Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pipe Band Forum

My thoughts on a discussion about various interpretations of music and what standard should be followed.

Last year I competed in Grade IV with Lochaber No More - a slow air that I heard at a Memorial Day performance and loved instantly.I had the same judge at two competitions and he kept saying my phrasing of the tune was all wrong. At the last competition I spoke to him after and he said I should listen to some recordings of the tune to get an idea.

I found several recordings of the tune by the following bands and players: Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, 1st. Batallion King's Own Scottish Borderers, 1st Batallion The Queen's Own Highlanders, 1st. Batallion The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and Robert Wallace on the small pipes. Interestingly, none of the performers phrased the tune the exact same way; they were all very well played, but all unique.

I thought I'd get some additional help and corresponded with Jori Chisholm who helped me with the tune and prepared a lesson for me on the tune. His version likewise had different phrasing.I still play the tune often as it is one of my favorites, but I have ultimately settled on a phrasing of the tune which I feel brings out the solefulness of this wonderful lament. I'll not play it in competition again because it seems to me it is not what the judges want to hear - so be it, but it would be a shame if the only tunes pipers learn to play is what they think they can win with in competition.

Let's not forget that piping is an art, not a science.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pipe Band Forum

Reading and Writing Music

Sight reading is like learning to read the written word. It's musical literacy. It's well worth the effort.

Like reading however, one should learn it in conjunction with learning to write it. I learned to sight read, but it really meant something to me when I started to compose a few tunes.

When you learn to compose your first sentence and someone else can read and understand it, it's quite an accomplishment. The same holds true for music. When you can compose a short tune and someone else can read and play it, it is likewise quite an accomplishment.

What would this forum be like if all you could do was read the posts of others and not be able to respond.

Not everyone is a great author, and most of us won't be great composers, but you never know when you might hit on a tune that is catchy and fun - even if it's just for your own enjoyment.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Winner, Winner, Winner

Our band competed at the Dave Barclay Memorial Competition last week. We tied for first place in the QMM (quick march medley) but our ensemble score was lower, so we got second place. We then placed first in the timed Medley. We scored first place in all categories, so it was a fun win.

I felt pretty strong. I was worried about not being able to keep up the wind because I haven't practiced much, but I felt good.

We had seven pipers and four drummers (including the bass). We all sounded pretty good.