View Full Version : "The Drouthie Carle" in Gr. III?
10-11-2005, 04:48 PM
I'm heading off to a competition at the end of this month and will be competing in Gr. III. While I've been planning to play "Arthur Bignold of Lochrosque", I'm finding that of late, for whatever reason, I am having trouble with my E doublings when coming down from a short F :confused: - and there are quite a few of these instances in "Arthur Bignold!" It has me thinking that perhaps I should have a backup tune ready to go in case I haven't sorted out this doubling problem before the competition.
There are quite a few tunes that would be appropriate for this level but I would be interested in hearing what others think about "The Drouthie Carle." (The version I have is from the Seaforth Highlanders Collection.) For whatever reason, I feel drawn to this tune at the moment and am quite enjoying playing it. In your estimation and experience, is it Gr. III-level appropriate?
Thanks for your input.
"It's not what man does but what man would do that makes him great." - Shakespeare
10-12-2005, 06:57 AM
I may be the voice in the wilderness, but I think saying a tune is or isn't "appropriate" for the grade level is just wrong. I think a lot depends on the player's ability at whatever grade level.
I've more often heard Grade IV or III players tackling stuff that they had no business taking on because of the technical aspects of the tune, and then hacking the tune to pieces. That's not a good idea. But, if someone is in Grade III and can do a good job of The Highland Wedding, then they should play it. If they consistently win with it, then bump 'em upstairs.
I sometimes get told that I should be playing "bigger" marches because I play in Grade II. Well, fact is I started piping when I was 39, am now on the back side of 49 and I'm playing the stuff my stiff fingers and sometimes stiffer brain can handle. As the piper, I think part of my job is to play stuff that I can play to the best of my ability and not take on tunes that have more stuff going on than I'll be able to address adequately.
And you could argue that if I can't play more difficult tunes that I don't belong in Grade II. Maybe so. But I was in the prizes in just about every Grade III competition I played in, and I usually have an immaculate bagpipe and I blow tone. So, the Grade IIIs would probably argue that I was sandbagging if I were to be playing there.
So, I say play the tunes you know you can play to the best of your ability and let the chips fall where they may. If someone writes on my scoresheet that the tune wasn't appropriate for the grade, I just wonder to myself if they would've written the same thing on a scoresheet if Alasdair Gillies had played it. Probably not. If the contest calls for a four part 2/4, and that's what I play, then that's what I should be judged on.
If someone else plays a more technical tune as well as I played mine, then they deserve the prize. Simple as that.
10-12-2005, 09:23 AM
Oh, yeah. And if you're playing something that's over your head, drop it. Don't be insulted if a judge of instructor tells you it's beyond you. Just go work on your technique, and come back to it later. Meanwhile, find something within your scope and that you enjoy and play the tar out of it. There are thousands of tunes out there, and most of them are just collecting dust in a pile of old books.
10-14-2005, 04:42 PM
Thanks for the responses and your advice. Much appreciated.
I suppose that, being relatively new to competition, I've been uncertain about whether or not there are some specific criteria that go into deciding what to play at any given grade level and some of the practical things that judges are looking for in Gr.III. For example, "The Drouthie Carle" has no birls and has a great deal of repetition. Would a judge look a bit askance at a tune choice for Gr.III that had no birls or had too many repeated phrases (i.e. this tune is a little to simple for Gr.III)? As one moves up grade levels, are there certain elements that should be given some considertion in picking a tune? Do judges notice a lack of certain embellishments at various levels? These types of very practical questions are, I suppose, at the heart of my question about "appropriateness" and I could have been clearer/more specific in my initial post.
Needless to say, I will play what is comfortable for me and that I enjoy playing, if for no other reason than the fact that I strongly believe that while the technical aspects of playing are important, in the end it is a sense of musicality and expression that are essential.
By-the-by, I ask all of this on the forum because I don't have an instructor at the moment to advise me.