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.

1 comment:

Scar said...

I got comments like, "played too slow" and "played too fast" on my slow aire, Loch Rannoch, when I played them the same way. It's the judge's preference, I think. I guess you have to decide if you want prizes or if you want to learn a tune.