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Old 04-10-2017, 09:00 AM   #1
Ron Teague
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Default Difference between a Salute, Gathering and a Lament?

I got to thinking about Ceol Mor yesterday, which is always a bad thing. I wonder what is the musical difference between a Salute, Gathering and a Lament. They way they are played or are there 'rules' for differing Keys or is there some sort of structure difference? I am thinking about trying my had again at composing a tune and settling this point might be a good place to start.
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Old 04-10-2017, 09:48 AM   #2
Jay Close
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Default Re: A theoretical question

Ron:

One of the issues involved in your question is that quite a few tunes have been known down the years by differing titles with differing histories behind them. Sometimes somebody's salute was also known as somebody else's lament.

My major piobaireachd mentor, Willie Connell, used to tell me not to pay too much attention to the the tune title or story when interpreting a tune. The tune itself held the clues to how it ought to be played. It was all about rhythm, melody and phrasing, not titles or stories.

But I do admit to liking the stories myself.

There is an interesting article that appeared in print decades ago written by Donald MacLeod. He stated that in his experience the Gaelic speaking piper tended just to play the music (and here he was writing about ceol mor), letting the music itself be the guide.

He felt it was the non-Gaelic speaking piper who got excited about tune histories and claimed to convey the sounds of combat in battle tunes or keening clanswomen when playing a lament.

That struck me as counter intuitive (or contrary to my stereotype) at the time I read it, but Connell, not a Gaelic speaker, expressed what Donald MacLeod thought of as the native approach.

Food for thought.

Cheers!
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Old 04-10-2017, 09:30 PM   #3
Ron Teague
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Default Re: Difference between a Salute, Gathering and a Lament?

Jay:

Well this isn't helpful. If I follow your reasoning all ceol mor tunes should in fact be nameless without any title what so ever. Each tune then could be played for any occasion. But is this true? Could Lament for the Children be used as a March or a Gathering? Really? I suppose so but it don't seem right to me. Inside each tune is an intention, i.e. the composer intended something. Perhaps we don't really know what the intention was, but that doesn't negate the primary intention that the composer had in mind when he or she made the tune. I still am wondering what makes a Salute or a Gathering or a a Lament. Speed of playing a tune? I am sorry the answer 'we don't know' seems to miss the point. What seems to me is that each tune is expressing some sort of emotion and is not a random collection of notes. If my assumption is correct there must be some way of distinguishing between the intent of tunes which are marches or laments or salutes or gatherings. Are ceol mor tunes simply random?
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Old 04-10-2017, 10:30 PM   #4
Rooklidge
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Default Re: Difference between a Salute, Gathering and a Lament?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Teague View Post
Are ceol mor tunes simply random?
I don't think this is Jay's point. The ceol mor as come down to us may have a title the original composer(s) didn't give it, so there are many tunes that can't be identified by a name. Many of the existing tune names are contradictory; however, some tunes do have a known name that is in recorded (written) history.

What I think you're getting at is what structure defines the "type" of tune, and that can be said to be up to the composer; whether redundant use of hiharin are keening laments, hi G throws are trumpeting salutes, etc. This has been discussed on altpibroch.com, so that's a good place to start.
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Old 04-11-2017, 04:55 AM   #5
Lochaberaxe
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Default Re: Difference between a Salute, Gathering and a Lament?

A tune like "Campbell's Gathering" you can hear several times the "E" note singing like a trumpet for calling.
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Old 04-11-2017, 07:31 AM   #6
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Default Re: Difference between a Salute, Gathering and a Lament?

Ron, I think you missed the point.

It's not that all tunes are the same, far from it. It's that titles and folklore are often contradictory and a poor guide to interpretation. The Lament for the Children would be lamentatious regardless of what it is called. The Wee Spree has been played as a lament by many inspite of the name. A Flame of Wrath would be just as angry regardless of the title. I recognize all of that. Connell's point was that the key to the music is in the music, not a title or story. These tunes are sad or angry or whatever because of their nature, not because of what they are called.

I found this idea helpful, even liberating. It throws responsibility onto the player, to decide in his/her own mind the musical effect desired and work to produce that effect. There isn't a formula. Only playing and listening and musical experimentation under traditional guidance.

As a related aside, I have been told by more than one Gaelic speaker that the word we translate as "lament" in English, does not necessarily connote something sad. It implies simply a musical statement on a death, sometimes even joyous. I remember Connell calling the Lament for the Viscount of Dundee a "fiery lament".

I also remember getting much the same advise on tune interpretation from Jimmy McColl and Duncan Johnstone. Both thought the titles and stories interesting, but didn't let them confine the music. So, this is not an idiosyncratic point of view.

As in all things regarding art, opinions abound. With my own students I will try to guide them to present a tune the way I see it; but I also tell them that when they stand on a stage with the Big Pipe humming on the shoulder and the chanter vibrating in their hands, they and the music are alone. They must play what resonates with them. Only then is it a meaningful exercise.

Peace.
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Old 04-11-2017, 09:43 AM   #7
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Default Re: Difference between a Salute, Gathering and a Lament?

I think a good example of "letting the music determine" is "MacDougall's Gathering". The tune was nameless until someone gave it the title above sometime in the 19th century(?). According to Bob Brown via Donald Lindsay and Jimmy McIntosh, line one represents a warning call with the E echos being calls to the four directions; line two is a gathering; and line three shows determination to face what ever is coming.

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Old 04-11-2017, 02:45 PM   #8
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Default Re: Difference between a Salute, Gathering and a Lament?

While I think getting to hung-up on tune titles may be detrimental, there are occasions in which the "back story" is pertinent. Two examples that I can think of are The Wee Spree and Lament For The Little Supper.

The Wee Spree (AFAIK) is about a blacksmith who cannot stop binge-drinking to the extent that his life and skills are slowly being ruined. While the word "Spree" can be interpreted at sustained partying or frivolity (at least that is what I think), in reality, the tune is more of a lament.

The Lament For The Little Supper for me should be played in more of an angry manner. Sure it's a lament, but the circumstances (back-fired revenge and murder by the Comyn Clan) give the tune an edgy, angry feeling, especially in the first couple of lines of the ground. Again IMO.

Charlie
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:15 AM   #9
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Default Re: Difference between a Salute, Gathering and a Lament?

I am reading these posts with interest as I have written few piobaireachds over the years and there is always pressure to "name" them. I would be interested to know whether, back in the day, composers ever felt the need to name their tunes? I know that many tunes came from other tunes already existing at the time and I would have thought, in the very hierarchical society pipers lived in then, if anyone were to name the tune it would be their master or the chieftain and not the musician. What Donald MacLeod was trying to say, then, was play the tune the way it feels to you. I don't know whether any of you have been told, "This is a salute therefore needs to be played like this!" This is especially sad at competition level when you feel you have played the tune well and the judge disagrees only because he or she was taught otherwise? If only we knew....
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Old 03-19-2019, 09:19 AM   #10
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Default Re: Difference between a Salute, Gathering and a Lament?

Allan MacDonald identifies Gaelic song traditions behind roughly 50 tunes. Those can help interpretation.

Tune titles changed for a variety of reasons. Most interesting of which is our earliest known example of a contemporary tune reference: a tune mentioned in 16th century archives called either “the Laird Tint his Gauntlet” or “Tobacco”, depending on whether the former might not be socially, um, controversial to use.

http://www.altpibroch.com/learning/w...-bagpipe-tune/

We began a phenomenogical approach to the scores to begin exploring what internal characteristics might be indicators of a particular genre. It’s a chicken-and-egg issue, but was a start.

Www.altpibroch.com search for Genres.

Tempo differences are a start. But it is a bit of an imaginative approach to try to recreate the per formative differences UNLESS you have a tradition you can draw from.

Which is why Allan’s thesis is so important.

Titles and stories can nevertheless be used by you, as a solo musician, to bring your interpretive imagination to your performance.


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