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A Mighty Fortress

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  • A Mighty Fortress

    I was asked to play A Mighty Fortress Is Our God along with our pianist at church for Reformation Day. My instinct is that it won't work well. The pianist's music has it in C and I think our keys would not cooperate well. Someone in the planning meeting said they had heard a piper play it along with an organ at a church they attended previously. Any thoughts and/or insights, anyone?

  • #2
    There is an arrangement of "A Mighty Fortress" in the Balmoral Collection of Hymns. I've never tried playing it so really don't know how well it goes. The arrangement is in the section of the book titles "When all the notes are not there..." Re: playing with an organist...I played "Highland Cathedral a year ago or so with an organist during a wedding. I used a MacCallum B flat chanter and the organist used an arrangement in E flat...went pretty well.

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    • #3
      The tune as composed by Martin Luther runs a full octave, but to play it on G Highland pipes, you'd need to play it in A ( concert Bflat) There are certainly arrangements in Hymnals in the key for the organist, but to play it in that key on GHB, you'll need high G#s. any Other key would involve shifting parts of the melody to a different octave or even more cross-fingered notes.
      If you can cross- finger a G# and want a bagpipe part in Concert Bflat, PM me and I'll work one up.
      Slainte Leibh/ Slan Leat, Bob Cameron

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      • #4
        Just looking at the music from Google, it looks tricky to adapt. The range for once is not a problem, but you need a G sharp - which is doable and a D sharp, which is, uh, difficult. I always figure if I *had* to do it I'd drill a hole on the back and cover it with my thumb, but the day has not yet come.
        http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
        -- Formerly known as CalumII

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        • #5
          It is one of the Hymns I've written out and arranged.

          Be aware of bagpipe arrangements that contain wrong notes! They usually do.

          Obviously if you're playing along with others, who are playing the actual real tune, a crappy bagpipe arrangement with wrong notes won't suffice.

          If you're going to play it in the key of written A Major on the pipes (sounding/Concert B-flat Major) the tune fits right in the bagpipe's Low A to High A gamut BUT you absolutely must play EVERY High G as a High G sharp or every one of your G's will clash with every one of the pianist's G's.

          There are nearly a dozen High G-sharps in the tune, which is a lot of clashing if you play the wrong note!

          (Be aware that the note pipers call "High G" is sounding/Concert A-flat. The note required is what pipers would write High G-sharp, which is sounding/Concert A natural.)

          Of course in advance you can have the pianist write out a piano arrangement with all the pianist's A's as A-flats. It will sound very strange to them, and to everybody.

          The alternate, which pipers nowadays don't take full advantage of, is the play the tune in the key of G Major on the pipes (sounding/Concert A-flat Major). Then the correct notes magically happen on the chanter. But G Major requires you to play all your C's and C-naturals rather than the chanter's built-in C sharp.

          Then there's the matter of the single accidental in the first bar of the second "part" (if you can apply Highland pipe terms to a Hymn). Written out full (no repeats) the first "part" is 8 bars, so it's bar 9 that has the accidental.

          If you're playing the tune in the key of A Major the accidental is a D-sharp. You can play a B instead, which note does occur in the chord there, as sung by choirs or played on keyboard.

          If you're playing the tune in the key of G Major the accidental is the chanter's normal C sharp.
          Last edited by pancelticpiper; 09-20-2022, 03:28 AM.
          proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte

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          • #6
            This will probably get deleted by the moderators even though it's MY arrangement of a Public Domain tune

            proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte

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            • #7
              Thanks, all, for your kind and generous help!! Knowing my skill level and not knowing who will be on keyboards, I'm thinking I should not try it this year but perhaps work on it for next year and see if I can work up something. I've never tried cross fingering; is there a resource for that?

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              • #8
                johnsog,

                If they want the pipes... and they seem to... you might
                suggest... that you could simply play it solo... and let
                the choir... and congregation... sing along with your
                playing.

                I have had this to occur... several times... and it has
                always worked out well.

                Just a thought...

                Trusting that... All Shall Go Well...

                Pip01



                My friends all know,
                With what a brave carouse...

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                • #9
                  Thanks, Pip01; that seems a sensible solution. We do have a small organ but rarely anyone who plays it so our keyboardists use the baby grand for leading worship. It's a small congregation and we don't have a regular choir either. I like the idea of piping while the congregation sings along. I'll propose that and, in the meantime, start practicing the tune. I feel Martin Luther would have approved of his tune on the pipes

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by johnsog View Post
                    Thanks, all, for your kind and generous help!! Knowing my skill level and not knowing who will be on keyboards, I'm thinking I should not try it this year but perhaps work on it for next year and see if I can work up something. I've never tried cross fingering; is there a resource for that?
                    Richard's suggestion to play it in G would likely be the easiest solution as you only need to cross finger a small handful of C naturals, which work fairly well on many chanters. You will have to get used to the sound of playing a tune in G against A drones, which can sound weird and tense, but there are many examples of this that work well.

                    To play Cnat play C with your pinkie raised and ring finger down like this: x xxx xoxo (cross fingering wont work on a practice chanter so you will have to practice on your pipes)

                    Good luck
                    Kevin

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