal version a lot though.

Re: The Irish Reel from Hell

ABABCDCDEFEF

I’d have to hear it played to know whether it sounds more like a single tune, or a medley of three tunes each played twice.

I can’t remember hearing that in Irish trad, but you see it in Bulgarian trad. One common tune for the dance Buchimish goes

ABABCDCDEE

the 5th part being the only part not paired with another part, and the only part repeated.

Re: The Irish Reel from Hell

Is there a standard for what counts as a section? Couldn’t a regular 3-parter like the Butterfly by analyzed that way, with the first 2 measures being the A sections the second 2 the B section and so on?

Re: The Irish Reel from Hell

In ITM a "section" is usually considered as constituting 8 bars (or 16 if repeated). In the case of "The Butterfly", which follows the form ABC, the first four bars are actually repeated to form the 8-bar section, which is then not repeated before going on to the next section. A bit confusing at first, I know…

Re: The Irish Reel from Hell

The one example of AABCBC listed must surely be Trip to Durrow.

Re: The Irish Reel from Hell

Looks like you’re right. Another strange one is "Caher Rua" which is listed as AABBA’ (on the recording I have Doherty seems to play it more like AABBAA’. So why do Irish reels end up like this, in such a bewildering variety of forms? I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever come across, say, a double jig without repeated parts. Even a super long tune like "The Old Gray Goose" is in the form AABBCCDDEEFF. Why is this, I wonder?