The reel is a folk dance type as well as the accompanying dance tune type
It is believed that the reel was originated from an old Irish dance called the Hey in the mid 1500's. Today many Irish reels are supplemented with new compositions and by tunes from other traditions which are easily adapted as reels. It is the most popular tune-type within the Irish dance music tradition.
It is transcribed in a 4/4 or 2/2 time. All reels have the same structure, consisting largely of quaver movement with an accent on the first and third beats of the bar. Most reels have two parts (AABB) which are repeated. Each part (A or B) has eight bars, which again are divided into four and then into two. These are called phrases. The structure obeys to a scheme of question-answer where A is the "question" and B is the "answer" to A. The group of thirty-two bars (AABB) is repeated three or four times before a second reel is introduced. The grouping of two tunes or more in this manner is typical in all dance tunes.
Reels are popular in the folk music of South West England. The were also adopted in Quebec to become a prominent part of its folkloric music It crossed the Atlantic ocean with the important Irish immigration and entered the Quebec tradition (see Irish Quebecers). Reels are featured in many pieces of local signers and bands; for example: La Bolduc, La Bottine Souriante and even the more modern néo-trad group Les Cowboys Fringants (like the song Mon Pays suivi du Reel des aristocrates).


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