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Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

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  • Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

    Something I have been meaning to post around here for a while for all you EUSPBA solo players...

    We talk about a Strathspey being SWMW yet whenever I hear a player perform one..or even a judge making comment it is along the lines of playing a SWWS. Hold the heck out of the first note, then hold the heck out of the dotted note on the last beat of the bar, then jump to the first note on the next bar..

    So why do we talk about SWMW then? Am I missing something?

    David
    "A man looks down a dark tunnel he must walk, and sees no light and the end of it. It is at that moment that his character is revealed."

  • #2
    Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

    Honestly, it depends on the tune. There's good reason why it's nearly impossible to learn this music with sheet music alone.
    https://harperbagpipes.com/

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    • #3
      Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

      Oh agreed.

      BUT,

      If you hear the comments and listen, typically the points we are stressed to make are a SWWS when it comes to competition. if we hold the last bar as Weak, it is considered not pulsed correctly...for the most part. At least that has been my experience when I would compete in this event and I did not hold that last dotted note...

      David
      "A man looks down a dark tunnel he must walk, and sees no light and the end of it. It is at that moment that his character is revealed."

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

        SWMW is a load of rubbish and needs to die. Try SSSS and play the phrases. Really, the best way to describe it would be MMMS, but in my opinion it confuses the issue trying to think about it. The pulse is already in the music, let it do the talking.
        http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
        -- Formerly known as CalumII

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        • #5
          Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

          Ok well that is along things of what I'm referring to. It's appears defunct.

          And yes some tunes just have their all own pulsing..
          "A man looks down a dark tunnel he must walk, and sees no light and the end of it. It is at that moment that his character is revealed."

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          • #6
            Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

            I've always been under the impression strathspeys are phrased in two bars phrases. Swmw wwSw. It works for most of them. The first bar is the question the second is the answer. You'll see bands and solo players using the old SwMw phrasing and they get hammered for it on their crit sheets. Jigs are phrased Swmw. Even if the beat is receiving a strong pulse it's not supposed to be held to death. It's subtle. The listener should be able to tell your performance is seamless but not readily identify what you're doing.

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            • #7
              Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

              Originally posted by Piperalpha View Post
              I've always been under the impression strathspeys are phrased in two bars phrases. Swmw wwSw. It works for most of them. The first bar is the question the second is the answer. You'll see bands and solo players using the old SwMw phrasing and they get hammered for it on their crit sheets. Jigs are phrased Swmw. Even if the beat is receiving a strong pulse it's not supposed to be held to death. It's subtle. The listener should be able to tell your performance is seamless but not readily identify what you're doing.
              I suppose I should re-emphasize I am referring to solo competition performance. I have always been marked off when not holding the 1st and 4th beats long enough..never the 2nd or 3rd.

              "A man looks down a dark tunnel he must walk, and sees no light and the end of it. It is at that moment that his character is revealed."

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

                Davey,
                I was told it works for both. Jack Lee was the person who opened my eyes to something more than Swmw. Bob Worrall fleshed it out at a workshop. We talked about it during a break for a good fifteen minutes. I've surveyed a few more open players and the rule usually stands. There are times where it doesn't work and you have to figure out what does. Good strathspey playing is good strathspey playing whether it's a band or in a solo environment. I don't see how the idiom changes from one environment to the other. It's the drummers and mid section that should make it sound like there's more emphasis in a band environment, not the pipers. When you consider many of the PMs over the years have done very well in solos it shouldn't be a surprise when the trend setters apply what they've done in solos to what the band is doing. Think of people like Bob Hardie, Iain MacLellan, Bill Livingstone, Jack Lee(is responsible for Sfu's MSRs) and Richard Parkes.

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                • #9
                  Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

                  Well the main reason I want to really get grounded on this is that I'd like to start piping for highland events and don't want to mess up the dancers..I might get quartered...

                  In this venue, I won't have a drummer with me to create pulse.

                  David


                  I'd love to here from some of the judges on this one..
                  "A man looks down a dark tunnel he must walk, and sees no light and the end of it. It is at that moment that his character is revealed."

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                  • #10
                    Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

                    Playing for dancers will kill any remaining vestige you have of your old notions of strathspey playing ;)

                    If you can stick to a steady tempo and push out the long notes, you'll be fine. The dancers will teach you the rest. It would be a good idea to have a run out with a local troupe before playing for a contest, though.
                    http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
                    -- Formerly known as CalumII

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                    • #11
                      Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

                      Ah..but here is the thing I find a little frustrating. If I play that way for the dancers (and this was the origins of the music) will it place me out of the prize when I compete with these same tunes..?

                      I am not not ready to go "Wallace" on anyone, its just odd to me..
                      "A man looks down a dark tunnel he must walk, and sees no light and the end of it. It is at that moment that his character is revealed."

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                      • #12
                        Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

                        By no means. A strathspey is a strathspey, and playing for dancers is one of the quickest ways to "getting" what the nature of the beast is. Competition playing is not dance playing, but the difference is small.

                        You might have to change your approach to some of your tunes, but that's probably a good thing ;)
                        http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
                        -- Formerly known as CalumII

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                        • #13
                          Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

                          I never want to play for dancers. A lot of parents are awful and have no shame in telling you what a terrible job you're doing. Often the dancing association has a piper or two they use on a regular basis. If for some reason they can't make it and they book you someone will likely complain you've played too fast or two slow for their child. God forbid you've played a different strathspey than they're used to. I sure don't miss dancing. What a headache.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

                            LOL thanks guys...


                            I was an little league umpire..so I have gotten used to thickening my skin.

                            I reserve the right to be humbled by the judges at my solo events.. parents are...well...parents...

                            ( I say that now though...;)
                            "A man looks down a dark tunnel he must walk, and sees no light and the end of it. It is at that moment that his character is revealed."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Strathspey Rhythm/Pulse

                              There's an excellent thread in the dance forum about playing for dancers. There's a lot of useful information from guys that have been piping for dancers for ten or more years. I think it's the first thread.

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