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Old 11-30-2018, 08:27 AM   #1
Tom MacKenzie
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Default The Art of the 6/8 March

During Bruce Gandy's recital this year at the Worlds he made a comment that was something like, in Scotland they still treat the 6/8 march as an art form, but in North America it is treated like a 2/4 march.


I thought that this was an interesting observation.


I would be interested to hear the thoughts on the 6/8 march art form from the Forum members. How is it treated in Scotland?


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Old 12-02-2018, 06:46 AM   #2
Tom MacKenzie
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Default Re: The Art of the 6/8 March

The exact quote was



"I'm going to continue on now with what some might think of the obligatory ... but I find enjoyable, six eight marches.


Still an art form in Scotland. But long losing it's way in North America, where they are just sort of slightly modified two four marches now, with more beats in a bar."


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Old 12-02-2018, 07:59 AM   #3
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: The Art of the 6/8 March

I love 6/8s. They Swing! I've written several myself and would much rather march to 6/8s than to 2/4s most of the time. The last time I played in the NYC Tartan Day Parade it was pishing rain that morning and the band I was suppose to play with was a no-show, so one of the marshals put me with a group of "Waifs and Strays" a collection of small clan societies- two of one, three of another, etc. and me as their "band". We were in the 10th Division. Every division before us started out with Scotland The Brave (all 9 of them), so I decided I would just play 6/8 marches for the entire route, and I did. The only two I repeated were ones I wrote for my father, "Wee Willie Cameron " and my Uncle Jim "James Angus Cameron". At the end, some of the people in my division said they never had an easier time marching. That, to me, is the magic of 6/8s.
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Old 12-02-2018, 09:08 AM   #4
SwissMatthias
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Default A little bit of music theory on 6/8 Marches

Hello
Although I am not originally from Scotland I’ve got tuition from several Scottish teachers e.g. Willie McCallum, Margaret Dunn, John Mulhearn etc. All of them taught me the treatment of a 6/8 March. A 6/8 March is written in compound time which means that the pulse can be divided into 3 inner beats. 6/8 Marches have 6 quaver beats per bar. There are two variations of three-note groupings in a 6/8 march: dotted quaver-semiquaver-quaver or semiquaver-dotted quaver-quaver.
I have been told that the third note of each variation has to be emphasized or better – it must not shorten but played in its full note value; presumed you tap a 6/8 rhythm with your feet (each tap a quaver). The dotted quaver (normally the first note in a group of 3 quavers) must be played a bit longer than a normal dotted quaver in classical music – when it belongs to the first three-note grouping of a bar. All 3 notes in a group implicate a kind of a swing rhythm which is generated by the emphasis of the first and the third not. The second note (mostly a semiquaver) must not played too short. Of course, no piper or pipe band plays a 6/8 march by tapping or marching in compound time (6 quavers in a bar). They march in a kind of a 2/4 rhythm where the first and the fourth quaver is being tapped/ emphasized – but all in the swing of a 6/8.
Just listen to old recordings of 6/8 marches like “Atholl Highlanders”. You might have the possibility to slow them down in speed so you can hear what I have meant above.
Describing music in written form is not that easy. I have tried my very best and I hope you have understand it 😊.
Greetings from Switzerland.
Matthias
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Old 12-02-2018, 11:30 AM   #5
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Default Re: The Art of the 6/8 March

Interesting, Matthias...

Certainly the overly clipped and overly fast formula playing turns strong melodies into pulsed tone rows.
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Old 12-02-2018, 01:54 PM   #6
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Default Re: The Art of the 6/8 March

Another way to look at compound time such as 6/8, (or 6/4), 9/8, 12/8, etc. in comparison to duple time is that the beats don't divide straight up-and down in compound time as they do in Duple time. For example, when I'd teach these meters to my middle school students, I'd have them tape their feet up and down 1-2 1-2,then notice that there was a definite up-point between the 1st and second tap- that was the second eighth-note, so 1&2&, 1&2&- very square, up-and down sort of feel.
BUT, in Compound Time that beat is subdivided in triplets which is not and up-and down feel, but more of a round , or rolling, feel


…which is why 6/8 marches swing along, IMHO. Yes, they are 2-beat marches, but with two round, swinging beats.
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Old 12-02-2018, 07:46 PM   #7
Tom MacKenzie
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Default Re: The Art of the 6/8 March

So, I asked Bruce and he was kind enough to reply


"Hi there Tom. I mostly say that, because I just feel that the good strong dot cut style is really losing it's way mathematically and I don't like these round 6/8s that have lost their "swing" that was there due to the beats being played in compound time. In numbers, if a beat is like normal 6/8 time, it's dotted 1/8, cut 1/8 (1/16) and then 1/8 note. so counting that in 16th notes is. 123. 1. 12. or counting to 6 ( 16ths) the pulses at 1 2 3 4 5 6. but many just divide the beat in half so it's 1/8 note and 2 1/16th notes. 1, 2an. 2, 2an "


I have often wished that metronomes had a triplet dotted eighth sixteenth eighth rhythm setting. I could put it on triplet eighths at twice the tempo, but at anything but a slowish speed it is hard to hear all the ticks.


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Old 12-03-2018, 04:00 AM   #8
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Default Re: The Art of the 6/8 March

I think from the sounds of it Bruce is talking about the treatment of the final quaver (eighth note) in a beat. If you listen to any compound time music you should be able to hear a very clear crotchet-quaver rhythm coming through.


You can get this rhythm on a metronome that lets you configure individual beats in a bar, by setting it to 3/4 time, removing beat 2, then tripling the bpm from your desired 6/8 tempo.
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Old 12-03-2018, 01:12 PM   #9
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Default Re: The Art of the 6/8 March

I get my students to hear the AND-1, AND-4 of it. Good strong AND, so that it sounds like the lub-dub of a heartbeat. No wonder the ancients called it Tempus Perfectum.
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Old 12-03-2018, 04:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: The Art of the 6/8 March

Could someone post a link to an example of Bruce Gandy playing a 6/8 of this nature?

Quote:
I get my students to hear the AND-1, AND-4 of it.
AND-4 in a 6/8..?


-Matthew
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