The reel and jig are both types of traditional Irish dance. In step dance, the reel is usually danced with soft shoes (like ballet shoes). There are different forms of the jig: the slip jig, light jig and single jig are danced in soft shoes, while the hard jig is danced in hard shoes (like tap shoes). Hornpipe (hard shoes) – originally an English dance spread to Ireland during the 18th century. Dotted rhythms. Slower than a reel. 4/4 Relentless quaver rhythm – occasional crotchet/triplets/semiquavers are thrown in for variation. Melody – small intervals (2nds and 3rds); 4ths and 5ths give the music a traditional Irish feel = drone. Few intervals larger than this. Tempo – 2 in a bar feel. Bounciness reflected in the dance steps.
Bodhran – Irish frame drum played with a cipin, beater, bone or tipper. Different styles of playing eg. top end style, pitch varying techniques. Uillean Pipes – Irish national bagpipes; much quieter than Scottish bagpipes. Harp – drone (1st and 5th) – accompaniment figure.
Reel and Jig
Irish Jig and Reel
Step Dance Popularised by Riverdance in 1994 at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Reels and Jigs: Key Characteristics Step dances Intricate footwork Limited upper body movement Often stand in lines Soft or hard shoes Reel Jig Simple time (2/4, 4/4, 2/4) Slip jig, light jig, single jig (soft shoes); hard jig (hard shoes) Compound time (6/8, 9/8, 12/8) Common Musical Features Relentless quaver rhythm Melody: mainly small intervals Fast tempo; bouncy feel Binary form; repeated sections Ornamentation added by performer Tonic-dominant alternation Major or modal Solo or ensemble Instruments Fiddle, flute, tin whistle, accordion, bodhran, Uilleann pipes, harp Semi-quavers Sharp movements, fast, angular. Light, graceful, slower than reels
Instruments Bodhran Uillean Pipes Tin Whistle Accordion