View Full Version : Jig vs Reel

May-26-2004, 7:52am
I am a multi-instrumentalist new to Celtic music and the mandolin.

I just learned Swallowtail Jig.

What is the difference(s) between jigs and reels?
Form? Time Signature? history etc. ?

Are they dances as well ?


May-26-2004, 8:22am
Well, a jig's sort of round, and a reel's kind of an oblong rush (whereas a polka's nearly square and a hornpipe is trapezoid),

For somewhat more intelligent definitions, try these links:
irishtune.info (http://www.irishtune.info/rhythm/)
Kiwi Fruit? (http://www.drumdojo.com/world/ireland/jigreel.htm)

May-26-2004, 8:37am
it's basically all to do with the rhythmn. Standard jigs are in 6/8 time (although slip jigs are in 9/8 time and slides 12/8 time both of which are related to jigs), whereas reels are in 4/4 time. Reels are more common in that they occur with more sorts of music - ie many American tunes are like reels, but the jig is peculiar to celtic tunes.

Even though jigs are split into 6 beats in the bar, the beat feels more like it's in 2, with each beat being split into 3 (think diddly diddly for a bar of a jig).

hope this helps....


May-26-2004, 9:01am
The introduction (http://www.ceolas.org/tunes/TuneIndex/intro.html) to James Stewart's master index of hundreds of tunebooks (http://www.ceolas.org/tunes/TuneIndex/) in Tunes at Ceolas (http://www.ceolas.org/tunes/) has a lengthy discussion of the different dance types.

May-27-2004, 9:01am
Thanks for the replys - a wealth of info.

BTW: I always thought polkas were dot shaped. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

May-30-2004, 12:54am
Next lesson: Stouts and Porters

May-30-2004, 7:48pm
You put line on the reel tie a jig to the line and catch a fish. At least where I live. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

May-31-2004, 7:49pm
I just remebered where I blundered into a terrific explanation of (http://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/)jigs and other bits of the intricacies of celtic rhythm.

Open the site and look at the menu on the left hand side ... go to "jig" and spend some time there.

BTW - the rest of the site has some extraordinary insites in playing celtic music - on any instrument. And lists some of the pitfalls and traps in trying to learn then ...