Musical surprises #17: Sometimes a strathspey is a reel is a jig

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It’s not just the tango that’s complicated or misleading: Scottish music is apparently prey to the same terminological confusion. Writing about naming conventions in collections of dance tunes dating back to the 18th century, Pat Ballantyne writes:

What to us is clearly a strathspey, with its jerky, dotted rhythms, might be called a reel. What to us is a reel, with a constant, even rhythm, is sometimes called a jig. In the eighteenth century in particular, the names for different types of dance music were interchangeable.

The source for this is a page about the background to the  James Scott Skinner collection at the University of Aberedeen. Take a look: it’s got digitized fiddler’s books and dance manuals, audio clips of Skinner playing, video clips of Scottish ballroom dances, links to other sites, and fascinating potted histories. Wonderful.

This entry was posted in Advent calendar, Dance, Music, Playing for ballet class and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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