Please vote for your FAVORITE TUNE for our 2022 Xmas Group Project.
I've learned a little bit about Strathspeys this past couple years, from workshops, tutorials, articles & playing - but still on the journey - no expert.
I have found Strathspeys extremely fun to play - I hope I can encourage others here to try to learn some!
Don't try to learn a Strathspey from a book! It's hard to determine the Strathsbey bowing & rhythm idiosyncrasies from books & sheet music - and I have learned the notation can be inaccurate or 'tamed'/'smoothed out', which is a Strathspey death sentence. Workshops & Video Tutorials are GREAT!
• The FIRST thing I recommend to do is LISTEN, to as many Strathspeys as you can, as often as you can - to feel the iconic, jagged, 4/4 RHYTHM!
• Strathspeys are usually slower than Reels, but there are also 'Slow' Strathspeys. I have found most Strathspeys played much faster in Cape Breton Style (even 'slow ones).
• There are 3 main ornaments that generally show up in Strathspeys - the 'Scottish Snap', the 'Birl', and the 'Scrunch' (I can recommend tutorials - you'll want to master these and a few others).
Even if you don't want to learn the "Miller O'Hirn Strathspey" - I recommend WATCH THIS VIDEO - to get a good idea of what a Strathspey is!!!!! It's part of an Alasdair Fraser Workshop.
I enjoyed his workshops this past April's FIDDLE HELL Festival.
• There are wonderful Strathspeys in Major, Minor & Modal Keys! In fact, check out Strathspeys - at The Session there's 56 PAGES listed, with 10 per page! You can find titles in a key you prefer, then search on YouTube for a performance of it - or listen thru a streaming audio source. Quite a few Strathspeys have been recommended in different threads here on the Forum.
• Rants can be Strathspeys - What is a Rant? Thread
This tutorial is a GREAT one to start learning a Strathspey!
Fiona Cuthill video tutorial teaching "Cutting Bracken", the 'Scottish Snap' & Strathspey rhythm!
Fiona Cuthill is extremely generous - has more Strathspey tutorials and many other great Scottish fiddle tutorials at Fiona Cuthill - YouTube Channel.
Wow, I just had a fabulous treat!
Found a recorded Intermediate Fiddle Class from last year, by Dan MacDonald - going over "The King George Set"!!! Miss Lyall's Strathspey (which I've been meaning to learn for awhile), King George IV (I've previously learned), The King's Reel & Old King's Reel.
You can get a sampling of Dan MacDonald's other zoom lessons, along with very slowly played tune videos & up to speed ones, at Dan MacDonald Fiddle Teacher - YouTube Channel. He has a Beginner and Intermediate Playlist.
Some of you may find it worth inquiring about lessons!
Just wanted to share this strathspey I started on today - in a minor key!
"Mrs. Gunn's Strathspey", which is followed by "Sweet Molly" Reel (seems like a Scottish Drowsy Maggie variant), and "Wise Maid" Reel - arranged & performed by Bonnie Rideout!
...going to try to learn the whole set, eventually. (lol)
I'm usually very skeptical about how trad tune transcriptions are notated - they usually don't match the versions I've heard/seen performed.
That said, Bonnie Rideout plays "Mrs. Gunns Strathspey" ALMOST EXACTLY how it's notated at The Session link I gave (grace notes, too)! - just wanted to mention this, since quite a treat for me. 2nd note, in the 2nd measure, is a D - not E!
I actually fell in love with this set of tunes quite a few years ago. It's on the very 1st Bonnie Rideout CD I bought, "Kindred Spirits" - WAY before I thought about picking up the fiddle. 🤔 Maybe it was part of the reason I did!
...lots of fun, to be learning another tune with a jagged rhythm (syncopation? 🤣)!