Zeeto The Bubbleman reel

By Gordon Duncan

Also known as Zeto The Bubbleman, Zito The Bubbleman.

There are 10 recordings of this tune.

Zeeto The Bubbleman has been added to 7 tune sets.

Zeeto The Bubbleman has been added to 113 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Two settings

X: 1
T: Zeeto The Bubbleman
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:e2|A2ed deAA|edde g4|B2ed deBB|edde BedB|
A2ed deAA|edde g2eg|a2ge degd|deA2 A2:|
|:e2|A2ag gaee|agga eega|B2ed deBB|edde BedB|
A2ag gaee|agga eega|B2ed degd|deA2 A2:|
|:dc|B2fe fBdc|Bffd eecB|A2ed eAdc|Aeed aacd|
B2fe fBdc|Bffd eecB|A2ed effe|cdB2 B2:|
|:de|fBBe ~d3B|fBBe ~d3B|eAAd ~c3A|eAAd ~c3A|
fBBe ~d3B|fBBe ~d3B|eA~A2 effe|cdB2 B2:|
X: 2
T: Zeeto The Bubbleman
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmix
|:A2|D2dc cdAA|dccd AAcd|E2AG GAEE|AGGA EAGE|
D2dc cdAA|dccd AAcd|E2AG GAcG|GAD2 D2:|

Twenty-one comments

Zito The Bubbleman

Anyone remember Ceolbeg? This is their version of this Gordon Duncan composition. Modern GHB tunes aren’t usually my kind of thing but there’s something a bit cool about this one. I love the way it goes from Amix into Bmin halfway through the tune.

If you want a transcription with all the pipes ornamentation go here http://cms.westport.k12.ct.us/default/oldzeetostuff/zito/ZitotheBubbleman.bmp. Apart from the ornamentation it’s pretty much the same as the version I transcribed except for bars 3 & 4 of the C part.

I’ve read that this would be classed as a hornpipe amongst pipers. I still don’t really get why it’s not a reel. Can anyone tell me what you’d have to do to this tune to make it a pipe reel? Is it to do with the part endings?


If you knew that many pipers call The Mason’s Apron a hornpipe, would that explain things? Well, obviously not, but it is symptomatic of the issue. There has been discussion on bobdunsire.com (the pipers‘ forum) about this issue but I couldn’t find the thread just now. As I remember, someone came up with the explanation that Pipe Band Competition-style reels had slowed down so much and got so jerky (“pointed”) that when pipers wanted a type of tune that was fast and even (“round”) they ’rediscovered’ the reel, but … called it a hornpipe …

I would call this one a reel too.

And the Clumsy Lover - that’s another one I’ve heard people call a hornpipe. I had this issue last time I submitted a similar tune - the Kitchenpiper, which just seemed like a reel to me.

Hmm. I’m with you on this one, Matt, and as far as I’m concerned you know what you’re talking about, so I think I’m going to be decisive here and go with my instincts. I’m going to change this one and the Kitchenpiper back to “reel” until someone can give me a convincing argument why they should be classed as hornpipes in terms of structure etc.


I just found that thread Matt was talking about http://www.bobdunsire.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=106542&page=41#Post106542. I think it’s worth cut & pasting the contents here, actually:


#106542 - 04/16/06 02:09 AM
Horn pipes

Iain Hamilton McLean
Registered: 01/14/05
Posts: 67
Loc: Burbank, CA

It’s sunday morning and the TV’s got bugger all on as usual… So here’s something some of you will probably get a good rant on..

Why have competition horn pipes emulated irish reels in recent times? They were once termed ‘Horn Pipes’ and are now just hornpipes. Few modern compositions really get the bounce of the older tunes. Michael Grey is probably the nearest to the mark thinking off-hand. Listen to an old solo recording of hornpipe/jig compared to a new one and see the diference. Failing that listen to some folky musician like Natalie MacMaster and the difference is masive between the reel and hornpipe.

Now you’re probably all going to go into realms of seventeenth century 3/2 pastorals, English clog dances, clarinets, Handel’s water music and chalumeau’s; but that’s up to you. I’m just thinking in simplified terms of musical expression.

Any thoughts all you lot? Let the rumblin’s commence!

#106543 - 04/16/06 09:48 AM
Re: Horn pipes

Registered: 09/10/05
Posts: 2466
Loc: WV to “The OC”

It’s an interesting question, that is, just when did the fad of composing tunes in even (as opposed to dotted) rythm and calling them “hornpipes” begin in the GHB world? Scottish as well as Irish hornpipes were dotted and played with a bouncy feel and lent themselves to having triplets thrown in here and there, due to having an underlying triplet feel in spite of being written in 2/4 or 4/4 (cf Bulgarian “pravo” which sounds like a jig but is written in 2/4). Did the “round” or “even” so-called hornpipes start with Donald MacLeod? I know some of his “hornpipes” were notated in even time, though I have heard them played both dotted and even. You’re right, that once you take the dotting out of a “hornpipe” what you are left with are even notes grouped mainly in fours, like an Irish reel (and Scottish reels as played on fiddle, accordion, etc). Perhaps, as GHB players made their reels more and more dotted, to the point that they resembled the traditional hornpipes, a need was felt in the tradition for the now-lacking even metre, which need was met by altering hornpipes. So basically the “reel” and “hornpipe” categories switched in the GHB world while remaining the same in the non-GHB world.

#106544 - 04/16/06 03:21 PM
Re: Horn pipes

Matt Seattle
Registered: 01/05/05
Posts: 361
Loc: Scottish Borders

Yes and no. It’s true that in Irish, Scottish and Northumbrian sessions, hornpipes are ‘dotted’ (not really but spelt that way for shorthand) and reels are even, while in the GHB world it’s the opposite way round, but historically the picture is more complicated. Fiddlers had different styles of playing hornpipes to accompany different dances, some were even (‘Sailor’s’ style) and some were dotted (‘Sand dance’ & ‘Newcastle’ styles). Contemporary practice is generally to play hornpipes dotted, except for GHB players who do things their own way. I have no idea why, you’ll have to ask one.

As for Horn pipes - as two separate words - that spelling was just one of the more bizarrely outlandish things about SG1, which shows that the compilers lived in a different world from the rest of humanity. Another was the way they came up with several different ways to notate the triplet (hubbadah), not one of which manages to even approximate the musical meaning of a triplet… And they have the nerve to keep selling these things without correcting them.

Another thing - a lot of Irish fidders play reels with a bounce too, and if you listen closely to Michael Coleman (e.g.) you’ll even hear an occasional reverse-bounce not unlike a scots snap. Curiouser and curiouser.

I have no idea why it would be a hornpipe rather than a reel but Gordon Duncan called it a hornpipe and that is good enough for me.

More stuff on reels/hornpipes

A google search produced this archived post from the “bagpipe” list pertaining to this exact issue. The general gist of it is that the writer thinks that the confusion has arisen because of a lack of understanding of the original dance forms on the part of modern GHB players. Makes sense I suppose…

Incidentally, there’s also an explanation of the origins of the “bossa nova” style mentioned in the comments section of Neil Dickie’s “Kitchenpiper” https://thesession.org/tunes/2012.


Date: Sat, 30 Oct 1999 07:55:29 GMT
From: pmlerwick@wavetech.net (Royce Lerwick)
Subject: (bagpipe) Re: Scottish music

On Fri, 29 Oct 1999 23:39:09 GMT, alex_young@my-deja.com wrote:

>Scottish fiddlers bend notes. The flat C simply allows you to play
>The category of “horn/reel” (the round hornpipe is
>what we’re talking about, I assume) is simply a reel with 8 bars to the
>measure instead of 4. They’ve been playing them in Ireland and in the
>highlands and islands for years. Calling them hornpipes is rather
>silly I supose.

There *should* be a slight difference however in that construction, which is a bit blurred sometimes in the Irish school, but further blurred by just not understanding any dance tradition in the first place by the GHB bands who picked them up.

The reel is *most traditionally* played in 4/4 with evenly weighted 8th notes. It’s built in it’s olded form, upon 4 bar parts repeated, for a total of 8 bars in each part of the dance. Within this, are phrases built in one bar motifs. You have the first measure, statement, the next measure is like an embellishment of that statement, then a restatement of the first measure, and a summary statment. Four measures, A, B, A, C. A more advanced form of reel construction, maybe more recent, is to write the whole part out in 8 bars with no repeats, and sometimes you have this pattern: A, B, A, C, A, D, A, C, or variations on the entire last three or four bars. To be a reel, this has to be played *round* meaning not really with mechanically even 8ths, and beaten out like a march with military snare strokes. It actually rounds or cheats this and that note to “swing” depending on the melodic emphasis.

Pipe bands who attempt these are almost always beating a march, almost a 2/4 competition march setting which is stiff, constipated, and very un-reel like in any Irish or Shetland sense of the word.

For the hornpipe, the original hornpipe is again in 4/4, but with very pointed accents on the quarter downbeats. These are very slow dances in the Irish, very “sneaky” and “slinky” and subtle. They are built on 8 bar parts repeated. The chief signature of a “real” hornpipe is the last two measures, which invariably wind into the last measure’s finish up “knock knock knock” of the last three quarters. The thematic development is different as well, usually, A, B, C, D, A, B, C variant leading into end, E. (E being the knock, knock, knock.) The first GHB writers put these in 2/4 and played them faster and rounder even than reels, which is bass ackwards.

The confusion arises, divorced from the dances, when you knock the pointing and metric accent out of the hornpipe. The Irish and Shetland players will indeed do this and have for some centuries just for their own enjoyment when not playing for dancers. But you still have, in the case of an actual reel, a different thematic construction which is easily identified, and 8 bars total to the part. For some reason at lest local convention or American convention has decided to play some specific reels with 8 bar parts with repeats for those 8 bars. This is
simply wrong. The part is over, the theme is wrapped up at the end of 8 measures. The dance part is over at the end of 8 measures. But, when you do this, now you have 8 bars that look sort-of like a hornpipe to people who aren’t musically very literate anyway, meaning the GHB crowd at least, who have no notion that these tunes were ever *designed* to be danced to and barely read music or at least comprehend any theory or pattern behind it.

Enter Ontario, and the “Canadian” hornpipe, which was “rounded” but not really “round.” It was “boxed off.” This, meaning a very hammered-out, militant march groove--or anti-groove--was stuck onto it and very mechanical, disciplined evenness, to come up with the ubiquitous “hornmarch” that everyone goes into the circle with these days, and then apparently continues on with for the next 7 minutes.

The third confusion comes both from Canada, or should I say American DCI or “Drum Corps International” field bands, and the efforts of Mathieson and Kilpatrick, who have proselytized the “bossa nova” beat and tempo into these squared-off hornpipes and reels. Because the emphasis then falls upon the Afro Cuban, and mostly the Latin end of that, groove, the tempo, like the march version is not particularly fast or at least doesn’t have to be very fast, as the tune is not actually rounded off and sped up and allowed to swing on its own. This is not to say the bossa nova beat won’t groove with a good Irish or
Shetland reel, just that because this discipline is coming not from Gaelic sources, but American/Canadian (Canadienne?) marching band and Latin percussion schools, again, the original Irish or Gaelic fluidness is not usually brought out.

In summary, in their original forms, there are distinct differences between hornpipes and reels, very easily identified. Because the GHB world still doesn’t understand what those original forms were, they are being played in random ways that seem entirely generic. (And the Scots Guards settings are at least a generation away from the original forms mind you.)

>And further more, who is to say what is and what is
>not “of the Scottish idiom?” Was Joyce criticized for not being "Of
>the Irish Literary idiom?" Any vibrant cultural tradition will of
>course have reactionary elements and innovative elements. The
>synthesis of the two is what is carried on to future generations.
>Sure, there are some wacky tunes being written today. But there are
>some really good ones as well.

And the wacky ones range from circus music, like “Bass Face,” or “The Sting in the Tale,” which are ostenstibly pretty conventional Irish style reels, but melodically written to evoke the subliminal expectation of a very small car pulling up and about 36 clowns piling out of it, or perhaps a dancing bear to come rolling in on a big ball, to Rigler’s, “Walking the Plank” or Mary Ann MacKinnon’s “Steam Train to Mallaig,” both of which are showpieces lifted right out of the DCI school, and represent a more significant trend toward American stle
percussion than I’d ever thought would develop in the GHB Academy.

I do enjoy these truly newer and innovative tunes, but often worry that they are preferred out of ignorance more than preference. I think that’s a bit of a shame, because the reason these tunes are getting written is almost as if because the percussion or players don’t really understand or even know about in some cases, the Irish or Gaelic dance/percussion grooves that really make the tunes work, they’re doping up the tunes and writing a-traditional “pieces” that work with percussion and contemporary grooves that they do understand.


(And all jokes aside, I think every GHB drummer ought to have to serve some sort of public service duty for a year with a really good bodhran player. Then it would all make sense.)

“I have no idea why it would be a hornpipe rather than a reel but Gordon Duncan called it a hornpipe and that is good enough for me.”

Well, he might have been calling it a hornpipe because all the other GHB players were calling similarly structured modern compositions “hornpipes”, so he just went along with it, even though they’re really reels. Who knows? Convention and tradition are strange things…

Anyway, for now I’m happy to go along with the “reel” consensus-of-sorts.

Another thing that occurs to me is the question of emphasis. These tunes don’t particularly suggest any backbeat emphasis in the way that Irish reels often do with their short rolls on the backbeat in phrases like BG~G2 DG~G2|BGdG BG~G2. Like traditional Scottish hornpipes, tunes like Zito seem to be structured more around and emphasis on the 1st beat of the bar, so you could get away with counting “ONE two three and ONE two three and”. Maybe this is why the modern pipers chose to call them “hornpipes” instead of “reels”. On the other hand, if that’s the case, then I’m still stumped by the aforementioned “Auld Pipe Reel”, which also has that “ONE two three” thing happening. Hmmm. Oh well…

Dow, IMO your own original thoughts are right enough. GHB is my first instrument and I’ve heard many a discussion on the matter. To me, Zito and similar ARE reels. It’s just that they occupy a grey area. This tune for example is only slightly pointed as opposed to pipe hornpipes like Train Journey North or Crossing the Minch which are swung more like an Irish hornpipe. The later two are often played for a Canadian Barndance sometimes along with 2/4 pipe marches whereas Zito, Masons Apron and Kitchenpiper would be played for a reel.

But what about pointed reels? Pointed reels seem to take on a different rhythmic quaility when played at pace which appeals to some people whereas Crossing the Minch is pretty horrible played to fast. Clear as mud? It’s a bit like how most Irish reels are written completely round but the use of the ears and knowledge of the tune type is needed.

Mmmmm. Sorry if that’s no help at all, but I would say GD played it more like a reel an I would definately list Zito as such.

Thanks for your input, bogman. You pipers use some funny terminology. “Pointed”? “Round”? ???

Pointy and round

Oops, aye sorry. I’m sure you know what I mean Dow, but for others who may be confused by daft bagpipe speak - Pointed would be e.g. a group of say four notes with two doted and two cut, or variations of that. Rounded would mean e.g. a group of four equal quavers.

“Zito” was the name of a street performer in Spain, hence the name Zito The Bubbleman 🙂

Soo… What about the repeats?

After reading this thread, I look back to zito and say, “Well is zito a hornpipe due to the repeated 8 bar structure, or is it a bastardized reel due to its intended rhythm? If it is a reel, should the repeats be dropped?”

I renamed the tune based on what’s printed in Gordon’s book in front of me, and moved “Zito” to the alternative title.

Re: Zeeto The Bubbleman

Very similar @Dr. Tøm

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