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Noone has to be perfect with us at reading notes or playing instruments, something like this is not expected... but we stay open for it, that everyone can learn something else as well and not only the dancing.

That's why we have chosen a small extract from the irish music:

Description of the Irish Music

Both in folkdancing and in stepdancing we use irish music. The irish music is built up on 8-bar-sections. It means, that each irish tune is built up by several 8-bar-sections which have to be played completely. The first 8 bars of a tune are usually used for introduction. Irish music has basically four different kinds: jigs, reels, hornpipes and polkas. These basic types can have subtypes. For example: barndance is based on hornpipe, a slip jig or a slide are based on jigs.

The differences among the basic types are going to be described here. For some sample tunes the notes are displayed graphically. If you click onto a tune, you can enjoy 32 bars from it musically as well. At the end of this site the difference among some of the instruments is going to be shown by some samples. Note: The samples are ".mp3".

Jig (Top, Irish music)

The time signature of a jig is 6/8. If we generally talk about jig we mean double jig. Slip jigs and slides are going to be discussed lower on this page. If you take a look at the notes below, you will realize that the notation of jigs is really quite simple. There are six quavers in each bar in groups of three - referring to two beats for the first and the fourth quaver. The style of playing the music depends on the dance style as well. For treble jig the music is played slowly and usually exactly as it is noted. For normal speed the beats are usually played as a dotted quaver followed by a semiquaver and a quaver.

As a sample of jig the "Eavesdropper" (497 kB) is going to be shown:

The speed of jigs and reels is usually similar, so a jig can be therefore played for example as the introduction of a reel.

Reel (Top, Irish music)

Reels are the most popular type of irish tunes. The time signature is 4/4. Sometimes the time signature is indicated by the C sign replacing the 4/4. The notation of reels is as simple as that of jigs as well. There are eight quavers in each bar in groups of four - referring to two beats for the first and the fifth quaver. From this reason the third and the seventh (beatless) quaver is a bit higher expressed than other beatless quavers so that another kind of steps are required in the dancing than those for jigs. Reels are usually played exactly as they are noted. To express the beats the first quaver is sometimes played as a dotted quaver followed by a semiquaver and two quavers or a crotchet is used (see notation below) instead of the first two quavers. This is very suitable for dancing.

A good example of an 8 bar reel is the tune "Miss Monaghan" (1,132 kB). This sample is a bit longer with 64 bars of music:

Hornpipe (Top, Irish music)

Hornpipes and barndances are in 4/4 timing as reels (see above). The notation of hornpipes is simplier as it is played (see notation below). There are eight quavers in each bar in groups of four - referring to four beats for the first, the third, the fifth and the seventh quaver. Hornpipe is played therefore different than reels: instead of playing the quavers directly, two of the quavers form a triplet and the first quaver is played as a crotched within the triplet (2/3 of a normal crotchet) and the second quaver is played as itself within the triplet (1/3 of a crotchet). A hornpipe is played usually slower than a reel.

A sample for hornpipes is described by "The Plains of Boyle" (694 kB):

Polka (Top, Irish music)

A polka has 2/4 timing. The notation of polkas is as simple as that of jigs as well. There are four quavers in each bar in groups of two - referring to two beats for the first and the third quaver. Polkas are played in the rhythm of reels, but because of every second quaver is "missing", the speed is usually much faster. Because of the same rhythm polkas are sometimes called reels or fast reels as well. To express the beats the first quaver is played as a dotted quaver followed by a semiquaver or two quavers are replaced by a crotchet - as in reels.

The row of the samples is extended by the "Bill Sullivan's" polka (434 kB):

Slip Jig (Top, Irish music)

Slip jigs are in 9/8 timing. If you take a look at the notes below, you can realize that the notation of slip jigs is really simple as that of double jigs. There are nine quavers in each bar in groups of three - referring to three beats for the first, the fourth and the seventh quaver. The style of playing slip jigs is similar to double jigs. These tunes are generally played slower than jigs.

The rhythm of a slip jig is presented by "Hardiman the Fiddler" (464 kB):

Slip jigs are also known as the "ballet" of Irish Dancing.

Slide (Top, Irish music)

Slides are in 12/8 timing. There are twelve quavers in each bar in groups of three - referring to four beats for the first, the fourth, the seventh and the tenth quaver. These tunes are generally played much faster than jigs. Because of the speed a different style is required for playing the tunes. The quaver-groups of three are usually played as a crotchet followed by a quaver or replaced completely by a dotted crotchet. The melody usually ends after sixteen beats so that the length of a tune is similar to that of double jigs.

The slide is presented by "The Star Above the Garter" (461 kB):

Final samples (Top, (Irish music)

And finally some samples for the same tunes in reels and hornpipes on different instruments:

Cooley's Reel

Accordeon (655 kB), Fiddle (675 kB), Uillean pipes (567 kB), Céilí band (502 kB)

Cooley's Hornpipe

Accordeon (574 kB), Harp (906 kB)

(Top, Irish music)