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Music Discuss specific tunes, the writing of tunes, other questions, concerns, etc. related specifically to the music or music books.

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Old 02-28-2012, 03:28 PM   #31
Z_Piper
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Default Re: anyhting like this in the Highland tradition?

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Originally Posted by tjm View Post
Guess that pretty much answers my question. Maybe some Urlars, other than that stick with the smallpipes. My last teacher was adamant that I'd really enjoy playing Piobaireachd but we never got there. Could be time to try or just focus on 'alternative' pipes.
Thanks guys.

--Tim.
Hi Tim, whatever route you decide to go, if you haven't played any Piobaireachd yet, I would highly recommend finding a good Piobaireachd teacher and giving it a try. For me there is nothing like playing Piobaireachd, I enjoy playing it even more so that listening to it.
Also, as someone else suggested, slow airs, find some that you like and try playing them a little more free form and put in more of your own expression.

-Zack
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Old 02-28-2012, 04:11 PM   #32
Matt Seattle
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Default Re: anyhting like this in the Highland tradition?

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What would be a real treat is an alternative piping competition with smallpipes, northumbrian, border, and (with proper oxford commas) fireside/kitchen pipes. Are there any that already take place?
Yes, in the UK (and/or Ireland for uilleann pipes) where these instruments have a continuous tradition or have been revived for some decades or where a relatively new tradition has become established. There are piping societies and music festivals where these competitions have long been part of the scenery. As for the merits or otherwise of competitions, talk to four pipers and you'll get ten opinions!

It's important to state that these are not 'alternative' pipes, and that the GHB is but one among many bagpipes with a recognised tradition, no less but also no more valid or worthy of interest than the others.
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Old 02-28-2012, 06:34 PM   #33
Shawn Husk
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Default Re: anyhting like this in the Highland tradition?

This is a very interesting thread, which I've just now read through in it's entirety for the first time.

Not 100% sure what the OP was really getting at but I think I have the gist of it.

I think that a lot of it has to do with the pitch and sound of GHB vs. Uilleann.... So I might recommend a lower pitched instrument. Perhaps a nice older chanter and drones to match. Then get on some really beautiful slow airs and various other stuff.

Allan MacDonald to my mind is one of the most expressive players out there bar none when it comes to this sort of feel..... One of his tunes really really moves me and I think it may be just the thing you're looking for. It's on the CD The Piping Centre Series 3 Vol. 2 the track is named "Duncan MacRae Of Kintails Lament/March Of The King Of Laoise" and it is superb and very much in the same "tradition" sound wise as the youtube clip to the Riverdance piece referenced in the original posting.

Here is a youtube clip of Allan playing this exact tune with the pipe band St. Laurence O'Toole, tell me if this doesn't move you! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNL7h...eature=related

Very cool thread!

Shawn
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:15 PM   #34
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Default Re: anyhting like this in the Highland tradition?

Shawn,

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Originally Posted by Shawn Husk View Post
Not 100% sure what the OP was really getting at but I think I have the gist of it.
The number of replies was totally unexpected, and after reading and considering and looking at a variety of players and styles .... well, I'm not sure what I was getting at either!

Maybe it comes down to this:
Why is so-called kitchen piping more 'fringe' instead of more mainstream, and why do limit our concept of 'expression' primarily to note durations? Why do we focus on technical correctness over musicianship? How many intermediate pipers can add an arpeggio or improvise around a phrase? In many ways, at least for me, that Riverdance clip epitomizes all these questions - it's a modern piece, a mainstream musical show, non-traditional playing, perhaps in a non-Irish style, no drones, stacato and vibrato all over the piece, but IMO all that is what makes it interesting.

Quote:
Here is a youtube clip of Allan playing this exact tune with the pipe band St. Laurence O'Toole, tell me if this doesn't move you! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNL7h...eature=related
Thanks for that - a very nice piece with some nice playing.

BTW, I do play a 440 bellows smallpipe. Not one of my own at the moment, but I can't really complain about playing a Hamish Moore boxwood set!!

--Tim.
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Old 03-01-2012, 03:34 AM   #35
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Default Re: anyhting like this in the Highland tradition?

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Why do we focus on technical correctness over musicianship?
I think it would be fair to say that 20th century bagpipe teaching tended to put the cart before the horse, and insisted on technical mastery before musical understanding. That works well for a 12yo kid who works his socks off and becomes tomorrow's gold medallist. It has been an absolute dismal failure at the lower levels - it is ridiculous what poor musicians lower-grade pipers tend to be (band and solo).

All that said though, you get nowhere in any piping tradition without the technical skill to make the chanter do what you want it to.
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Old 03-02-2012, 05:42 AM   #36
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Default Re: anyhting like this in the Highland tradition?

Probably what Bill Whelan, the composer of Riverdance, had in mind when he wrote that slow piece for the uilleann pipe solo was the rich store of sean nos slow airs played on the uilleann pipes.

Here's the real thing, The May Morning Dew

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq60Ohiiq0I

and sung

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qr-MAZoW7Og

Sean nos ("old style") airs are song-airs, sung acapella in the Irish language (though May Morning Dew is an exception, being in English).

They are very popular amongst uilleann pipers. The uilleann pipes are widely regarded as the instrument best capable of conveying the sound of the Irish voice.

I play many of these on the uilleann pipes myself, and there's one that I also play on the Highland pipes (though the second part goes too high and has to be compressed) Ar Eirinn ni Neosfainn Ce Hi (For Ireland I Would Not Tell Her Name).

There is an exact parallel in the Highland pipe tradition, the hundreds of Gaelic song-airs which have come into the piping tradition.

The Donald MacLeod Collection, the Scots Guards Collection, etc are chock-full of these, such as Chi Mi Na Morbheanna (The Mist-covered Mountains) , though many are printed in piping collections sans their Gaelic titles and are simply called "Gaelic Lullaby" or what have you.

Here is Chi Mi Na Morbheanna sung in Gaelic. It's well for us pipers to keep the song in mind when we play.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgTzxScVhXM

Now whether the Urlars of Piobaireachd should be considered in the same light is a matter of scholarly debate. There exist "pibroch songs" in the Gaelic tradtion, but are the piobaireachd urlars borrowed from the song tradition? If so, it would be an exact parallel with traditional jazz, where a jazz band starts with the "head", that is, the song-tune (often borrowed from Broadway hits or what have you) then goes into a series of instrumental explorations.

Or, it's possible that piobaireachd urlars are originally instrumental compositions which were later used as the melodies for songs in the Highlands.
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Last edited by pancelticpiper; 03-02-2012 at 06:04 AM.
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Old 03-02-2012, 06:10 AM   #37
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Default Re: anyhting like this in the Highland tradition?

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Why do we focus on technical correctness over musicianship?
The two are not by any means opposite things.

There's a saying about musicianship

"The difficult must become habit; the habit become art."

Musicianship is to a large degree about technical correctness, that is, playing the correct notes in tune at the right time. All someone conveys to his listeners, who plays random notes out of tune with poor timing, is poor musicianship.
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:02 AM   #38
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Default Re: anyhting like this in the Highland tradition?

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Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
The two are not by any means opposite things.

There's a saying about musicianship

"The difficult must become habit; the habit become art"

Musicianship is to a large degree about technical correctness, that is, playing the correct notes in tune at the right time. All someone conveys to his listeners, who plays random notes out of tune with poor timing, is poor musicianship.
Still, I think I can see what he's getting at. In much of the GHB world, "technical correctness" doesn't mean "playing the correct notes in tune at the right time," it (ONLY) means not having any crossing noises and playing each embellishment correctly. In that environment it would be quite possible to have a "technically correct" performance that was completely unmusical, because the GHB definition of "technique" has been drastically narrowed compared to that of other musicians. Likewise, it would be possible to have a musical performance that did not meet the narrow GHB definition of "technical correctness."

On the other hand, in my experience most (but not quite all) of the players who have poor technique in the narrow GHB sense (crossing notes, missed embellishments, etc) also have poor or nonexistent rhythm and tuning. To a large extent the reverse is also true, with the exception that many kids (especially late pre-teens and early teenagers) have fantastic execution but no musical sense.

In either case it probably comes down to the fact that if you don't care much about how you sound, you're not going to make the effort to fix any of it.

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Last edited by Bruce Wright; 03-02-2012 at 10:10 AM.
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Old 03-02-2012, 07:56 PM   #39
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Default Re: anyhting like this in the Highland tradition?

This is a great thread. Much debate but no belittling ...keep it coming.

Frank
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Old 03-02-2012, 11:15 PM   #40
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Default Re: anyhting like this in the Highland tradition?

Thanks again everyone. This whole discussion has been enlightening! I'm still not sure what to make of it all, but without doubt it's inspired me to shake the complacency get my technical foundation sorted out and consistent, while taking a broader look at piping in general before deciding which route to take.

I hope this post doesn't end the discussion - there are plenty of experienced forum regulars who haven't commented yet!

--Tim.
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