Monday, December 03, 2007


Called to the Carpet

From the comment(s) on the previous post:

frustrated piper in hiatus who used to read your competition posts writes:

No updates lately?

You're right. I should get on that! New general update coming soon, maybe this afternoon - along with Xmas walk pics of my unit.

[Update: Okay, maybe this weekend. I'm behind on my session blog too, I'll try to get caught up across the board.]

I don't know if hearing a right proper piobaireachd during the Christmas Walk the other day was (A) the geekiest, or (B) the coolest thing I witnessed at the parade.
Coming close on the heels of an untuned Grade V looking guy mangling Jingle Bells and coming a little before a really poorly-tuned band... your performance was a breath of fresh air.

Well, thanks, glad to hear it. And it was probably pretty geeky, but then, I was reenacting.

The plan (for the last couple of years) has been that when I pipe with the reenactment group, I play period tunes. That means single reels, jigs, the occasional simple strathspey, ancient marches like Hey Tuti Tatey, and piobaireachd. The last two years I paraded with Black Donald's March. This year I wanted something with more forward motion, so I went with Glengarry's March. Both tunes are listed by the Piobaireachd Society as having a 6-6-4 bar structure, but as per Joseph MacDonald (1759), I recast them as 4-4-4-4. And they actually make more sense from a melodic and structural standpoint.

The problem with this is that it's all very repetitive. The Siubhal doubling variation of Glengarry's March, for example, can be summed up (without ornaments, lower case = connective note) as:


You can see the problem. It's really easy to get lost here. On top of that, as I just memorized it last week, this was the first time I ever played it in public, much less while walking and surrounded by distractions. So I got kind of turned around more than once. Ick.

On the other hand, with a tune like this, who's to know I screwed up but me?

More importantly, I made the mistake of arriving at 9:30 AM and warming up intermittently the whole time until we stepped off at around 11:45. Next year, I will park at 9:30 AM, and proceed to Murphy's for breakfast, and only start warming up the pipes at 11:15 or so. That way the reeds (all cane) won't be soggy and misbehaving. That said, by the end of the parade, my instrument had settled in and my fingers had warmed up, and I was way happier with my playing.

So I guess it went okay overall, though it could have gone better. At least I looked marvelous.

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