Scottish waltz tempo question

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Matt Butcher
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Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by Matt Butcher » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:22 pm

Well after moaning that I wasn't getting a chance to play, I had some time where I had to wait around today and I used it to practice the box, a Scottish Waltz (Welcome to Scotland by Tom McIver, but I'll hope to come back to that on another thread.)

I'm sure this is a question with no right answer, apart from to say that anyone should practice slowly and work up to the desired tempo, but I wondered if anyone would advise about how they would select a tempo for a Scottish waltz.

Jimmy Shand recorded the Agnes Waltz at a slow tempo and other waltzes (e.g. The Listening Waltz) a bit quicker, and when I listen to more recent traditional players such as Ian Cruickshanks or Daniel McPhee they use different tempos for different waltzes. Is it simply a case of doing what feels right, or are there some particular reasons for going faster or slower in this particular tradition?

I've put in a clip of the tune I'm trying out on my La Vera box and if anyone had any advice specifically on the tempo, that would be much appreciated. I do realise the recording is rough and ready and so I need slow practice to improve it, but this is just for illustration. Thanks very much.


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JerryPH
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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by JerryPH » Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:21 pm

Sometimes some notes give you the speed, but really, I am of the opinion that even those are suggestions.

There are waltzes that I play very fast and others very slow. For most, If I don't know what the "proper" speed is, what I do is imagine a couple waltzing and that is the approximate speed I take for that waltz.

Of course if you know the piece or have heard it before, it makes deciding on an ultimate speed easier, but yeah, IMHO, you had it right when you said that this question has no exact correct answer.

You're the boss, do what feels right to you. :)
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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by bocsa » Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:52 pm

Vera! ... I was looking forward to seeing her again but she's hiding in the dark ;)

Good to hear that she still has that pleasant Scottish musette voice :)

Forgot to add my 2d worth ... If you're playing for the dance it needs to be played strict tempo and moderate.
If it's for listening then play it at your natural feeling of how it should sound.

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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by artelagro » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:01 pm

Hi Matt, well done and thank you.
For health reasons I have hardly lifted my box for about two years and have been feeling very guilty about neglecting Tom’s music after he went to the trouble of compiling it and sending it to me.
There wasn’t much interest shown from our members when the music was first ‘published’ on the forum but I am glad that you did not put them on a shelf and forget about them. There is a lovely varied selection of tunes in the ‘book’.
It made me feel good hearing you play one of his tunes and I hope this is the trigger to persuade me to start again.
Fraid I can't help re the tempo - I just please myself.
Thanks again
Garth

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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by Matt Butcher » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:28 pm

Maybe it is a matter of taste....

Graham - I can't give up La Vera just yet. Anyway how many people have a gold box with a comet on it? I don't think anyone will be asking me to play for dancing at the moment.

Garth - sorry to hear about your health. I also got Tom's music and then for family reasons never even got round to printing it out for over a year. Then I remembered, and it's a really nice tune book. Also there are texts in between which are really great and gave me a really positive feeling about Mr McIver, he comes across as a great bloke. So it's given me a little project for when I have a little bit of time. I was planning to stick a few recordings on the end of the original thread, but for anyone who wants to check this out - I can't work out how to post a link within the forum but the thread's called "Blind Accordionist".

As for the tempo...

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JerryPH
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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by JerryPH » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:46 pm

Matt Butcher wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:28 pm
I can't work out how to post a link within the forum...
It's fairly simple... Here is a sample of how. Let's say you want to tell people to click on the word "HERE" to open the link.

This is the format:
(url=http://www.link_you_want_to_share.com)HERE(/url)

... just replace the ( and ) with [ and ] ... and it will be a link you can click on and send people to. Try it out! :)
My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com

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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by Matt Butcher » Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:01 pm

Jerry, you're right - just having a blind spot trying to do everything on my phone - here's a link that tells you about Tom McIver and his tube book.

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=4512&p=44871&hilit= ... ist#p44871

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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by bocsa » Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:18 pm

Is Tom McIvor's book still available? Couldn't find any links via google

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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by artelagro » Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:29 pm

I will have it re-scanned tomorrow - then ask for help re publishing it here.
In the meantime here are some details of himself :- http://www.jbao.co.uk/index.php/players/tom-mciver/
Ca canny
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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by bocsa » Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:56 pm

Thanks Garth
,,,the sample tune on the home page is very familiar but as usual, me teflon brain refuses to divulge the name!

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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by george garside » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:37 pm

the book 'the second ceilidh collection' 1 of 4 very useful tune books published by Taigh na Teud on the isle of skye the following speeds are indicated
Dancing in Kyle and endearing young charms 144
Rope waltz played for a st Bernard waltz 176.

Depending on the type of waltz I tend to start off with as close an approximation of speed as I can whilst watching the dancers feet and making slight (ish!) adjustments until the dancers look happy and at ease, this being done in the first few bars. From then on its just a question of playing to the dancers feet,

On one occasion I was asked at the end of a ceilidh to play a 'smoochy' last waltz which was something I was not familier with doing. I could very roughly remember part of the tune ' when the girl in my arms is the girl in my heart etc and so set off with an approximation of that , adjusting the tempo to the dancers feet, I then switched onto familier ground continuing with Endearing young charms, wild colonial boy, road and miles to Dundee etc etc .The dancers seemed happy enough with it, some joined in singing an 'all had smiling faces' . I was both relieved at having got away with it and sufficiently chuffed to use it on many subsequent occasions.

george

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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by Matt Butcher » Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:14 am

Thanks for the link Garth, interesting to read about him, a "second box" player I notice, in relation to another thread that's going on at the moment.

Thanks George, those tempos are a good clue as to some of the possibilities. I may not be too far off. I like your story too: I'm sure "getting away with it" is a skill in itself that comes with a lot of experience.

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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by JEBrown » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:43 am

george garside wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:37 pm
the book 'the second ceilidh collection' 1 of 4 very useful tune books published by Taigh na Teud on the isle of skye the following speeds are indicated
Dancing in Kyle and endearing young charms 144
Rope waltz played for a st Bernard waltz 176.
Ha! That series is my 'go-to' for dance tunes! Although I do prefer Deirdre Adamson's arrangements.
george garside wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:37 pm
Depending on the type of waltz I tend to start off with as close an approximation of speed as I can whilst watching the dancers feet and making slight (ish!) adjustments until the dancers look happy and at ease, this being done in the first few bars. From then on its just a question of playing to the dancers feet,
I agree with this: I think it's really important for musicians to be aware of the dancers and how well they can cope with the tempo, and to adjust accordingly. We once had to restart a Canadian Barn Dance after just a few bars when we began a little too enthusiastically and the dancers were tripping over themselves...
george garside wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:37 pm
On one occasion I was asked at the end of a ceilidh to play a 'smoochy' last waltz which was something I was not familier with doing. I could very roughly remember part of the tune ' when the girl in my arms is the girl in my heart etc and so set off with an approximation of that , adjusting the tempo to the dancers feet, I then switched onto familier ground continuing with Endearing young charms, wild colonial boy, road and miles to Dundee etc etc .The dancers seemed happy enough with it, some joined in singing an 'all had smiling faces' . I was both relieved at having got away with it and sufficiently chuffed to use it on many subsequent occasions.
Waltzes are tricky things - some need to be played fast, others slow, depending on the type of dance, the time in the evening, etc. Personally I don't like dancing waltzes myself, but they are often very lovely to play. And when you start to get into the rhythmic differences between a Viennese waltz, a French waltz and a Scottish waltz... well I need to return to my theory books to familiarise myself with all that (although maybe it's just easier to stick to playing Scottish tunes...)
John

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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by george garside » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:31 pm

Matt Butcher wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:14 am
Thanks for the link Garth, interesting to read about him, a "second box" player I notice, in relation to another thread that's going on at the moment.

Thanks George, those tempos are a good clue as to some of the possibilities. I may not be too far off. I like your story too: I'm sure "getting away with it" is a skill in itself that comes with a lot of experience.
'Getting away with it' is relatively easy when playing for dancing as rhythm is king as far as dancers are concerned and the tune/melody less so. Another example of getting away with it was the occasion when I was trying and failing miserably to play for and run a ceilidh for which the caller had not turned up. I can't play and speak let alone 'call' when playing so whole thing was rapidly becoming a farce. A voice from the back of the hall shouted 'can you play something we can jive to'. I thought 'shit' as that was just not my style. I vaguely remembered to tune of lone donegans sweet 16 9 putting on the agony etc) so bashed out a travesty of that and people got up and started jiving to it. I quikly adjusted to their rhythm by watching them but couldn't think of any more jiving tunes so finished up going into ken john peel aand swanee river to the rhythm of their moving arses! I did that for the rest of the evening adjusting my ceilidh tune repertoire to a jiving rhythm - a 4/4 is a 4/4 is a 4/4!
george

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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by rancoman » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:45 pm

Matt - the tempo you played the clip at was fine for a Scottish Waltz. If you don't have a posh metronome, 16 bars of a Scottish waltz should last about 20 seconds.

Hope that helps :ch

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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by Matt Butcher » Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:42 pm

Rancoman - thanks very much, most helpful. There's plenty of other things to work on not least the bellows, although practising in the car isn't the best for that, it's not that small a box and I'm not that tiny either.

George: :lol:

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Re: Scottish waltz tempo question

Post by rancoman » Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:51 am

That's a new one on me - and a whole new concept of 'in-car entertainment'.

Just shows how much fun you can have in the back seat of a car, eh? :b

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