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Old 09-22-2010, 07:34 AM   #71
bob864
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Default Re: Allan McDonald's thesis

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Originally Posted by Aon Piobaire View Post
No amount of "I've read this..." and "I've read that" changes that. You are still reading/quoting others' research and their particular opinions. You do not have the point-of-departure of a lifetime of research to base your opinions on...or requote for that matter.
Since all the participants have been dead for over 200 years, the only thing anyone can do is study the record and try to interpret it.

I think it would be a great thing if someone (anyone) would write a book that considers all the evidence. Unfortunately, most of the work published by pipers concerns itself primarily with things related directly to piping. Donaldson's and Gibson's book try to place piping in it's societal context, but there is so little source material regarding musical performance.

I think there is an unexplored area of investigation -- possible links between pipers and other musical traditions both concurrent with the period in question and prior to it. In order to do that, someone would need to be well versed in the history of western music -- i.e., a music history major with an interest in piping.
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:01 AM   #72
John Dally
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Default Re: Allan McDonald's thesis

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John, when you talk about a more 'musical' style, I wonder what you really mean.
As much as I respect your opinions and appreciate your enthusiasm for pibroch, Heatherbelle, I think you have misrepresented me.

I quoted my teacher, who learned a style that ceased to exist after Kilberry "improved" pibroch. Most pibroch enthusiasts today would find the way Colin MacRae plays to be wild, emotional and dramatic, in other words, rubbish. It certainly wouldn't win a prize. That's their loss. None of that matters to him, btw. He is very proud that he plays tunes in a style that judges considered antique when he competed in the 1940s.

Just for the record, because you have made some assumptions about my personal taste, I find Willie MacCallum's "Lament for Hugh" to be one of the greatest performances I've heard. Likewise, Andrew Wright's "The Men went to Drink." Likewise, Jack Lee's "Antrim." Do I need to go on? I am a member of the Piobaireachd Society and congradulate the current leadership on making so much source material available to us. I very much appreciate the work of Roderick Cannon and other leaders of the PS.

Getting back to the topic of this very interesting thread, if you listen to traditional Gaelic song (I mean the stuff most people do not find sublime, the stuff without Donald Shaw production values) you will hear something that, at least to my ears, is emtional, free flowing, even aggressive. To make my personal opinion very clear, I think modern pibroch performance could do with a bit more of that. My opinion should not threaten anyone, and I'm constantly amazed that it does. To absolutely clear, I do not think modern pibroch style is rubbish. I find Allan's research so inspiring because it takes us back to the source.
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Old 09-23-2010, 01:25 PM   #73
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Default Re: Allan McDonald's thesis

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As much as I respect your opinions and appreciate your enthusiasm for pibroch, Heatherbelle, I think you have misrepresented me.
John I certainly didn't intend to misrepresent you in any way whatsoever and apologise unreservedly if you feel I have.
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Old 09-24-2010, 04:35 AM   #74
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Default Re: Allan McDonald's thesis

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because it takes us back to the source.
Irish harp in the 13th and 14th centuries? I think I missed that part.
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Old 09-24-2010, 06:27 AM   #75
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Default Re: Allan McDonald's thesis

Ahh... Bob you do like those Irish harpists!

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Yes, but the problem is, the music at this time stands still (and that almost 100 years), it doesn't move anymore,

It has stagnated, true, unlike the light music, but I don't think that is the key problem. The music was changed by the early PS from where it was and then it stagnated for 100 years. And know a great deal of time has passed.

One question is, does Mr. MacDonald's thesis help us get us over that 100 year gap and give us a flavor of what the music had truly been?

The other question is - regardless of the applicability of the thesis - does Mr. MacDonald' more musical style provide a legitimate alternative musical style to the rather flat and ponderous playing required by much competitive piobaireachd?

It seems to me that a musical genre that is so narrowly interpreted that it is rarely heard outside of competition is in danger of becoming a lifeless artifact. Its time to free piobaireachd.
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Old 09-24-2010, 08:07 AM   #76
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Ahh... Bob you do like those Irish harpists!

Ha! It's not that I particularly like (or dislike) them, but they do seem to be the key to the origin of piobaireachd. If you want to find out about the origins of our music, that's where to look.

To me, all that stuff is interesting, but it's not relevant. The musicians of the past played the way way they did because it had meaning to them. We play the way we do because it has meaning to us. If someone wants to try a different approach that's great, and if it has meaning to other people then they'll try it too. That's the real reason why we play things differently than people did in the past , and why they'll be different yet in the future.

Some people seem to be of the impression that playing piobaireachd in competition requires some form of alien musicianship. As if there were some external body imposing some sort of restrictions on us. When we play in competition, we're playing for judges, and the judges are pipers. Very good ones at that. Yes, at some point in the past there were competitions judged by non-pipers, but those days are (thankfully) gone.

You say, "It seems to me that a musical genre that is so narrowly interpreted that it is rarely heard outside of competition is in danger of becoming a lifeless artifact."

That might be true. Piobaireachd died out in Cape Breton while other forms of piping thrived (despite a high number of hereditary pipers). Maybe piobaireachd *needs* some external support system to remain alive. But I don't think it's so much a question of the interpretation as the compositions. There are *no* forms of music dating from the 1500's that have a wide following. In comparison we have things pretty good. I bet there are more people on any given day actively working on piobaireachd than there are people working on motets or madrigals.

The history of music is primarily the history of rapid change. By the time Mozart was a young man the world at large had forgotten about Bach. It's our excess of leisure time that allows us to maintain the musical forms of the past simultaneously with the musical forms of the present.
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Old 09-24-2010, 12:19 PM   #77
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Default Re: Allan McDonald's thesis

Too late to delete, sorry.
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Old 09-27-2010, 12:29 PM   #78
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Default Re: Allan McDonald's thesis

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By the time Mozart was a young man the world at large had forgotten about Bach. It's our excess of leisure time that allows us to maintain the musical forms of the past simultaneously with the musical forms of the present.
Thank God for Mendelssohn
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Old 09-27-2010, 12:45 PM   #79
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Default Re: Allan McDonald's thesis

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Thank God for Mendelssohn
Mendelssohn who? Never heard of him. Thank God for Béla Bartók!
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Old 09-27-2010, 01:42 PM   #80
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Default Re: Allan McDonald's thesis

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It's our excess of leisure time that allows us to maintain the musical forms of the past simultaneously with the musical forms of the present.
What "excess of leisure time"???????

I figured it was the development of recording technology that allowed this.

Thank God for CD players in the car and iPods in the gym!

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