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Difference Between Reel and Jig

Reel vs Jig

Irish people are fond of their traditional music, and gather to play or hear this music. The event is referred to as a session, and musicians get together to play music in a relaxed manner, and those who love music just listen to this music in rapt attention. What happens is that someone starts a tune, and those who know it join in later. It is customary to present tunes one after another in such a manner that it looks like a set. In general, tunes in a set are all similar such as jigs or reels. Jigs and reels are names given to particular compositions depending upon how the notes are arranged. People who are not Irish or those who are not musicians find it difficult to appreciate the differences between jigs and reels. This article attempts to clarify these differences.

If you love Irish music but are not a singer or a musician, how do you tell the difference between a jig and a reel? Well, this is simple. Just tap your feet along with the music in a natural manner and then try to count fast notes between each tap. If you can count 3 notes, you are listening to a jig. If however, you can count 4 paces, it is a reel that you are hearing, and not a jig. To make it simpler, try to listen to words more carefully and clearly. Take an example of the word terminator, in a jig; you would hear the word as ter-mina-tor (remember, they come in groups of three). In a reel, the same word would be heard differently as ter-mi-na-tor.

The fact that confuses many is that,both jigs and reels are duples, but in a bar, a reel has 4-8 notes, whereas a jig has just 6. If you know how to read music from a printed sheet of paper, you know that the tune starts with a clef which is a weird squiggle. Just after this clef, there are two numbers. If you find 2 and 3, the tune is a reel, but if the numbers are 6 and 8. the tune is a jig.

In brief:

Difference between Reel and Jig

• Jig and reel are words that tell about the tempo of a composition in Irish music

• Look at how the notes are arranged

• A jig has a 6/8 tempo, while a reel has a 4/4 tempo.


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