What are highland?

What are highland?

Apart from being an area in Scotland.

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Are they the same as flings?

I associate them with Northern Ireland and Donegal?

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Thanks Jerry, beautiful music and playing.

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check out early Altan cd’s - shedloads of highlands!

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‘Highland’, it seems to me, is predominantly a Donegal term, and refers to the Donegal interpretation the strathspey - usually a bit ‘swingier’ and less ‘snappy’ than a Scottish strathspey. Some are actual adaptations of Scottish strathspeys, others are composed in a similar style or rhythmically adapted from reels or hornpipes. ‘Fling’ (occasionally ‘highland fling’) is more common in other parts of Ireland - but they tend to be even further removed in style from their Scottish origins.

A highland and reel by Ciarán Ó Maonaigh https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1i6mrwZj0o

A fling by Willie Clancy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP5_9A8P47o

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…and, of course, the dancing is where it all starts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnWMoReuIFk


One key thing that distinguishes a highland from a 16-bar reel (which some of the less snap-and-triplet-laden ones can resemble) is a strong quadruple (4/4) pulse, as opposed to the duple (2/2) pulse of a reel.

Re: What are highland?

If you’ll notice carefully Ciarán Ó Maonaigh. Beats 4 to the floor on both highland and reel . Great lift in his playing . IMO This whole 2 beats thing is just an Internet myth that stems from classical musicians misunderstanding what is happening !! Either that or he’s playing the reel wrong ?! Common time …. the most common form of music is in 4/4 !! Indisputably . What are the must common form of traditional dance tunes …. reels QED .
the strathspey developed from the reel and the highland from the strathspey . One wonders how the metric change occurred!! It didn’t , it’s rythmic changes , not metric .

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"If you’ll notice carefully Ciarán Ó Maonaigh. Beats 4 to the floor on both highland and reel."

Actually, I beg to differ. He stomps on all 4 beats in the highland (albeit more stringly on 1 and 3). In the reel, he stomps consistently on 1 and 3; beats 2 and 4 are kind of ‘phantom’ stomps, his foot appearing hardly or never to hit the floor (at least, not audibly). But how he taps his foot is not really proof of anything - he might just get fewer taps in on the reel because it is faster and more exhausting for the leg.

As for time signatures (and all aspects of notation) in traditional music, they are descriptive, not prescriptive - and only very crudely descriptive at that. So it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference (to me, at least) whether a highland is notated in 4/4 and a reel in 2/2 or vice versa. What I *hear* is a strong quadruple pulse in the highland and a dominant emphasis on beats 1 & 3 in the reel.

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“ Descriptive not prescriptive” well I’d agree with you but I’d say a majority in Highland piping wouldn’t !
A beat is exactly that , its where the foot beats , it’s not some hidden esoteric secret terminology ! It’s basic and earthy . Roots .
However they are notated is as we agree for us individually fairly irrelevant but for people learning from these sources , written , it’s actually quite important !!
Granted that’s why people who only learn from written sources are not known for the quality of their playing but still if the foot beats 4 beats a bar then the drive is there, the lift , the excitement from the speed , the push . Even if as you note the 2 weak beats on 2 and 4 are minor compared to the strong 1 and medium 3 ….. it all adds up .

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"Granted that’s why people who only learn from written sources are not known for the quality of their playing…"

There’s an all encompassing generalisation of a time bomb that condemns the majority of musicians in the world.

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Not at all Allan, can you name one toprate musician who learns just from notation without listening to the genre or being immersed in it for decades?
As regards majority , that’s highly unlikely !! I’d say the great majority do not learn from notation and certainly not without listening and being familiar with the genre !!

Rather than commenting on what you think I meant , consider what I actually said …

Re: What are highland?

You didn’t mention genres, at all.
There are millions of players who learn from sheet music, who are top rate.
There are traditional players who receive a formal musical education who can play the rest of us under the table. They can play in a traditional idiom, play in ensembles, in orchestras. They can read tunes and arrangements off the paper. That what the majority of professional musicians do, thats how you have a successful career.

Traditional players who learn by ear are probably in a minority now (I think). Traditional players make up a minority of all players.

Btw; I only read what you write, I dont hear what you say.

caio.

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"people who only learn from written sources"

Actually, very few musicians do that either. They still "listen" and pick up other skills even subconsciously. Obviously, they will do this even more so with traditional music.

"Traditional players who learn by ear are probably in a minority now"

I doubt that.
If you had said "who learn *exclusively* by ear", then I might be inclined to agree.
Of course, most players these days will also learn tunes from "the dots" but will still have a good grounding, or will develop same, in "ear learning" too.

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"Common time …. the most common form of music is in 4/4 !! Indisputably . What are the must
common form of traditional dance tunes …. reels QED ."
Repeating it is not proof, Mr. Evans. You may have a better argument, but this isn’t it. However it’s an improvement from,"This whole 2 beats thing is just an Internet myth that stems from classical musicians misunderstanding what is happening !! "

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I said “that’s why people who only learn from written sources are not known for the quality of their playing…"”
Operative word ; only.

The most common forms of music are in 4/4 . That is why it is called common time.this is indisputable as I said. You wish to disputes that basic fact? ! I don’t think so!
The most common traditional tunes are reels. Do you wish to dispute that?!
Is there anything in that statement you actually wish to disagree with?
These are self evident facts.
Perhaps you’d like to,provide some examples of music forms indisputably in 2/2 ? Are there any?! Some examples we can listen to and compare with reels……
There is nothing uncommon about reels, in Irish Scottish and American they abound.
There was a definition of cut time, I found quite convincing. Basically that Cut common time is 4/4 played fast enough to give the illusion of 2 beats per bar…..
Operative word; illusion.

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Mr. Evans, I’m still having difficulty sorting your words. When you refer to those who only (your operative term) learn music from notation are you equating that statement with the "classical musicians" misunderstanding what is happening *because* those musicians (classical) **only** learn music from notation?
Ben

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"There are traditional players who receive a formal musical education who can play the rest of us under the table. ". Please provide a list.

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Granted that’s why people who only learn from written sources are not known for the quality of their playing…"

It’s not such a complicated statement? What do you find difficult to understand Ben? I mean no more than I say, and no less. Think about the words a bit more and perhaps the meaning will become aparent or are you just stirring the pot …..

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Will, I was more or less concurring with you and my comments on both quotes were more for Allan’s benefit.

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"There are traditional players who receive a formal musical education who can play the rest of us under the table. "

Some may do but I’d suggest that the formal musical education is mostly incidental as far as their involvement in actual traditional music is concerned. It will certainly help them to do additional "fancy" things, play with orchestras(as Alan says), compose arrangements, read/transcribe music and so on. They may be more "innovative" and, arguably, be able to take the music in a new direction(If that is considered to be a good thing?). However, these extra skills won’t necessarily make them better exponents of traditional music itself.

A few months ago, I attended a concert where they highlighted two young duos who were studying at the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow(I know this relates to Scottish music but the principles are much the same).
The first duo had just enrolled and played a perfect set of traditional tunes in a simple natural style which, in my opinion, couldn’t be bettered. The second duo were in the final year of their course and also played an excellent set but with a lot of "clever" arrangements and so on.

To be honest, I much preferred listening to the first duo. However, that’s not to say I don’t enjoy more innovative and even experimental approaches to the music but it needs to be to my taste. So, it may or may not work for me.

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I’m in agreement with you there Johnny regarding simplicity of approach and more complex ‘ fancy’ arrangements , (and for that matter many modern fancy virtuosic tunes that are short on melody !)
I much prefer the more earthy renditions and feel that some modern trad has , in recent years , taken an approach that reminds me of art music . Granted the players have technical ability of the highest order but what and how they chose to play doesn’t interest me personally in the slightest. I’d much rather listen to a simple tune with a strong melody than a complex feat of technical brilliance , without much in the way of actual tune !!
Fair play to the people for writing and playing their music , but could we not return to the basics a bit and celebrate fundamental composition skills with tunes that will fit in the lexicon for hundreds of years , rather than pieces that don’t make it much past the latest album launch !

Yes I understood your posts earlier and was responding to AB , Ben .

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"but could we not return to the basics a bit and celebrate fundamental composition skills with tunes that will fit in the lexicon for hundreds of years* , rather than pieces that don’t make it much past the latest album launch ! "
Couldn’t agree more.

* like this fella…. https://youtu.be/y-i6h35CAH0

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Re: What are highland?

No, I won’t be naming names. I don’t see any benefit in exposing my favourite musicians to scorn.

A failure to expand our musical horizons will lead to its demise. Preserving the tradition in aspic and rejecting generational pressure will lead to stagnation.

Seek out innovators, encourage popular young performers, learn new tunes rather than slavishly counterfeiting old and obscure ones.

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How about one ? You made a statement, if you can’t back it up, then people can draw their own conclusions.
" encourage popular young performers, …" Why only "popular" ?

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No. I won’t turn your attention on someonelse. People can think what they like. As they always do.

Popular: because they do something that draws wider attention and pulls in new interest. It might not be "pure" but is novel and exciting.

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"novel and exciting." Example ?

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The monkey throws a deafie.

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Kenny, are you baiting allan21?

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Anyhow we’ve drifted from subject! Highlands and strathspeys and there heritage as reels! There’s a new thread where we can discuss this other subject.

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Will, no bother. I’ll assume you are equating your two statements.

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Finally listened to the video of Ciarán Ó Maonaigh, Creadur. Cheers, he is brilliant. I wouldn’t make too much of his foot pulse though. Better to listen to his playing. I appreciate your interpretation of the distinctions in his playing. That’s about how I hear him playing the tunes also.

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Re: What are highland

I beg to differ. To me his foot/leg tends to match his emphasis. Less so later on in the reel but as CMO suggests it probably gets tiring at that tempo.

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I am probably not alone in believing that what music *sounds like* takes priority over everything else.

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CMO
I absolutely agree.

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In dance music I can’t not hear a players ‘dancing foot’. His stomping varies, more and less subtly, throughout.

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A planetary-science / geology definition of "highland" simply means areas of land that are of high elevation. Everybody else already explained what kind of tune a "highland" is. Some really good examples of highlands can be found in most Altan recordings. That group really has a thing for highlands…

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Yes, CreadurMawnOrganig, you are not.

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Re: What are highland?

If you have a listen to the new cd by Eamonn Coyne, John Doyle and Dermot Byrne, Liag, you’ll hear loads of Highlands.