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"Clan MacRae Society" four or six parts?

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  • "Clan MacRae Society" four or six parts?

    William Fergusson's great tune "Clan MacRae Society" was composed with four parts. Later Alex Duthart composed another two parts, which, with all due respect to Duthart, do not fit the rest of the tune IMHO. Would a judge ding a piper for playing just the original four parts in solo competition?

    This is a carry over from one of the bagpipe FB groups, where the question was asked can a piper play only four parts of a six part march (like "Highland Wedding") in a competition? Most people agree that if the tune was composed with six parts, then six parts should be played. Many chimed in advising the original poster to pick an easier tune.
    Cha de\an a' phluic a'phiobaireachd

  • #2
    Re: "Clan MacRae Society" four or six parts?

    Originally posted by John Dally View Post
    William Fergusson's great tune "Clan MacRae Society" was composed with four parts. Later Alex Duthart composed another two parts, which, with all due respect to Duthart, do not fit the rest of the tune IMHO. Would a judge ding a piper for playing just the original four parts in solo competition?

    This is a carry over from one of the bagpipe FB groups, where the question was asked can a piper play only four parts of a six part march (like "Highland Wedding") in a competition? Most people agree that if the tune was composed with six parts, then six parts should be played. Many chimed in advising the original poster to pick an easier tune.
    Good question. I believe if the tune was originally written with whatever parts (in this case, four), then a judge would not ding the competitor for not including later additions. There may be exceptions, however.

    For instance, I recall that "Rose Among the Heather", a strathspey, was originally (and oddly) written with three parts. Jeff Brewer wrote and inserted a 2nd part, to make it four total (later published by Ann Gray). If one played the original three-part tune in a competition MSR, they would technically be one part short by most rules.

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    • #3
      Re: "Clan MacRae Society" four or six parts?

      The thing about modern piping competition is that most competitors have clean fingering and an in tune bagpipe and a decent grasp of the idiom. As a judge, you're left making decisions on fine details and I'd say playing four parts of a classic six-parter is giving them a reason to move you down the list.



      As to the question itself, I think most judges would not deliberately knock you out for playing four parts, but no doubt a few would, and the rest now have a doubt in their mind that you didn't need to put there.
      http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
      -- Formerly known as CalumII

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      • #4
        Re: "Clan MacRae Society" four or six parts?

        I would most certainly inform them prior to performing your intentions and why (with why most certainly not being “just because”).
        My Piping Blog (recordings, articles, reviews, etc.) - Homepage - Pekaar's Tune Encyclopedia - Convert BMW to ABC

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        • #5
          Re: "Clan MacRae Society" four or six parts?

          Originally posted by EquusRacer View Post
          I recall that "Rose Among the Heather", a strathspey, was originally (and oddly) written with three parts. Jeff Brewer wrote and inserted a 2nd part, to make it four total (later published by Ann Gray). If one played the original three-part tune in a competition MSR, they would technically be one part short by most rules.
          Which raises another question: traditional tunes, which setting? That might be a subject for a separate thread, but I've heard at least one person who judges say that Willie Ross's setting are the standard and deviate from him at your peril.
          Cha de\an a' phluic a'phiobaireachd

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          • #6
            Re: "Clan MacRae Society" four or six parts?

            Originally posted by John Dally View Post
            William Fergusson's great tune "Clan MacRae Society" was composed with four parts. Later Alex Duthart composed another two parts, which, with all due respect to Duthart, do not fit the rest of the tune IMHO. Would a judge ding a piper for playing just the original four parts in solo competition?
            At what level? I think the answer is "some will, some won't." You can certainly let a judge know that you're playing four parts, as published <wherever>, but the more commonly-known setting now is the six-parted one. In the higher grades, that's the setting that judges are going to be the most comfortable hearing. In the lower grades, you're likely to get the "pick an easier tune" feedback, no matter how many parts you play.

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            • #7
              It's a tune that almost wants to be a quick step. I've played it in band competition but think I'd find it hard to play solo style. You'd tend to get along at a good clip and lose expression, unless you're really good. Great tune though, I remember some punters stopping to listen me practicing it, which doesn't usually happen when I practice competition 2/4s...

              I like the extra parts BTW. I picked up an original copy of William Fergusson's book in London years ago with just the 4 parts.

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