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Old 08-16-2020, 12:23 PM   #1
John Dally
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Default Book: PIPERS MEETING New Tunes from the Campbell Canntaireachd

PIPERS MEETING New Tunes from the Campbell Canntaireachd by Patrick Molard and Jack Taylor (ISBN 9781898405665), 2nd edition 2020.

This review must begin with an acknowledgement that colors everything I will write below. I find this book a revelation and a complete joy. Molard's and Taylor's achievement cannot be underestimated or under appreciated.

The book begins with a preface explaining what the Campbell Canntaireachd is, then gives brief biographies of the authors (who need no introduction to anyone here, I hope), and then discusses cadences and "hiharin" and their editorial policy. They acknowledge their indebtedness to the Bobs of Balmoral and say their interpretations are based on what they learned from these two modern masters, who have influenced our contemporary way of playing piobaireachd more than anybody else. The authors encourage pipers to make their own interpretations, however they don't mention pipers who have interpreted the CC scores differently. People interested in alternatives would do well to visit the Alt Pibroch website and read Ailean Domhnalluch's research.

There are 46 tunes in the 70 page book. What an incredible resource and so many great tunes. I wish the authors had included the CC text below the musical notation as an aid to learning to read the Campbell Canntaireachd, but the avid student can go to the Ceolsean.net web site to get the original vocable notation and learn to read it by writing it in beneath the notes. When the editors added cadences that are not in the text they marked them with an asterisk. Their method is consistent with the Balmoral school of piping's interpretation of piobaireachd as handed down to us from Angus MacKay. To my ear the modern "hiharin" is revealed to be awkward both rhythmically and melodically, and raises the question, are we sure this is how it was played by Colin Campbell? The more important question is, is this how I, or you, want to play it? But that is a topic for another time.

The tunes are accessible to any piper who can play a few piobaireachd tunes already. One I struggle with is "Slanssuive" on page 41. Accompanying notes, such as we find in the Piobaireachd Society books, would be helpful. But that leaves personal interpretation an open question, and pipers should take it as an invitation to express themselves. For me some of the most interesting tunes are the "Cragich", meaning rocky or craggy. I immediately gravitated to the nameless tunes, the tunes whose titles are the opening phrase in canntaireachd. There are some very unique tunes that are suitable for competition. I imagine that any piping judge would be happy to hear a rarely played tune from this collection.

Contemporary piobaireachd composers would learn a lot about structure and form by studying this book. Most of the melodies are not "tuney", to borrow a phrase from Kilberry. Many of these tunes have repetitive melodic lines and are beautifully meditative. Most are not technically difficult. But they are all musically demanding in that repetitive tunes always are.

So this is a ringing endorsement of Molard's and Taylor's book. Anyone interested in piobaireachd would get a lot of satisfaction from it. It is indispensable for anyone who is interested in the CC.
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Old 08-19-2020, 12:23 PM   #2
Donald Ross
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Default Re: Book: PIPERS MEETING New Tunes from the Campbell Canntaireachd

Thank you for the review, John! It does indeed sound like a useful new/non-redundant addition to the Piobaireachd canon! I will definitely check it out.
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Old 08-20-2020, 04:25 PM   #3
Jim McGillivray
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Default Re: Book: PIPERS MEETING New Tunes from the Campbell Canntaireachd

I agree, John. Well said.


JM
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Old 08-21-2020, 03:10 AM   #4
Scratcher
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Default Re: Book: PIPERS MEETING New Tunes from the Campbell Canntaireachd

While I have bought (and thoroughly enjoyed) this collection, and would echo your praise of it, I still harbour a sneaking doubt that the illuminati of the Pibroch Society could better spend their time revising some of the goppingly awful settings of some of the great classics which are published in their name (or Kilberry's name which. Is the same thing) and which are the basis for most teaching at all levels.


Making obscure and interesting tunes accessible is a worthy and valuable academic pursuit, and this is an excellent example of what can be achieved, but academic research is normally underpinned by delivery of sound undergraduate teaching.


When it is generally accepted that the best ( accessible ) teaching sources sit in other publications (Binneas, Jimmy MacIntosh, Dugald MacNeill and the like) I'm not entirely sure this publication is the best use of the authors' immense knowledge and expertise.

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Old 08-21-2020, 09:02 PM   #5
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Default Re: Book: PIPERS MEETING New Tunes from the Campbell Canntaireachd

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scratcher View Post

When it is generally accepted that the best ( accessible ) teaching sources sit in other publications (Binneas, Jimmy MacIntosh, Dugald MacNeill and the like) I'm not entirely sure this publication is the best use of the authors' immense knowledge and expertise.

Cheers
Scratch
I think Dr. Jack and Patrick have earned the right to do whatever they like with their expertise in the autumn of their piping years. Better to push on the current leadership of the PS for a complete revision of the old books. You can guess how far that will go.
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Old 08-23-2020, 09:31 AM   #6
John Dally
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Default Re: Book: PIPERS MEETING New Tunes from the Campbell Canntaireachd

Since I posted the review I discovered this very interesting and helpful YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgq...pchbInvxRKXgYg

Jack has great personal charm, and he answers a lot of the questions that came to mind as I have worked with the book.
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Old 08-23-2020, 09:49 AM   #7
John Dally
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Default Re: Book: PIPERS MEETING New Tunes from the Campbell Canntaireachd

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scratcher View Post
When it is generally accepted that the best ( accessible ) teaching sources sit in other publications (Binneas, Jimmy MacIntosh, Dugald MacNeill and the like) I'm not entirely sure this publication is the best use of the authors' immense knowledge and expertise.
There has been a movement over the last couple of decades to loosen up, moving away from a singular interpretation, with more freedom to expression given to the player community. It's a slow change, which is the healthy way to do it. I don't know that we need a new series to define the tradition again when there is so much exciting research and experimentation going on now.

Of course, I have no idea what the leaders of the PS are thinking. They have focussed on making more resources available, and should be applauded for that.
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Old 08-26-2020, 10:43 PM   #8
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Default Re: Book: PIPERS MEETING New Tunes from the Campbell Canntaireachd

Wonderful review, John. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I'd been on the fence about whether or not to buy the book, but your review pushed me over the edge. I look forward to playing through the tunes.
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