The Lowland Jig

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.

I hope to outline what these differences might be in the tunes I'm explroing here. Of the 82 tunes I transcribed from the Balcvarres Lute Manuscript 39 were in triple time, most of which we would today transcribe in 3/4. These include a number of tunes with 'Rant' in the title. Tunes of this type have more or less disappeared from the Scottish repertoire, but they clearly once played an important part; they are perhaps 'scottishiations' of minuets, which were hugely popular in the first half of the18th century. In interpreting these tunes it is worth remembering Edward Topham's description of dancing in Edinburgh in the 1760's, where he talks of the 'gallpoing minuet' - a valuable clue to how we might approach some of these tunes, which play more like French Mazurkas than minuets.

Other tunes from the early sources, such as those in Wm Dixon's manuscript [10 in 6/4, 9 in 9/4 out of 40], seem to want to play more like French Bourees more than anything else [some sources contain titles such as 'bore' which are presumably bourees]. It is often the case with these tunes, as with all others, that decisions about tempo will reveal these various choices of dird. I should therefore made some comments about the choice of tempo in the post 'How fast does it go?..

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