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A strathspey ( // ) is a type of dance tune in 4
4 time. It is, simply stated, a reel played at a slightly slower tempo, with slightly more emphasis on certain beats. This emphasis can be the same measure to measure or vary throughout the tune, depending on the player. Cut-dot snap rhythms, or "Scotch snaps", are a feature of both. These are short notes before a dotted notes, which in traditional playing is generally exaggerated rhythmically for musical expression. An example of a strathspey would be the song "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond", provided it is sung staccato:
You'll tak the high road, and I'll tak the low road, and I'll be in Scotland afore ye.
Other examples are "Auld Lang Syne" (based on Sir Alexander Don's Strathspey) and "Coming Through the Rye" (based on an old strathspey tune called "The Miller's Daughter").
Because the strathspey rhythm has four strong beats to the bar, it is played quickly (generally ranging from 108 beats per minute, for Highland dance, up to 160 beats per minute, for step dance), and contains many dot-cut "snaps", it is a rhythmically tense idiom. Traditionally, a strathspey will be followed by a reel, which is in 2
2 with a swung rhythm, as a release of the rhythmic tension created during the strathspey.
It has been hypothesized that strathspeys mimic the rhythms of Scottish Gaelic song.Among traditional musicians, strathspeys are occasionally transmitted as canntaireachd, a style of singing in which various syllables stand in for traditional bagpipe ornaments.
The dance is named after the Strathspey region of Scotland, in Moray and Badenoch and Strathspey. Strathspey refers both to the type of tune and to the type of dance usually done to it (although strathspeys are also frequently danced to pastoral airs played at the same tempo; an example of which would be the dance Autumn in Appin, danced to the tune "The Hills of Lorne").The strathspey is one of the dance types in Scottish country dancing. A Scottish country dance will typically consist of equal numbers of strathspeys, jigs and reels. The strathspey step is a slower and more stately version of the skip-change step used for jigs and reels. The strathspey also forms part of the musical format for competing pipe bands. Modern high grade pipe bands are required to play a march, a strathspey and a reel for competition purposes.
The strathspey was originally conceived for the fiddle, using a peculiar bowing technique that would produce its characteristic "scotch-snap" rhythm; many newer strathspeys were written in the 18th and 19th centuries by composers such as William Marshall and James Scott Skinner, who utilised the full range of the fiddle to produce many memorable tunes. Skinner distinguished between dance tunes, which retained the staccato bowing (Laird o Drumblair), and airs which were for listening (Music of Spey). Angus Cumming produced the first collection of strathspeys to be published by a person from Strathspey. More recently, Muriel Johnstone has written some elegant piano strathspeys. These days there are at least four, some would say seven, varieties: the bouncy schottische, the strong strathspey, the song or air strathspey, all three of which can be enjoyed for dancing, and the competition strathspey for the Great Highland bagpipe, primarily intended as a display of virtuosity. Although band and solo competition bagpiping generally involves a complicated, heavily ornamented setting, traditional pipers often play simpler, more rhythmically driven versions.
In the Irish tradition, strathspeys are largely relegated to the Scottish-influenced traditions of Donegal, where they are commonly called highlands. Unlike many duple-time tune types in the Irish tradition, Highlands are articulated with four distinct beats to the bar, rather than two. Unlike their Scottish counterparts, highlands are played with a smoother, less-jagged bowing articulation. The Irish repertoire also gravitates to tunes with long passages of triplets.
In the New World, the Cape Breton strathspey differs from its Scottish cousins in its rhythm patterns. While the dot-cut snaps are fairly standard in European strathspeys, in the Cape Breton style the dotted note can come before the short note, and the snaps can come at any point in the measure. These changes allow for the rhythmic "lift" needed for the Cape Breton style of Scottish step dancing. The dot-snap variations have been described as more "wild" than in Scottish playing.Cape Breton dot-snaps often follow the same pattern within any given piece of music, and adhere to a local pattern shared among the community of Cape Breton-style players. The same tune can be played in the Scottish and Cape Breton styles, but will sound different.
The Donegal fiddle tradition is the way of playing the fiddle that is traditional in County Donegal, Ireland. It is one of the distinct fiddle traditions within Irish traditional music.
A fiddle is a bowed string musical instrument, most often a violin. It is a colloquial term for the violin, used by players in all genres including classical music. Although violins and fiddles are essentially synonymous, the style of the music played may determine specific construction differences between fiddles and classical violins. For example, fiddles may optionally be set up with a bridge with a flatter arch to reduce the range of bow-arm motion needed for techniques such as the double shuffle, a form of bariolage involving rapid alternation between pairs of adjacent strings. To produce a "brighter" tone, compared to the deeper tones of gut or synthetic core strings, fiddlers often use steel strings. The fiddle is part of many traditional (folk) styles, which are typically aural traditions—taught 'by ear' rather than via written music.
The reel is a folk dance type as well as the accompanying dance tune type. Of Scottish origin, reels are also an important part of the repertoire of the fiddle traditions of the British Isles and North America. In Scottish country dancing, the reel is one of the four traditional dances, the others being the jig, the strathspey and the waltz, and is also the name of a dance figure.
The Great Highland bagpipe is a type of bagpipe native to Scotland. It has acquired widespread recognition through its usage in the British military and in pipe bands throughout the world.
A pipe band is a musical ensemble consisting of pipers and drummers. The term used by military pipe bands, pipes and drums, is also common.
The hornpipe is any of several dance forms played and danced in Britain and Ireland and elsewhere from the 16th century until the present day. The earliest references to hornpipes are from England with Hugh Aston's Hornepype of 1522 and others referring to Lancashire hornpipes in 1609 and 1613.
Slip jig refers to both a style within Irish music, and the Irish dance to music in slip-jig time. The slip jig is in 9
8 time, traditionally with accents on 5 of the 9 beats — two pairs of crotchet/quaver followed by a dotted crotchet note.
Here Northumbria is defined as Northumberland, the northernmost county of England, and County Durham. According to 'World Music: The Rough Guide', "nowhere is the English living tradition more in evidence than the border lands of Northumbria, the one part of England to rival the counties of the west of Ireland for a rich unbroken tradition. The region is particularly noted for its tradition of border ballads, the Northumbrian smallpipe and also a strong fiddle tradition in the region that was already well established in the 1690s. Northumbrian music is characterised by considerable influence from other regions, particularly southern Scotland and other parts of the north of England, as well as Irish immigrants.
Cape Breton fiddling is a regional violin style which falls within the Celtic music idiom. Cape Breton Island's fiddle music was brought to North America by Scottish immigrants during the Highland Clearances. These Scottish immigrants were primarily from Gaelic-speaking regions in the Scottish Highlands and the Outer Hebrides. Although fiddling has changed considerably since this time in Scotland, it is widely held that the tradition of Scottish fiddle music has been better preserved in Cape Breton.
Celtic music is primarily associated with the folk traditions of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and Wales, as well as the popular styles derived from folk culture. In addition, a number of other areas of the world are known for the use of Celtic musical styles and techniques, including Newfoundland, and much of the folk music of Canada's Maritimes, especially on Cape Breton Island and Prince Edward Island.
Highland dance or Highland dancing is a style of competitive dancing developed in the Scottish Highlands in the 19th and 20th centuries, in the context of competitions at public events such as the Highland games. It was created from the Gaelic folk dance repertoire, but formalised with the conventions of ballet', and has been subject to influences from outside the Highlands. Highland dancing is often performed with the accompaniment of Highland bagpipe music, and dancers wear specialised shoes called ghillies. It is now seen at nearly every modern-day Highland games event.
Puirt à beul is a traditional form of song native to Scotland, Ireland, and Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.
The Celtic fiddle is one of the most important instruments in the traditional repertoire of Celtic music. The fiddle itself is identical to the violin, however it is played differently in widely varying regional styles. In the era of sound recording some regional styles have been transmitted more widely while others have become more uncommon.
Scottish fiddling may be distinguished from other folk fiddling styles by its particular precision of execution and energy in the delivery, for example, the rendering of the dotted-quaver/semi-quaver rhythmic patterns, commonly used in the Strathspey. Christine Martin, in her Traditional Scottish Fiddling players guide, discusses the techniques of "hack bowing", "the Scottish Snap", and "snap bowing". These techniques contrast quite sharply with the most common bowing patterns of Irish fiddling. The style has a very large repertoire consisting of a great variation of rhythms and key signatures. There is also a strong link to the playing of traditional Scottish bagpipes which is better known throughout the world.
This article defines a number of terms that are exclusive, or whose meaning is exclusive, to piping and pipers.
Donald Angus Beaton (1912–1981) was a Canadian blacksmith and a Cape Breton-style fiddler.
Traditional Gaelic music is the folk music of Goidelic-speaking communities in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man, often including lyrics in those languages. Characteristic forms of Gaelic music include sean-nós and puirt à beul singing, piobaireachd, jigs, reels, and strathspeys.
Canadian fiddle is the aggregate body of tunes, styles and musicians engaging the traditional folk music of Canada on the fiddle. It is an integral extension of the Anglo-Celtic and Québécois Frenchfolk music tradition but has distinct features found only in the Western hemisphere.
The Scottish tenor drum is a musical instrument used within Scottish pipe bands. It is a double-headed membranophone that is held vertically with one head up, one head down, and played with soft mallets on the top head only. Common sizes of drums are 15, 16, 18, or 20 inch in diameter, with 12, 14, or 16 inch depth. The playing style of the Scottish tenor drum has varied throughout the years, but there is typically a variation of the combination of swings and rhythmic accompaniment to the Scottish snare drum and the Great Highland Bagpipes. It is similar to the more common marching band style tenor drum.
Canadian stepdance, also known as Maritimes stepdance, is a style of stepdance in Canada, stemming from European origins including France, Scotland and Ireland. Canadian stepdancing involves fast dancing to fiddle music using shoes with taps designed to accentuate the dancer's rhythmical, drumming foot movements. Dancers generally require little dance space to perform their routines. Some styles of Canadian stepdancing include upper-body postures that are relatively relaxed compared with older stepdance styles, allowing occasional arm movements that flow with the rhythm of the dance, or hands on hips.