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The Lowland Jig

Tunes in compound times [3/4, 3/8, 6/4, 6/8, 9/4, 9/8] which look like 'Jigs' may well have very different characterisitics in the Lowland repertoire. As with reels and hornpipes, it all comes down to the 'Dird'.

1 2 3 continued

An intruiging demonstration of the matter of performing 3-time tunes from the early 18th century was suggested to me by a post on the tradtunes email list; it involves a discussion of the difference between two dance forms, the 'muineira' and the 'Jota'

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Easy as 1 2 3

The terms 'Jig' and 'Reel' have been part of Scottish pipe music since at least 1760. Pipers are familiar with the time signatures of 6/8 and 9/8, and can be fairly confident about how to interpret them. However, anyone who have looked at 17th century manuscripts, or perhaps at Playford's 'Dancing Master' publications, will be aware that these time signatures do not appear until late in the 17th century, and their use was not common until the 18th.

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Blanche of Middlebie III

Robert Riddells' setting of this tune looks so much like a pipe setting, and sits so well on the pipes, it is easy to forget that his collection is described as for violin, hautboy or german flute. This is important because it contains indications of ornaments which we have to assume are references to fiddle technique, not to piping. These ornaments come in the form of 'tr' [trill] added to the crotchets [and to the first quaver of bar 3] in the first strain. George Greig pointed out to me that the use of the 'tr' sign is not unusual in early highland pipe collections [Mackay and Maclachaln both use it and MacLachlan writes out its interpretation]

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Blanche of Middlebie II

My two recent posts on gracings are particularly relevant to the interpretation of this tune, but before going on to look more closely at that question I wanted to ask a question which follows directly from Robert Riddell's story

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The Lowland Jig - an introduction

Tunes in compound times are far less common in lowland sources than those in simples time - for instance, of the 48 tunes in Daviid Young's Collection of Coutnry Dances from 1740, 9 are in 6/8 and 4 in 9/8; the other 36 are in 'cut-time'. Nevertheless, amongst these and those from other sources there seems to be a variety of 'dirds' and in some cases more than one of these dirds can be applied to the same tune.

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  1. Blanche of Middlebie