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Old 11-24-2017, 09:39 AM   #21
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Default Re: Is it an "e throw"? (Lament for Mary McLeod)

To be clear: while I may or may not enjoy a modern style performance of a pibroch (and Alastairís is quite enjoyable), my point is directed at the sources and the assumptions most performers make regarding their origins: when performing from Kilberry and Piobaireachd Scoiety collections, we are playing from derivative sources.

You may enjoy the resulting scores, but the originals on which they are based show an exciting variety of options and interpretations that expand the palette of performance.

And when you view the orthodoxy of the derivative scores against these sources, that is where the standard scores begin to pale.

Performance can be excellent. But the scores can constrain. Hearing excellent performances from these other settings would greatly extend our sensitivity and understanding of Pibroch.

Thankfully, we will begin to hear more of such examples in the future.
J David Hester
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Old 11-24-2017, 10:30 AM   #22
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Default Re: Is it an "e throw"? (Lament for Mary McLeod)

Not to completely derail the train, I will just mention that for me; comparing the PS arrangement (and the accompanying notes) to the oldest manuscript we have available for "His Father's Lament for Donald Mackenzie", made me realize that Archibald Campbell could be a bit of a musical scoundrel. He states he took his version of the tune from the earliest manuscript and that assertion proves the arrangement, and probably most of the PS arrangements under his leadership on the committee, were squeezed into a very narrow range of Angus Mackay-type embellishments and time signatures. Add to that some questionable musical choices and you see one man's influence on the art form.

Same goes for Lament for Lady MacDonald when comparing PS to MacArthur MSS...tragic interpretation of a brilliant piece of music. Simply put: the PS and Kilberry arrangements may be what Campbell learned from his tutors, but they can be a far cry from earlier sources and because of that may not represent the arrangement of the music prior to the 20th century.

Some people really like the Campbell/Kenneth Committee arrangements, and more power to them, but don't ever think they are the be all and end all or you are missing some impressive music that deserves far more attention than it has received. The new PS leadership has taken a dramatically inclusive turn, and that is a blessing for players and listeners alike. Perhaps competitive judging will soon follow suit.
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Old 11-24-2017, 02:26 PM   #23
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Default Re: Is it an "e throw"? (Lament for Mary McLeod)

Originally Posted by Rooklidge View Post
Perhaps competitive judging will soon follow suit.
The judges have been ready for years. Donald MacDonald scores were set, verbatim, back in 2000, repeated grounds and all. The conservatism has come from, and continues to come from, the competitors.
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Old 11-24-2017, 06:56 PM   #24
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Default Re: Is it an "e throw"? (Lament for Mary McLeod)

Originally Posted by CalumII View Post
The conservatism has come from, and continues to come from, the competitors.
Perhaps, but there is usually good reason for risk aversion. Weren't a couple soloists shooed off the boards recently because they tried to play the indicated da capo? There's a long journey between tolerated and encouraged.
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Old 11-25-2017, 02:18 PM   #25
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Default Re: Is it an "e throw"? (Lament for Mary McLeod)

There was a recent video of Donald Lindsay talking about the most recent Nicol-Brown Competition and his thoughts on the characteristics of what made some of the young, up-and-coming solo players like Alastair Bevan so successful. It seems like the enduring conservatism in piobaireachd playing can be attributed to both competitors and judges. Elite competitors don't want to spend a lot of time and money to travel to a competition only to come up dry because they played something a judge might not like. Judges don't want to be intimidated by a competitor who throws a curveball by playing a rare setting that they're not familiar with.


I've been considering getting back into competition playing after a long hiatus, but one thing that gives me pause is that I'm not sure I could get back to strictly orthodox interpretations of piobaireachd. There are only about three tunes that I play at this point according to the PS and/or Kilberry settings. There are a number of others that I could go back and relearn the orthodox way without too much trouble, but I'm concerned that in a high-pressure situation, I'd slip and "accidentally" start playing them the way I heard them.

Back when I was a young, still-wet-behind-the-ears player studying with Allan MacDonald at the Piping Centre almost two decades ago, I can remember some pipers talking enthusiastically of some kind of parallel track emerging where pipers could compete and perform alternate settings of piobaireachd at the highest level.* For better or worse, it doesn't seem like we're all that much closer to seeing anything like that any time soon.

*There is, of course, the Donald MacDonald competition, but as Jim McGillivray has pointed out, most of the competitors tend to play with more or less orthodox-style phrasing and Donald MacDonald-style gracenotes.
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Old 11-26-2017, 03:25 PM   #26
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Default Re: Is it an "e throw"? (Lament for Mary McLeod)

One of my erstwhile students has been opting to give the bench a choice. He submits two "orthodox" tunes and a Donald MacDonald version of Glengarry's March he learned from from Bruce Gandy. Even that version has a few Gandy touches not from the manuscript.

Some judges avoid the option like the plague, but others has been more adventuresome and asked for the tune. Occasionally a judge has asked for the tune apparently without knowing what he/she was in for, repeated grounds, tumble down introductions, open fosgailtes etc. etc. and the score sheets sometimes reflect that confusion. Still, he's won some prizes with it in Amt Grade I, so the situation doesn't look entirely dire from where I sit.
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