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Format of Celtic fiddle tunes

Marion 16 Jun 00 - 10:26 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 16 Jun 00 - 10:59 AM
Sorcha 16 Jun 00 - 11:34 AM
paddymac 16 Jun 00 - 01:05 PM
GUEST,Phil Cooper 16 Jun 00 - 01:18 PM
Alice 16 Jun 00 - 01:26 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 18 Jun 00 - 04:34 PM
Noreen 18 Jun 00 - 06:31 PM
Murray MacLeod 18 Jun 00 - 06:47 PM
Noreen 18 Jun 00 - 06:57 PM
p.j. 18 Jun 00 - 07:09 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 18 Jun 00 - 07:22 PM
Malcolm Douglas 18 Jun 00 - 09:21 PM
p.j. 18 Jun 00 - 10:19 PM
Noreen 18 Jun 00 - 11:31 PM
Noreen 18 Jun 00 - 11:41 PM
Sorcha 18 Jun 00 - 11:49 PM
Fiddlin' Big Al 19 Jun 00 - 01:40 AM
Crowhugger 19 Jun 00 - 02:16 AM
Peter K (Fionn) 19 Jun 00 - 07:52 AM
Snuffy 19 Jun 00 - 08:56 AM
Noreen 19 Jun 00 - 11:10 AM
Noreen 19 Jun 00 - 11:14 AM
Peter K (Fionn) 19 Jun 00 - 07:29 PM
Noreen 19 Jun 00 - 07:30 PM
Noreen 19 Jun 00 - 07:35 PM
Noreen 21 Jun 00 - 08:51 PM
GUEST,John Leeder 22 Jun 00 - 05:40 PM
GUEST,John Leeder 22 Jun 00 - 05:42 PM
The Shambles 23 Jun 00 - 01:25 PM
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Subject: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Marion
Date: 16 Jun 00 - 10:26 AM

Hi folks. I've been playing fiddle for almost a year, mostly Irish and Scottish dance music.

I was led to believe that most jigs, reels, and hornpipes consist of an 8 bar "A" part and an 8 bar "B" part, and that you're supposed to play them AABB as many times as seems appropriate.

Most tunes that I find sheet music for seem to fit that format, but increasingly I'm finding tunes that have sections that are only four bars long (or sixteen in one case), or that have more than two sections.

When the sections are other than eight bars long: should I assume that these tunes are supposed to fit the normal format, and play a four bar section four times and a sixteen bar section only once? Or do I treat them as exceptions, and repeat every section twice no matter how long it is?

And when there are more than two sections: do I play AABBCC or AABBCCDD as the case may be, or do I treat the A section as a "theme" and keep going back to it between the other sections? One of my favourites, Maple Sugar, has three parts and I know it's supposed to be played ABACABACA... but it's not Celtic so I don't know if I should generalized that pattern to something like High Road to Linton, which has four parts of four bars each.

Thanks in advance,

Marion


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 16 Jun 00 - 10:59 AM

I personally don't think there is a "standard" format for the tunes. It could be one of two things. Either the author "felt" it fit better in one way, or the player felt that.


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Sorcha
Date: 16 Jun 00 - 11:34 AM

Partly depends on who you are playing for. If for an audience, or a loose knit public dance, do the repeats how ever you and your group like them. If playing for a Club of dancers, check with the dancing Master to see what is regular. If playing live for a contest, see the contest master. Eugene O'Donnell was a live player for set/step dance contests for years, and usually plays (A)AABB,AABB, etc. The first (A) section is an intro for the dancers to pick up the beat. He also plays lots of 3 section tunes, and most are AA,BB,CC, and sometimes AA for an ending.


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: paddymac
Date: 16 Jun 00 - 01:05 PM

There is indeed a "usual" structure to traditional tunes. If you're playing for dancers, it's appropriate to pay close attention to the number of bars/measures/repeats because your dancers probably are as well. If you're playing for fun, have fun. We do some medleys of three-part and two-part tunes, where we'll do AABBCC,AABBCC for tune one, then AABB or ABAB for tune two, then back to tune one with AABBCC. "Brian & Johnny" (Brian Boru's March & Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye) is one such. It can be a bit lengthy, but it provides an opportunity to vary the sound by letting various instruments "shine".


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: GUEST,Phil Cooper
Date: 16 Jun 00 - 01:18 PM

I have found that if a piece has more than two parts, you usually still do the repeats. The exception is found in some of the older Scottish collections (Fraser, Skye, Gow) where the A is repeated but the B has variations, so they write out both "B's", so you don't have to repeat. One of my favorite 5 part tunes is Friese Britches and I enjoy repeating each of the 5 parts.


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Alice
Date: 16 Jun 00 - 01:26 PM

Marion, I think Phil answered your question about the playing of parts that are written out longer because they have variations. It sounds like you are learning it from sheet music. Look at your music and see if the " :| " repeat is omitted at the end of the longer parts.

Alice


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 18 Jun 00 - 04:34 PM

Just one other aspect of this that no-one's touched on.

Sometimes reels are written in such a way that when you get to the end of a section, it is obviously intended that you go on to the next section rather than repeat.

An example of this is the reel "Man of the House". Strictly speaking, this is single reel, although more often than not the sheet music will call it just a reel, and you're left to depend on the presence or absence of repeat signs (though music publishers sometimes get these wrong too).

Reels can still be single reels, even when the sections lend themselves to repeats - for instance, the Ash Plant. Why some are, and some are not, is lost in obscurity, or lost to me anyway, and the distinction is hardly ever drawn in session playing, where AA BB AA BB is almost always the format, except sometimes in medleys.

As far as I can recall, double reels are never described as such. They're just reels, and again you most hope you can rely on the presence/absence of repeat marks. On the other hand, I've often seen double jigs so described - even though there are no single jigs, as far as I know.

Where a tune is in three parts - eg Dingle Regatta - the norm would be to play AA BB CC twice over. For dancing, and especially in competitions, the usual assumption for jigs and reels is that tunes will be in eight-bar sections played AA BB AA BB, though there can be exceptions (eg all competitors dancing to the same three-section tune).

Hornpipes, set dances, polkas etc don't seem to be subject to these vagaries. Just be sure to play each section twice before moving on, and you'll usually be safe, almost regardless of whether repeats are indicated.

So in the end, I guess it just comes down to Irish common sense. And whoever said check with the dance master, hit the nail on the head. Interesting though. Or maybe it isn't....


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Noreen
Date: 18 Jun 00 - 06:31 PM

Sorry to correct you, Fionn, but you are confusing two uses of 'single/double' here. A tune can be played single(ABAB) or played double (AABB),which is a matter of convention and as you say, is not always clear when a tune is written out.

The other use of single/double refers to the rhythmic complexity of a tune. All jigs are in 6/8 time, but you get more notes to the bar in double jigs! Most 'ordinary' jigs are double jigs; an example of a single jig is 'Off she goes' (Humpty Dumpty). BTW Kerry slides are a particular subdivision of single jigs, rhythmically distinct.

Similarly, most 'ordinary reels' are double reels. 'The Rakes of Mallow' is a single reel, as are the Kerry polkas.

There is of course another usage of single/double, and after a few of those it's very hard to remember how many times you've played anything! :o)

Hope this helps

--Noreen


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 18 Jun 00 - 06:47 PM

Last year at Loon Mountain Highland Games, Alasdair Fraser was playing a blazing reel, and he was stamping his foot so hard that his sock descended round his ankle. (He wears the kilt, I should explain)

After he had finished to thunderous applause, he commented, "that was a single sock reel, some reels are double sock reels...and sometimes it can get even better than that "

Murray


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Noreen
Date: 18 Jun 00 - 06:57 PM

Brilliant, Murray!


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: p.j.
Date: 18 Jun 00 - 07:09 PM

Noreen (and all),

Could you tell me a bit more about Kerry slides? In what way are they "rhythmically distinct" from single jigs? Someone once told me to count them in 12/8 time, but I can't quite get that to make sense. Where's the accent?

And if it's in 6/8 time but there are "more notes to the bar", that means it's mostly written in 16th notes (or better) and would therefore be really fast, but since it's still in 6/8 time the accent would theoretically be unchanged, no? I'm officially confused.

Also, can someone tell me about the dance or history associated with it?

I've been wanting to ask someone these questions for a long time-- thanks!

PJ


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 18 Jun 00 - 07:22 PM

I am, of course, always open to correction, Noreen, so don't apologise for that. But on the strength of what you have said so far, I am not persuaded.

If single/double can indicate notes per bar, how does this work when the notes per bar varies within a single tune (as invariably is the case)? And incidentally, not all jigs are 6/8. Slip jigs are 12/8.

But I admit I am puzzled. Why are some jigs called double jigs, given that none seem to be called single jigs, and all seem to have section repeats? And why are some reels called single reels, since none seem to be called double reels,and given that many single reels lend themselves to section repeats (which they usually get)?


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Jun 00 - 09:21 PM

Generally speaking, the Single Jig (Slide) is 12/8; the Double Jig is 6/8; the Slip Jig is 9/8.  This has nothing to do, of course, with how many times -and in what sequence- each part is repeated: it is entirely to do with the rhythm.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: p.j.
Date: 18 Jun 00 - 10:19 PM

Thanks, Malcom, that's a helpful start. So if, in a 6/8 "double jig", the primary accent is on the "one" and the secondary is on the "four", where's the accent on a 12/8 rhythm? And why is a 12/8 called a slide, and why is a single jig called a slide? And while you're at it, what did I do with my gray sox? :o)

PJ


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Noreen
Date: 18 Jun 00 - 11:31 PM

Sorry I didn't make myself clear, Fionn- it would be easier in person with instruments and demonstrations!

ANY tune with more than one part can be played single ie ABAB or ABCABC etc:
OR
can be played double, each part twice ie AABB or AABBCC
That's the simple bit.

There are also double jigs, in 6/8, (you would call these ordinary jigs)
single jigs , in 6/8 or 12/8
(and slip jigs in 9/8 time- I didn't bring these in so as not to confuse matters further!)

AND

double reels (you would call these ordinary reels)

single reels (Kerry polkas, The Rakes of Mallow)

I'll have to think some more about how to describe a slide in words! Best thing is to go to Kerry and watch a set, or even better, dance it!!

Noreen


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Noreen
Date: 18 Jun 00 - 11:41 PM

I'll come back to you p.j. on your other questions, when I've had another think!

--Noreen


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Sorcha
Date: 18 Jun 00 - 11:49 PM

Maybe best thing is to post tune titles.........


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Fiddlin' Big Al
Date: 19 Jun 00 - 01:40 AM

Phil Cooper, I remember you from Adler House. Big Al.


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Crowhugger
Date: 19 Jun 00 - 02:16 AM

Your gray sox are in my dryer vent.

CH.


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 19 Jun 00 - 07:52 AM

Sorry to those who followed my last posting. When I said slip jigs were in 12/8 I meant to say 9/8.

Noreen and Malcolm are definitely closing in on a definitive explanation. But there is a slight contradiction between them in that Noreen seems to be saying that 6/8 jigs can be double or single ( in which case what's the difference, if it's nothing to do with repeats?).

Also Noreen, can you say anything about the difference between single and double reels? I would still hold out for my original explanation on that, to the extent that "Man of the House" in the versions I have seen printed does not lend itself to repeats and is known as a single reel. These two facts must surely be connected?


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Snuffy
Date: 19 Jun 00 - 08:56 AM

I think Noreen is saying that a double jig has predominantly 3 1/8 notes to the beat, while a single jig has a quarter note followed by an eighth note.

I could be wrong though.

Wassail! V


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Noreen
Date: 19 Jun 00 - 11:10 AM

You're not easily persuaded, are you, Fionn! :o)
Just to take your last point, these two facts are *not* surely connected I'm afraid.
At the risk of confusing you, a single reel can be 'played single' or 'played double', as can a double reel.

I must admit, I've never seen the confusability in these terms before, until I tried to explain it to you!

Do I assume correctly that you do all your playing from sheet music? If you have a collection of Irish music such as O'Neills, look for a section of polkas. These are single reels, and you will soon tell the difference between these and 'ordinary' double reels. Single reels/ polkas are much simpler (and tend to have fewer notes per bar). Kerry polkas are played at high speed for the dancing of sets, so need to be simple! (The same goes for slides, p.j.)


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Noreen
Date: 19 Jun 00 - 11:14 AM

Sorry- don't know why that happened. You might need to read it twice anyway, as I think I've confused myself!
--Noreen


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 19 Jun 00 - 07:29 PM

Noreen, don't give up on me. I'm thinking it all through, which is a big step for me.


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Noreen
Date: 19 Jun 00 - 07:30 PM

p.j., Fionn and anyone else who's interested
Slides are single jigs in 6/8. (I thought about the 12/8 suggestion but it doesn't work- that would be far too complex).These tunes were not ,after all, composed and written down on manuscript paper with a key signature. They were probably composed by a fiddler, playing to fit the rhythm of the dance, and passed on only by ear until very recent times. Accents are in the same place as other jigs i.e. 1st and 4th. Snuffy in his post above summed up the main difference between double and single jigs, clarifying what I said about 'more notes to the bar' in a double jig. This is a generalisation, of course, which is usually true.

But the only way to tell what a slide is, is to listen to lots of slides! It's not just in the key signature, or the position of accented or stressed beats. It's a stylistic difference, which can't be picked up from the dots on manuscript paper.

If I find any links to useful pages I'll post them on this thread. I've found reels, jigs and hornpipes to download but no polkas or slides yet!

Slides originate in the Kerry/ West Limerick area, and are played for the Kerry Set, a very energetic,8-handed dance. There are several variants but they will all have a slide figure, a hornpipe figure and two polka figures. The set is not danced on the toes (like Riverdance!) but on the flat of the foot- in your working boots- the stepping is called 'battering'. I'm getting carried away here thinking back to sets I have watched/ danced/ played for!

Hope this helps-let me know if you're still confused!

Regards

--Noreen


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Noreen
Date: 19 Jun 00 - 07:35 PM

Hey- synchronicity! Look at the times of posting!


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: Noreen
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 08:51 PM

I've found some links with more info.on set dancing:

set dancing news

ceolas dance

dance

And you can find a large number of slides in gif, midi etc at
JC's ABC tune finder>

if you type in 'slide'.

How's the thinking going, Fionn?

Noreen


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: GUEST,John Leeder
Date: 22 Jun 00 - 05:40 PM

Re single/double jigs: I'm no expert, but I get the impression that the terms "single jig" and "double jig" are more important to dancers than to players. A "single jig" goes mostly "DUM-dee DUM-dee", while a "double jig" goes mostly "dum-ble-dee dum-ble-dee" (to be pretty simple-minded about it). They're both in 6/8 time. Dance teachers use "Pop Goes the Weasle" to introduce young Irish dancers to the single jig -- that should be a graphic illustration.


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: GUEST,John Leeder
Date: 22 Jun 00 - 05:42 PM

Sorry -- "Weasel".


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Subject: RE: Format of Celtic fiddle tunes
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Jun 00 - 01:25 PM

The origin and nature of tunes in sets. May also be of interest?


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