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Old 11-09-2018, 02:02 AM   #1
Piping Potential
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Default Modern Brakes on Tempo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71mQIHxnUvk


In the above clip, Willie Ross plays the march Marchioness of Tullibardine at a blindingly fast 107 bpm. The S&R Willie plays are also very fast. I have a recording of Donald MacPherson from 1989 playing the same march at 72 bpm. Jack Lee played the same march recently at roughly 64 bpm.


Why do you reckon we're slowing solo pipe music down? In 100 years will everything sound like a slow air or will there come a point where the tempos will settle or even increase again?


Discuss.
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Old 11-09-2018, 04:44 AM   #2
CalumII
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Default Re: Modern Brakes on Tempo

> Why do you reckon we're slowing solo pipe music down?


Because slow and clean wins competitions.


Back in the time of Willie Ross, light music players were expected and encouraged to dazzle with original tunes and variations and to show off the limits of their technique.


This stuff, in my opinion, is largely down to judging and it's up to judges to reward entertaining performances, or you are quite right, we risk seeing someone win a Glenfiddich with a march south of 60 beats a minute.
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Old 11-09-2018, 05:27 AM   #3
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Default Re: Modern Brakes on Tempo

Sometimes the old boys played so fast because they had to fit the tune into a limited time available on the recording device and/or the 78 record - or so I've been told.
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Old 11-09-2018, 05:48 AM   #4
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Modern Brakes on Tempo

I’ve stopped competing because of the issue. One judge took it personally when I told him I had my own preferences for tempo when he told me I played too fast. But before him were several others that were less direct.

I play for my enjoyment and competing is no longer consistent with that purpose.

Compare the Grant’s Piping Championship album from 1984 to what you hear today. How often are reel tempos in the mid-90s? Or strathspeys in the 130s?

Is it technically less perfect at a faster tempo? Perhaps. Is it more musically interesting/enjoyable? Yes.

Of course context is important. There are a number of bagpipe folk/rock bands who seem to think the only worthwhile pipe tune to engage an audience is a blindingly fast one which comes across as just a series of notes without any musical expression. There are bounds that we can exceed on both sides of the tempo spectrum.

Last edited by Patrick McLaurin; 11-09-2018 at 05:58 AM.
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Old 11-09-2018, 06:36 AM   #5
MichiganGaidar
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Default Re: Modern Brakes on Tempo

Personally, I don't think most marches sound well over 80-odd bpm. There's a panache to a relaxed 6/8 or 2/4 that's lost when it gets sped up.


Then again, I learned kaba gaida first, and Rhodope dance music is at a pace similar to the modern, "relaxed" march tempo.
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Old 11-09-2018, 06:38 AM   #6
el gaitero
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Default Re: Modern Brakes on Tempo

“ Is it technically less perfect at a faster tempo? Perhaps. Is it more musically interesting/enjoyable? Yes.”..

I think that’s the crux of a debate,no?
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Old 11-09-2018, 06:59 AM   #7
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Default Re: Modern Brakes on Tempo

> There's a panache to a relaxed 6/8 or 2/4 that's lost when it gets sped up.


That's not an uncommon point of view. The thing is - a good musician will make something sound good whatever the tempo, because they'll express it a way that fits that speed. So yes, modern competition MSR players have evolved a style of playing that is attractive on its own terms. But with no function other than the competition platform, what is it *for*?
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Old 11-09-2018, 07:01 AM   #8
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Default Re: Modern Brakes on Tempo

And just to add - a lot of this preference is because it's what we're used to.



Spend a month playing your competition marches at 92bpm and see how you feel after getting used to that tempo.
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Old 11-09-2018, 07:06 AM   #9
el gaitero
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Default Re: Modern Brakes on Tempo

What tempo do competitive dancers or judging require for an S or R?
Versus ‘in real life’ at a gala Ball or friendly pub,etc.?

Seems a March on parade at 88bpm is quite an acceptable pace...96bpm is pushing it.
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Old 11-09-2018, 09:30 AM   #10
CalumII
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Default Re: Modern Brakes on Tempo

For Highland dancing, it varies a bit depending on the dance, but basically a wee bit faster than we usually play.

Cape Breton step dance, well, it's difficult not to play for those tempi and dancers and not come away feeling that that's what a strathspey really is.


As for marching tempos, I'm quite used to 112 or 120bpm for square-bashing. Again, once you get used to it, it's just what it is.
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