Strathspey (dance)

Strathspey (dance)

A strathspey is a type of dance tune in 4/4 time. It is similar to a hornpipe but slower and more stately, and contains many dot-cut 'snaps'. A so-called "Scotch snap" is a short note before a dotted note, which in traditional playing is generally exaggerated rhythmically for musical expression. An example of a strathspey would be the song "The Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond", provided it is sung staccato:

:"You'll tak the high road, and I'll tak the low road, and I'll be in Scotland afore ye"

Other examples are the tunes to "Auld Lang Syne" (based on Sir Alexander Don's Strathspey) and "Coming through the rye" (based on an old strathspey tune called "The Miller's daughter").

Because the strathspey rhythm has four strong beats to the bar, is played quickly (generally ranging from 108 beats per minute, for Highland Dance, up to 160 beats per minute, for stepdance), and contains many dot-cut 'snaps,' it is a rhythmically tense idiom. Traditionally, a strathspey will be followed by a reel, which is in 2/2 with a swung rhythm, as a release of the rhymthic tension created during the strathspey.

It has been hypothesized that strathspeys mimic the rhythms of the Scottish Gaelic language. Among traditional musicians, strathspeys are often transmitted as canntaireachd, a style of singing in which various syllables stand in for traditional bagpipe ornaments. [ [ Traditional Scottish Gaelic singing ] ]

The dance is named after the Strathspey region of Scotland, in Moray and Badenoch and Strathspey. Strathspey refers both to the type of tune, and to the type of dance usually done to it (although strathspeys are also frequently danced to slow airs).fact|date=January 2007 The strathspey is one of the dance types in Scottish country dancing. A Scottish country dance will typically consist of equal numbers of strathspeys, jigs and reels. The strathspey step is a slower and more stately version of the skip-change step used for jigs and reels. The strathspey also forms part of the musical format for competing pipe bands - modern high grade bands are required to play a March, Strathspey and Reel for competition purposes.

The strathspey may have originated in bagpipe tunes; many newer strathspeys were written in the 18th and 19th centuries by composers such as William Marshall and James Scott Skinner, who utilised the full range of the fiddle to produce many memorable tunes. Skinner distinguished between dance tunes, which retained the staccato bowing (Laird o Drumblair), and airs which were to be listened to (Music of Spey). More recently, Muriel Johnstone has written some elegant piano strathspeys. These days there are at least four, some would say seven, varieties: the bouncy schottische, the strong strathspey, the song or air strathspey, all three of which can be enjoyed for dancing, and the competition strathspey for the Great Highland Bagpipe, primarily intended as a display of virtuosity. Although band and solo competition piping generally involves a complicated, heavily ornamented setting, traditional pipers often play simpler, more rhythmically driven versions.


See also

*List of Scottish country dances

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Strathspey, Scotland — Strathspey (Scottish Gaelic, Srath Spè ) is the area around the strath of the River Spey, Scotland, in both the Moray council area and the Badenoch and Strathspey committee area of Highland.It is also one of the main centres of the Scotch whisky… …   Wikipedia

  • Strathspey — may refer to one of the following:* Strathspey, Scotland, an area in the Highlands of Scotland; * Strathspey (dance) …   Wikipedia

  • Strathspey — bezeichnet einen schottischen Tanz sowie das zugehörige Musikstück. Kennzeichnend ist die strenge Rhythmik mit vielen punktierten Noten und „Scotch Snaps“ (Sechzehntelnoten gefolgt von punktierten Achteln, lombardischer Rhythmus). Er besteht… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • strathspey — [strath spā′] n. [after Strathspey, valley of Spey River, N Scotland: see STRATH] 1. a Scottish dance resembling, but slower than, the reel 2. the music for this …   English World dictionary

  • Strathspey — Strath spey , n. [So called from the district of Strath Spey in Scotland.] A lively Scottish dance, resembling the reel, but slower; also, the tune. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dance — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) Motion to music Nouns 1. dance, dancing; ball, formal, tea dance, thé dansant, cotillion, promenade, dinner dance; masquerade, masked ball, bal masqué, fancy dress ball. Informal, drag, hop, prom, mixer …   English dictionary for students

  • dance — Synonyms and related words: Charleston, Highland fling, Lambeth Walk, Mexican hat dance, Portland fancy, Virginia reel, Watusi, acid rock, allemande, antic, arabesque, assemblee, assembly, assignation, at home, avant garde jazz, bal, bal costume …   Moby Thesaurus

  • strathspey — [straθ speɪ] noun a slow Scottish dance. ↘a piece of music for such a dance, typically in 4/4 time. Origin C18: named after Strathspey in Scotland …   English new terms dictionary

  • strathspey — n. 1 a slow Scottish dance. 2 the music for this. Etymology: Strathspey, valley of the river Spey …   Useful english dictionary

  • Dance Styles — I m not a particularly good dancer, being part of that generation for which dancing involves shuffling one s feet about randomly while gyrating in provocative ways. I do manage to keep my feet off my wife s, though (well, most of the time). This… …   Phrontistery dictionary