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Old 03-09-2020, 08:39 AM   #1
phinson
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Default Island Piobaireachd Style

Hi Everybody,

I've been reading Bridget MacKenzie's "Piping Traditions of the Outer Isles". So far I've read through sections on Barra, South Uist, and Benbecula. A couple of times she mentions an "Island Style" of piobaireachd performance in connection with Duncan Johnstone, John MacDonald (Glasgow Police) and a couple others.

Question...what distinguishes an "island style" from that played elsewhere in Scotland? John MacDonald (Inverness), Willie Ross, and others over the years taught either regularly or occasionally in South Uist.

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Old 03-10-2020, 06:03 AM   #2
Jay Close
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Default Re: Island Piobaireachd Style

Having learned a half dozen tunes from Duncan Johnstone years back, if I had to make a guess on what was meant by "island style" I'd say a flowing, song- based style. Put simplistically, perhaps, more Cameron-like than MacPherson-like? All this purely speculative, you might direct your question directly to Ms. MacKenzie. Cheers.
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Old 03-10-2020, 10:33 AM   #3
phinson
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Default Re: Island Piobaireachd Style

Hi Jay,


Thanks for the reply. Sadly, Ms. Mackenzie passed away.


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Old 03-11-2020, 06:14 AM   #4
Doug Walton
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Default Re: Island Piobaireachd Style

Interesting - I hope more posts follow here, since I’d like to learn about this style.
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Old 03-11-2020, 06:37 AM   #5
BGP
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Default Re: Island Piobaireachd Style

What I remember (maybe wrongly) from Joshua Dickson's book (apparently unfortunately out of print)
https://www.amazon.com/When-Piping-W.../dp/1904607527

Was that the islands had their own style of light music, rounder, less formalized, but the Big Music was little or non existent or lost .. the Piobaireachd Society paying John MacDonald Inverness to teach several summers and that he taught his style but with adherence to the settings published by the PBsociety feeling he should since they were his employer.
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Old 03-11-2020, 07:34 AM   #6
phinson
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Default Re: Island Piobaireachd Style

I received an email from James Beaton at the National Piping Centre concerning "Outer Island Piobaireachd Playing Styles" suggesting a look at a passage in MacKenzie's book (pp 86-87) in which William MacDonald (Benbecula) discusses the playing of Lachlan Ban MacCormick (1853-1951) from Benbecula.

I re-read the pages and evidently MacCormick's playing style most closely resembled recordings of pipers in Australia who received their piobaireachd through the Bruce family (Simon Fraser's students?) heard by MacDonald in 2004. MacDonald said that MacCormick's playing of "Battle of Waternish" and "MacLeod's Salute" were so different in timing that they were almost unrecognizable to those familiar with modern interpretation.

Don't know how I missed that.

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Old 03-11-2020, 10:46 AM   #7
Jim McGillivray
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Default Re: Island Piobaireachd Style

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Close View Post
Having learned a half dozen tunes from Duncan Johnstone years back, if I had to make a guess on what was meant by "island style" I'd say a flowing, song- based style. Put simplistically, perhaps, more Cameron-like than MacPherson-like? All this purely speculative, you might direct your question directly to Ms. MacKenzie. Cheers.

I'm not really sure what island style is either but I would suggest that a lot of "MacPherson" players would contend they play in a "flowing, song-based style" as well. I think the Cameron/MacPherson line in the sand has gently blown away over recent decades, perhaps as has "island style."


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Old 03-13-2020, 07:09 AM   #8
Jay Close
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Default Re: Island Piobaireachd Style

If some of the Fraser/Bruce playing style survived in the islands, that would be very enticing. It would add credence to the Simon Fraser material that Dr. Orme published several years ago and that has both intrigued and puzzled me.

If, on the other hand, Duncan Johnstone is thought of as one of those island style players, I can attest to Duncan as a very mainstream piobaireachd player. When I first worked with him at the College of Piping (1975?) he was excited about a Bob Brown LP and was working up the tune “Craigellachie” using Brown’s recording as his muse.

As to the Cameron/MacPherson business, I’ve expressed my view at length in a forum posting several years ago. Both are part of a collective legacy. To lose either of them or an "island style" leaves us all poorer.
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Old 03-13-2020, 09:44 AM   #9
phinson
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Default Re: Island Piobaireachd Style

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Close View Post
If, on the other hand, Duncan Johnstone is thought of as one of those island style players, I can attest to Duncan as a very mainstream piobaireachd player. When I first worked with him at the College of Piping (1975?) he was excited about a Bob Brown LP and was working up the tune “Craigellachie” using Brown’s recording as his muse.

This is one reason why I posted the original inquiry. Duncan Johnstone was mentioned specifically in connection with an "Island Style" as was John MacDonald (South Uist/Glasgow Police and an influence on Johnstone) yet MacDonald and many others had received instruction for John MacDonald, Inverness and there was a long history of instruction in South Uist by MacDonald, Willie Ross, Bob Nicol, and others.


I think rather than trying to link the style of Lachlan Ban MacCormick to that of Simon Fraser, he was actually recognizing a style of piobaireachd interpretation played before the advent of the PS, which the scores by Fraser and G. F. Ross also reflect.


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