Herbert Smith’s Four-Handed Reel

Here is the tune from January 18th’ class, Herbert Smith’s Four-Handed Reel. Despite the title it is a polka – the ‘four-handed reel’ refers to a dance figure and not to the nature of the tune! It goes rather nicely with Grandfather’s Tune and has a similar descending scale pattern that gives lots of opportunities for turns and triplets, as discussed last week. You can also vary the rhythm in the B part, sub-dividing or combining the notes in bars X , Y and Z.

This tune is a little unusual in that it has an extra two beats in the A music. It might be that this was added on purpose to help dancers get to where they need to be in the dance, or it might just be a quirk that caught on!

Herbert Smith (1892-1961) was known as the Fiddling Blacksmith of Blakeney – you can read about him here: https://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/h_smith.htm

Here’s a slower and a faster version of the tune:

And here are the dots, with the first set of chords:

Here’s the PDFs of the tune, and the alternative set of chords:

Author: debfiddle

Deborah is a violinist and violist specialising in English folk music. She trained in viola and Baroque viola at Birmingham Conservatoire, before returning to her first love of traditional music, song and dance. She is a member of Stepling, a band performing English music, step-dance, song and percussion. She also plays for a number of function bands, performing at barn dances and ceilidhs across the UK. Deborah has played with a number of folk artists, dance and theatre projects. She plays with Folk Dance Remixed, a dance company combining traditional dance with hip hop and street dance styles, performing as such events as Car Fest, the Southbank's Festival of Love and Glasgow's Commonwealth Games Festival. She records on a regular basis for a number of people, including The Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra, and for Laurel Swift's 'Travelling with Thomas' musical. Deborah teaches music, song and dance regularly for The English Folk Dance and Song Society, as well as on a freelance basis for various workshop series, festivals and music services. She recently completed The Teaching Musician MA degree course at Trinity Laban, graduating with Distinction.

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