Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

I’ve noticed this increasing tendency at sessions to play slides with jigs. The most common example is The Road To Lisdoonvarna played into Morrison’s Jig. While both are written in 6/8, the dancers will kill you if you do this. I know this is session wrecking (to a very mild extent)… I’ll admit that I have, on occasion, done this.
My question: When do people get away with playing Jigs and Slides together?

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

Well… all I can say is, I don’t know when a slide isn’t a jig if the slide is played slowly. I think I can usually tell if a jig isn’t a slide even though it’s being played fast. Isn’t the difference between 6/8 and 12/8 the phrasing, which can be left up to interpretation at least some of the time?

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

When I started into playing ITM these were the first two tunes I learned after listening to "Em Jigs" by Tullamore (Kansas City area band). Since then, I’ve played Swallowtail Jig/Road To Lisdoonvarna/Morrison’s Jig as a set but there aren’t any dancers in my area so it’s never been a problem. I suppose that the conjunction between the slide and the jig might disqualify the set as trad but they do make for an exciting and melodic combination.

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

Few modern players of Irish music know anything about playing for dancing, I’m afraid.

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

some slides are more ‘slidey’ than others - in England its not unusual to play less slidey tunes like Dingle Regatta or Kiss the Quaker for 48 bar dances, ie Waves of Tory [yes i’ve done it] but generally speaking slides and jigs dont mix without radically changing the tempo

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

Monty, when you mentioned that dancers will kill you if you combine slides and jigs which form of dance
were you thinking of? If I’m playing for step dancers I usually stay with the same rhythm/tune type. I’m less familiar with playing for group dances but when I have I don’t think we have ever changed the tune type.

Having said that, the bulk of my playing for dancers has been to set the rhythm for a single type of dance or single figure. What I don’t have is experience playing a dance with more than one "figure". I’m assuming in set dances, with more figures, that the tunes are determined completely differently (each one fits the particular dance figure) than how one decides the next tune in an instrumental "set" of tunes.

From my perspective the choice of tunes with dancers is very closely connected with the dance. But in a session (one without dancers) it’s about tune sets; which can be considered in more ways than just what musicians would play for dancers.

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Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

Thanks. It’s good to know that sliding jigs isn’t a complete attack on the tradition.
Any thoughts on the session-wreckers who play jigs and slip-jigs together?

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

Which tradition, Monty?

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Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

Several years ago we were in Phoenix Arizona and a friend took us to an "Irish Pub" (it had actually been moved from Ireland and reassembled there!) And there was a wild group playing there that night (don’t remember their group name,) but the fiddler started playing "Road to Lisdoonvarna" and he danced around the pub and went seamlessly into "Swallowtail Jig" with a rousing finish. We’ve played that as a set ever since with great success. Oh, and one of the band members played a smashing "Oud". Made me get one!

Someone later told us the pub had been torn down for some other urban project… It was great then however! 🙂

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

‘When do people get away with playing Jigs and Slides together?’ - Not in Cork anyways! Slides played with great swing feel really weird next to a jig. It’s like when people go from reels to hornpipes (particularity when the reel is slow and/or the hornpipe is fast) - the players can keep the macrobeats consistent during the switch, which makes the change of tunes possible. But, the microbeats alter slightly, which can cause confusion to varying degrees depending on the context, tempo, and skill levels of the beginners. I’ve heard many Clare people start sets of Slides and Jigs mixed, but def not in Sliabh Luachra - home of the slides and polkas. I’ve heard a few albums that mix hornpipes and reels (Mac Dara’s Ego Trip), but most often, I’ve heard the mixing of hornpipes/reels and jigs/slides in the USA where I first learned Irish trad music.

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

The thing is, if you carefully remove all the slideyness out of a slide, then add a tasteful quantity of jiggyness, you’ve usually got yourself a jig that’s at least half alright.

Some tunes that are commonly played as jigs definitely have phrases that sound more slidey to my ears. I hear Seán Buí played as a jig all the time, but it sounds to me like it’s crying out to be played as a slide instead. Likewise The Old Favourite and Merrily Kissed the Quaker’s Wife, and at least a dozen other tunes that I can’t think of off the top of my head.

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

Colman, I frequently hear the Old Favorite [Kilfenora] played as a jig and it seems to
crawl along like a snail on tranqs,
yet I’m fine with playing the Quaker as a 48 jig at at a ceili - odd how individual
perceptions of jigginess/slideyness differ! As i said in my earlier post i guess some slides are slidier than others………….

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

A lot of us haven’t, don’t and won’t play for dancers so it’s pretty much immaterial whether one type of rhythm is played with another in a set. It’s about how the tunes go together if you are just playing for ears or maybe limited by a small shared repertoire.
Mixing up rhythm is one way of preventing a set just becoming meaningless diddley as well. It can all get very samey if everything just moseys on with the same rhythmic patterns, in the same key and with the same kind of musical language in each tune.

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

that’s a shame really Steve because it means the music has become estranged from its original function - what are jigs, reels, polkas etc if not dance music? I play for dancers all the time at ceilis or pub gigs, and feel like i play better for it - at sessions where dancing is not necessarily part of the proceedings, i always find the music lifts if someone does get up to do a few steps.

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

I suppose it is down to taste Christy and what is going on around your area. A few Cape Breton step dancers kicking their heels to a decent set of tunes and yep you’ve got a reason to play dance sets. A wedding party dance Caledonian society style and I’m looking for the door.
You are right though these tunes originate in dance but like so many things the origin is not the present and I don’t think an instrumental session is necessarily any the worse for that ( at least not those that were worth listening to in the first place anyway).

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

If you play a slide exactly like a jig then it’s no longer a slide, it’s a jig, so no problems set-wise or dance-wise. But problems karma-wise: you might find it hard to sleep when the vengeful ghost of Padraig O’Keefe reprimands you by playing scolding slides on his spectral fiddle by your bedside in the dead of night.

Re: Playing Jigs and Slides in Sets

there’s a good example - Padraig O Keefe’s is a particularly ‘slidey’ slide that i would NEVER EVER consider jiggifying!