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Is There Some Trad Form That's Like 5/4 In Time Sig?


bellowbelle
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Well, I've been amazed at the education available right here in this thread! I'm still re-reading and learning. (Thanks, everyone who posted!)

 

I'd never before heard of 'Sean Nos,' so I searched that via Google, got lots of info.

 

And, I'd tried before but never managed to mix meters using ABC2WIN, so....now I know that it IS possible to do that!

 

Dave, either of those examples you gave would seem to work and sound good to me...the only thing I note is that I would add Q:160 or something like that to the code for the second example (5/4 that goes to 6/4), to slow it down a bit.

 

Anyway, I've come back to this thread a lot and shall return again, I'm sure -- though, have printed it out so far (..easier for my eyes to read paper than the screen).

 

Great audio examples, too! :)

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For some reason, lately when I invent a new little tune or song (with our without lyrics, but usually with) it seems to want to be in 5/4 time.

 

Scottish pipe marches are sometimes in 5/4. Cullen Bay comes to mind, but there are many others. A retreat march in 3/4 sounds similiar, such as Green Hills and Battle's O'er.

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...I'm wondering if I'm actually not doing stuff in 5/4...
Now that I've rolled the tune around in my mouth for a while and seen it on my computer screen and heard it a few times, the following seems obvious:post-65-1142826183_thumb.jpg

That looks right, with slight rubato (not quite rigid) in the rhythm. Not just a simple 5/4, though, but the first three beats (four in the 6/4 measure) subdivided interestingly, as well. Nice stuff

 

I still haven't learned all about the various traditional forms, so, I don't know.

 

Maybe what I'm doing is actually all the usual 3/4 and 4/4, but I'm adding a lot of ...[fermatas].

It's common for old ballads to be very free with the rhythm, and transcibers frequently notate the number of "beats per measure" as mixtures like the following ("Bonny Barbara Allen" from Helen Creighton's Maritime Folk Songs): (5/4) (5/4) (5/4) (4/4) (6/4) (6/4) (5/4) (3/4). But often an "extra" beat is just holding onto a syllable for emphasis, essentially the same as a fermata in classical music but always keeping the steady pulse of single beats.

 

The 5/4 rhythm in Wendy's song is very much like the use of "odd" rhythms in the old ballads (I think in some more modern songs as well, though I can't think of an example off hand), but quite different in feel from 5/4 as a dance tempo.

I arrange lots of music for my women's chorus, and many's the time I write and rewrite, trying to get the meter straight. The only traditional music that I know of that's frequently 5/4 is Balkan!
Well Andy Irvine "famously" went travelling in the Balkans as a young man and got obsessed with the 5/4 rythym of the indigenous music - going so far as to write many tunes in this style which are now thought of as "traditional irish" so perhaps he is one of the people responsible.

5/4? I thought Andy's were either 7/8 or 9/8 (not the 3-3-3 of the slip jig, but 2-2-2-3). In fact, I'm puzzled by Allison's comment suggesting 5/4 as a standard Balkan rhythm, since in my many years of Balkan dancing and singing I'm unable to recall a single tune with that as a steady rhythm. (Allison, can you give me some examples, so I can eat my words? ;)) The pajdushko, commonly notated as 5/8 or 5/16, is a common dance meter, but it's quite different from 5/4. And I think it's more accurate to say that it's not in 5 but in 2, with a short beat and a long beat, as that's the way the feet move to the music. Similarly, the gankino and kopanitsa are usually written as 11/16, but they really have 5 pulses -- short-short-long-short-short -- where the "long" beats are 1½ times as long (and so written as if 3/16) as the "short" ones (written as if 2/16).

 

The five step waltz from the second half of the 19th century is in 5/4.

Nice. I wasn't aware of that. I don't know of any other tradition where 5/4 is used regularly. I do recall learning a Polish dance -- a single dance to a single tune, from a particular region, I believe -- which is in 5/4 and which I was told was called "polka przez noge" (pollka over or through the leg) -- humorously corrupted to "polka bez noge" (polka without legs; a consequence of doing it wrong? :unsure:). On the first beat of the measure the man steps over one of the woman's legs, placing his leg between hers (hence the name), then three more turning steps, followed by two quick steps on the last beat to return to the correct foot for starting again.

 

There's also the Sønderhoning, a dance from the small Danish island of Fanø, in which the dance step has a 3-beat repetition, but the tunes used can be in just about any x/4: 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, etc. At least one recorded tune is in 5/4. As a digression, I'll mention that some of the traditional tunes are very close variants of tunes I previously knew as Playford dance tunes.

 

Finally, I remember some years ago hearing a song about a "normal" man falling in love with a 3-legged woman, the end of which goes into a 5/4 rhythm as they "waltz" off on their combined 5 legs.

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Finally, I remember some years ago hearing a song about a "normal" man falling in love with a 3-legged woman, the end of which goes into a 5/4 rhythm as they "waltz" off on their combined 5 legs.

I was thinking the same thing. This was a skit on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" back in the late 1960s. It was accompanied by a song, something like "I love the waltz, it has its faults..." I think I also remember a rhyme between "fancy" and "dancy." When 3-legs finally got hooked up with 2-legs for a waltz, the music went into a 3-against-2 pattern.

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I know it is not "traditional" music but Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull) was always writing songs in weird time signatures - Living in the Past was in 5/4 - he was also keen on 7/8 and other "unbalanced" time signatures.

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  • 2 weeks later...
There are, I believe, a fair number of English traditional songs in 5/4 (or least notated that way by the collectors). The only one I can think of off the top of my head is one of my favourites: 'Searching for Lambs'.

 

There are a number of others, "The Handweaver and the Factory Maid", "Rufford Park Poachers" and "The Rambling Comber" come to mind.

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5/4 meter is pretty rare, but 5/8 and 5/16 are quite common in the Balkans (Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, northern Greece) and also show up a lot in central and northern Spain and in Armenia. There are some English and American examples of traditional songs in 5/4 Lena Bourne Fish's Barbara Allen, the English Carol, Truth Sent from Above (a tune used for a whole bunch of traditional songs including the Dreadful Ghost which has been sung (and recorded I think) by Tony Barrand).

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I know of only one Scottish tune in 5/4 time - Cullen Bay

It's odd because it stretches out the final beat of a 4/4 march tempo to get the extra beat for 5/4.

 

Here's the ABC of the first (of 4 parts) to the tune

X:1

T:Cullen Bay

M:5/4

L:1/8

C:I. Duncan

O:Scottish

R:March

K:A

A>B cA Bc/B/ A4 | c>d ec de/f/ e4 | fa ec de/d/ c4 | A>B cA Bc/B/ A4

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I know of only one Scottish tune in 5/4 time - Cullen Bay

It's odd because it stretches out the final beat of a 4/4 march tempo to get the extra beat for 5/4..............

...............................................

 

Funny, too, how that sounds so natural to the ear, since a lot of 5/4 that I've heard -- though I like the sound -- seems more contrived.

 

Nice tune to know...I guess now I have something to look forward to -- the remaining 3 parts!

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