Hop Jigs

Hop Jigs

I’ve been supplying music on button accordion for the last couple years for the local school of Irish Dance(great for improving my playing ). At their last school feis they asked me to play "hop jigs" for one competition and I had to say I didn’t know any(never even heard of them, to be honest). So, they went to the good ol’ cd for this competition. When they did play one hop jig, I couldn’t quite tell the difference between it and a regular jig. Is there a difference? Is it a different time signature like 12/8 ? And could anyone recommend any for me to learn for the next feis? Rob

Re: Hop Jigs

The term "hop jig" can be synonymous with "slip jig" depending on who you talk to. Slip jigs are in 9/8 whereas double jigs are in 6/8.

A hop jig can also mean something slightly different than a slip jig. I think you play a hop jig slightly quicker with and put more emphasis on the first note of each triplet than you would on a slip jig. But it’s still in 9/8. I am sure more knowledgeable people than me can write a novel on this, but it gets quite academic.

Re: Hop Jigs

The difference between a slip jig and a hop jig is very controversial. I’d rather shut up and play….

Re: Hop Jigs

Hop Jigs have more 1/4 - 1/8 pairs whereas the Slip jig has groups of three 1/8 notes and both are in 9/8.
However Hop Jig means somehting else nowadays to dancers. Because of the difference meantioned above I dare say it is safe to say that the Hop Jig may be played faster.

Re: Hop Jigs

mellow_bellows - Beware! According to Zina Lees’s comments in the thread to which Laitch refers above, what some dancers call a ‘hop jig’ is actually a *single jig* - in 12/8, not 9/8. Zina is one of a rare breed - a dancer and musician rolled into one - so she should be listened to.

Perhaps you should learn a couple of each type of tune (9/8 and 12/8) play them to the dancing teacher and see which they think sounds right.

Re: Hop Jigs

The hop jig and the slip jig are both named for particular dances with distinctive steps. These dances were mostly invented by professional itinerant dancing masters in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

There is no reason to assume that particular dances, danced in different parts of the country, and called hop jigs or slip jigs because of prominent steps, were necessarily identical in rhythm from one place to another. The same holds true today. Hence the modern confusion.

It _is_ possible to describe with relative certainty what musicians and dancers in a particular community considered a "hop jig" during a particular period in its history.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in south Sligo, for example, the hop jig was a dance in 9/8 time with distinctive emphasis on the first beat in each bar. The slip jig was also in 9/8, but with different rhythm and steps.

The hop jig in that area dated from the days when music was played predominantly by professional itinerant musicians, many of them blind: the nineteenth century up until the generation after the Famine.

As professional musicians disappeared in the Famine’s wake and the era of country house dances began—in which music was mostly played by local farmers—both the hop jig and the slip jig passed into relative obscurity, and the number of such tunes in local musicians’ repertoires dwindled. Nevertheless the hop jig and slip jig were still danced in South Sligo into the early 20th century.

In the words of Michael Gorman in an interview with Peter Kennedy, "The hop jig is used for … country dancing, and the slip jig is used for … individual dancing — step dancing."

Some fiddlers would play slip jigs while dancing to their own music as a feat. This probably dated back to the pre-Famine dancing masters who competed for the right to teach in a townland by performing steps and feats.

One slip jig in Gorman’s repertoire he called "Jamesy Gannon’s", because he learned it—probably around 1907—from his fiddle teacher, Jamesy Gannon (1844-1934) of Chiplin, Chafpool . This appears to be a variant of a tune sometimes called "The Foxhunter’s".

Michael Coleman, a second cousin of Gorman and an associate of Gannon’s—whom Gorman claimed was a source for much of Coleman’s music—recorded "The Foxhunter’s". Its relation to Gannon’s tune is evident.

Both Coleman and Gorman could dance a slip jig while playing it.

One hop jig in Gorman’s repertoire he called "Michael Coleman’s". This tune lacks the "diddly" rhythm usually associated with "slip jigs", and clearly audible in "Gannon’s" and "The Foxhunter’s". It’s easier to listen to than to describe, but agrees with Donough’s description fairly well, though it is not played particularly fast.

Several recordings of Gorman playing these tunes are available. Fiddler Jimmy Power, who knew Gorman in London, also recorded "Coleman’s" as "Coleman’s Favourite".

Most of this information is cribbed from Reg Hall’s fascinating and extensive liner notes to The Sligo Champion. For those who are into history, it makes interesting reading.

For those not into history, however, the question "what is a hop jig?" is much less academic.

If playing with other musicians, one doesn’t need to know how contemporary scholars or nineteenth-century farmers in a particular townland might classify a tune to play it properly.

And if playing for dancers who ask for "a hop jig", all that is necessary is to ask them to lilt an example of what they mean.

I suppose, mellow, you could try learning "Coleman’s hop-jig" and ask the dancers if it’s what they want. But unfortunately the likelihood that it _is_ what they want is probably small.

If they can’t lilt an example, maybe ask to hear their CD.

Re: Hop Jigs

Well, after a little research here at the session, I found out the tune they used for the Hop Jig was a jig called Andy Dejarlis , in 6/8 time. It is not in the time signature I expected, but I guess it must be suitable for them. I knew I had heard it on Dervish, Playing with Fire, a while back, so I started my search there. As you suggested, Spoon, and Tom Sawyer I’ll listen to what they have been using from their CD collection , try some of my tunes,and see what fits. As for "Andy Dejarlis", it will be my first tune in the key of E on the BC box.
Thanks for help, everyone


Re: Hop Jigs

A hop jig is to a slip jig as a slide is to a jig. So you might say a hop jig is in 18/8 time.