Basic Theory: The Strathspey

The Strathspey, put simply, can be extremely intimidating.  Words like "lift", "question and answer phrasing", "danceability" and "strong weak medium weak" are seen constantly on score sheets as drummers try to convince the judges they understand how to interpret this complex style.  Even though the following exercises deal only with the rhythms found in Strathspeys, they are still quite complex!  This complexity stems from the fact that strathspeys use rhythms borrowed from three other styles including the 2/4 march (quarter notes), the Reel (dot/cut and cut/dot notes) and the Jig (triplets).  Switching quickly from simple time to compound time gives many drummers a headache and to make matters worse the switches happen in just about every bar.  Even a simple Strathspey like the one below contains several switches between simple and compound time.

Rhythm Syllables

The first three rhythm syllables used in the Strathspey are borrowed from the 2/4 March and the Reel.
The next set of rhythms syllables are borrowed from the Jig.
The last two Strathspey syllables use notes from the Reel but syllables from the Jig!  When pronouncing the syllables "Jig-ga Dah", make sure the "Dah" is held until the beginning of the next beat.  If you're unsure of how long to hold the "Dah" syllable, please listen the audio underneath for clarification.