Tuesday, June 24, 2003


Playing in A

I've finally got my Highland Pipe chanter in A (440 Hz) working, and took it out to play for the first time this weekend. It's still a little twitchy about pressure - there's nothing uglier than a F# suddenly becoming an F-natural in the middle of a tune. And my hands aren't used to the larger distance between fingerholes, so I get some squeaks and squalls when I go from the high hand to low A. But when I'm cooking with it, it sounds great, and the drones are really nice, despite kludging them to tune to A with two sets of drone extenders. I'm thinking of having Anders do a simple recording of me soon, maybe playing Highland Wedding, and put it up on the site.

I've also been doing a lot of research on period costuming since the Potomac festival, and placed a couple of orders. Soon, I'll have everything I need to reenact every period from 1650 to 1820, with the exception the currans (leather rawhide shoes) - and I'll order those within a week or two. Weapons are a different matter, I'll need to start investing in some flintlock muskets and pistols, and get a basket-hilt fitting a man of more modest means. Mine's just too nice for anyone but a clan gentleman.

I've also got the basic info I need to make a leine and brat, which means I'll be able to extend the coming period backwards to about 1200.

Work on converting the website to frames proceeds, and hopefully Jay will work out the bugs in my basic template, so I can convert all the pages over.

Thursday, June 19, 2003


Update: Potomac Celtic Fest '03

This week in my Celtic music world:

I went to the Potomac Celtic festival last weekend and had a ball. Talked with some Jacobite reenactors (who nitpicked my great kilt outfit mightlily, which means it was pretty close). Ran into EJ Jones, who was up there with Rosie Shipley as part of a one-off project called Manannan. Saw a lot of great music, but the group that stood out the most was Beolach, a number of young Cape Breton musicians (three of whom did Cape Breton step dancing). It was horribly hot and muggy, and I guess there's a good reason 19oz wool great kilts w/ tweed jackets aren't worn in, say, in Borneo.

This week's pipe lesson went fabulously. My instructor and I played for almost the whole hour, and at the end, he announced "I have nothing more to teach you. You can go home now". Granted, he was obviously talking only about the CAPD repertoire, but still. That was encouraging. I'm ready for the band, he says, past ready even. I just need to completely memorize the repertoire to the point where I'm comfortable with it. As soon as I'm in the band, we begin working on putting together competition sets for me, though I don't see competing until next year at the soonest.

Fiddle lesson went equally well, and other than ironing out some rough spots on the reels and my double-stops, and adding dynamic variations on the level of individual mesures, rather than just the whole part, I've got two air/march/strathspey/reel sets I'm ready to compete with this summer.

And I think I'm ready to find a cittern-player and a percussionist for the Scottish fiddle band, which now has a new tentative name: The Devil's Tailors, hopefully to begin playing together by next spring at the latest.

Everything's going according to plan...

Tuesday, June 03, 2003


All the Good Names are Taken

I've got a plan. I've got a set list. I even know most of the tunes. So I'm looking to recruit a guitarist and possibly a percussionist and start rehearsing for my smaller fiddle band. I figure it's a stepping stone to the full band.

And so I pick a cool name. Witty, yet topical. It's named after one of my favorite strathspeys.

And it's taken. It's the back-up band for a well-known Cape Breton fiddler.

Bugger. Oh well, time to start over.

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