Editor’s Notebook: Stephen Creighton/ Funding Kids’ Bands/ PS Conf./ Piping Nostalgia/ Eagle Pipers Results 1974

Every day is a school day as they say and if ever the old adage was proved true it is here in Florida at the Pipe & Drum Academy. Star of the week has to be the brilliant Stephen Creighton, World Champion leading drummer with St Laurence O’Toole.

Stephen Creighton with the 2019 World Drum Corps Champion’s trophy and sash

Harsh truths about playing standards have been told and it seems that the more Stephen dishes out the honesty the more his students love him. Respect your corps leader; practice hard, work as a team. No wonder Stephen has picked up six Worlds Grade 1 corps titles and six runners up placings.

Not happy….Stephen casts his eye over the drummers

A incredible record and no surprise given the brilliance he displayed at one of our ceilidhs and the diligence and application he clearly applies to his own work with his band. (Sneak preview – there are some cracking tunes in the new SLOT medley).

A reader has suggested the following re the funding of kids’ bands: ‘I attend a few pipe band contests over the season. At some there is either no admission fee or a minimal one to pay. Would it not be possible for the organisers, or the RSPBA, to have donation collection buckets beside each of the playing areas to encourage contributions for what is either a free or almost free event?

‘The money collected could be split among the Novice and Juvenile bands. The public is willing to spend a few pounds on food, beer, etc. when they attend games. Why not make a contribution towards safeguarding our art when they are being entertained for free?’

Every little helps as they say, so why not? It would be a mere sticking plaster for an otherwise deep-rooted problem however. What is needed is proper funding of music tuition in schools and a sizeable annual grant from central government to the RSPBA for disbursement among the juniors. The National Juvenile Pipe Band Fund already exists; the structure is there to manage the money. 

My paper at the Piobaireachd Society Conference will be on James Campbell’s seminal article ‘The Elusive Appoggiatura’. Regular correspondent Duncan Watson has written: ’The ways the motif are written causes problems. The Donald MacDonald method, suggesting a snappy descent to theme notes seems to be more in keeping with the strum of a stringed instrument, possibly without much in the way of a musical ‘leaning’ or pause – which is what the term appoggiatura seems to mean.

‘I have only ever had one pupil who knew what the word meant and she was a student of latin from which it derives. Most believe it is an ornament in piping notation, which in a sense is okay, but the broader meaning is more important.’ 

Wikipedia has this Duncan: ‘An appoggiatura is a musical ornament that consists of an added non-chord note in a melody that is resolved to the regular note of the chord. By putting the non-chord tone on a strong beat, this accents the appoggiatura note, which also delays the appearance of the principal, expected chord note.’

Some very interesting and welcome responses to Nicholas Taitz’s article on piping transcending time and place and the nostalgia we all feel at times for the instrument and its music. I was particularly struck by the reference to smell. That seasoning odour was not one I particularly enjoyed and I’ve played synthetic bags since 1989 with no wish to return to the world of Airtight, leaking seams and a new bag every year at considerable cost to the Wallace wallet.

Who remembers the pre-Airtight Robertson oval tin? John Weatherston of Red Hackle, RG Hardie and 277 Argylls TA fame bought the secret recipe from Robertsons the Edinburgh bagpipe maker in the 60s and it remains under lock and key at Hardie’s premises in Glasgow half a century later.

Results from the Eagle Pipers contest held in the Royal Arch Halls, Edinburgh, on November 1974:
Piobaireachd Class 1: 1 Donald MacPherson 2 John MacDougall 3 Donald Morrison 4 John D Burgess
Piobaireachd Class 2: 1 Murray Henderson 2 Tom Speirs 3 Eddie Clark 4 David Weir
March: 1 P/M Angus MacDonald 2 John Burgess 3 Arthur Gillies 4 John MacDougall
Strathspey & Reel: 1 John Burgess 2 Angus MacDonald 3 Donald Macpherson 4 John MacDougall
Hornpipe & Jig: 1 Arthur Gillies 2 Hugh MacCallum 3 Donald MacPherson 4 John MacDougall

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2 thoughts on “Editor’s Notebook: Stephen Creighton/ Funding Kids’ Bands/ PS Conf./ Piping Nostalgia/ Eagle Pipers Results 1974

  1. “By putting the non-chord tone on a strong beat, this accents the appoggiatura note, which also delays the appearance of the principal, expected chord note.’ Not to mention the “delay” may either add time to the expected note or cause players to cut it short for the sake of the wretched elongated E that tests the listener’s patience if played the same throughout, a tidy mix of smooth slides to the theme note as Duncan’s description of stringed flow and only a brief lingering on E to finish to the theme notes are getting far more pleasing to my ear the more I hear them. My heresy is more in keeping with the Editor’s stance of letting the music guide you (although I’m sure he would disagree with my take on it) than adhering to PM MacLeod’s “Golden Rule” or the nails-on-blackboard audio of James Campbell playing his PC. For a real corker, try playing the cadences using the actual notes instead of simply lifting the note fingers. The out of tune rippling often heard on recordings of the Quaich disappears and the result places the theme note in its proper position; dramatically accented and allowed to have the time it deserves, instead of clogged and hurried because the E takes its glory.

  2. An easier way to collect donations, with traceability and easy accounting would be a text to donate service. Each band could have a code, the public text the code to the donation number and the appropriate amount goes to that band. Eg txt: PABA05 AND £5 is taken from your telephone account and is registered to Pitlochry and Blair Atholl pipe band.

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