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Old 08-28-2018, 02:52 AM   #1
Robin73
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Default Judges and Manuscripts

It occurs to me that judges looking at manuscripts while judging pibroch performances is a strange practice.

I think it is probably generally agreed that the original purpose of the manuscripts was as an aide-memoire for pipers who had a lot of tunes to remember, rather than as a score to play from. Piping, as I understand it, was an oral tradition.

Since the actual content of an entire pibroch can be notated on a singe page in a compact form such as Thomason's versions (e.g. https://ceolsean.net/content/ceolmor...ook04%2014.pdf), then I don't really see the need for anything more.

Presumably, the judges are familiar with the pieces being played and could rely on their ears and knowledge of the music to assess the performance.

If they are more concerned with how well a player can match what is written on the page than how well they can evoke the spirit of the music then the whole business starts to look a bit like an exercise in conformity.

I wonder if it's possible that the rather unpleasant phrase "cutting the throat of the skylark to see what made it sing" might apply here to some extent?
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Old 08-28-2018, 03:39 AM   #2
Steven Knox
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Default Re: Judges and Manuscripts

I think its asking too much of a judge to know every setting of every piobaireachd ever composed, but I think we also dont want to be limited, as competitors, in what tunes and settings we play. Allowing judges to look at a score seems like a reasonable way to accommodate both adventurous players and human judges.
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Old 08-28-2018, 04:15 AM   #3
Robin73
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Default Re: Judges and Manuscripts

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Originally Posted by Steven Knox View Post
I think its asking too much of a judge to know every setting of every piobaireachd ever composed..
Agreed. I guess I was thinking of either commonly played tunes or ones from a limited set list, which judges could certainly familiarize themselves with.

Maybe my premise is that if judges really know the essence of a tune, the superficial details are unimportant and should be left to the discretion of the player.

This would mean judging could focus more on other aspects of the performance than "trueness to the score."
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Old 08-28-2018, 04:33 AM   #4
thevoidboy
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Default Re: Judges and Manuscripts

That would be nice.


-J David Hester, PhD
Alt Pibroch Club
www.altpibroch.com
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Old 08-28-2018, 05:39 AM   #5
CalumII
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Default Re: Judges and Manuscripts

Prizes can and have been one with players making severe errors (missing lines or variations, for example), and it's perhaps reasonable that in a very close competition that competitors would feel aggrieved that these things were not noticed or considered. Once noticed, it is of course up to the judge how the error is weighted. I think it's fair to say that a simple note error would not be judged as harshly nowadays as it once would.


On a three man bench, normally one judge will follow the score leaving the judges to concentrate on listening.
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Old 08-28-2018, 05:40 AM   #6
Steven Knox
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Default Re: Judges and Manuscripts

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Originally Posted by Robin73 View Post
...the superficial details are unimportant and should be left to the discretion of the player.
I agree with your post, except Id strike the un. I think were all looking for a musical performance to occur, and its only the player who has the opportunity to bring the music out of the score. Id much rather hear a musical performance that left out a repeated line in a variation (say) than a faithful but mechanical recitation of a score.

Left to the discretion of the player is my favorite phrase in music, and one which bears frequent repetition.
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Old 08-28-2018, 05:46 AM   #7
Robin73
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Default Re: Judges and Manuscripts

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On a three man bench, normally one judge will follow the score leaving the judges to concentrate on listening.
I didn't know this, and am delighted to hear it.
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Old 08-28-2018, 08:13 AM   #8
Pppiper
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Default Re: Judges and Manuscripts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Knox View Post
I think its asking too much of a judge to know every setting of every piobaireachd ever composed, but I think we also dont want to be limited, as competitors, in what tunes and settings we play. Allowing judges to look at a score seems like a reasonable way to accommodate both adventurous players and human judges.
This is well said.

Bill Livingstone and his former instructor John Wilson both discuss this issue in their memoirs. Both notably cite multiple instances of what Wilson refers to as a "Braemar Special."

I'll simply paraphrase to the best of my ability, but basically Braemar has had a reputation for judges never having any manuscripts in front of them. In one case, Wilson spoke of an instance where he went up to a colleague to congratulate him on a well-played tune, to which the man said something like "Ahh!! I skipped a whole portion!" The man ended up winning outright.

So yes, I think it's asking a lot for judges to know all the "common tunes" with superhuman accuracy .. and to that end ... which tunes are to be accepted as common vs. obscure?

Personally, as a competitor, I kind of strive to seek a balance between the two. I really, really don't like notion of being one of 5-6 people who are all playing the same tune that day. But I also don't want to play something that will have the judge scratching his head either.

I suppose this -might- characterize me as being slightly adventurous, and every-so-often, the judge has had the book open, following along as I play. I would greatly prefer this to a judge telling me I can't play my tune because it's not common enough, and I certainly wouldn't want them to be guessing at whether or not I was playing the tune as intended.

At a few contests, I've been pleased to see two judges present ... one simply following the tune in Kilberry or the PS volumes, and the other "judging the rest." I wish all events could be so lucky to have that.

Cheers,
~Nate
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Old 08-28-2018, 11:13 AM   #9
Rooklidge
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Default Re: Judges and Manuscripts

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Originally Posted by Pppiper View Post
But I also don't want to play something that will have the judge scratching his head either.

If a judge doesn't scratch his head at least once, I have failed to bring anything special to my performance. For better or worse.
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Old 08-28-2018, 02:56 PM   #10
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Judges and Manuscripts

Music is an art. Competition is a sport.

If you have to judge a large number of competitors, it helps to have some of them do the work for you, by taking themselves out of the running for a prize. Weeding them out based on errors provides an easy way to narrow the field.

If we weren't looking to create the ability to compare like things, for the purpose of deciding who played better, why have set tunes?
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