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Competing Pipers Questions, issues, or discussions specifically related to Piping and Pipers competition.

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Old 10-14-2019, 11:59 PM   #31
Carnardly
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Default Re: Most frequent/overplayed tunes for solo competitions

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Originally Posted by Pppiper View Post
As said, Calumís advice is spot on.

Carnardly ... I must say, many your question(s) align quite a bit with why Iíd started this thread in the first place. Iíd recently started competing myself, and if possible, I wanted to steer clear of tunes that are seemingly played again and again. But ... I donít want to be playing something so obscure that itís completely unknown.

Iím now two years in competing .. this year was in grade 2 (I started out in 3 ... long story ... Id played for a long time, but previously chose to start competing recently). Having had little-to-no experience with the way things go in competing circles, I just wanted some insight so I might have some variety offered from my tunes, if possible.

Iíve been relatively successful in my attempts to do so. In grade 3, Australian Ladies served me well as my 2/4, and it didnít seem that I was hearing it all too often. Cameron Macfadyen was (and remains) my 6/8 ... also has served me well, though I definitely hear it quite a bit. Not anywhere near as much as Lily Christie though. Iíd thought about looking into that one, but Iím hearing it everywhere, so Iíll be holding off.

In grade 2, I added Kantara to El Arish as my 2nd 2/4 ... I have a harder time with that one for sure, but Iím getting there. Eventually Iíd like to swap out Aussie Ladies for Hugh Kennedy and/or Braes of Castle Grant. Iím leaning more toward Castle Grant, as I donít hear it often ... but Iíll play whatever my fingers seem to agree with best.

Strathspey reel in grade 3 was Maggie Cameron and Bessie MacIntyre ... served me extremely well. I didnít hear them played so often in my grade, though I had hearing Maggie quite often in grades two and one. I love the tune and it works well for me, so I doubt Iíll ever drop it. Oh well.

Bessie I hear from time to time, but not a ton. Still, Iíll be looking to swap that out at some point. Going into 2, Iíd originally planned to add Caber Feidh for strathspey and Sheepwife, but they just werenít even close to ready by the start of 2019, so I ended up playing Susan Macleod for strathspey (which is DEFINITELY played a lot) and Roderick MacDonald for the 2nd reel.

Roderick is AWESOME ... really works well for me, and also seems to be that nice blend of seldom hear, but not overly obscure. My guess is, if the judge doesnít know Roderick, they pick Bessie. And Susan ..: though played a lot, it also works nicely for me. Iím still working on Caber Feidh and Sheepwife, which Iím looking forward to offering in 2020.

Piobaireachd in gr3 was MacGregorís Salute. In 2018, I never heard anyone else in my grade playing it, which made me happy .:: especially since it was (then) the only piob I was willing to learn/play. Slowly, my tastes for piob started expanding, and added Lament for the Little Supper for grade 2.

For 2019 though, MacGregorís was announced as a set tune. So I hardly ever got it picked .. at least 3-4 other folks I often competed with also had that tune, so Iím guessing the judge each time wanted to hear something new when I got up. This worked out well in that Supper is also a good tune for me .:: but ..:: Iíve been missing MacGregorís.

And for hornpipe at least .. working on new ones as I went for Lucy Cassidy, and yeah ... EVERYONE plays it. So Iím looking to swap that out soon, but thatís not tops on my priority list.

So I guess this ended up being something of a ďthread followup.Ē

Thanks for the insights all ... please keep them coming!

Cheers,
~Nate

Thanks for the reply Nate. But to be honest, I haven't heard any of those tunes and will have to look them up. I'm literally only at half a dozen beginner tunes so far. :-)
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Old 10-15-2019, 09:59 AM   #32
phinson
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Default Re: Most frequent/overplayed tunes for solo competitions

There is a story from years ago which I've been assured is true. At some games in Scotland, Angus Macpherson was on the judging panel for 2/4 march. 24 of the 25 competitors in the event had his tune "Achany Glen" in their tune lists. That tune was picked for all 24 of those competitors. I don't remember the results but am guessing that three of the 24 were the prize list.


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Old 10-15-2019, 10:08 AM   #33
Pppiper
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Default Re: Most frequent/overplayed tunes for solo competitions

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Originally Posted by Carnardly View Post
Thanks for the reply Nate. But to be honest, I haven't heard any of those tunes and will have to look them up. I'm literally only at half a dozen beginner tunes so far. :-)
One thing at a time. =) I'd started out farther up in the levels simply due to the fact that I'd been playing for a good 20 year before finally deciding to actively compete.

What I've definitely found so far is that it's best to find the simplest qualifying tune (qualifying meaning the right type of tune, 2/4 march, 6/8 march, etc) that you can play well. Though, I do suggesting trying to find tunes are aren't standard mass band tunes, e.g. Scotland the Brave, Amazing Grace.

There are soo many tunes out there .. and in general, I've found that if there're in the Scot Guards book somewhere, then they're likely known well enough to be fair game. Outside of that, the William Ross and Donald Macleod collections are a really good source of tunes that are likely to be well received.

And this is one of the many areas where having a good instructor makes a tremendous difference .. one that can readily see/hear your immediate strengths, and suggest tunes accordingly.

Cheers,
~Nate

Last edited by Pppiper; 10-15-2019 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 10-18-2019, 03:31 AM   #34
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Default Re: Most frequent/overplayed tunes for solo competitions

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Originally Posted by phinson View Post
There is a story from years ago which I've been assured is true. At some games in Scotland, Angus Macpherson was on the judging panel for 2/4 march. 24 of the 25 competitors in the event had his tune "Achany Glen" in their tune lists. That tune was picked for all 24 of those competitors. I don't remember the results but am guessing that three of the 24 were the prize list.


Paul Hinson


Thatís interesting. Iíve been thinking that if one of my tunes was written by someone who ends up judging me, then (if possible) Iíd drop that tune ... so as not to appear that Iím trying to be a ďbrown noser.Ē

Shrug.
~Nate
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Old 10-18-2019, 06:53 AM   #35
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Default Re: Most frequent/overplayed tunes for solo competitions

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Thatís interesting. Iíve been thinking that if one of my tunes was written by someone who ends up judging me, then (if possible) Iíd drop that tune ... so as not to appear that Iím trying to be a ďbrown noser.Ē

Shrug.
~Nate

I often wonder how many competitors remember who wrote the tune!
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Old 10-22-2019, 06:12 PM   #36
DapperDan
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Default Re: Most frequent/overplayed tunes for solo competitions

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Originally Posted by Carnardly View Post
from the other side of the coin, i'm a beginner/novice player. One day I might venture into the competition world. Do the judges who judge the beginner classes get bored with 20 novice players doing the same tune? Should I pick something I can play reasonably confidently, but with barely any complicated bits, such as Amazing Grace? or should I attempt something that's a little bit harder, such as Scotland the Brave? If you slow a tune down to 'your' pace to make sure you can do the doublings etc correctly, is that looked upon unfavourably?
Hi Canardly,

If you're a beginner, a 4-parted 2/4 march is probably the first type of tune you would compete with. Although it's meant for pipe bands, I like this list of 2/4's - with free sheet music - on the RSPBA site:
https://www.rspba.org/html/prescribe..._march_4PT.php

If you can hold down Scotland the B well, you're probably ready for a 2/4. Play as slowwwwww as you need to. I tried competing solo for the first time last season, with a super easy tune off that list. I got helpful comments from the judges, including that I should play slower at my level.
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Old 10-23-2019, 07:16 AM   #37
KeithAlex344
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Default Re: Most frequent/overplayed tunes for solo competitions

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Originally Posted by Pppiper View Post

And this is one of the many areas where having a good instructor makes a tremendous difference .. one that can readily see/hear your immediate strengths, and suggest tunes accordingly.

Cheers,
~Nate
Second this. My instructor gave me a suggested tune list for competition and I just went through and picked my favorite. Each tune had a technique (or 3 or4) that I was weak at. But he says that it's good to pick one that challenges you to improve but not so complicated your just thinking about the execution and not getting music out of it in front of a judge. Example BridGen Cheape, love playing that tune.... but it's not in my competition list. He tells me the judges almost prefer familiar tunes, so they can judge your sound and musicality to something they heard before, maybe not something they've been listening to all day haha!
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Old 10-23-2019, 07:38 AM   #38
CalumII
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Default Re: Most frequent/overplayed tunes for solo competitions

Quote:
Originally Posted by phinson View Post
There is a story from years ago which I've been assured is true. At some games in Scotland, Angus Macpherson was on the judging panel for 2/4 march. 24 of the 25 competitors in the event had his tune "Achany Glen" in their tune lists. That tune was picked for all 24 of those competitors. I don't remember the results but am guessing that three of the 24 were the prize list.

Funny, I've heard the same story, but with different names attached to it...


One point worth making is this: if you're playing in grade 3/4 solos, then with respect, you're unlikely to be outsmarting the judge. They have access to all the same sources you do and have been reading and listening a lot longer. I learned my lesson when I learnt the Lament for Rory MacCloud (sic) from the Donald MacLeod tapes, thinking I'd be able to get away with a note error or two in an obscure tune.



"Ah! Rory MacCloud! Excellent tune. I won the Silver Medal playing that."


And that was the end of my attempts to get ahead of the judges (I didn't win, either).
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Old 10-23-2019, 07:49 AM   #39
Pppiper
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Default Re: Most frequent/overplayed tunes for solo competitions

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Originally Posted by KeithAlex344 View Post
Second this. My instructor gave me a suggested tune list for competition and I just went through and picked my favorite. Each tune had a technique (or 3 or4) that I was weak at. But he says that it's good to pick one that challenges you to improve but not so complicated your just thinking about the execution and not getting music out of it in front of a judge. Example BridGen Cheape, love playing that tune.... but it's not in my competition list. He tells me the judges almost prefer familiar tunes, so they can judge your sound and musicality to something they heard before, maybe not something they've been listening to all day haha!


Ha, right on. My instructor and I went through a similar process, and we had to reevaluate based on how things were going ... particularly in my entering grade 2. And yeah, itís tough to find that balance of familiar for the judge, but not played to death. Thatís been my own little personal challenge all along.

Caber Feidh (as a strathspey) and Sheepwife come readily to mind. I liked them both a lot, and my instructor felt they would likely serve me well both now and hopefully down the line. But as we were getting into the start of the season, it was clear that they just werenít ready. Some of the technique in Caber Feidh was tripping me up at times, and with Sheepwife, I was having a devil-of-a-time keeping the parts straight in terms of memorization .. something I donít usually have much issue with.

My planned first competition for this past season was two weeks off, and it was clear that if either Caber or Sheep were picked, Iíd probably end up conceding defeat .. play a part or two before feigning a breakdown. To this day, Iíve never broken down .. and I didnít want to start then.

My instructor had recently come across Roderick Macdonald, and thought it would be a good fit for me, and Susan Macleod had been kicking around my head since I was a kid. So we decided to go ahead and try them, and Iím very glad that we did. Sure enough, my ďnewĒ tunes are what was picked for everything that day, and I did decently that day, though no medals (which was fine by me, just placing at all was a win).

As the season is now finished, Iím thinking Roderick is here to stay. Susan, I hear it too much, but itís helpful to keep it in my list, at least as a backup tune.

In any case, they are prime examples of how well my instructor knows me, and what will get results. Sheís simply an amazing human being, and Iím quite lucky to have her.

Cheers,
~Nate
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Old 10-24-2019, 12:18 PM   #40
Mac an t-Sealgair
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Default Re: Most frequent/overplayed tunes for solo competitions

I play Caberfeidh as a strathspey, it can be challenging due to the HGs. Due to chanter set up and /or blowing. Good strathspey though!

Been trying to mix up my Marches, by challenging myself to only play local tunes. But some I just cannot get the rhythm! ☹️

Tbh, I'm not bothered about placing (probably just aswell ��) as long as I play a good tune.

Last edited by Mac an t-Sealgair; 10-24-2019 at 12:19 PM. Reason: Auto-incorrect
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