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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Difference Between Breakdown and Reel


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/43597

soppinthegravy - Posted - 02/06/2016:  22:40:02


What is the difference between a breakdown and a reel?


graeme - Posted - 02/06/2016:  23:47:22


Truth is, Daniel, that depending on who plays a reel, it is all sorts of things, swung, or not swung; fast and plain, or slower and ornamented, lilted -- or lifted -- or not so much.





Now, some say a breakdown is just a simple old choon played reel fast, like you have prickle in your butt.





Maybe, if you dropped out all the Irish ornaments, added some double-stops, and put "swing" on pause, you could turn any old reel into a breakdown.  S'pect so.



Whaddayu think?


UsuallyPickin - Posted - 02/07/2016:  05:31:42


Nicely put Graeme. They are definitely related in form and tempo. And yes ornamentation can go by county in Eire' and region this side of the water. R/

Dick Hauser - Posted - 02/07/2016:  08:51:56


Graeme is correct. The "Fiddlers Fakebook" says -

Breakdown - "This term is rather loosely used to refer to a wide range of uptempo, Old Time, and Bluegrass tunes in 2/4 and 4/4 time.

Reel - The reel, in 2/4 and 4/4 time, is played in a wide variety of styles throughout the British Isles and North America.

As Graeme says, a reel can be "stripped down" and played.

Note that some styles of fiddling are often divided into substyles. Some styles seem to include a wide assortment of fiddling styles. When that happens, the "name" for that style becomes less meaningful. In some cases, a substyle is named after the geographic area where it is popular.

gapbob - Posted - 02/07/2016:  09:00:05


I had asked this question back in 1999 on the fiddle-l list, if you go here, you can read the thread by clicking "By Topic | Next."



Some interesting ideas, but perhaps no definitive answer, I just looked up the 1873 dance manual, which is located here:



I suspect that might be the source of the term, having been derived from the dance name.  I know that jigs are often called quadrilles in old-time circles, since the fiddlers associated jigs with the Quadrille, a multi-part (4 or 5) dance, similar to the Lancers, in which jigs are featured.



Edited by - gapbob on 02/07/2016 09:07:54

bsed - Posted - 02/07/2016:  15:01:27


Like what was said above, I've always considered them pretty synonymous. I've always also held the opinion that they're regional terms. 



Like breakdown is western and reel is eastern.



Edited by - bsed on 02/07/2016 15:02:40

boxbow - Posted - 02/10/2016:  13:07:41


This is hardly definitive, but I consider a reel to be played as dance music and a breakdown to be played as performance music.  That is to say, one is for the dancers to work from and the other is to (hopefully) thrill the audience.  There is no reason each can't be substituted for the other as needed with minor stylistic adjustments.  I don't play for dancers, but I love to play reels and will do so with the least encouragement.  Sometimes vigorously.


graeme - Posted - 02/11/2016:  03:14:28


quote:

Originally posted by boxbow

 

This is hardly definitive, but I consider a reel to be played as dance music and a breakdown to be played as performance music.  That is to say, one is for the dancers to work from and the other is to (hopefully) thrill the audience.  There is no reason each can't be substituted for the other as needed with minor stylistic adjustments.  I don't play for dancers, but I love to play reels and will do so with the least encouragement.  Sometimes vigorously.







You're right. Probably sheer logic suggest that this is hardly definitive. But don't fuss, just play the moosic.



And don't be afraid to play reels a bit under 120 quarter notes per minute: decorate the slower stuff until it pleases you. Is my thinking.


fiddlepogo - Posted - 02/11/2016:  11:21:56


 Languages change, often not in logical ways, sometimes in messy ways, and they change word by word.



At some point the old words don't work+ anymore, and people start casting about for a replacement.



A reel is a dance type popular in Scotland, Ireland and England.  It was initially popular in the U.S, as in the Virginia Reel, but it had problems as it moved west... being line dances, reels tend to need a room of the right shape for the line, IOW a rectangular room.  As the music followed the frontier, such buildings were in short supply.   Buildings tended to be squarish  cabins and small barns, and occasional one room school houses.



The square dance was a type of dance that took care of that problem.  However, it never seems to have been associated with a tune type like the reel was.  I think at some point the term "reel" was just too archaic and confusing, even when referring to the tune type.



I was just listening to 'Talapoosa Bound" by AA Gray and 7 foot Dilly.  Dilly mintains a somewhat annoying patter all through... but you can learn stuff from it.  Dilly is singing the praises of the mountains in North Georgia, and about 55 seconds in, he says "Have a breakdown every other night!", which I think means "They have a dance every other night." So Breakdown seems to have been a term for a dance event.  Somehow it got connected with the 2/4 type of fast tunes, replacing "reel".



Another similar term is "hoedown".


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