View Full Version : John D Burgess List of Tunes
02-20-2005, 07:10 AM
A few days ago I asked John D Burgess to give me a list of ten tunes in each category March Strathspey Reel for an Open Competition on 28th July. Two days later he telephoned me with his selection.
It might be of particular interest to Open Soloists as he chose these pieces because they are 'rarely heard these days'.
Here they are then.
Here are the tune lists for the Innes House Contest on Thursday 28th July 2005.
Competitors are to submit three tunes from each category and will be asked to play one of each as per normal.
Tunes were selected by Pipe Major John D Burgess.
Angus Campbell's Farewell to Stirling
Dr MacLeod of Anwick
Duke of Roxburghe's Farewell to the Blackmount Forest
Pipe Major Wm MacLean
Bob of Fettercairn
Ewe with the Crooked Horn
Top of Craigvenow
Locheil's Awa' Tae France
Old Ruins, The
Of the above I play/familiar enough to muddle through, 7 reels, 9 strathspeys and 4 marches that don't thrill me so will need to learn three new ones.
I hope this is all of interest to you as well.
02-21-2005, 07:36 PM
With John D. Burgess in the thread title someone should have responded to this long ago :)
Some of the tunes (i.e. Atholl Cummers, Blair Drummond, Sheepwife) are pretty common in band MSRs.
Any thoughts on why soloists are playing these "big" tunes less?
02-22-2005, 03:28 AM
I didn't know of a reel version of Cameronian Rant? I only knew of the strathspey.
I've not heard of Top of Craigvenow or The Old Ruins either, where can these be found? (Not that I'm intending to compete).
Dale D. Brown
02-22-2005, 09:30 AM
The John Burgess list of tunes is a very interesting list of tunes indeed. The pattern of selection is quite apparent for the most part. The selection is predominently from William Ross' first two books. Burgess' selections however point out dramatically how powerful the Ross collections are, especially right off the bat in the first two books.
'Cameronian Rant' as a reel is on page 7 of book 1. The 'Old Ruins' is a reel on page 44 of Book 2. I have been having fun going through and playing the list. At this point I would like to mention two tunes for particular attention - 'Dr. MacLeod of Alnwick' (Book 2, pg. 5) and 'Cecily Ross' (Book 2, pg.42). I think of all the times I have gone through the Ross Collection on my way to other tunes and have passed both these tunes over countless times without stopping. Now I have stopped and I am ashamed at myself for what I have missed. The composers are interesting. Dr. MacLeod is composed by Alexander Ross, brother of Willie. To have the skill to compose such a nice march is evidence that Alexander Ross had good piping skills of his own, but has obviously been overshadowed by the singular accomplishments of his brother. I recently was reading an article on Roderick Campbell in an old issue of "Piper & Drummer" magazine that mentioned the reel "Cecily Ross". She was Willie and Alexander Ross' sister. I was going to look up the tune before and Burgess' list prodded me sooner. I just looked at a forum thread about sight reading tunes. For those who pride their sight reading skills take a look at 'Cecily Ross'. But first a warning - check your ego at the door. T'aint easy folks.
02-22-2005, 01:58 PM
I tried the 'Cameronian Rant Reel' (seemingly it was a reel first) straight on the pipes as I had the book open learning one of the marches. :mad: :blush: :( I think was the order before I gave up on it. Practice chanter first for that one.
Similar to Dale, I have journeyed through the list and discovered some dormant secrets. Tunes I have never tried before.
The Edinburgh Volunteers. I thoroughly recommend giving William Ross(QV's Piper) version on page 122 of his Collection a run through. Play the grace notes as written and without adding your own grips and things. It really is most marvellous. The last line bar four High A to High A with that High G grip type movement is a delight.
I now am working on 'Angus Campbell's Farewell to Stirling' March. I like the manner in which the composer changes key for the second phrase with that wonderful lift to high G from low A. Then in the second part that grip to high G from E. It does it for me anyway. A genius of a Composer whoever he or she is.
'The Renfrewshire Militia' I found to be very easy to initially memorise but a devil to play through without note errors though. The end phrases get plenty of practise as they are continually repeated throughout. A great tune by P/Maj J. MacKay
I had a glance at 'Cecily' but will need to revisit.
I am steering clear of 'Alnwick' just for now as some parts are too similar to 'Campbell's' and I'll end up getting them addled.
I've got (somewhere in a cupboard full of old tapes of Music for the Pipes, David Murray era - the forerunner to Pipeline - a great education in my youth, but anyway, I digress...) recordings of Willie MacCallum playing Angus Campbell's Farewell to Stirling in the big MSR at Inverness, as well as Alisdair Gillies playing Cecily Ross at the Glenfiddich back in 19-canteen. He cuts the first low A in bar 8 of every part. Top tunes, not often heard.
I've submitted Edinburgh Volunteers quite a few times round the games, but only ever been asked to play it once (where I proceeded to make a right @rse of it!) - making it the first and last time I played it in competition! Those D duoblings from high G are always a challenge to hit every time in parts 2 and 4.
I have to say though, that Pipe Major William MacLean is up there amongst the hardest marches ever, in terms of getting through it cleanly without missing a thing.
In reply to Gohabs78, in bands, you need to be seen to be playing at least 1 six parter to keep up with everyone else - in grade 1 you can't play 3 four parters and challenge the big boys because they are most likely playing 3 six parters. This is part of the reason we end up hearing Highland Wedding and John Morrison of Assynt House so many times in Gd 1 - there are only so many 6 part tunes out there.
The same does not necessarily apply in solos - plenty of classic, acceptable , and extremely challenging 4 parters, and you are giving yourself 2 less parts to miss a gracenote, doubling etc. I suppose it boils down to pragmatism. Also, if you play Charlies Welcome or Pretty Marion, you are basically playing twice as long, increasing the likelihood of missing something - twice through the tunes and you have a marathon on your hands.
But, if you can pull off the big tunes, it will give you an edge. It's maybe a slightly sad indictment of solo competitions that missing a doubling will more ofter than not prejudice you in the eyes of some judges, but that is another can of worms completely! But then again, I suppose you have to separate competitors somehow.
It is refreshing to see a contest where some of the less-heard tunes will be aired. I know I tend to stick to the tried and tested, but you can't beat the feeling of getting through a new tune well on the boards for the first time, and it certainly helps keep your playing fresh.
I think 99.9% of us have certain slight technical weaknesses, so we choose the tunes that suit our playing strengths (and I would include competitors playing at the very highest level in that statement - there a maybe a handful of players who can effortlessly rattle out just about anything - I can think of 4 - guess who... That's what make them great - they make it look and sound so easy.
03-01-2005, 10:05 PM
I have an old vinyl record of the HLI - City of Glasgow Regiment where the Pipe Major does a solo spot playing Renfrewshire Militia, Shepheard's Crook and The Flaggon. Can't for the life of me remember who the PM is - but it's a really great MSR. The record was made back in the 1950's and as far as sound and playing goes, it's absolute shyte - probably recorded by direct cut in a drill hall - the chanters are out of tune and there are mistakes galore!
It's quite surprising how many really great tunes there are out there that just don't get the airing they deserve. Alasdair Gillies plays Cecily Ross on his Pipers of Distinction CD and it impressed me enough to get the music out and have a go at it. It's not an easy tune but well worth adding to one's play list.
so many good tunes ... so little time ....