What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

I mean besides the fact that one’s better…

I’m just kidding, but, all joking aside, what is the difference? because I honestly can’t tell them apart. Can we even distinguish the two? I’m just curious.

Thanks!

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Well, one is Irish and one is Scottish.
Some would say this dictates how piss drunk you have to be to play them correctly, but I’m just a dumb Murikan!
Kelly, do you want to join the dumb Murikan club? We have bud light and orange juice?

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Nah I’ll stick to my plastic paddy club. We have whiskey, Anger, and really cool tweed caps. Much better in my opinion.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Scottish jigs are Protestant, Irish jigs Catholic!

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Can Jigs have a religion?

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

There are certainly some tunes that are associated with the Ulster-Scots Protestant identity. There is no real difference between the tunes, but I have noticed Scottish jigs tend to be in Amix a lot, which is nice, this is no doubt due to the bagpipe influence. Apart from that it’s hard to notice any differences, lots of tunes come to Ireland from Scotland and get absorbed into the Irish repertoire and vice versa, the line on the origin of tunes gets very blurry, unless it’s source has been documented.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Out of 600 odd tunes in the early 19th century Winder collection (and other English collections), over half are jigs, including many claimed as Irish. Our traditional music did not used to be as polarised as it is now.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

These days, maybe not that much.

However, I think the older Scottish jigs seem to have a slightly more sedate feel about them.

In fact, I’ve just checked out the notes in "A Fiddler’s Book of Scottish Jigs"

"Scotland’s traditional dance jigs have a delicacy and charm not so often to be found in the 6/8 melodies of other nations"
Charles Gore Taynuilt 1997

A lot of this is maybe due to the style of playing and also that many fiddlers were employed by "well do to" members of the nobility and other establishment figures of the time who were their patrons. So, many tunes would be composed for their benefit and named after mebers of their families and so on.
They would also play in "High Society" circles, in large ballrooms and the like.

Of course, many jigs have also come from the piping tradition and these are different again. Also, there rural and regional variations.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

I agree that Scottish jigs are more genteel or sedate, but I also think of them as being a bit more relaxed about timing. Irish jigs tend to be relentless strict 6/8, whereas in Scotland the triplets might get swung a bit, and you get more crochets and dotted crochets thrown in, where an Irish player would break them down into triplets to keep the rhythm going.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Yes, it’s a lot to do with the style of playing too.
Scottish fiddlers generally tend to use longer bow strokes, fewer slurs and so on.

Again, I’m generalising as there are different regional styles too and the more modern V more traditional.

At one extreme, when Strathspey and Reel societies play Irish jigs, it’s case of
"It’s Irish music Jim, but not as we know it…."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPVqS3zd3kY


:-P

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

If it’s in 6:8 and it’s Scottish, it may not be a jig at all. It might be a two-step…..
https://thesession.org/discussions/42523
Tom

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Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Is it two-steps, or jigs played as two-steps, that occasionally have the rhythm of the first half of a bar ‘reversed’, quaver-crochet. Or is that just something that Scottish players of jigs do?

(or sometheing else)

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Sorry, second half of bar. ta-ti-da di dee

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

I think that tunes played for two-steps in Scotland are more likely to be 6/8 pipe marches than jigs, since the two-step normally goes at a slower pace. Another feature of Scottish jigs and 6/8 marches is that first eighth note in a group of three is often played shorter. I suspect this may be analogous to the Scots snap that figures in strathspeys.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Scottish music swings…the rhythms are more dotted even if they are not written that way

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Coming to Scottish music through the Cape Breton tradition, I am bemused by the idea of Scottish jigs being innately ‘genteel or sedate’. The degree of gentility or sedateness depends on the way they are played.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIs5tyOtJzw&list=PL2B140A87D3310B23&index=182&t=0s


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDtelRMgF9A&list=PL2B140A87D3310B23&index=204&t=0s

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Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Hmm… This would be a HUGE assumption on my part, but it seems to me that the Scottish tradition is more influenced by classical music.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Kellie, I think that’s a fairly accurate assumption. There seems to have been two strands to Scottish music back in the eighteenth century: there has always been oral tradition like the Irish that survived mainly in the highlands and islands, and then expanded with the current resurgence of interest. But in the baroque period in Scotland there was also a fashion amongst the gentry for taking old Scottish airs and melodies and arranging them in parts for a chamber ensemble - typically violin, cello and harpsichord. The tunes themselves were often the same, but the process of arranging them according to the rules of baroque harmony brought with it the classical influence, and a more sedate feel. Today the two strands have largely blurred together, although you can still see some regional styles as having their roots in one camp or the other. A better place to see and appreciate the difference might be in the dancing - the genteel choregraphed Scottish Country dancing of the gentry, and the freer, wilder ceilidh dancing of the oral tradition.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

For me it’s pretty much the same music separated more by regional styles than nationality. I would say the music we play here on the west coast of Scotland has more in common with Donegal and the east coast of Scotland. A generalisation, but most answers to this type of questions are.

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Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Scottish music is more "classically" or baroque influenced due to the church of England and the printing press. At one time, there were more printing presses per capita in Scotland than anywhere else in the world. This was intentional as to help make the population literate so they could read the bible. Unfortunately there was no interest in helping Ireland become literate. Because there were so many printing presses, collections of music and composing became popular, and more classical/baroque music made its way into the entertainment of the day. Ireland remained vastly an illiterate country and their music was handed down from generation to generation via ear vs. written music. There is a lot more prevalence of flat keys in Scottish music because of this same reason.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Sunnybear says "Scottish music is more "classically" or baroque influenced due to the church of England and the printing press".

Well, the Church of *England* has had little to do with Scotland until the Scottish Episcopal Church was founded as an Anglican offshoot at a relatively late stage in history. The Church of *Scotland* and its Presbyterian offshoots indeed had a great interest in education and did a great deal to educate the populace. However, the church(es) did not always approve of traditional music. There are many stories from the Highlands and Islands of ministers encouraging fiddlers to burn their instruments …

I suspect that classical influences came about because of the patronage of the Scottish aristocracy, a factor which is reflected in a huge number of tune names.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

I’m not sure that the printing press had very much to do with it. Although there are printed collections from the time, there are also a lot of hand written folios. I think it was more simply just that the gentry took an interest in the music, and they had the musical education to allow them to write it down and arrange it. As for art music influence (not classical, that came later), the influence was a two way thing - the style of arrangement came from continental Europe to Scotland, but then the Scottish tunes became popular on the continent and there were Scottish collections published in France and Germany in the baroque.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Thanks for the clarification Borderer

Here is a good read about how Beethoven got involved arranging not only Scottish but English and Irish folk songs from the TriovanBeethoven web site:

One of the greatest joys for a music lover is to discover repertoire that one has not yet heard from a composer whose music one believes to be largely familiar with. Beethoven’s folk song settings are truly a treat; this is easily the least familiar and least appreciated realm of his considerable output. What is probably the most striking aspect of these folk song settings is that Beethoven wrote far more of these than any other type of composition, having composed an astounding 179 folk song arrangements spanning a period of eleven years from 1809 to 1820.

An intriguing feature of these folk song settings is that they are almost entirely in English and consist mainly of Scottish, Welsh and Irish songs. This is particularly surprising given that Beethoven never visited the British Isles during his lifetime and had no obvious association with Britain. The reason why this association exists lies with a Scotsman, George Thomson of Edinburgh (1757-1851). There existed at the time in Scotland a movement to collect folk songs with the most notable collections dating back to the early eighteenth century. George Thomson, a civil servant by profession, came on this scene relatively late in the 1790s with the aim to make his collection surpass all previous ones in scope and quality.

Rather than relying on local composers to write the arrangements, Thomson wished to have major figures with international reputations and at first approached Pleyel, Kozeluch and Haydn. These composers did provide numerous settings but eventually all three stopped writing arrangements for Thomson. It was then that he turned to Beethoven. He first made contact with Beethoven in 1803 but did not propose that Beethoven arrange folk song settings for him until 1806, about which time he sent Beethoven a collection of 21 un-texted traditional melodies. Herein lies the beginning of an intriguing collaboration.

Beethoven’s first reply is dated 1 November 1806. It discusses various proposals and shows that the composer knew full well that ‘Mr. Haydn was given a British pound for each air’. It was 1809, though, before Beethoven finally agreed to collaborate, with the first batch of settings – 53 in all – completed in July 1810. Sending these consignments back and forth from Edinburgh and Vienna when the Napoleonic wars were at their height proved to be immensely difficult. Beethoven originally sent three copies by different routes and then another a year later. None reached Thomson until about July 1812 and when it finally did, it appears to have been sent via Malta! Beethoven later found that sending shipments to Edinburgh via Paris proved to be the most effective route. The most difficult link in the chain was the English Channel. The only way of sending consignments at the time was to enlist the aid of smugglers.

For many songs Beethoven was not sent the intended text, which often was not yet written, as Thomson commissioned contemporary Scottish poets, principally Robert Burns, to write new verses to the original airs. There are many possible reasons for this - not least a publisher’s desire to avoid verses in Scots dialect, to remove verses that have a coarse, vulgar meaning, or to modernize the poetry by referring to contemporary political events and or people. Beethoven repeatedly demanded the texts from Thomson, however, arguing that he could not compose proper arrangements without them.

As Barry Cooper points out in his book Beethoven’s Folksong Settings, Beethoven described his settings as compositions, which suggests that he took the commissions seriously. Responding to one of Thomson’s many requests that he simplify his accompaniments, Beethoven placed the settings implicitly on a level with his other works when he testily declared:
“I am not accustomed to retouching my compositions; I have never done so, certain of the truth that any partial change alters the character of the composition. I am sorry that you are the loser, but you cannot blame me, since it was up to you to make me better acquainted with the taste of your country and the little facility of your performers.”

Beethoven’s arrangements are ingenious. The violin and cello parts are designed to be optional, but they are no simple reproduction of the piano part. They are sufficiently independent so as to add interest when used, while detracting nothing when omitted. Another is that the folk settings required Beethoven to work with modal harmonizations in a classical context, sometimes using drone basses which are suggestive of a bagpipe, yielding some strikingly beautiful results. These settings display tremendous energy in the faster settings and haunting expressiveness in the slower ones, combining rich textures and innovative harmonization with delightful variety.

Publications of the Irish (1814, 1816), Welsh (1817) and Scottish (1818) settings failed to sell well. Thomson lamented that, ‘He composes for posterity’, that they were too elevated and difficult for the intended public. Nevertheless, he continued to reissue earlier songs, as well as publish a few new ones, right up to the 1840s, but never with much commercial success. Perhaps this is why they sank into obscurity.

Why did Beethoven devote such a substantial proportion of his compositional output to these settings? The available evidence shows that financial gain was not Beethoven’s primary motivation. Of all the reasons put forth, the one suggested by Barry Cooper resonates most strongly, namely that ‘he was tapping into the immortality of time-honoured songs from the past, so as to create with Thomson a folk song monument for future generations’.



Ludwig van Beethoven - list of all 179 folksong arrangements
25 Scottish songs for voice and piano trio, Opus 108
25 Irish songs for one or two voices and piano trio, WoO 152
20 Irish songs for one or several voices and piano trio, WoO 153
12 Irish songs for one or several voices and piano trio, WoO 154
26 Welsh songs for one or two voices and piano trio, WoO 155
12 Scottish songs for one or several voices and piano trio, WoO 156
12 songs of diverse nationalities for voice and piano trio, WoO 157
23 songs of diverse nationalities for one or several voices and piano trio, WoO 158a
7 popular English songs for one or several voices and piano trio, WoO 158b
6 songs of diverse nationalities for one or several voices and piano trio, WoO 158c
11 uncatalogued settings

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Austin, which jigs are you listening to to bring you to ask your question?

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Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Well there’s "The Rose amang the Heather" which I assume is Scottish and then there is "The Humours of Glendart" Which I’m guessing is more Irish. I could be wrong though.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Both Irish, as far as I know, assuming you’re talking about two jigs. [ In Scotland and Cape Breton we have a strathspey called "The Rose Amang The Heather" ]. More to the point would be, who are you listening to playing them ?

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Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

You know Kenny that’s a good point. I guess I didn’t take the playing style into account. I just assumed that the Jig was Scottish because of the name. A foolish error on my part… I apologize.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Nothing at all to apologise for, Kellie. Keep playing, and keep on asking questions - we all try to help.

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Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

From what I’ve read the main dance in the Highlands of Scotland was the reel (the figure the dancers move in is called the reel) and it was mostly danced to with tunes likewise called reels.

Then there are reels played "in the Strathspey style" or Strathspey reels as they were called.

I just looked through the Simon Fraser Collection of over 200 Highland tunes collected in the 18th century and there are loads of reels and Strathspeys. The tunes in 6/8, 9/8, 12/8, 3/2, 3/4, and 3/8 are almost always song airs and are marked "slow" or "moderate".

There are only two 6/8 pieces labelled "jig and song", two 6/8 pieces labelled "dance and song" and one 9/8 piece called "moderate jig and song", for a total of five out of 232 tunes.

Many of the old Highland pipe collections contained no jigs, and the most commonly seen ones have names that suggest some sort of Irish connexion in the minds of the Scottish pipers: Cork Hill, Paddy’s Leather Breeches. In 1979 Duncan Johnstone published a collection of Highland pipe music specifically dedicated to jigs and hornpipes (BTW some with titles like "Irish Jig" and "Connaughtman’s Rambles") and for decades now the Hornpipe & Jig medley has been standard in Highland piping competitions, the jigs usually modern Highland pipe compositions but also often borrowed from ITM (Kesh Jig, The Gold Ring).

About the style, years ago it was common in Highland piping to strongly dot & cut jigs, but nowadays a smooth-flowing style more similar to ITM is usually heard. So nowadays I don’t think there’s much difference, with the Highland pipes at least, between an "Irish jig" and a "Scottish jig".

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

The Simon Frazer collection might be misleading, as it is specifically a collection of melodies to Gaelic songs. In I. Johnson’s Collection of Caledonian Dances tunes in 6/8 ,9/8, 12/8, 6/4 and 12/4 outnumber those in common and cut time quite heavily. None of the tunes is identified as being either a jig or a reel, and the dances described with them all follow a set dance pattern that we would think of as a reel today. However, some of the 6/8 and 6/4 tunes are recognizable as tunes we identify as jigs today.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Also, I forgot to mention, I thought I heard somewhere that Scottish jigs tend to end with two Quarter notes. This could be utter hogwash. Just thought I’d bring it up anyway.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Kellie, it would rather be two dotted quarter notes, and in my opinion THAT’s more accurate than your other guess, that "…the Scottish tradition is more influenced by classical music."

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Hmm intriguing. Also yes that’s what I meant. My bad.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Round here the Irish players don’t like jigs. They want to play reels all the time. So an Irish jig is different from a Scottish or English jig in that it doesn’t get played much.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Tut-tut! But having said that, I do remember one of our best Shetland fiddle players, Kevin Mackenzie, saying that there weren’t so many Shetland jigs. But what ones there are, are very good!

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

The Simon Fraser Collection has 53 tunes labelled as Strathspeys and one tune that, from its style and tempo seems obviously to be a Strathspey.

There are 35 tunes in 4/4 called "dances" which are obviously reels, several are specified as "pipe reels".

So nearly ninety dance tunes in 4/4 as opposed to four in 6/8 and one in 9/8.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

In any case here’s Duncan Johnstone himself, of whom it was written

"He has been acclaimed widely and deservedly as King Of The Jigs…"

For sure he did much to popularise jigs in Highland piping.

You can hear the style of jig-playing popular then.

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

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Do Scottish jigs have the "Scotch snap"?

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Depends who’s playing them.

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Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Hmm ok

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Is Scottish Traditional music is more formal?

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

I know it doesn’t sound a good answer but some people play them with what many non Scots call the "Scotch snap", as with the Duncan Johnstone clip above but others play them more rounded. People seem to always want to know the difference between Scottish and Irish music, or define the traditional music of an entire nation as the one single style thing but it’s just not as simple as that.

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Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

In some respects Scottish can be more formal but generally I certainly wouldn’t call it formal. Scottish Country dance music could possibly be described as formal while the closely related Scottish Ceilidh dance much less so. In sessions I don’t see any difference in formality to Irish music. Maybe in other regions people see it differently.

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Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

In Highland piping there’s a wide range, in jigs, reels, and hornpipes, from playing the 8th-notes evenly (which pipers call "round" playing) to doing strong dotting and cutting (which pipers call "pointing").

When tunes are dotted & cut the note-pairs occur either with the dot on the first note, or the cut on the first note, the latter creating the so-called "Scotch snap". So yes "Scotch snaps" can occur, in Highland piping, in Marches, Strathspeys, Reels, Jigs, Hornpipes, and Airs.

Reels can sound almost like Strathspeys, jigs can sound almost like 6/8 marches.

At the other extreme reels and jigs can be played quite "round" and have the flowing effect more akin to Irish music.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Scottish jigs have a lilt/swing to them. The triplets are not equal, but when played there is emphasis on the first note and the time is a bit more than an 8th note. This means that the 2nd note of the triplet gets less time than the 8th note. And the 3rd note of the triplet gets time of the triplet, not more nor less. It evident in the pipe marches. It is virtually impossible to notate this and much of the music notation simply has equal time indication. You have to do a lot of listening to understand how the jigs are to be played.
There are many other subtle differences. The 18th century tunes by Gow, Marshall and others often have 8 bar A, repeated. The the B is 16 bars. Check them out, they are great.
Sylvia Miskoe, Concord NH USA

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Help ma Boab.

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Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

Some Scottish tunes get labelled as jigs, when in fact they started life as dotted 6/8 marches (following on from what Richard Cook said.) The latter do often have "snaps" in them. Some get played both ways, maybe as a more even faster 6/8 jig for dancing jig set dances, and slower, as 6/8 marches ……. for marching(!) but also for dances such as Military and Britannia Two-steps.

Re: What’s the difference between a Scottish Jig and an Irish Jig?

The Scottish Jig is like the Irish step dancing Jig its hoppy and bouncy danced up on your toes.
The term ” the down Jig ” is done in Irish Set Dancing with your leather or leather like shoes sliding on the floor Listen to jigs from a lot of Comhaltas CD’s Matt Cunningham, Killfinora, The Abbey Ceili, Michael Sexton and most of the young bands from Fleadh Cheol,
There are one or two exceptions.