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Beer Tent The general discussion forum, and the place to start a new "beer-tent-like" Piping Related discussion...

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Old 10-19-2009, 07:06 PM   #31
Paul Wood
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Default Re: Sean McGonigal and the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipeband

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Originally Posted by timbuck3 View Post
Please...Good band,but not quite grade 1 now are they?.and why are Sean's 2 grandson's not playing with his band?// Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
My God. Another half witted comment from someone with no information about himself on his own profile. I would also need to not point out that considering that Sean McGonigal started SCUGPB 60 years ago, it would not need to be pointed out that he has died by now.
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:21 PM   #32
Ian Lawther
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Default Re: Sean McGonigal and the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipeband

I took another look at the record details linked from the start of this thread and then did some googling to get some information on Cook Records which was the original label to release it.

It turns out that the LP was recorded by Emory Cook whose main interests were in the recording process and manufacture of then state of the art recording equipment. Apparently he was responsible for the first stereo recordings. Much of his recorded output was made to demonstrate his equipment and included otherwise difficult subjects recorded outside a studio.

With this background information I think it is worth reassessing the recording that has been getting criticized. I suspect the band was local to Cook and he made the recording regardless of the pipe band quality because he wanted to record a difficult subject to show his equipment could do it, and likewise he released the result as proof of quality of his recording. That the band was not one that really merited being recorded doesn't seem to have been an issue to him. More about him below.

Ian

"Cook was a self-made sonic scientist who recorded music primarily to demo his state-of-the-art sound equipment. Cook produced the world's first commercial stereophonic recordings: "binaural" albums playable on the Rek-O-Kut turntable, a double-cartridge contraption that cost $165 in 1953. He started his Cook Laboratories-Sounds of Our Times label in 1950, and had a hit on his hands with Rail Dynamics, a hi-fi rendering of train sounds captured on the tracks and trestles of the New York Central Line between Peekskill and New York City that sold more than 50,000 copies by 1956. "Sound is a way of daydreaming an escape into the wild blue," Cook told The New Yorker that year. "A bad recording interferes with that escape, forcing the listener's imagination to strain against alien elements."

Cook discovered his sonic sublime in Trinidad, which he began visiting in 1955 and where he captured some of the world's best calypso albums on his portable recorder.
Calypso Awakening from the Emory Cook Collection and the Mighty Sparrow anthology First Flight: Early Calypsos from the Emory Cook Collection are excellent ports of entry, not to mention the irresistibly titled Calypso Atrocities, Hellish Calypso, and Calypso Exposed. Cook Records also released extremely groovy and often quite kitschelicious Trinidadian jazz and pan-steel drumming from Antigua.

Cook, who was 89 at the time of his death in 2002, donated his entire catalogue to the Smithsonian Institute in 1990, and they've remained in print ever since. His fascinatingly obsessive legacy includes sounds of thunderstorms, bullfrogs, earthquakes, airplanes, crickets, and crying babies on his Sound Effects series. But his zeal also extended internationally to the Mariachi Music of Mexico, Spanish guitarist Carlos Montoya, The Japanese Koto, and Haiti Confidential.

Cook's most eccentric non-calypso achievement, however, is probably his magnificent Speed the Parting Guest by the Jimmy Carroll Percussion Ensemble, which employs seventeen temple bells, a toy drum, two vibraphones, a wind machine, five cocktail shakers, and a foghorn borrowed from the United States Coast Guard Station at West Quoddy Head, Maine. "Every time a host plays it his guests go home, he saves himself a bottle of Scotch, and everybody feels fine on the eight-twelve the next morning," Cook explained. "The theme of the record is just go, go, go."
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Old 10-26-2009, 03:49 AM   #33
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Sean McGonigal and the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipeband

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Originally Posted by magsevenband View Post
Agreed, it's not fair to criticize a recording from those days. I have some old Scots Guards records that sound very similar.
Give them lots of credit for having the initiative to make a record back when making an album was a tremendous undertaking, not like today when you almost can do the whole project on your computer.


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Just for a point of comparison, here is a link to an MP3 on Jim McG's site of the 2nd Battalion of the Scots Guards in the early to mid 1930's.
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Old 10-26-2009, 07:47 AM   #34
Mic Sorrentino
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Default Re: Sean McGonigal and the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipeband

Nothing beats the 1958 recording of the 9th Regiment, a true classic. I'm amazed how many copies are available on Ebay.
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Old 11-27-2009, 10:48 PM   #35
Mike Glackin
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Default Re: Sean McGonigal and the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipeband

I realize that this is an old thread, but I thought that maybe some more information would make some sense. For the record, I am a member of St. Columcille (born into in 1985, playing since 1998, Grade 3 2005-Present, PM of Grade 5 2007-2009). According to one of elder Sean's grandsons, this recording was made in the first year of the band's existence. It was an outdoor tattoo of sorts at an athletic stadium in Harrison, NJ. I can't say anything else comparison-wise, but that's the most objective information I can come up with!
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Old 11-29-2009, 07:11 AM   #36
Andrew Payzant
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Default Re: Sean McGonigal and the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipeband

Come on gang, lighten up!

Comparing a recording of a lower grade band to grade one bands, regardless of the era, is hardly fair.

Back in 1975 or so, the Dartmouth Boys' Pipe & Drum Band was barely above a "street band" as far as playing goes (Scott Williams can back me up on that). We had a big group though (33 playing members), and a new piping instructor named Ken Grant, who had his Senior Instructors Certificate from the College of Piping. We were a grade 4 band then (no grade 5 in those days), but had never won a contest. We had a lot of improvement the next season - 3 weeks summer instruction at the Gaelic College was a huge help, plus our drum corps were getting monthly lessons from Neil McKenna of the old Antigonish Legion Pipe Band.

Ken and the band executive decided to record an LP to meet two goals - the first was to raise funds for the band to attend the Intercontinental Games in Toronto, the second was to focus the band to play at a higher level. I still have my copy of the LP - it does not compare with any grade 1 band of that (or any) era, but it is a snapshot of where the group was at that time, and I am quite proud of it.

Was it a success? Absolutely! From the money we raised, we went to Toronto in 1976, got our butts kicked in grade 4, but learned a ton. We got to watch the grade 1 bands practice and compete. We replaced our 1960s era Hardies with new Warnock chanters and replaced our old snares with new Premiers, and developed an entirely new work ethic. Plus we got a new drum instructor named Dave Coleman. The next year we won grade 4 in Nova Scotia, moved to grade 3, won grade 3 and moved to grade 2 for the 1979 season. The grade 2 band (renamed Dartmouth & District) was a contender in grade 2 for a long time.

So I have nothing but respect for lower grade bands that go through the effort to make recordings, because I have seen first hand how that can be the catalyst for improving a band.

Go St Columcille!

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Old 08-09-2010, 10:30 AM   #37
champiper2392
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Default Re: Sean McGonigal and the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipeband

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Originally Posted by Matt Buckley View Post
What does 1950 have to do with it? Couple of years ago I heard a tape of a wonderful recording of Glasgow City Police in the 50s. Great music.

1950 recording technology has nothing to do with horrible strike-ins, tuning, etc.
Keep in Mind that St Columcille in the 50's werent very competitive. As the Glasgow City Police were world champions in 1951 in GRADE 1. Big difference.
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Old 08-09-2010, 01:07 PM   #38
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Default Re: Sean McGonigal and the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipeband

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Originally Posted by champiper2392 View Post
Keep in Mind that St Columcille in the 50's werent very competitive. As the Glasgow City Police were world champions in 1951 in GRADE 1. Big difference.
anybody on east coast recall the Barret Family Pipers or Barret's All Girl Pipe Band ... '50s -60's ...Roosevelt , Long Island, NY. Harrummmphh!! Now there was a throw down for the 9th Regiment .
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