Can you describe the traditional types of pipe music?
Most "traditional" pipe tunes fall into one of these categories:
- Piobaireachd: (described separately).
- Marches: Usually in 2/4, 4/4 or 6/8 time signatures. Used for parades.
There's one 5/4 march that I know of!
- Competition Marches: Usually in 2/4, very ornate and intended to show off
the pipers technical abilities. Never intended for marching. Usually has strong
emphasis designed into the first downbeat of the bar.
- Strathspey: A tune in 4/4 or "common" time used as the basis for many
highland dances. The tune usually helps to emphasize the dancers steps by having a
pulse pattern that goes strong-weak-medium-weak. Eight bars are repeated (64 beats)
to form one "part" or "measure".
- Reel: A tune also used for dancing, commonly in 2/2 or "cut-common"
time. Eight bars form one "part" or "measure" (16 beats).
- Airs: A slow tune, usually contemplative, commonly in 6/8, but can be in other
time signatures. Many poignant tunes at weddings and funerals are airs.
- Hornpipe: A sprightly tune usually consisting of eight bars of 2/4 time repeated
(32 beats) to form one "part" or "measure". (Note: I personally
further divide hornpipes into three categories: march-pipes (or freight-trains),
reel-pipes, and sea-shanties. I recognize that this is probably more related to how
the tune should be played, but is a useful framework for me.)
- Jig: An infectious tune usually in 6/8 time, but can be written in 3/2 or 9/8
time and are then known as slip jigs. Usually used for dancing and getting an
audience to clap along.
- Retreat March: A march in 3/4 time usually used to retire from duty.
Copyright S.K. MacLeod 1996-2016