The Strathspey normally is in duple meter (usu 4/4), and is cast in
a moderately slow tempo. The characteristic rhythmic pattern is sixteenth/
dotted-eighth ("Scottish snap"), and it often permeates the entire piece.
The name means "Valley of the Spey," as Strathclyde denotes the Clyde Valley.
Strathspey has on occasion been used more or less interchangeably with reel;
however, the difference in tempo (viz, the usually quicker pace of the reel)
and the prevailingly smoother rhythm of the reel constitute a significant,
and fairly consistent, difference sufficient to warrant the drawing of a
clear distinction between the species.
Good examples of the Strathspey and the reel in art music are found
in Malcolm Arnold's Four Scottish Dances, Op. 59. They are, respecively,
Number 1 and Number 2.
J. MARSHALL BEVIL
On Sat, 11 Jun 1994, Andrea Wolfe wrote:
> James Roberts said:
> >I have a question. I don't play any Celtic music (yet), but I
> >listen to it a lot. My question is, What's the difference
> >between a Jig, Reel, Double Jig, Hornpipe, slip jig,
> >strathspey (sp?), and any others I may have forgotten? Okay,
> >okay, I know this is a basic question, but having listened to
> >Celtic music for a couple of years, I'm still
> >(relativly) new to it.
> There are several types of jigs: 1) A single jig is in 6/8 time; not every
> eighth note is played. The usual pattern is for a quarter note followed
> by an eighth note with the main accent on the first beat and a less distinct
> accent on the fourth beat. A good dance tempo is for a dotted quarter note
> to be played at 120 beats per minute. However, we usually play much faster
> once we get going ;). 2) A double jig is also in 6/8 time, but each eighth
> note is played. The notes above about accent and tempo for a single jig
> also apply here. 3) A slip jig is played in 9/8 time. The rhythm combines
> elements of a single jig with a double jig. For example, one measure may
> have a quarter note followed by 7 eighth notes and another measure may have
> six eighth notes followed by a quarter note and then another eighth note.
> Accent for a slip jig can be: ONE two three, four five six, SEVEN eight
> nine (less of an emphasis on the seventh beat).
> Reels are fast tunes played in 2/4 or 4/4 time. They are FULL of eighth
> notes usually accented as: ONE-and-two-and THREE-and-four-and. Tempo for a
> reel starts at around 1/2 note = 92 and ends as fast as your fingers can
> Hornpipes have four beats per measure. The distinctive lilt of a hornpipe
> comes from the dotted eighth note followed by a sixteenth note or a dotted
> quarter followed by an eighth note. Emphasis is on the first and third beat
> of a measure. Tempo is slower than a reel, but not too slow or it drags.
> I've never played a strathspey, so I can't do much with that one. I think
> it is a Scottish dance form. Maybe someone else can address that part of
> your question.
> Hope this helps a bit.
> Andi Wolfe ([log in to unmask])