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Strathspey for Highland dancing: triplets or Scotch snap - what is the best?

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  • Strathspey for Highland dancing: triplets or Scotch snap - what is the best?

    I currently learn the tune "Marquis of Huntly's fling" often played for the Highland Fling. But, most of the strathspey scores are composed with the MSR pipe bands competition in mind and not the dancer. On the 4th bar of Marquis of Huntly's score music, I would like to know what is the most suitable rhythm for dancers between "triplets" (three note runs) and "Scotch snap" (where the strathspey dot-cut rhythm is suddenly reversed)?

    Thanks!!!

  • #2
    Re: Strathspey for Highland dancing: triplets or Scotch snap - what is the best?

    It really doesn't matter - the idiom of the tune is what's important and if you're playing for dancers that will come across pretty quickly.

    The only reason to choose one over the other is if you're more comfortable playing it one way.
    http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
    -- Formerly known as CalumII

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    • #3
      Re: Strathspey for Highland dancing: triplets or Scotch snap - what is the best?

      My instructor plays for a lot of Highland Dancing contests, and he teaches to play the triplets as two sixteenth notes followed by an eighth note, as opposed to playing them all the same length. That way the weight is on the ending note, and if the tempo needs to go up or down, you can control it by lengthening or shortening the last note in the triplet.
      Stewart Keith

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      • #4
        Re: Strathspey for Highland dancing: triplets or Scotch snap - what is the best?

        Originally posted by olypiper View Post
        My instructor plays for a lot of Highland Dancing contests, and he teaches to play the triplets as two sixteenth notes followed by an eighth note, as opposed to playing them all the same length. That way the weight is on the ending note, and if the tempo needs to go up or down, you can control it by lengthening or shortening the last note in the triplet.
        My bagpipes instructor teaches the same way of playing as yours.

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        • #5
          Re: Strathspey for Highland dancing: triplets or Scotch snap - what is the best?

          Originally posted by CalumII View Post
          It really doesn't matter - the idiom of the tune is what's important and if you're playing for dancers that will come across pretty quickly.

          The only reason to choose one over the other is if you're more comfortable playing it one way.
          This is a piper answer! (I say that because dancers' answers (on another forum) are pretty different... it is always interesting to cross the two parts). Thanks for the exercices, look very interesting.

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          • #6
            Re: Strathspey for Highland dancing: triplets or Scotch snap - what is the best?

            Sorry, I hate making a post like this because it comes across as though I'm bragging, but I am a piper and (at least I used to be ) an open level dancer. (Time does take it's toll, these days an attempt at a split highcut would probably put me in hospital...)

            "Scotch snap" all the way. (Although funnily enough I'd never actually heard this term used before moving to a place where they're not familiar with Scottish music. To me scotch is a beverage and not an adjective, but we won't go there...)

            As CalumII said, "the idiom of the tune is what's important" but a not insignificant part of the idiom of a strathspey comes from, as olypipers' teacher says, playing "the triplets as two sixteenth notes followed by an eighth note". When dancing the fling or a strathspey, I would be bothered if the triplets were played evenly. Not all, but many highland dances are very quick and snappy, and a sudden run of even triplets sort of goes against the rest of the held-and-cut idiom.

            I actually sort of wish strathspey notation conventions would change to reflect reality. However, compared to the rest of the musical word, bagpipers seem generally uninterested in using the possibilities of musical notation to it's full potential. But again, I digress....

            Anyway. That's my 2p. Good luck with the Marquis, strathspeys are not easy, but fantastic when played well.

            H.

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            • #7
              Re: Strathspey for Highland dancing: triplets or Scotch snap - what is the best?

              I have been playing for dancing competitions for too many years now, appros 40+. When I teach strathspey playing it is always with the run as cut,cut, hold. That is the only way to get in the proper bounce to the tune. Invariably I will be asked about but it is written one, two, three. And I have to tell them that is is played cut, cut, hold. As mentioned I don't think dancers would know what to do hearing them played exactly even as written.
              Practice Hard, win easy!
              Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.
              Vince Lombardi

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              • #8
                Re: Strathspey for Highland dancing: triplets or Scotch snap - what is the best?

                Originally posted by classicbagpipes View Post
                I have been playing for dancing competitions for too many years now, appros 40+. When I teach strathspey playing it is always with the run as cut,cut, hold. That is the only way to get in the proper bounce to the tune. Invariably I will be asked about but it is written one, two, three. And I have to tell them that is is played cut, cut, hold. As mentioned I don't think dancers would know what to do hearing them played exactly even as written.
                Around 35 years for me. And I agree 100% with what John said here.

                Andrew

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                • #9
                  Re: Strathspey for Highland dancing: triplets or Scotch snap - what is the best?

                  16th 16th and an 8th note as above.
                  J.A.B.MACDONALD

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