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STRATHSPEYS!
Time to dig in!
Topic Rating: 4.8 Topic Rating: 4.8 Topic Rating: 4.8 Topic Rating: 4.8 Topic Rating: 4.8 Topic Rating: 4.8 (16 votes) 
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Ford Glass

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December 16, 2022 - 8:31 am
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Hi Emily

re Celtic connections., ahhh sorry, didn’t realize they have workshops as well.

@AbitRusty, thanks, didn’t compute at the time that they cater for many instruments, stupid of me.

Thanks for all the helpful advice, all makes sense.

The version/styIe am most drawn to, and probably closer to the one I previously learned it, is to Alasdair’s version. Like how he plays it a wee bit slower (than Hanneke), but not quite sure if I can define why I prefer it. They both sound really good in their own way.

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ABitRusty
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December 16, 2022 - 10:43 am
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Someone mentioned that fact in passing one evening.  She said something along the lines of .."that version couldve been uploaded by a ( insert instrument type ) player..".  I was ahhh yez... that makes sense.

seems like a thing.  i bought in to it. 🙂

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ELCBK
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April 16, 2023 - 1:05 am
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Douglas Montgomery plays the fiddle in the Orkney Isles' Saltfishforty duo. 

Just so happens he has a pretty wonderful strathspey TUTORIAL for "Netherbow"!  The tune was composed by James Craigie, from the Northern Isle of Rousay - might be in Ador. 

 

 

Douglas Montgomery - having a little fun with a Fred Morrison strathspey, "Aird Ranters". (lol)  Back in March of 2021 - people were getting a little crazy with covid restrictions!

 

...thought there was already a thread somewhere about Orkney Fiddling (must be my wishful thinking) - still, part of the Northern Isles of Scotland.  

 

https://fiddle-online.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Orkney.jpg

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Ford Glass

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April 19, 2023 - 1:36 pm
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learning this Strathspey which originates from Shetland (islands above Orkney in the Scottish map above). Trying to play it much slower than what I have heard others playing it, really like it

https://thesession.org/tunes/1873

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ELCBK
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April 19, 2023 - 11:23 pm
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@Ford Glass - 

I like Shetland music - you picked a wonderful strathspey to learn! 

"Willie Hunter’s Compliments To Dan R. MacDonald" looks like it has an unusually structure with the way the repeats are set up (?) 

 

In my early ignorance (some may argue hasn't changed) I ended up starting TWO Strathspey threads on the forum - thinking I should somehow separate Scottish & Cape Breton ones because the way some are played is different & I didn't even do that. 

So, there IS another 'Strathspey' thread (with a couple reels thrown in) with some really GREAT discussions in it!  Cape Breton Strathspeys & Reels Thread

In both this thread and the other one, I talked about Lady Dalrymple of North Berwick's Favourite (YouTube video link). 

Tim MacDonald & Jeremy Reed did a series, sponsored by "The Society for Early Scottish Culture" - playing from "Niel Gow's Third Collection of Strathspey Reels (ca. 1792)".  This video was one of them - what I think is showcasing a good historical representation, possible of the time. 

Now, I 1st visited this video over a year & a half ago - inquired about tuning (excited I could tell it wasn't standard) & got a quick response.  BUT last week, Tim sent me another extremely detailed reply about SO MUCH MORE - especially pertaining to the time period!

Please click on the video link to read the whole reply! 

Tim wrote a paper that's on his website (which I hope to read this week) - "Strathspey Reels: Clarifiying Dance Music in Lowland Scotland 1750-1833"

https://tsmacdonald.com/

Here's MORE of Tim & Jeremy's playing "Niel Gow's Third Collection of Strathspey Reels (ca. 1792)"!  I LOVE the very expressive bowing!

The Niel Gow Sesessions - 55 video Playlist of Tim MacDonald & Jeremy Ward

 

Btw, have you had a chance to check out the Scottish Sessions Thread

@stringy (hope you see this, too)

- Emily

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Ford Glass

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April 20, 2023 - 5:17 pm
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Re Willie Hunters., not sure why the repeat structure is unusual…..Because both the first and second parts are repeated??

I did see the response you got from Tim…..yeah very informative and very generous of him to give such a detailed response.

I have been keeping an eye on the Scottish session thread. I have not participated in a session before but kind of thinking it’s about time. An Irish one has just started not too far away from me, so just need to pluck up the courage and get my feet wet.

Do think Scottish and Cape Breton strathspeys can sound and be played very differently. For example, might be primarily because of the key, but the Lady Dalrymple played by Tim above feels very old, dark and foreboding, which seems to be in contrast to many of the upbeat and lighter? Cape Breton strathspeys.

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ELCBK
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April 20, 2023 - 6:25 pm
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@Ford Glass -

I definitely agree that Strathspeys are played differently in Cape Breton vs. Scotland. 

Do you know of any reason why a Strathspey can't be played both ways? 

Think I'm biased - feels like EVERYTHING in Cape Breton is played too fast for me. (lol)

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ELCBK
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April 10, 2024 - 2:32 am
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I'm looking forward to a few workshops with Alasdair Frasier - starting Thursday, the 1st day of Fiddle Hell (thread)

Found a little article in 'Strings Magazine' that would easily improve any of the Scottish music threads, but referenced here - I thought might help tie them together! 

Alasdair Fraser on How the Scottish Fiddle Is a ‘Vehicle for Different Types of Dialects’

 

A few excerpts:

Here, fiddling often mimics other instruments in the region - bagpipes, harps, and singers—and marches, jigs, and slow airs derived from Gallic singing are abundant. 

Or, Fraser offers, “I’m going to play my fiddle in Doric, which would be northeast, Aberdeenshire.”  There, you’ll find a sophisticated focus on the art of strathspeys.  “I could go up to the Shetland Isles where I would admit more Scandinavian influence into my sound,” Fraser adds.  In those remote islands, positioned between mainland Scotland and Norway, you may find open ringing strings and a distinct swinging sound.  “As you head south to big cities like Edinburgh and suchlike, where there’s been more contact with the European continent, more Italian influence coming over in the 18th century, you can allow sound to be more informed by Baroque stylings,” Fraser adds. 

A third component: Knowing how to articulate. “So we’ve got the language, which gives a regional flavor, we’ve got the bowing, which can be influenced by the dances, and we’ve got the ornamentation, which is part of the language,” Fraser says. In Scottish fiddling, there are multiple ways of embellishing with grace notes. With ornamentation, it’s all about developing “fistfuls of informed palette” as Fraser describes. “Every finger is available to add spice and nuance to the melody notes at any time.” The best way to discover ornamentations is to listen. Go see a Scottish fiddler perform, or view tutorials online. “Listen to your favorite bagpipe player, and steal all their grace notes,” Fraser adds. Singers are also helpful sources. 

 

I definitely prefer the fiddle to the bagpipes - for expression, but pipers seem even more meticulous about timing in their ornaments!  Some ornamentation is usually always seen in piper notation, but like with fiddle music - may not reveal exactly what is expected from a player.  In the Scottish Piper Tunes Played on The Fiddle Thread, I've started looking closer at how bagpipe ornament notation is interpreted.  

IMHO, Matt Willis has done some remarkable tutorials on ornaments... if nothing else, might cause you to take a 2nd look when you see them notated - or reconsider where, and what type, you choose to play.  VERY SMALL ADJUSTMENTS in ornamentation timing can make a difference in 'lift' & 'drive' - even on the fiddle! 

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ELCBK
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April 10, 2024 - 3:32 am
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So... I wanted to share 2 strathspey tutorials from Matt Willis.  

These are for taking a look at strathspey timing. 

I don't think Fiddlers are ever this strict with their strathspey interpretations, but I think it's good to know why pipers do it this way. 

This 1st video is a great 'concept' tutorial that could help Fiddlers - not only beginners, but also folks who have played strathspeys. 

It shows a fool-proof way of HOW to identify the core melody, PLUS helped me learn to identify other important parts of these tunes! 

...NO, you don't have to play a chanter, or pipes - the notation is the important thing to take from this tutorial. 

 

This 2nd video gets into the importance of timing Triplets in Strathspeys!  Matt actually shows how to interpret different types you might see in notation! 

We have to use bowing & fingers on strings - but rhythm is rhythm & this helped me understand what to listen for & work on.  Amazing to me - the way Triplets are viewed can have such an impact on the rhythm! 

 

This is exciting, because 'ornamentation' has been an ongoing rabbit hole for me - from the start of my Violin Adventure!  ...nice to be able to stuff a few more in my pocket, but it can be overwhelming! 

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ELCBK
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April 17, 2024 - 10:07 pm
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I learned a lot about Strathspeys this past weekend at Fiddle Hell. 

Origin, surrounding culture/language (also in historical context) and dance - all important. 

This was pretty interesting... the pointed rhythm - a Scottish rhythm matrix (?) 

The Origins of the Strathspey (The Strathspey in Scottish Music - Robert Lamb

 

There are quite a few different Strathspey Dances.  One major thing I noticed (besides 32 bars)... abrupt hops/skips mingled in with more reserved walking steps.  Looking & listening to these - I can see how it would be important to add a little extra 'umph' in the music so the dancers feel like doing those hops & skips! 

Scottish Country Dance Dictionary - Strathspeys 

The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society Strathspey Videos - YT Channel  

 

Fiddle Hell Thread - workshop & concert replays are still available until August!

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ELCBK
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April 19, 2024 - 7:11 pm
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I've had this wonderful set bookmarked for a while - sharing it here, so I get motivated to learn parts of it! 

Angus Blaise Set - there's maybe 5 tunes in this set (?)  I'm thinkin' Strathspeys, except for maybe the last one (reel my guess).

All I know is 3 are Wendy MacIsaac originals & she named the set after one of her younger sons! 

 

Not sure if it's just a 'Cape Breton', or Canadian Fiddling 'thing'... I've been noticing for a few YEARS now that sets will have a name, but no mention of the tune titles in them!  Sometimes I have a successful search, but I'm pretty tired of going on the hunt just so I can share some notation & talk about tunes.  I don't always want to learn the whole set! 😖  I have a hard enough time remembering names of tunes - now I have to try to remember a tune lineup, just so I can describe one of them!  (sorry, done ranting) 

...anyway, may only learn part of this set, but getting started!  Mentioned more about some great music & fiddling by Wendy MacIsaac in the There's Wicked Fiddlers, Violists & Cellists Here! Thread.

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ELCBK
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April 22, 2024 - 10:09 pm
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I'm still working on Wendy MacIsaac's "Angus Blaise Set" - while what I've learned from some of the Fiddle Hell workshops is still fairly fresh in my mind (plus, trying to sneak in bowed-triplet practice everywhere I can).  

Only started dipping my fingers into the 2nd tune today, while getting the 1st better.  Had to take a minute to figure out where each of the SIX tunes (edited) begins & ends, because there's some variations that really had me guessing. 

Still don't think I want to learn more than the 1st three tunes in the set - even that may be too much. 

What I have is: 

  1. starts the set - LOVE playing this!  Going to always associate this with the set title, until I know different... so, Angus Blaise!
  2. Calum Breugach (edited) starts at 1:24 
  3. ? starts at 2:15
  4. ? starts at 2:59 
  5. ? starts at 3:40 
  6. ? starts at 4:33 

When I was taking a break, I watched these quick tips from Paul Anderson.  Even though Cape Breton music is played a little differently, it helped me keep some bowing goals in focus.

1670610-L.jpg

 

"The Cape Breton Fiddler" by Allister MacGillivray - free download from the Internet Archive.

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Ford Glass

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April 23, 2024 - 6:45 am
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Hi Emily,

the second tune in the set is Calum Breugach

https://thesession.org/tunes/2319

think it finishes at 2.16, so there is an ‘extra’ tune in there (2.16 to 2.59)

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ELCBK
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April 23, 2024 - 9:04 am
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@Ford Glass -

OMG, I just accidentally touched the wrong 'star' rating for your post, when I want to give you a TEN! 

I can't thank you enough!  That makes PERFECT SENSE - thought I was losing my mind (or just not getting enough sleep 🤣) as I was trying to play that 2nd tune last night! 

THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU! 

So, SIX tunes in that set!  I have read somewhere that THREE are Wendy's... so there should be titles for a few more. 

Please let me know if you find out anything more!

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