Tuesday, March 30, 2004


And Guitarist Makes Two

It's confirmed: The Devil's Tailors Scottish Fiddle Band has its second member.

Joining the line-up is guitar veteran Anders Johansson, formerly of Ceili's Muse, SixMileBridge, and The Maggie Drennon Band (to list the Celtic outfits he's worked with). An extremely masterful guitarist and respected studio engineer, Anders will bring incomperable depth and experience to the band, along with his skills at arrangement, and an in-house recording capability.

Anders and I will begin working up our tune sets very soon, and will be arranging and rehearsing through the spring and summer of '04, hoping to begin performing (and recording) in the fall. Anders will mainly focus on rhythm guitar and Irish bouzouki, though expect him to take the lead melody line often!

Now we're looking for one, possibly two more bandsmen (or -women), to bring some flute & whistle and percussion into the mix, and some vocal talent for the occasional song.

Look for more updates here.

Monday, March 15, 2004


Odds and Ends (2)

I have got my smallpipes (more or less) up and running again, though I'll probably need to try once more with the tenor drone. It double-tones like a Highland pipe drone, requiring me to "strike in", not something I should have to do on smallpipes. I'll probably just buy a whole heap of cane from EJ. I did make another good drone reed, but the cane was too short for the tenor. I might put it in the alto drone (D) because it's a bit quieter than the one in there now.

Went to fiddle club yesterday, got even more great tunes out of it. Also got the packet of tunes for the spring dance, which I will be endeavouring to learn as quickly as possible.

I am really beginning to appreciate how stressful recording sessions are. I tried recording some fiddle and smallpipes this weekend to put up on my website, and I was horrified. I could never get it to where I was satisfied with it. Even my polished competition set fell short. I guess it's because you become your own harshest critic on a recording. This is a very good tool. I learned a lot about my weaknesses in phrasing and intonation, where I need to increase my dynamic range a bit. I also should remember what I liked: the accenting came off very well in most places. Still, I could spend a whole weekend recording just two tracks. No wonder musicians go on retreat... I do think I should invest in Apple's "Garage Band", and do some real low-end mixing. Just for practice.

I'm really looking forward to my Houston trip. So far, I'm thinking of bringing pipes, smallpipes, fiddle. flute, mandolin, and cittern. I'll probably do mandolin and cittern as checked baggage, and dissassemble the flute and pipes and carry those on. I'm going to get in a lot of practice on this trip.

Monday, March 08, 2004


Peter the Pseudonym Poacher

Turns out there's another "Piping Fiddler", no less than Bonnie Rideout. Of course, she means "brings a pipes-inspired style to the fiddle", along with a pipe repertoire, which is curiously the exact opposite of what I aspire to do. I play both pipes, and fiddle, and so I only feel a little guilty at poaching the moniker, but guilty nonetheless. I'm sure that if Bonnie took up the pipes, she'd be better than me in no time, and there's no comparison on the fiddle.

So if for any reason you ever read this, Bonnie, sorry!

In other news, made it to the Royal Mile Pub Scottish session for the second time yesterday, and had a blast. I'm still suffering in terms of my small repertoire, but I feel very comfortable as one of the more skilled players in the session environment. I need to drink a little bit less at these things, though, because booze brings out my more manic side. Still, a couple a few pints of Guinness did help with the initial bout of nerves I felt when I started.

Monday, March 01, 2004


Brian Boru Would Be Proud

In various news:
I finally figured out the fingering for my "Brian Boru" chanter. Very strange; first, it's a major scale, so every G is instead a G#. Then, basically each finger plays a note lower than on the Highland chanter. To finger an "E", I play the usual F#, to play a C#, finger a D. The thumbhole is a high G#, and high A is now a key. High G-natural is still there as a key, but low G-natural is not. Shakes and doublings are still possible, though using the thumb for the the G, and grips are still possible (using a G# instead of a G). I'll have to learn the double-tap method for birls, though.

The upshot of all this is that Amhan na bhFiann goes from low A to high C# (okay, low Bb to high D, but who's keeping track?). So if I can get it reeded up, there's a chance I might be able to play the Irish national anthem on the pipes on St. Patrick's day...

I brought the electronic chanter on the metro with me for the first time in a while. As I was coming home, an elderly Chinese couple sat next to me, and both were intently watching me play. I finally acknowledged them, and said "bagpipes". They looked confused. I said "It's an electronic bagpipe". They looked more confused, and one of them said something in Chinese. Realizing that they spoke no English, I showed them a picture of a piper on the back of my Cairngorm music book, and they nodded and said "ah!". They continued to watch as I played, so I offered the headphones to them. The husband took them first, and his eyes lit up while I played Scotland the Brave. He said something to his wife, and handed the headphones to her, and her eyes lit up. In very broken English, they thanked me, and said it was good.

And it was.

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