Revisiting An Old Argument

Revisiting An Old Argument

Remember the several threads that have addressed whether reels are in 4/4 or cut time (2/2)? My contention is that they are in cut time and I now have a new perspective that supports that contention. Last night, I played for our excellent local Irish dance company. In preparation, I learned that the standard tempo for reels is 120 beats per minute. At the desired tempo, that must be counted in two beats per measure. Go to YouTube and query Irish Reel 120 BPM and you will find that if you count four beats per measure, you will come out with 240, not 120. Remember that 4/4 and 2/2 notation divide the measure at the same places. The notation is the same; only the meter changes between the two time signatures.

This tidbit was not known to me until I was called upon to know it for this performance. I would love to hear from players who play for dancers on this. The previous (and many) threads on this subject have never seemed to reach a definitive consensus, and I’m wondering if this does it. Have at it, friends.

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Re: Revisiting An Old Argument

We just play the things so they fit the dancers.

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If the time signature, as written, (4/4 vs. 2/2) makes that much difference to the way you play a tune, then I’m inclined to think that you need to get more familiar with the music (i.e. how it sounds and feels, not how it looks on the page) - or you just need to lose the head and trust the gut.

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Time signature is a completely moot point if you don’t use written music. As the two previous posts make clear, knowing the music eliminates the need to know anything technical about it. However, many of us come to Irish music from another musical background where using written music serves a purpose, provided it is written correctly. If this were not true, there would be no sales of the O’Neill books, along with many others. Back in the 1980s when there was precious little material available to me about how to play the music in the U.S., I was confused seeing so much of the written music (albeit, not O’Neill’s) written with a 4/4 time signature, which renders a very different sound. Now, of course, I don’t care. I know how to play a reel and learn many by ear. I just found it surprising that so many here who should know have argued that it doesn’t matter. So l want to be clear that I am arguing a somewhat pedantic point that has value mostly for those who are new to the music and are trying to use written sources. Let’s not get into the subject of dots versus ear. That’s not the point here. Ear musicians are welcome to contribute, but value judgments about written music are not germane. I am not arguing that particular point and feel that subject has been covered.

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Re: Reels: 2/2 vs 4/4

Alan, I know what you’re getting at. I think there has been a consensus* in previous threads. But if you’re looking for resolution or reconciliation that’s a high bar to set on any internet forum.

Yes, reels, regardless of how the time signature is written, can be counted 2 beats per measure. On your point (in several discussions) I concede your point. In fact (aside from the usual argy-bargy, banter, and mustard meta-mania) there is a consensus about this. Yet, in the idiosyncrasies of this music several players could care less about objective reasoning. Reels are written in 4/4 time, players tap their foot 4Xs per measure, etc. I agree with your point. I just don’t begrudge those players who don’t care. Count me once as one who doesn’t care. (i.e. ~ I tap my foot two times "and" four times in the same tune). ;)

* semantic note ~ I don’t think any consensus is ever "definitive". That isn’t the purpose of consensus.

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It all makes sense if you relate it to dancing. There are two steps in a bar, left right, two beats. In a hornpipe those two beats are sub-divided into two, in a jig they are sub-divided into three, in a reel into four, but always with those two strong beats in the bar for the foot falls. I don’t know about Irish, but in Scottish ceilidh dancing it is quite normal to mix 2/4 marches, jigs and reels together in one set, for one dance. As long as the two beats stay constant it doesn’t matter how you sub-divide them. So yes, a reel is cut time.

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Ben, I agree that consensus is not always definitive. Definitive is what I am attempting to present.

Btw, you can tap your foot however you like and still play in 2. I tap my foot twice per measure for jigs, so what does that tell you?

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Re:Definitive 2/2 count.

"Definitive is what I am attempting to present." I know, Alan.

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Yeah, meter is not solely about notation, so this insistence of skipping the "dots" and listening is a false dichotomy.

If you take a slow 6/8 like Hector the Hero (which was indeed notated by the composer, and in 6/8): it gets transcribed here at the session as a waltz, which makes for a very different way of playing—even if one does not look at notation. If you consider it a waltz it’s going to be 3 beats and more "beaty" and if you observe the 6/8 (from notation or ear), as two beats with three divisions each it’s much more lyrical and expansive. (Simple triple time and compound duple respectively, with half as many bars—and therefore downbeats—in the 6/8 as in the 3/4.) That’s not just notation; its in the actual music. This is not to say there are not subtleties in playing that make these things flexible or elusive, but it’s not merely an abstraction.

Could also have the same discussion about Niel’s Second Wife, and it has been done:
https://thesession.org/tunes/1892

Or The Gallowglass: Fraser and Hass play slow then fast here, and you can sort of hear the connection.

So these 6/8 tunes are the same meter as jigs, but played more slowly. Imagine counting every note in a jig as a beat: that’s what happens when you take a slow 6/8 and play as a waltz.

I know some of the categorizations here (like calling something a waltz) are because of how the options are set on the site, but one can still put a 6/8 in a waltz page, I think.

So, how one groups in 4/4 vs. 2/2 is still in the *music* whether or not one looks at any paper. And the paper could be way wrong, but music never is. ;-) If one is getting hung up on the idea that there is one right answer and that is too rigid or papery, one can just think of it as a different execution of rhythm—you don;t have to proclaim one right and the other wrong to acknowledge that there is a difference.

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When using terms like right or wrong you must make clear if you are making a value judgment. If you like your tune in 4/4, play it that way. If you write it in 4 but intend it to be in 2, then it is wrong because what you have written does not match how you want it to sound. What I think often happens is that one may think if you emphasize beats one and three, then all will be well, but you are then essentially playing in 2. The extra two beats serve no function and if you are playing fast, it become difficult to tap four beats to the bar.

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Someone tried to make this argument before but ended up proving themselves wrong with their own soundclips. I thought it was you Ailin, but I don’t see the thread in your history. Sorry, I wish I could find the thread, it might save us all a little trouble.

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The observation Ailin made at the beginning of the thread is that a speed of 120bpm for dancing works with 2 beats to the bar for a reel, but not if it’s 4 beats to the bar. I do appreciate that some who have come to play this music from other genres, or who haven’t grown with it since childhood, may puzzle over the mixed use of 4/4 vs 2/2 in notation. But surely it doesn’t take much to read or play or listen to reel and instinctively tap your foot as you lock into the beat, and realize that notation is just a handy way for some of remembering stuff? Nobody I know personally who plays trad music gets stressed about this.

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I stand by my previous comment Ailin, but I will try again if that means so much to you.

I said this in the last thread and I will say it again: notation does not imply any sort of inherent feel or rythm. If I write out a jig in 6/8, and that same jig in 12/8, the notation isn’t telling you to play it any differently. Things like accent markings, phrase markings, breath marks, tenuto and staccato, that’s what informs how a piece of music should sound.

It is foolish nonsense to discuss written music without those things as informing the reader of how something should be played. Notation is shorthand anyway, because no one could possibly insert all the markings necessary to specifically dictate performance technique onto a piece of sheet music, elsewise it would look like the front page of a newspaper, all tiny text and sidebars everywhere, and would be unreadable. This is why composers will write things like cantabile or vigourously or whatever onto music, to inform the performer of how the music should sound without resorting to covering the page in markings.

Regardless, as has been said before none of this relates to Irish traditional music, which is of course an oral tradition, where players memorize the tunes and performance style without resorting to reading sheet music. So it doesn’t matter what time signature the tunes are notated in if you do read them.

It ESPECIALLY does not matter in your case, because as you demonstrated in the last thread you are unable to differentiate between 2/4 and 2/2 in YOUR OWN PLAYING, despite claims made to the contrary and several attempts via recordings to demonstrate a difference. The matter is moot and frankly we should. All just go practice, which is where you will find me should you wish to posit another recording.

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FWIW, I was watching Liz Carroll playing on a YouTube yesterday and watching her feet tapping away whilst playing which gave me pause for thought reading this discussion.

Is she counting four or two as both feet are in motion? Perhaps the eagle eyed among you would be able to determine that.

And I’m afraid I can’t really contribute anything to this discussion in technical terms as I can only play as I hear. Dots and time sigs are all very well but to coin a phrase ‘I can read music but it helps to know the tune’.
For myself I’m with CMO - lose the head and trust the gut. Anyway I thought the written stuff was intended as bare bones - how can you notate something as intangible as the ‘spirit’ of traditional music (of whatever country) leaving aside ornamentation, personal and regional style?
Good luck with this one Ailin. :-)

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2/4 and 4/4 are just simply different ways of writing music down, chosen because they imply a tempo according to an established consensus/playing tradition. Reels are written in 4/4 and polkas in 2/4; this is IMO simply because reels have more notes in, compared to polkas. You could write out polkas in 4/4 and reels in 2/4 if you wanted to, but that strikes me as a counter-intuitive thing to do.

In terms of the actual playing of them, it makes zero difference. I’m basically tapping my foot in the "same" place: only in a polka that will be on the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th note I play; in a reel it’ll be on the 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th note I play (because there are more notes in a reel)

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What I am getting from the last several posts is that the time signature serves no purpose. I don’t know how to respond to such a notion, so I will let the matter drop.

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@CheekyElf:
"Someone tried to make this argument before but ended up proving themselves wrong with their own soundclips. I thought it was you Ailin, but I don’t see the thread in your history. Sorry, I wish I could find the thread, it might save us all a little trouble."

Reels 2/2 or 4/4? Arghhh, Not again! - https://thesession.org/discussions/34172

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It’d be great if someone could offer clips or other wisdom on the question, rather than objecting at the mention of notation, which seems to raise hackles.

@Wesley: Yes, it does make a difference whether you write a jig in 12/8 instead of 6/8, and with *or* without notation, one could choose to *play* in 6/8 or 12/8.

A better example to consider this is if you wrote out—or played—a slip jig in 6/8 instead of 9/8. Yes, it would make a difference, and it’s not only about notation. If anyone’s ever been temporarily "duped" momentarily by a slip jig into thinking it’s a regular (6/8) jig, that gives an idea of what the issue is. The distinction between 12/8 and 6/8 is subtler, but it is there. (And my previous comment gives more examples.)

Why get all huffy about notation when that’s only *part* of the OP? Saying this question is only about notation is *something* like saying it doesn’t matter what key or mode a tune is in because it’s only relevant to the notation. Yet people indicate keys of course. And even saying "let’s play the X jig," is referring to meter—notation or not.

So, if it’s really about playing and not notation, then how about some examples of how you play and hear?

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"So, if it’s really about playing and not notation, then how about some examples of how you play and hear?"

This question confounds me, because my whole point is that you would play a tune the same way no matter how it was notated. You can notate a reel in 4/4, 2/2, 2/4, 3/4, hell even 6/8, 9/8, it doesn’t matter, as long as there are the right number of notes. None of that changes how a reel is played. All a traditional musician needs to know is the type of tune and they will be able to play it. The only people this would trip up are players who are not traditional musicians and are relying on a score to provide them all the necessary information (I am sort of playing the devils advocate here for the record, as I can read sheet music and in fact worked for years as a flute player in a military band, and I wouldn’t advocate that anyone transcribe a reel in 9/8, merely pointing out that it could be done if someone was so inclined, which I don’t imagine anyone is.).

But western art music notation really has nothing to do with traditional music. And the reason I get all "huffy", as you put it, when the topic is brought up is that A) it is demonstrably false that 2/2 and 4/4 make reels sound different and B) the OP in this thread cannot back up his assertion using his own playing. In fact he cannot point to any examples of other players playing what he is asserting, which particularly rubs me the wrong way.

On the subject of keys of tunes, Mike Rafferty famously did not know which note was G on his flute. Flo Fahy once told me that her father, a concertina player, did not know that there was D available on the middle row of the concertina until she started playing. I come across traditional musicians all the time who do not know what keys they are playing in, and it really doesn’t matter for their purposes because no one at a session is ever going to play the silver spear in F#, just to put that example out there (unless the entire session was tuned a specific way, which happens). All they need to learn tunes is to listen to whoever is playing the tune and puzzle it out. That’s how aural traditions work. Backers might ask for a key, but the good ones know all the tunes before they ever start strumming a guitar.

I have absolutely no problem posting my own playing. What would you like to hear or discuss?

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@jeff_lindquist

What a mess! It was a different thread though. Someone recorded clips of themself playing a reel in 2/4 as well as in 4/4 but all the clips did was demonstrate that the poster didn’t know how a reel was supposed to sound. Apologies for thinking that it was you Ailin.

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Cheeky, your first instinct was right, the person in that thread was Ailin. I’ll dig it up later when I have the time. The recordings are gone though, Vocaroo only keeps them for a limited amount of time.

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Again, it’s simply not true that meter is solely about notation, so the notion that "you would play a tune the same way no matter how it was notated" is orthogonal. To take your point further, sure, you could notate in ABC, could write down note names without any meter or rhythm indicated, could use neumes, or numbers for scale degrees or whistle tablature—none of that *defines* the actual music. Of course not.

Since you mention "Western art music," this is also true in the European concert music tradition: although we do well to distinguish between prescriptive and descriptive notation, and although that repertoire relies on notation very much of course, that binary is not as severe as it may seem. Remember that staff notation for Western art music still *conveys* the music—it does not *constitute* the music, and one could not play it solely from notation without its own oral/aural aspect and tradition. The triple meter of a sarabande, in notation, does not on its own instruct how to play a sarabande; one needs to know how triple meter functions in a sarabande, which does not come from the "dots’; it comes from tradition and convention. So if one has been initiated into playing sarabandes through practice and mentoring orally and aurally, one might have an idea about how to play a different sarabande—but even there, it is not all on paper.

If one really wants to talk "Western art music," the gavotte would be one more related to this question of reels and would be interesting.

Saying that players *do* indicate keys is not to say that they *must*, of course. Sure, I know lots of guitarists who don’t know what the individual notes are in a chord, etc. But if someone asks, do you play this in G or D—especially for singing—that does indicate something. That it is useful does not mean it is necessary, and that it is not ubiquitous does not mean it is meaningless. And some people indicate keys though the pitch content alone rather than the centre, which can lead to confusion *if* one cares to name keys in the first place—like you can get a D mixolydian described as G major. It’s not *necessary* to label, and there is nothing essentially "right" about those labels; it’s a matter of shared frame of reference, so the descriptors mean something to people. One could say D Fomorian and G Iona; it wouldn’t matter, if others shared the simple lingo. One would not **have to** say this, but one might, and it would mean something.

So, if the OP is so misguided and this should be about music rather than "dots" (even though the OP is not solely about notation), why not give some guidance instead of chastising the person who is looking to understand and going repeatedly to this idea of notation being immaterial?

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Guidance was given in the last thread he posted, and was swiftly ignored. This thread functionally serves no purpose except to misguide beginners.

The reason I bring up western art music in these threads is to point out that western art music and Irish traditional music are not the same. They don’t use the same operating system. So 4/4 and 2/2 are immaterial in the tradition, a reel is a reel, and that is that.

Feel free to take issue with that point as much as you care to, my point has been made and I have no interest in discussing gavottes or the like.

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No one said the musics are the same, but no worries, the "lack of interest" comes though loud and clear, not about baroque dance forms but about the uninformed claims made here. "Not interested" is the declaration that’s usually made when rigidity and reactivity—or inaccuracy—are identified. Someone who really has no interest tends … not to … make a point of saying how little interest they have.

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"Someone tried to make this argument before but ended up proving themselves wrong with their own soundclips. I thought it was you Ailin, but I don’t see the thread in your history. Sorry, I wish I could find the thread, it might save us all a little trouble."

"Cheeky, your first instinct was right, the person in that thread was Ailin. I’ll dig it up later when I have the time. The recordings are gone though, Vocaroo only keeps them for a limited amount of time."

"Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?" posted by Arthur Gondolor December 31st, 2015
https://thesession.org/discussions/38390

"Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?"
https://thesession.org/discussions/38390#comment780107
"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."
posted by Ailin January 4th, 2016

https://thesession.org/discussions/38390#comment780129
"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."
posted by Ailin January 4th, 2016

"Re: Reel at 90 bpm. Any improvement?"
https://thesession.org/discussions/38390#comment780151
"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."
posted by Wesley Mann January 5th, 2016

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Ailin, et all - I think the only way to remove aural subjectivity, and actually show the difference between 2/2 and 4/4 without any ambiguity, would be to notate a reel (say 4 bars), and then show the notation for both. As you said, "The notation is the same; only the meter changes between the two time signatures." (I checked this for myself by entering a few bars in Harmony Assistant, then changing from 4/4 to 2/2. No difference at all).

So, in order to show the difference you mean, you could put accent marks over the notes, and the 4/4 version should then look different from the 2/2 version. You could try it with a simple reel like this one :

https://thesession.org/tunes/64 (***1st setting***)

So, let’s take the 4/4 version first. First 4 bars - there are 8 notes per bar. Where do you put the accents? (eg bar 1, notes 1 and 5, etc …

Now for the 2/2 version (which looks exactly the same, apart from the time sig) : where do your accents go here?

If you can mark them, or reference them, then everyone will know *exactly* what you mean, and there can be no dispute that they will sound different.

Then everyone can see for themselves what the actual difference is, and how that relates to the way they play them.

Whaddya reckon? :)

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How would one count a reel in 2/2?

Usefully. I only play tunes for which I think I know the rhythm, so I don’t feel a need to count so long as I can mentally or physically tap my foot. But I find counting handy when listening and trying to get my head round modern tradish tunes that do fancy things with the rhythm. Trying to count up to 8 notes per measure to work out which ones ‘missing’ in 2/2 seems like hard work. 4/4 with a foot tap on 1 and 3 works just fine.

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How would one count a reel in 2/2?
I believe the correct method is Dum-diddley-eye-diddley-idle -deedle- dum

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Thanks for the thread history AB.

Rosemarie, do you contend that it matters whether reels are notated in 4/4 or 2/2? Or are you merely interested in making sweeping judgements of my character and motivations based on an internet post?

This was mentioned earlier in the thread, but here is a quick and dirty reel on the whistle(I’m not normally a whistle player, but my flute is in the shop so forgive me this once). Maybe someone can tell me which time signature this is in, and how I would play it differently to make it the other?

https://vocaroo.com/i/s1PFlzmgB5Wx

P.S. I truly and honestly have no interest in discussing baroque dance music, nor is such a topic relevant to this one.

Re: Definitive conclusion to the previous (many) threads on this subject.

"I would love to hear from players who play for dancers on this. The previous (and many) threads on this subject have never seemed to reach a definitive consensus, and I’m wondering if this does it."

Yes, it does!

:-)

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Jim, the answer is very simple. For 4/4, your accent is on beats 1 and 3 for any reel. For 2/2, every beat is accented.

The proof that all but one post ignores is that you cannot count four beats easily at fast tempos and counting unaccented beats serves no function. This is why cut time exists in the first place.

I made an error in my op by stating a bpm of 120; it should be 112. Can we all agree that it is fairly impossible to play a reel in 4 at that bpm? That, after all, is what this thread was about.

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Ailin, it seems like you have that backwards. 4/4 should give you every beat accented (4 beats) and 2/2 would give you 2 beats accented(As in 2/2).

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Talking about meter like this is akin to criticizing an idiom that has been translated word-for-word from one language to another. The only way this really makes sense is to use it in the original language, which is Irish music. Trying to analyze it in spoken or written language just doesn’t get the job done. Dancing about architecture and all that.

@Wesley I would call that time signature ‘reel time’. As somebody who immensely over-analyzes things, this is one detail that I actually am mostly ambivalent towards. I tend to think of reels as two beats per measure, which is in line with dancing and most other players, so if I were to notate it, my instinct would be to do so as 2/2. 4/4 in itself implies 4 beats per measure, but I think that’s only partially true. Regardless, modern notation seems to have settled into 4/4 for reels for ease of reading or whatever, so I just run with it. As with most things on paper, they are only a mediocre reflection of what actually goes on in life.

Nice playing, by the way.

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Thanks Aaron. The ‘reel time’ thing is what I am getting at. Like, 4/4, 2/2, whatever. Just play the reel.

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Nope. In four, you would count ONE-two ONE-two.

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No, you count ONE and TWO and THREE and FOUR and.

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ONE and TWO and would be in two, not in four.

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Aaron has it exactly right, but if you are being asked to play 112 bpm, you must play in 2. That was my entire point in the op.

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The BPM has nothing to do with the feel. You can feel a tune in 2 or in 4 at 112, or 120, or 160 or whatever. All the BPM affects is how fast you play.

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I don’t insert an "and" on the upbeat.

If you are counting beats per minute, the math has to be correct or the number given would be meaningless.

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That doesn’t make any sense. Can anyone else explain this logic to me?

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You really just need a steady pulse to dance. Just about everything will do. Clapping in time. A metronome. Someone counting out loud. All those instrumental intricacies are just to keep the musicians from getting bored. Don’t tell them though, they will start bickering about phrasing, ornamentation & meter…

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Wesley, Ailin is trying to say that dancers preferring 112 beats per minute makes reels 2/2 time rather than 4/4. His math is right. Some of Ailin’s elaborations are a little fuzzy, but he’s got the right idea of 2 beats per measure.

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yeah, he does

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You accomplish the same thing putting 4 beats at 224. I fail to see how this proves anything

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Are you changing the tempo?

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Wesley, dancers don’t dance at 224 bpm, they dance at 112bpm. The ol’ legs only move so fast. Dance speed is generally based on walking/marching speed. Since the music and the dance are intrinsically linked, I don’t think it unreasonable to say dancers go 112 and the related music also goes 112 at 2 beats per measure. For purposes of conversation and commonality, I agree with him. Doesn’t change what the music is, but it gives a frame of reference.

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I had written a response, but Aaron said it all more plainly and succinctly than I did, so go with what Aaron said. Thanks for jumping in Aaron. Well done.

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I played ITM for thirty or so years before learning how to read music— and I still read music in a very poor fashion, and it doesn’t matter one bit. I haven’t any use for the dots, or for any notation. Notation really doesn’t matter in this music, to which any number of great musicians — who have little interest in this particular thread, or in this site, for that matter — will attest. The same has been said here by some posters who can actually play.
I’ve played for dancers for years. I have been asked perhaps to speed up, or to slow down. But only that. Nobody ever told me that 128 BPM wouldn’t do, but that 118 would be just perfect. Or to tap my foot twice, or half, as fast.
I remember Mike Rafferty saying, "Don’t ask me if it’s a C or a C sharp, because I don’t even know what that means."

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Aaron, thanks for those insights.

Hello, five string fool; it’s been a while.

Wesley, I am (still) not equating music and notation. It was you who brought up "Western art music"—and then professed no interest when someone met you there and offered nuance. Why keep coming back to insist you’re not interested?

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//Jim, the answer is very simple. For 4/4, your accent is on beats 1 and 3 for any reel. For 2/2, every beat is accented.//

Ailin, just for absolute clarity, which notes do you accent? Two bars, eight notes in each :

4/4 : |1234 5678| 1234 5678|

2/2 : |1234 5678| 1234 5678|

Thanks.

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Jim,

4/4 - 1 and 5

2/2 - 1 and 5

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Rosemarie, literally the only thing I said about western art music was in reference to the notation being used. I said nothing about baroque music, gavottes, sarabandes, etc. My purpose in bringing it up was to point out that it is a tradition where notated music is the primary method of transmission, whereas the Irish traditon is one where aural transmission is primary.

Meaning that in western art music, 4/4 vs 2/2 would be important, but in Irish music the feel of a tune type is learned through listening.

Please explain to me why I should be interested in baroque music in a discussion of Irish dance music, on a site dedicated to Irish session music. I am excited to hear your reasoning.

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Well in playing for dancing, we might have a metronome indication at the top of the score: but do we switch the metronome on before starting a dance? No! of course not. That is more for practising at home, when playing to a metronome might make your playing more consistent and steady.
So, how do you start a dance? 5 ways we do it in the 2 bands I play in:
1. Count-in: e.g. 1234 1234 (a minimum of 2 bars so everyone gets it! One bar not enough.)
2. Count-in followed by chord on accordion - everyone watches accordion, including his feet, and knows exactly when to come in, and what speed.
3. Drum intro: drummer sets the pace with 2-4 bar intro
4. No drummer in 2nd band, so I (a mainly EX-dancer myself) just do the first few steps of the dance surreptitiously under my keyboard to confirm to myself the pace then proceed as 1.
5. As in 4 + 1 + played intro of 4 bars.
We never worry if it’s 2/2 or 4/4 - just play, watch the dancers, speed up or slow down if that seems the right thing to do….and it works! Slight distinction between 2/4 and 4/4: the former is L-hand bass-chord, the latter more likely bass-chord-middle note-chord…..unless there are multiple chord changes per bar.

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So, your beats are accented exactly the same?

Now I’m not following your counting of beats between the two time signatures, Alan.

You lost me completely.

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Ben, I think the confusion is in how Jim wrote the measures. He wrote each of eight eighth notes rather than splitting the measure into four quarters. Because the notation is the same for both time signatures, the accents appear in the same place for each. The difference is that in 2/2, the accents are on each of the two beats, which occur on 1 and 5 the way Jim wrote it out. For 4/4, the accents fall on 1 and 3, (again 1 and 5 the way Jim wrote it out),but you would get unaccented beats on 3 and 7. Make sense?

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"unaccented beats"? no, I don’t get it. what’s your point?

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He’s saying you don’t accent a note just because it falls on the beat. 4/4 would indicate 4 beats per measure, and you would only typically accent 2 beats per measure. Meaning notes 3 and 7 would fall on the beat(again, assuming 4 beats per measure), but not be accented.

Bottom line, Ailin is saying that he plays reels with 2 accented beats per measure, no matter how it is notated on paper.

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In 4/4, you count One-two, Three-four to play a reel in reel time. Jim didn’t write out the beats, he wrote out the notes (eighths), so instead of the unaccented beats being on 2 and four, they land on 3 and 7. So you get a total of four beats per measure with the emphasis on beats 1 and 3. The accents fall in exactly the same place in 2/2, but you are only counting two beats per measure. Those accents fall on exactly the same notes as they do in four. But if you don’t play the accents and give each beat equal value, you get a very choppy rendition. In 2/2, two accented notes is all you get, so you are automatically in reel time.

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"Bottom line, Ailin is saying that he plays reels with 2 accented beats per measure, no matter how it is notated on paper."

I know. That is why I have suggested this topic reached a consensus long before this most recent revisit.

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Wesley, of course you’re under no obligation to care about baroque dance forms —- or any subject — but you seem to be since you keep bringing it up.

Nor am I under any obligation to “explain” to you why you “should” be interested in any topic. Your interests are up to you. And I owe you no justification for why I offered nuance and experience in response to a reductive caricature. Sorry I can’t help you out with some good old fashioned subservience. I’m sure you can find that elsewhere.

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Ailin, what is it that is choppy?

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It’s choppy to play a reel in 4/4 and "give each beat equal value". That bit was clear.

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"Bottom line, Ailin is saying that he plays reels with 2 accented beats per measure, no matter how it is notated on paper."
Hopefully we all do. The chance that some won’t when the time signature shows 4/4 is the whole reason for this discussion. I think this has been a point of confusion for many and I hope it is finally clear.

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But time signatures don’t imply accents, and good players vary their accents anyway.

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4/4 doesn’t, but 2/2 does. That’s why it is important.

Don’t confuse rhythm with meter. The accented beats in the meter must be there for a reel to be a reel, but you can play with the rhythm and that’s what you are talking about.

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Cheeky Elf, the time signature does imply accents, as does the way quavers are barred together.
4/4 counts ONE and TWO and THREE and FOUR and, 2/2 counts ONE two three four TWO two three four. Unfortunately 2/2 and 4/4 both have the same number of quavers in a bar, so people have a habit of putting a 4/4 signature in front of a 2/2 piece. In that case you look at the barring - where a group of quavers are barred together the first note of the group gets the accent. Reels are written with the quavers in two groups of four, so they have two beats in a bar, even if they’ve been given a 4/4 signature.

Yes, you can change the accenting to a certain extent, but you’ve got to maintain the beat. How much you can change the accenting depends on circumatances - if you are playing with drums, bass or keyboard they can keep the beat going which gives you more freedom to play with phrasing, but if you are playing solo or just with melody instruments, then if you stop accenting the beat for more than a measure or so the dancers will start to flounder.

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Why not ONE and two and THREE and four? Does declaring the metre as 4/4 put a constraint on the timing of its two and four that declaring it as 2/2 wouldn’t?

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No, ONE and two and THREE and four and is fine, but that is 2/2 not 4/4, it has two beats. To create that rhythm is a piece that is signed as 4/4 the quavers would be barred in groups of four (as is normally the case with reels). The barring takes presedence over the signature (the first note of a barred group is always accented). If the composer wanted you to play ONE and TWO and… the quavers would be barred in pairs.

So a reel written in 4/4 with the quavers in groups of four is technically correct, and played strictly to the score would still be a reel. The barring gives the precice detail and may change with phrasing within a piece (though not so much in dance music), the signature only gives and indication of the feel of the piece as a whole, so cut time is more appropriate for a reel, though 4/4 isn’t actually wrong, providing the barring is correct.

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I am no expert, but discussions such as this - the civil parts, that is - are of interest to me as an enthusiast, a player, and a teacher.

One aspect which I don’t believe has been touched upon is that, when traditional music is notated, certain assumptions are made about the user. For example, "start" repeat marks are not used nearly as much as they are used in classical music; it is assumed that the player knows where to return on a repeat. Accents in jigs (i.e. the first note of the triplet is played longer, the second shorter) and reels are not marked. In my opinion, that is because although the notation gives the notes, the manner in which the tunes are played is to be found outwith the notation (that comes from listening, from teachers and mentors).

Many of the 20th century collectors and notators [1] almost exclusively use 4/4 for reels: why is this? Could it be just because it is assumed that the reader knows how to play a reel? Is it just convention? Just for ease of reading (to a beginner, the more black ink on a page, the more frightening it appears)?

Traditional musicians will often tap four beats in a reel, but the stronger beats are the first and third. Is the crux that Ailin believes cut time will help the learner to accent the first and third beats (or in cut time, the 1st and 2nd)? If that’s so, it’s a reasonable opinion.

It raises other questions in my mind: would he also use start repeat marks at the beginning of a line? Would he notate jigs and reels with dotted quavers? If not, why not? (These are not challenges, Ailin, but simple questions).

Anyway, thanks for this thread - I feel it was worth airing, even if the conculsions are far from definitive.

[1] = e.g. Brendan Breathnach, Pat Mitchell, Tom Anderson, Dave Bulmer, Luke O’Malley, Martin Mulvihill, Caoimhin MacAoidh, Eithne Vallely, David Lyth, Tony Sullivan, Terry Moylan, Jerry O’Brien, Ken Perlman, Kate Dunlay, etc, etc.

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Accents in jigs (i.e. the first note of the triplet is played longer, the second shorter) "

Nigel, as you will know, many Scottish jigs especially those in older publications are actually written this way although the emphasis on the accent is usually implied regardless. We just do it anyway.

Here’s an interesting example of a tune where the notation can be a bit confusing. It’s been discussed before…

https://thesession.org/tunes/3622 (See second setting with third part).

This is where listening to the tune first really does help.

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"ONE and two and THREE and four and is fine, but that is 2/2 not 4/4, it has two beats." I think it depends what the player thinks of as a beat, especially those who do move the accent off the one and three now and then.

For dancers I think the 240 vs 120 bpm of the OP is bit of a red herring. 240 is faster than the cadence of an olympic sprinter. Its way faster than a dancer can repeatedly swing a leg so obvioulsy twice the rate of foot-fall. It’s well within what foot-tapping players can do though - watch them. And anyway, isn’t the metronome mark on score explicit about the note length intended?

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Johnny Jay: "…the emphasis on the accent is usually implied regardless. We just do it anyway."

Yes, which was the point of my post.

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Yes, I wasn’t arguing though. :-)
I just thought it was worth pointing out that many Scotish jigs are actually written this way(In older collections, especially) whereas they don’t seem to be in Irish and more modern publications.

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Yes, 240 definitely isn’t anything to do with dance music. 120ish is where the beat sits, regardless of tune type, because that’s the speed the dancers legs go. That constant 120 lets you play march strathspey and reel together, or mix jigs and reels within a set, the beat stays constant it’s just the way you sub-divide it that changes.

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Nigel, beginning repeat marks aren’t usually necessary, unless there is an anacrusis. The repeat mark on its own tells you to go back to the beginning of the movement or section, so if the previous section has ended with either a repeat mark or a double line to indicate the section end (which is usually the case), that is where the repeat mark sends you back to.

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MarkM: "Nigel, beginning repeat marks aren’t usually necessary, unless there is an anacrusis…"

Yes, which was the point of my post. They are used in classical music much more than in notations of traditional music, in my experience (which isn’t great). Learners coming from the classical field often ask why there isn’t a start repeat mark in certain circumstances.

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Yes, it sometimes also makes things more confusing when the last section differs second time around. So, it often makes things clearer to have the whole part written out in full without the repeat sign.

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Johnny Jay: "…many Scotish jigs…"

In the 18th century quite a few publications used "Scotish," such as James Johnson’s "Scotish Songs in Two Volumes" (1794), along with Scots, Scotch, Caledonian and Scottish. I quite like it.

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Oops. :-)

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Sorry Nigel, the way I read your post seemed to imply that Breathnach et al were doing something wrong or sloppy. It’s maybe that your students haven’t gone far enough with their classical training, because the what I gave are the rules for classical composition. However, classical music tends not to be written in sections as dance music is, so it’s maybe just something they haven’t come across.

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Back to 2/2 and 4/4 …

Ailin, you said, at different points in the thread :

//Jim, the answer is very simple. For 4/4, your accent is on beats 1 and 3 for any reel. For 2/2, every beat is accented.//

//Because the notation is the same for both time signatures, the accents appear in the same place for each. //

// 4/4 - 1 and 5 //

// 2/2 - 1 and 5 //

// The difference is that in 2/2, the accents are on each of the two beats, which occur on 1 and 5 the way Jim wrote it out.
For 4/4, the accents fall on 1 and 3, (again 1 and 5 the way Jim wrote it out),but you would get unaccented beats on 3 and 7. //

There is clearly a contradiction there. I’m genuinely trying to understand how you make 2/2 sound different from 4/4, which is why I asked the question.

This is how I’ve interpreted it :

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jlyhbvp5yw9kggb/ailins-ambiguity.JPG?dl=0

Correct, close, or wrong?

Couldn’t resist the tune title :)

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2/2 at 120 bpm and 4/4 at 240 bpm shouldn’t sound different, unless your foot is tapping out the beats.

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Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.

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No, it isn’t.

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That’s what Frank Zappa said!

By the way…is this the fifteen minute argument or the full half hour?

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Just curious - I do not particularly care about formality of the music being written as 2/2 or 4/4, but isn’t using 2/2 a bit unnatural with regards to beat emphasis? If all reels were played with emphasis on beats 1&3 in a 4/4 bar, the "reduction" to 2/2 could be probably done cleanly. But in some reels, the emphasis is conventionally put on beats 2 and 4 out of 4/4 (e.g., Red haired boy, sometimes E toss the feathers or Silver spear), where many tunes contain a mix of bars where people usually emphasise beats 1&3 with bars emphasising beats 2&4. Isn’t it a lot easier to describe this using 4 beats than 2? Would the emphasis on beats 2,4 out of 4/4 be called offbeat in 2/2?

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I need to hear what you are talking about. Are you maybe being thrown by the use of pick-up notes?

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Jim,

There is no contradiction. 4/4 sounds the same as 2/2 as long as beats 1 and 3 get the accents. The issue is that, in most folk and pop music, only the downbeat is accented and that isn’t how reels are played. This can be confusing to a newbie. The secondary problem is that tapping 4/4 with your foot is awkward at a brisk tempo.

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"Talking about music is like dancing about architecture." Wrong discussion, pretentious is next door.

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Thanks for the link. In context, it is plain that what is being talked about is discussing how music sounds and/or the affect it has on the listener being futile. What we are discussing are the mechanics of playing it. Very different, sez I.

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I am not convinced that it is always an accent on the downbeat that creates the beat.

I was once advised at a workshop that "everything you do after the downbeat is leading up to the next one". By the time a dancer hears your accent on the downbeat it is too late for that foot fall.

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For dancers, the A part is often played three times instead of twice. The dancers don’t dance the first A. They listen for how the tune goes so they can get that crucial first step the second time through.

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I think a general consensus that reels are often played in cut time and therefore can be counted as two beats is a good starting point. I also appreciate the point that alot of sheet music for reels scored with a 4/4 time signature (or common time marking) are written with 2 beamed groups of 4 quavers and this suggests a 2 count even though a 4/4 time signature means there are 4 beats per measure. It comes down to players comprehending that trad music needs to be heard because written sources vary depending on when they were transcribed and what was their intended purpose.

Listen? Don’t go strictly by what you read or how it is done in another type of music?

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Sure, Ben. My problem was I couldn’t figure out why what I was playing didn’t match what I was hearing. At that time, I did not have the knowledge of 2/2 that I have now.

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Why didn’t you try playing what you were hearing?

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I did. I had just never played 4/4 with two accents in the same measure and my head just did not grasp what was wrong for a long time. I thought I was doing something wrong stylistically. I know how to play in 4/4.

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Sometimes it ‘helps’ to let go of what worked before and start from a new perspective. Otherwise everything new might be judged on the basis of earlier experiences; and that can be regressive.

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I will add that when I started, I noted that some players played in a very huffy-puffy and rhythmic style while Matt Molloy played smoothly, where the notes just cascaded out. I didn’t sound like either. The music being rather fast in the days before slowdown software made me look to sheet music to sort me out. Therein hangs my tale.

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Aside from the sheet music who did you emulate?

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Matt Molloy. I aim high. :)

Part of the problem with that is he is so smooth, the accents are not distinct enough to my ear to hear what I was doing wrong.

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I don’t get the problem. You sorted it by listening to Matt Molloy, right? …not by falling back on dubious sources which did not sound (or look) as good?

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See my edit above.

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We’re good here!

Keep listening.

;)

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Not an issue, now, but don’t think I don’t feel stupid for coming to it so slowly. I trusted my ears and my eyes and the two just didn’t meet for me. All history, now.

Cheers, Ben!

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"I don’t feel stupid for coming to it so slowly."

You shouldn’t. Everybody learns at different rates. And not all of us, myself included, have the ability to be
overly objective with our own playing. The ideal is having somebody to explain and demonstrate the stuff for us, but that’s not practical in a lot of the world. When the tradition is far away from you, it’s much harder to absorb.

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Looking at the timing mathematically in equal parts is wrong whether you count 4 or 2. I would say it is two beets but one is from the heel and one is the toes. I’m not sure which is which but they tick differently due to mass, size and velocity? So tie up your lacers lad and have a go.

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It’s not a party until Beid has his go. You are beautiful, dude!

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We’d have a hard time tossing feathers with my dancing feet, but dancing in this case is a matter of heels and toes. Anything else is equal. A foot ticks closer to the sound of a heart unless you have some flat fllogie going on. Sheet, I thought we done cleared this stomping bizness years ago.

If you are dancing this music with anything other than your heels and toes, you are a land lubber. Same so it goes with sugar beets

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The thing I learned from this topic is that it’s possible to play a reel at 224 bpm, but you dance to the same tune at 112bpm. Is this an ITM equivalent of Schrödinger’s cat? ;-)

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All music apart from perfect time that goes faster than the historical standard max metronome speed of 208 Is treated as cut time . So fast music such as reels or modern dance music going at 240 say is treated as if it were 120, otherwise the metronome is useless.

An interesting article
https://www.chuckandersonjazzguitar.com/demystifying-cut-time-in-performing-music/

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Wth the caveat that it has to be mensural ….. :-)

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The article that Will Evans posted is pretty bogus. Trying to differentiate between "beat" and "pulse" is pedantic hair-splitting and not really accurate, anyway. There is no reason in 2/2 time to think of the quarter-notes as "beats" and the half-notes as "pulses". The half-notes are the "pulse" AND the "beat", the quarter-notes are subdivisions of the beat. The important thing is that quarter-notes AREN’T ALWAYS THE BEAT.

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Actually David !it could also stem from a deep understanding of music theory….
There are many levels these things can be approached from, for example Klangs and undertones are concepts from extremely complex theories and stem from a level very rarely reached . I don’t profess to understand the mathematical aspects of it but picked up a general understanding after a great deal of thought and study.

This is still from a fairly basic level .
https://2012books.lardbucket.org/books/music-theory/s06-02-pulse-tempo-and-meter.html

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The Chuck Anderson article pretty much aligns with what Ailin has been saying all along. You wouldn’t even need to be a musician to work that out, if you read Ailin’s posts and this article in its entirety.

One thing that might muddy the waters a little when talking about beats/pulse/accents - the accents for one, sound totally different on a fiddle / box than they would on a flute, given the differences in the volume dynamics.

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Jim , its much more fundamental than stressing melody. It’s about the beat and the meter! Nothing to do with melody so remove the melody and tune and your left with a beat, the tap of the foot.

That’s the difference between cut and common time, the foot tap…..the beat., as in beating a drum, or beating a baton , or beating the foot to the floor. It creates a feel , so when M Hayes plays reels and taps 4 to the floor he’s playing in 4/4 ! ….. it’s lively exciting dance music, not a slow trot around the dance floor, it’s a reel. Just as the ceilli band link in the other discussion. A big 4 to the floor.
I’d suggest learning to dance an Irish reel, 2 hand , to anyone who wants to understand the subject better.
Can a reel be danced to a 2/2 beat with no melody? …..and can a reel be danced to a 4/4 beat with no melody……

The lift comes from the bounce, the energy, the drive in the music.
Instrument specific techniques are an irrelevance, it’s much more fundamental.

It’s not about notation either, Notation is merely a written language to express as best as possible a piece of music. Of course meter etc is found in notation.
It’s like the written language expresses the spoken language as best as possible, in a form of code. You cant analyse the depth and subtlety of human interaction through language and body movement and other less obvious exchange of energy through looking at a piece of paper!!
So written languages of any sort are mere representations , and not really very good ones at that , though they do allow a lot of room for personal interpretation and imagination.

As she demonstrates : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owZlqlSeqcs

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If a reel is regarded as being in 2/2 and, as David L suggests above, has quarter notes that are subdivisions of the beat are they alway even subdivisions (not, say, swung) and if so is that a case for all other music written in 2/2?

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… is that the case…

(and I crossed with Will)

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Good point Will, but to add (as a parallel) … I know this is dance music, but just for a moment, keep your feet still, hand the dancers some drinks, pick up your fiddle, and play only 3 notes - bow them in 2/2, then in 4/4.

That’s the essence of getting your bounce, energy and drive.

To me, that’s the best way to feel the difference between 2/2 and 4/4.

But of course, it’s not the only way, as you well know :)

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Ok so remove the beat you say? hmm not sure I’m following you there Jim ;-)

Rather than use language , to express concepts from music, I prefer To see live demonstrations.
So here is a player who is doing it right, I hope we can agree to that!
So this is a reel with a 4 to the floor beat,(of the foot)

This is how a reel " should" be played IMO. Of course there are as many different ways to play a reel as there are players!
So can someone upload a reel played in 2/2 and we can decide for ourselves , not which is right, or better, because those are subjective, but which we prefer.

Now if we were to aim to play reels in a particular style, then there are criteria and we can get it right, or wrong, in relation to a fixed ideal ; the roll model.
Personally I prefer the old style of 4/4 as demonstrated so ably in this link. Hup!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoeG2-ZKLBQ

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Will, Bobby’s timing is great. Though he could be tapping his foot 2Xs (instead of 4) and if that didn’t throw him off then he might save some energy. In other words he doesn’t need to tap out 4. Apparently it works for him and that’s grand.

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//Ok so remove the beat you say? hmm not sure I’m following you there Jim //

Will, all I’m saying is that everything to do with beat, pulse, rhythm, lift can be demonstrated on a single instrument using only a few notes.

In other words, break down perceived complexity to steps of simplicity, and remove all other distractions :)

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Maybe it works for him the same way notating reels in 4/4 works for some people.

I have, on and off, been asking my question about whether or not the two-to-a-bar beat of reels is always evenly divided for as long as I have been here and no-one has answered me yet.

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Ben makes a sound argument and i agree. I would also not tap anything and watch one man tapping his glass of beer in 1\4. Then I tap 2/2 when he bores me then I put 4 to the floor and have a muscle spasm in my toe and go back to my heels and toes 16/16 syncopated with two feet and then swing back to 1/4 when my old man finishes his slug and starts back to hitting his glass. Everything is perceptive and flexible.

In matters of physics and velocity (dancing, playing for dancers, skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing), I stay completely with my heels and toes. 4 on the floor causes very bad falls in my experience

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I stand corrected with a better example, stop looking at music as linear and look at it as the

Sound

Wave that it is. (((((((((((((((((((

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"Everything is perceptive and flexible". Exactly. Except, I think, that the bar is always split evenly into four no matter what is accented or the swing within the the four quarters.

Step back from whatever you think is the archetypal, or typical, Irish reel and look at the full range of ways (and tempos) they are played and then at the other 4/4 (or 2/2) dance tunes in Ireland and in the places where Irish tunes may have gone to or come from. 4/4 lets all those to blur into one another while allowing swing (or snaps, or triplets, or whatever) to be included while mainting the division into four that allows a dancer to switch to four steps to the bar if the tempo is reduced.

Some very knowledgeable people notated reels in 4/4. Maybe they knew a thing or two.

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Yes Ben, reels can be played, and sometimes are, in 2/2, but we are told here that playing them with a 4 count is wrong…… IMO more to the point is which is going to give the player the right feel for dancing…. which is more traditional….. which sounds better, more lively and full of bounce. Lift and energy…..which is more ‘Irish’ for want of a better expression.

There we have a prime example, amongst hundreds , of a renowned player clearly , unequivocally, playing a reel and beating 4 to the floor, if you want to sound right, get with the groove.
Personally I beat 4/4 with heel and toe and 2 feet, podorhythm .
We can see how much energy is transmitted through the player via his music and body movement.
When I learnt many years ago to dance a 2 hand reel, the music was fast and the footwork counted in 4 ….. 1234567+ 123+123+
like I say , it’s a reel , not a sedate 2 pace walk more reminiscent of stately ballroom than a wild , exhilarating reel.
Face it, the classical guys just Got it wrong :-)

:-)

Re: Revisiting An Old Argument

@Will. If I understand correctly what you are saying about the Bobby Gardiner clip then I think this clip makes it easier to see and hear. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKW6uJk8B3o


The second tune here give a contrast - two to a bar tapping, so maybe something different in the way he working the accents. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlGdv4hjuM8


Unfortunately we don’t see when, just before 2 minutes, Kevin Burke changes to an accented (higher knee on alternate taps) 4 to a bar tapping in this clip whilst the others keep to the steady 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jY6QJmJ_Pl4


I find that trying out those three ways of tapping helps explore a tune.

Re: Revisiting An Old Argument

Another way to find the beat, is to find the backbeat.
In quadruple meter the back beat is on 2 and 4
In duple meter the back beat is on the 2 , the up beat .
So to tap just the strong beats in 4 we would tap in 1 and 3 ….
To tap the strong beat in 2 , just tap the 1 .

So when a player is beating 2 , they are either beating on all beats , or just the strong beats.
In my case I would tap strong with one foot and weak with the other , or heel toe , heal toe strong weak medium weak .
So when you see a player tapping 2 to the bar with one foot, check what the other foot is doing, and feel how the bounce inspires the other foot to tap too….

In a 4/4 at a very basic level on a drum kit, the 1 is the kick, the 2 is the snare’
So the bass beats 2 to the bar.
https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/unimusi/drum-set-basic-rhythms

4 to the floor is where the bass is hit all 4 times, as per Bobby Gardiner.

https://takelessons.com/blog/easy-drum-beats-z07

In duple the 1 is the bass and the 2 is the snare. The one drop beat in that link, half time, or cut time.
so the same piece of music has a very different feel in 2 or 4 ,
Of course they can be superimposed and combined .
This has nothing to do with melody ,tunes etc it’s about beat and rhythm, meter. Feel .

Re: Revisiting An Old Argument

Well said will.

Tunes are sound waves. If u hit equal beats it’s like using only one part of the wave (easiest part going straight), good musicians know how to drop around the face, hit the lip, back up into the vortex(the tube) and have mastered the bottom turn (transitions between different rhythm patterns).

Tunes are waves, u r all a bunch of salty washed up surfers like myself.

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Re: Revisiting An Old Argument

Will Evans wrote:
I’d suggest learning to dance an Irish reel, 2 hand , to anyone who wants to understand the subject better.
Can a reel be danced to a 2/2 beat with no melody? …..and can a reel be danced to a 4/4 beat with no melody……

I don’t understand. Clapping 2/2 or 4/4 (i.e. playing without melody) would sound exactly the same: just a steady pulse at a certain tempo. Or am I missing something?

Re: Revisiting An Old Argument

I can’t believe Irish trad is taking loan words from Chicago house music and rave culture. They are documented using four on the floor decades before it was mentioned in Irish trad. This is not your house, this is not my house, this is our house. Now go Jack your body this argument is baseless

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Re: Revisiting An Old Argument

Four to the floor is descriptive terminology , at least since I was a young one, a decade or more before house and rave existed.
From what genre does it come from?! Who knows? who cares? 8-) According to wiki the term was used in the 70’s in disco music :-)
It describes what Bobby Gardiner is doing exactly and that is what language is for!! I mean we are useing the English language….. to talk about Irish music after all, does it matter ? Should we speak An ghaeilge? .
We are useing a classical system of writing notes and staves! From Italy….. playing on instruments from all over….
Sometimes we play Scottish tunes, and from America, Sweden, etc
We are useing computers and tablets to communicate!

Adopt and adapt.

At shaketree, look at the above links I’ve submitted and the drumming links and read my post I think it’s fairly well explained and demonstrated .

Re: Revisiting An Old Argument

"It describes what Bobby Gardiner is doing exactly" Yes. I was going to say something like that but youtube distracted me with clips of P.J. Hernon.

I think the three instruments on this one demonstrate the "would lose something if thinking in 2/2 as it is described above" quite well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m_LDVOll44

Re: Revisiting An Old Argument

Ha, the green groves of Erin, I Just revisited that tune today ! :-)
that’s one of the beauties of these discussions, these cracking links to great players kicking up dust and showing the world how it’s done! Thanks for that , got any more classics lined up for us ? :-)

Re: Revisiting An Old Argument ~ w/Wikipedia Sheet Music Example

"When I learnt many years ago to dance a 2 hand reel, the music was fast and the footwork counted in 4 ….. 1234567+ 123+123+
like I say , it’s a reel , not a sedate 2 pace walk more reminiscent of stately ballroom than a wild ,
exhilarating reel."

Dancers count everything. They just do. Melody players don’t need to count every note; not even every beat.
In fact melody players do no even need to tap their foot. I love the fact that Irish players do. The feet are fun!

But the point about counting reels, which is the "Old Argument" (and which everyone has their own
distinct way of counting) comes down to how the count (or the foot tap, or the accent, or the
coordination of the foot tap to the melody to the accent) affects playing a reel.

I have no problem with players tapping 2 beats for a reel. I have no problem with players tapping 4 beats.
I do both. I’ve seen each. I’ve seen both.

Now for my feeble attempt to illustrate [with SHEET MUSIC] how "cut-time" {not 2/2; but cut time} is written.
I am hoping to drive home the point that cut-time "is" exhilirating, not stately. Pardon my french, but I’m not talking about a stately piece of music. This is not common time, it is alla breve!

If you want to tap your foot 4Xs for cut time I could care less. If you want to write reels out in 4/4 and
beam four quavers in 2 groups per measure… Grand! You’re in good company.

But if you want to see examples of cut time have a look at the link below. Just don’t complain to me if you
don’t like what you see. I think Wikipedia has something to take care of that. YMMV
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alla_breve#/media/File:Cut_time_as_4-4.png

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