Saturday, July 05, 2008

In Jig Time

or The Jig is Up

or Jiggy Wid It

There are things that fiddlers take for granted that a neophyte doesn't necessarily know. One these things is the various types of fiddling rhythms. While I have yet to figure them all out, I have finally realized what a jig is. Mind you, realizing the structure in my head is not the same things as playing it. Nevertheless ...

For one thing, a jig seems to always be in 6/8 time as in the score of the famous Kesh Jig, below. See also how's there's a repeat at the end of each line (or section)? That's typical of jigs as well: play part A twice and then part B twice.



The thing that I have eventually discovered, is that you don't play a jig in exactly the way it's written. The three bars that I've highlighted in yellow represent a typical jig pattern — two groups of eighth notes per bar. In 6/8 time, one would think that all eighth notes would be equal, but they're not. In each group of three, the first note (highlighted in red) receives greater emphasis than the other two, almost as if it's held longer than an eighth while the other two are shorter. This results in a different sound and feel than what one might deduce by just looking at the music. In fact, I deduced it incorrectly in a number of tunes that I tried to learn by sight-reading before the light switched on in my tiny brain. Perhaps this type of thing is one reason why fiddlers tend to learn and play by ear rather than by note.

Well ... after uploading a scan of Kesh Jig, I can't find the music that I thought I had. But here's a good example of a tune played in jig time. Sorry to disappoint my legion of fans, but it's not me playing Uncle Jimmy's Jig. One could sing the first line with an emphasis on the underlined portions: Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall diddle-dee doodle-dee diddle-dee doodle-dee. It's the diddle-dee doodle-dee that is so typical. It may not always be this pronounced, but it gives the idea.

6 comments:

ChrisB said...

I've just been catching up on all your back posts while I've been away. I see you and Nikki Dee have been very busy! That looks like a pretty awful storm but it clearly didn't frighten the little one! The Canada Day photo is so cute. I must tell embee you have took over the cooking when you retired but I don't somehow see him taking the bait!

Amanda said...

You could have pretended that was you playing that jig! It's a lovely wee tune. I've been to a few ceilidh's and danced to a few jigs like that.

Valerie - Still Riding said...

I play by ear, mostly. It's a feel for the music thing and I was tickled to hear you got it!

I'm all caught up again, glad you are enjoying the summer.

Donna said...

My Grandfather use to play the fiddle (I now have it). He also would play a jig and Loved to Dance a jig!! What fun! I Still remember him playing...Thanks Ac for that memory...hughugs

Lorna said...

I have a brother who's a drummer in a celtic band, and we all love those jigging rhythms. Ashley McIsaac and Natalie McM can always lift my spirits

momto3cubs said...

Thanks, and I enjoyed the music!