Karen Wins Lockdown Tune Challenge/ Piobaireachd Society Set Tunes As Is for 2021

Composer and piper Karen McCrindle Warren (pictured above) is the winner of the Piping Press Lockdown Composing Contest. Judge Barry Donaldson selected Karen’s air ‘Becca’s’ from some high quality entries. She receives a voucher for the Piping Press Shop.

On hearing the news Karen said: ‘That’s wonderful; I’m absolutely delighted. If you want a little background, it’s named after one of the pipers in Kilmarnock Pipe Band, Rebecca Melaugh from Irvine. Rebecca is a quiet, kind young lady who has so much inner strength and determination to reach her goals, no matter the challenges. The tune suits her well.’

Barry writes: ‘The following is a brief outline as to how I conducted my assessment of the music I was asked to adjudicate. From the outset I must say that all who entered this competition have to be congratulated for their endeavours and for the very appealing music I have had the pleasure to review. 

‘Assessing the tunes was by no means easy as I found merit in them all. Each composer has constructed an attractive melody and it was clear that much thought had been given as to how each piece was developed. Hopefully my comments are seen as constructive and provide an insight into how I came to my decision.

‘Surprisingly, the 6/8 time signature was most popular, with submissions in both march and jig idiom, all four-parted tunes. The other entries were one six-parted strathspey and a two-parted cut common time slow air, this being the tune which ultimately impressed me most. All the tunes sounded very original and I did not detect any hint of plagiarism. 

‘The winning tune, entitled Becca’s, has an unusual melody which remained with me after I had played it a few times. I found myself whistling the piece as I walked the dog. What impressed me most was the simplicity of each phrase and the fact there were very few embellishments.

‘Indeed the only embellishments used are gracenotes and with the exception of four D gracenotes the rest are all G. A superb slow air for a pipe band medley, easy to harmonise and, regardless of technical ability, any piper will be able to play this. (I will be using this piece at my schools next year).

Listen to the winning tune, fully orchestrated, here:

Karen’s winning tune

‘I was impressed by the strathspey ‘Arran of Bressay’ by Janette Montague. The initial melody and rhythmic structure are excellent, nevertheless I considered it needed further development and perhaps reduced from the six parts submitted.

‘The 6/8 marches and jigs all had something to offer, with the composers presenting attractive melodic lines. However I found myself feeling that as the pieces evolved the initial innovative phrasing was not being sustained.

‘There was a little too much repetitive rhythm in the jigs and some phrases in the marches, especially the third and fourth parts, did not carry the same creativity as the earlier passages did.

‘My congratulations to the winner and I hope to hear the piece performed soon perhaps at pipe band competitions next year. Well done to all of you.’

Piobaireachd Society Set Tunes

Ronald MacShannon of the Piobaireachd Society’s Music Committee has confirmed the following: Due to the fact that the major competitions have been cancelled for 2020, The Piobaireachd Society recommends retention of the 2020 set tunes for competitions in 2021:


The Unjust Incarceration*PS 2
Lament for Donald Ban MacCrimmonPS 2, K
Patrick Og MacCrimmon’s Lament**PS 3
The Sound of the waves against the Castle of DuntroonPS 6, K
Nameless Cherede DarieveaPS 8, K
The Laird of Anapool’s LamentPS 9
MacLeod of Colbeck’s LamentPS 10
Mrs MacLeod of Talisker’s SalutePS 11
Lament for the Harp TreePS 12, K
Lament for King George III PS 14

Competitors will submit six of the above tunes, one of which they will be required to play.
* For the purposes of the Senior competitions this tune should be played with the inclusion of the ‘optional’ third line, as recorded in Piobaireachd Society Book 2.
** For the purposes of the Senior competitions this tune should be played with the inclusion of Donald MacDonald’s additional variation (singling and doubling), as recorded in Piobaireachd Society Book 3. 

Competitors are not restricted to settings in the Piobaireachd Society Collection and Kilberry Book.   Those who wish to play alternative settings should submit legible scores, indicating the origins of the settings, to competition organisers along with their tune selections. Altogether different tunes known by the same or similar names will not be accepted as alternatives.

B. GOLD MEDAL COMPETITIONS: Competitors will submit eight tunes of their own choice, one of which they will be required to play.

C. SILVER MEDAL COMPETITIONS: Competitors will submit six tunes of their own choice, one of which they will be required to play.

This announcement is without prejudice to any arrangements made by either the Argyllshire Gathering or the Northern Meeting.

  • The Piobaireachd Society is holding the eighth in its series of Talk Piobaireachd discussions tomorrow evening at 8pm (GMT+1). The discussion will be led by ceòl mòr expert and raconteur Duncan Watson, Aberdeen. The final paper in the series will be given by US-based authority Jimmy McIntosh. ‘Talk Piobaireachd’ is open to all members of the Society. Not a member? You can join here.

1 thought on “Karen Wins Lockdown Tune Challenge/ Piobaireachd Society Set Tunes As Is for 2021

  1. My husband and thoroughly enjoyed this music. Thank you for naming it after our granddaughter ❤️

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