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Help with a couple of things on the EC


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Most retreat marches are in 3/4 tempo, three paces to the bar, and a 9/8 retreat march is played at the same marching speed.

9/8 - that's nine paces to the bar - so can retreat 3 times faster than when marching in :P


What I meant is that a 9/8 retreat march is also three paces to the bar, so that the 3 1/8 notes make one pace, at the same speed as 1 1/4 note of the 3/4 march.

So you can follow a 3/4 match by a 9/8 march, as I often do, and continue at the same marching speed.

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  • 1 month later...

Sorry to revive an old thread, but as it's on the same topic as the original post...


I've been crossing fingers to be able to play fifths legato, and that's been working fine for me until I came across this piece. Much of the first section I find very difficult because of the fifth-followed-by-thirds pattern. In bar 3 (the Em bar on the top line) the only way I've been able to finger it without using the same finger twice is 3-2-3-4-5-2, and it seems a bad idea to take my fifth finger out of the rest. Listening back to myself playing it, having a single pair of notes not legato doesn't necessary harm the piece that much, but it would still be nice to have the option...


So is there any trick to playing a piece like this?

Edited by tzirtzi
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Just quickly:


The aim of not jumping with one finger is not to make things legato/smooth, but rather to keep things controlled.


You could find a different version of the tune! I think that version is slightly different there to what I know.


You could play triplets in certain places (especially since the rhythm is dotted) - e.g. efg instead of e-g. Then you can use the same finger (2) for e and g without jumping, because playing the note on the other side will tend to help.


Some long-short pairs will be smooth, and some will have gaps (for example you could alternate so the 1st and 3rd crotchet beats are legato and the 2nd and 4th are staccato). You don't want to jump with the same finger between beats, or on the legato ones, but it's OK on the others. So that bar could be played:


21 22 31 23


The phrasing is such that the first three notes (plus one from the preceeding bar) are "slurred", then the next 4, then the final one slurs into the next bar. So - the phrasing is very slightly displaced from the rhythm.

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Thanks very much! :) I hadn't realised that it was meant to be syncopated - so I've found a different version, http://www.folktunefinder.com/tune.php?id=9144, which writes it like that. The triplets fit rather better with the dotted rhythm, and playing triplet e-f-g rather than e-g helps a lot. Once I've got my fingers a bit more used to playing it with a dotted rhythm, I'll experiment with patterns of legato and staccato, as you suggest..

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I've tended to play the first bar as

(3faf d>f A>d F>A

ie. replacing the first dotted pair with a triplet.

It makes fingering easier.

Similarly for the third bar

(3gbg e>g c>e A>F


Note that the convention with hornpipes is that all pairs of notes are generally played dotted, even if not written that way,but the length is not as written - it's not dotted quaver - semiquaver in the ration 3:1 as written, but more like 2:1, so that triplets fit in very naturally.

Of course, it could be notated with a 3 over the notes, but that would have to be repeated all through the tune - too much work! - so there's a convention with hornpipes to play the dotted notes that way.


You've probably done that anyway just by copying the way you've heard hornpipes played.


PS Interestingly, comparing the differences in notes between the two versions, there's some places where I play the notes in one version, and other places where I play the notes in the other version.

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Thanks for the advice :)


I'll try the triplet in the first bar, though I can just about manage that one as written - might be easier just to stick with what I know :P.


I have indeed been playing 2:1 rather than 3:1, but as the fortuitous result of being used to playing jazz rather than knowing that it was meant to be like that :P Good to know that I'm actually doing it right!

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Btw, Scottish hornpipes tend to be played more "crisply" - i.e. closer to 3:1 (I believe).

That's the case for pipe hornpipes, e.g. "Crossing the Minch" or "Tam Bain's Lum", which tend to be played like pipe matches, with the dotted notes played as written.

Strathspeys are more complex, with a mixture of triplets, semiquavers, and dotted notes, always played as written - 3:1.

In the North-East style (Scott Skinner, James Dickie, Bill Hardie) the dotted notes are even more emphasied, often played as if double dotted, especially in Slow Strathspeys.

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