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Old 12-06-2017, 04:28 AM   #1
Robin73
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Default Condensed Echo Beats

I'm having trouble finding musical or theoretical justification for interpreting the second half of this bar in the "ultra condensed" way that is so prevalent in Pibroch.



How about a little gentleness and spaciousness?

Here's an archive recording about it from an old Cameron School player, George Moss: http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/en...ecord/71407/12

I can't find any recordings apart from George Moss's archive recordings on the same site where it's played in this relaxed, and to my ears, more musical fashion. Can anyone point me to some players who do this? I'm thinking maybe Allan MacDonald in Edinburgh, but I can't get my hands on his "Dastirum" CD.

Actually, Donald MacPherson seems to play the "open" version at the start of phrases, but the condensed, staccato version at the end of phrases, like several notes crammed into a full-stop (period). There are examples of George Moss playing it open at both the start and end of phrases.
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Old 12-06-2017, 04:49 AM   #2
Mac an t-Sealgair
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Default Re: Condensed Echo Beats

If you want Allan Macdonalds Dastirum, you can download it here

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/allanmacdonald

Allan MacDonald's thesis on the relationship between piobaireachd and gaelic song. Makes interesting reading too. Hope that helps sir.

http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/music...llanmacdonald/

Last edited by Mac an t-Sealgair; 12-06-2017 at 04:55 AM.
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Old 12-06-2017, 06:39 AM   #3
Jay Close
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Default Re: Condensed Echo Beats

If I recall, Thomason's Ceol Mor discusses the variety of timings of echo beats extant in his time (late 19th c.). His notation can be a headache to figure out, but often worth the study.

Cheers
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Old 12-06-2017, 07:54 AM   #4
Rooklidge
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Default Re: Condensed Echo Beats

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin73 View Post
I'm having trouble finding musical or theoretical justification for interpreting the second half of this bar in the "ultra condensed" way that is so prevalent in Pibroch.
Fashion changes over time, Robin. I'm not sure the progression of the embellishment would have a justification other than the classic chestnut "That's the way I was taught". Even George Moss has a bit of that in his recorded conversations (which I really enjoy). Eventually the embellishment was written in the modern style and players even now seem to take pride in the speed they can rattle this one off. Check the AltPibrochClub website for info. Also, many of Allan's other recordings, including those with Margaret Stewart, should be available from Greentrax.
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Old 12-06-2017, 09:40 AM   #5
Robin73
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Default Re: Condensed Echo Beats

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Originally Posted by Mac an t-Sealgair View Post
If you want Allan Macdonalds Dastirum, you can download it here

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/allanmacdonald
Thank you for that. It doesn't look like I get the 69 page booklet if I purchase from that link. Is there a PDF available anywhere that you know of please?
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Old 12-06-2017, 09:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: Condensed Echo Beats

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Originally Posted by Robin73 View Post
Thank you for that. It doesn't look like I get the 69 page booklet if I purchase from that link. Is there a PDF available anywhere that you know of please?
http://pibroch.net/articles/dastirum_intro.pdf is a start. I'll ask Allan if he has the full copy somewhere electronically.
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Old 12-06-2017, 05:25 PM   #7
CalumII
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Default Re: Condensed Echo Beats

It is written that way by Angus MacKay, whose father John was trained by the last of the MacCrimmons and the Gairloch MacKays. It is not a modern confabulation.

It is fair to say that it has squeezed out other styles; why that has happened is a long and complex story. As for its musicality, well, that is up to the musician.
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Old 12-07-2017, 01:42 AM   #8
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Default Re: Condensed Echo Beats

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Originally Posted by CalumII View Post
It is written that way by Angus MacKay, whose father John was trained by the last of the MacCrimmons and the Gairloch MacKays. It is not a modern confabulation.
When it's written as below, there is still no indication that the low 'A's should have almost zero duration. In fact, the name "echo beat" suggests otherwise to me.



George Moss suggests the current style is (mis)taken from dance music and is not "the old pibroch way."

This makes sense to me, as musically I find the current approach quite jarring in some tunes. For example, IMO the way he plays the echo beats in the Lament for Mary MacLeod suits the gentleness and beauty of the melody much better than other interpretations I've heard (and his approach to the rhythm is elegant simplicity itself, but that's probably for another discussion...). In a more austere tune like the End of the Great Bridge, the sharp, birl-like endings sound less out of place, although I've tried playng it with the longer beats and that sounds fine too, to my ears.

I think there is certainly room for some experimentation here in this new age of Alt Pibroch (perhaps it could also be called Freebroch? Although that probably suggests not enough alignment with tradition. What a delicate balancing act!)

Last edited by Robin73; 12-07-2017 at 02:08 AM.
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Old 12-07-2017, 12:32 PM   #9
CalumII
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Default Re: Condensed Echo Beats

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin73 View Post
When it's written as below, there is still no indication that the low 'A's should have almost zero duration.
There is a difficult balance to be struck. For sure, there is much to learn from these manuscripts. At the same time, we need to interrogate them closely; there is a bit of a tendency in some spheres to treat them as perfected representations, which they are not.

In this specific case, I can't tell you - nor can anyone else - exactly how fast Angus MacKay played them. However, we know that he is writing them in the same way that the birl movement was commonly written in the 19th century, and as a skilled exponent of light music he knew this very well when he wrote it down. So was the birl a more open movement back then? Quite possibly. Are there other ways of writing the movement evident from contemporary sources? Yes. Was it played in different ways in practice? It seems likely.

Quote:
How about a little gentleness and spaciousness?
This is mediaeval music that has by several strange quirks of fate survived into the present day. It is strange and alien to modern ears and it takes time to get used to, just as many other world musics from outside the Western tradition do.
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Old 12-07-2017, 01:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: Condensed Echo Beats

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalumII View Post
There is a difficult balance to be struck. For sure, there is much to learn from these manuscripts. At the same time, we need to interrogate them closely; there is a bit of a tendency in some spheres to treat them as perfected representations, which they are not.

In this specific case, I can't tell you - nor can anyone else - exactly how fast Angus MacKay played them. However, we know that he is writing them in the same way that the birl movement was commonly written in the 19th century, and as a skilled exponent of light music he knew this very well when he wrote it down. So was the birl a more open movement back then? Quite possibly. Are there other ways of writing the movement evident from contemporary sources? Yes. Was it played in different ways in practice? It seems likely.



This is mediaeval music that has by several strange quirks of fate survived into the present day. It is strange and alien to modern ears and it takes time to get used to, just as many other world musics from outside the Western tradition do.
Nice post.
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