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 Traditional Music >> The Scottish Whistle >> Tutorials >> Tutorial 5.1

The Scottish Whistle



Short Mary


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Whistle Tutorial - Lesson 5.1




dance.gifIT'S GENERALLY ACKNOWLEDGED that the reel is a Scottish invention; the first record of a reel being danced here was in 1591. From Scotland they spread and became very popular in Ireland. Indeed, many Irish reels are in fact Scottish in origin. Such Irish staples such as Paddy Ryan's Dream , The Flogging Reel, The Youngest Daughter, The Ewe Reel, The Boyne Hunt, Dogs Among the Bushes, Bonnie Kate, The Mason's Apron, The Money Musk, The Flax In Bloom, Miss McLeod's, Green Groves of Erin, Lord Gordon's Reel, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Rakish Paddy, The Tarbolton, are just a few that are Scots imports.

So what makes a reel? It's all in the rhythm. The reel rhythm is 4/4; that is, four quarter notes in every bar. When you listen to a reel your feet tap four times to every bar (or if it's played very fast two). The rhythm can be counted out ONE-two-three-four, ONE-two-three-four, and so on. Usually a reel is made up of a mixture of quarter notes and eighth notes:


Tail Toddle

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Tail todle, tail todle;
Tammie gart my tail todle;
At my ae wi' diddle doddle,
Tammie gart my tail todle.

1. Our gudewife held o'er to Fife,
For tae buy a coal-riddle;
Lang or she came back again,
Tammie gart my tail todle.

2. When I'm deid I'm out o' date;
When I'm seik I'm fu' o' trouble;
When I'm weel I step about,
An' Tammie gars my tail todle.


3. Jenny Jack she gae a plack,
Helen Wallace gae a boddle;
Quo' the bride, its o'er little
For tae mend a broken doddle.


Although Niel Gow, when he published this tune in 1780, supposed it to be Welsh, it was known in Scotland long before then, and if it has ever been Welsh, it is now totally absorbed into the Scottish tradition. The tune is closely related to Gillie Callum, and tune also known as The Sword Dance because of its popularity for that event.


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