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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 05-18-2017, 07:43 PM   #1
salmunmousavi
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Default Are my ears playing tricks on me?

Hello Everybody,

I've just finished watching the BBC Scotland Documentary "Pipers of the Trenches" and have noticed that in the sequences where the modern day Army pipers are playing the pipes, it doesn't sound like there are a lot of gracenotes apart from separating a few notes of the same value.

Can someone shed some light on this? Do Army pipe bands leave out gracenotes for the sake of efficiency and being able to play quickly? Or are they all in there and my ears are just awful?

Thank you!
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Old 05-18-2017, 10:37 PM   #2
BaggyMcPipes
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Default Re: Are my ears playing tricks on me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by salmunmousavi View Post
Hello Everybody,

I've just finished watching the BBC Scotland Documentary "Pipers of the Trenches" and have noticed that in the sequences where the modern day Army pipers are playing the pipes, it doesn't sound like there are a lot of gracenotes apart from separating a few notes of the same value.

Can someone shed some light on this? Do Army pipe bands leave out gracenotes for the sake of efficiency and being able to play quickly? Or are they all in there and my ears are just awful?

Thank you!
I have no idea, but I'd imagine precisely what you suggest about leaving them out so they can play quickly could be it!
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Old 05-19-2017, 03:30 AM   #3
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Are my ears playing tricks on me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by salmunmousavi View Post
Do Army pipe bands leave out gracenotes for the sake of efficiency and being able to play quickly? Or are they all in there and my ears are just awful?

Thank you!
As someone who has played with a regimental Pipe & Drums band I can assure you that army pipers do not leave out grace notes.

That is NOT taught at Inchdrewer House, nor was it taught at Edinburgh Castle.

I have no idea what level you are at, salmunmousavi, but try having a listen to recordings by Alasdair Gillies, Gordon Walker, Angus MacDonald, Gavin Stoddart, Brian Donaldson, our own forum moderator, Scots Guards P/M Roger Huth, or older recordings by Donald MacLeod, Bob Brown, Bob Nicol, etc. All army pipers, no missing notes or embellishments, they're all there.

I still recall a "Huthing" from quite a few years ago when I accidentally dropped a high G gracenote from the second bar of the 4th part of Willie Gray's Farewell to the Glasgow Police. I made sure it didn't happen again, so I guess it sticks.
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Old 05-19-2017, 07:14 AM   #4
el gaitero
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Default Re: Are my ears playing tricks on me?

Seeing by your profile that you have just taken up pipes a few months ago I can understand your perspective.

As noted by Adam....the pipers are definitely not leaving out grace notes ' to play faster' or any other rationale.

Experienced pipers as these...'even' A level Pipers right out of Inchdrewer are playing 99%...but the 'speed' ( hate to use that word relative to piping) they play at..i.e. their doublings and other ornaments + being counseled generally to keep fingers close to the chanter ( after laboriously learning how to play ornaments big and open) it can appear to newbies the fingers are barely moving at all...and not enough to have played whatever gracing or ornament.

But...they are....indeed. A good technique to strive for over your learning curve...
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Old 05-19-2017, 10:21 AM   #5
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Are my ears playing tricks on me?

This?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toy7A8rbZZU

At the beginning there's a modern Black Watch piper playing and he has plenty of ornaments.

Maybe you could pinpoint what spot in the video you're talking about?

For sure there are some recently composed pipe band tunes, jigs and hornpipes and such, that have sparse ornamentation. I'm learning a Neil Dickie arrangement right now in which nearly half the bars only have three High G gracenotes in them. The majority of the rest have two High G gracenotes plus a birl, or throw, or a doubling, all three of the bar's ornaments falling on a major beat. The first 14 bars are like that.

So I can understand if the video shows a modern army piper playing one of these modern civilian pipe band competition tunes, that you might get that impression. It's not new army pipers v oldtime army pipers, but new compositions/arrangements v old traditional ones.
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Old 05-19-2017, 10:31 AM   #6
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Are my ears playing tricks on me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Sanderson View Post

I still recall a "Huthing" from quite a few years ago when I accidentally dropped a high G gracenote
Just to throw in another perspective, in the first band I was in, as a teenager in the 1970s, there was a guy who had been an army piper in WWII (in a Scottish Highland regiment).

I had heard stories about pipers in the old days who learned by ear, and this guy was like that. We would sit around the table with PCs and he would watch the PM's fingers and pick up the tunes.

Initially he left out gracenotes here and there; obviously the priority was getting the tune down. As he played the tune more all the missing gracenotes would appear; he was a fine player.

This wasn't an unconscious thing- he was aware of his method and commented on it at least once, when I was listening to him play one of the band tunes with some missing gracenotes. "Yes there's missing work. I'll have them soon enough".
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Old 05-19-2017, 10:43 AM   #7
McThistle
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Default Re: Are my ears playing tricks on me?

Download the program AUDACITY.

You can analyze recordings in a number of ways such as
slowing the tempo without changing pitch.
Analyze the pitch spectrum to see the frequency of the various notes

The doublings are really there in the slow playback.
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