Reader Paul Eschenburg in Plymouth, Michigan: ‘A question from the trenches…I have always played the dre movement as instructed by my tutor.
‘When I mentioned to him that Jimmy McIntosh espouses the pre-1895 version as described in his ‘Ceol Mor in the Balmoral Tradition’, page 29, I was just told ‘we are not going to do it that way’.
By Robert Wallace
‘Jimmy is very adamant regarding this movement as evidenced by his EUSPBA instructional video on embellishments.
‘In your piobaireachd Tutor 3 you commence the dre with with an E gracenote on low A, which Jimmy disagrees with, as best I can tell, calling it playing down, versus playing an E first, thus, playing up.
‘Every other tutor book I have referred to agrees with you. Is there any explanation for this or is it just evolution?
‘I’m just trying to understand how it is that current technique appears to vary with Jimmy and, maybe, the Bobs as well.
‘I have great respect for Jimmy McIntosh. I am not on a mission to question, just seeking a ‘why it came about’.’
Thanks for that Paul. Firstly, Jimmy is not wrong but I recommend learning the dre and edre as per Tutor 3:
Once mastered you can play it with a slightly bigger E gracenote, particularly when coming from a bottom hand melody note. (It will be naturally longer when playing edre as the finger configuration from top hand notes F, G and high A dictate this.)
You will see in the book that I also have the music written out with the first E written as a demisemiquaver note as opposed to a demsemiquaver gracenote. This is in line with what Jimmy means:
The Tutor 3 approach covers both the following requirements:
1 To make the distinction when playing the dre as a standalone movement, and
2 The EF gracenote sequence to low A when playing the crunluath.
The crunluath definitely must have the distinct E and F gracenotes played to low A. Extending the E gracenote here to a full note – albeit a short one – will give the crunluath a flappy, unrhythmical sound:
This is especially critical in the fosgailte and a mach crunluaths. The end sequence of these movements MUST be thought of as gracenotes to low A.
So in summary, learn the E,A,F,A gracenote sequence as per two active gracenotes (the E and F) and two passive gracenotes (the low As). This will slot neatly into your crunluath.
When we come to play the dre it is then very easy to extend, ever so slightly, the first E. Putting the beat onto this very short first E helps get the correct effect: