A type of tune in Irish and Scottish traditional music. The Irish ril is a cornerstone for the Irish traditional dancing such as step dancing, ceili dancing and set dancing.

The reel is played in 4/4 time, counting two beats to a bar. A brisk dance speed is 120 bpm (beats per minute), but somewhat slower speeds are danceable too.

In a session with Irish traditional music, reels normally account for well over half the tunes played. In approximate order of frequency played, other tune types are: jig, polka, hornpipe, slide, slip jig.

Names of tunes are by no means standardized, and many tunes are known by several names. To confuse things further, sometimes the same name refers to different tunes. There are thousands and thousands of reels in the tradition, but some are more universally played than others. A very non-exhaustive list of some popular Irish reels:

  • The Bucks of Oranmore
  • The Banshee
  • Cooley's reel
  • Craig's pipes
  • Drowsy Maggie
  • The Golden keyboard
  • The Green mountain
  • Maid behind the bar
  • The Merry Blacksmith
  • Rakish Paddy
  • Tear the Calico
  • The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Reel (r?l), n. [Gael. righil.]

A lively dance of the Highlanders of Scotland; also, the music to the dance; -- often called Scotch reel.

Virginia reel, the common name throughout the United States for the old English "country dance," or contradance (contredanse). Bartlett.


© Webster 1913.

Reel, n. [AS. krel: cf. Icel. krll a weaver's reed or sley.]


A frame with radial arms, or a kind of spool, turning on an axis, on which yarn, threads, lines, or the like, are wound; as, a log reel, used by seamen; an angler's reel; a garden reel.


A machine on which yarn is wound and measured into lays and hanks, -- for cotton or linen it is fifty-four inches in circuit; for worsted, thirty inches.


3. Agric.

A device consisting of radial arms with horizontal stats, connected with a harvesting machine, for holding the stalks of grain in position to be cut by the knives.

Reel oven, a baker's oven in which bread pans hang suspended from the arms of a kind of reel revolving on a horizontal axis.



© Webster 1913.

Reel, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Reeled (r?ld); p. pr. & vb. n. Reeling. ]


To roll.


And Sisyphus an huge round stone did reel. Spenser.


To wind upon a reel, as yarn or thread.


© Webster 1913.

Reel, v. i. [Cf. Sw. ragla. See 2d Reel.]


To incline, in walking, from one side to the other; to stagger.

They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man. Ps. cvii. 27.

He, with heavy fumes oppressed, Reeled from the palace, and retired to rest. Pope.

The wagons reeling under the yellow sheaves. Macualay.


To have a whirling sensation; to be giddy.

In these lengthened vigils his brain often reeled. Hawthorne.


© Webster 1913.

Reel, n.

The act or motion of reeling or staggering; as, a drunken reel.



© Webster 1913.

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