How many of you can add a nod of agreement to this statement from Danish piper Bernard Bouhadana? It was forwarded to PP the other day from social media:
For next season he would like to see bands, ‘Throw the concept of reprise in every single medley into the garbage. All bands sound the same. Is it really much fun? Play the same tune again after the last tune. Play it with a reel. Play it one note up. Play it one note down. Play it with ten layers of harmonies and then just the first line one more time.
‘It’s so predictable. As bands start this thing I stop listening. Imagine one band had the guts to play a medley full of good tunes with maybe one or two new (GOOD!) tunes in it? The judges must be longing for this.’
Before anyone dismisses Bernard’s view, remember that he is a fine piper and has played and won at the highest level with Simon Fraser, Field Marshal and also I believe, St Laurence O’Toole. He’s been there and done it. He is pictured up top with the Worlds trophy.
One of the comments we had after stepping out with the ’70s Tribute band at the Worlds was how refreshing it was to hear good tunes well strung together and, considering the old codgers in the ranks, played not too badly.
Have pipe bands drifted away from that core endeavour, that essence of what we are about? Was the bagpipe and its nine notes really made for all that counterpoint, that musical razamataz that Bernard so strongly denounces?
I won’t say any more, but will leave you with the mantra of the late great Bob Shepherd: ‘Keep it simple but effective’.
In case you hadn’t heard, the National Mod piping takes place in Perth tomorrow. Well done to An Comunn for staging 15 events, yes 15, for pipers of all ages and levels from Chanter to P/A Piobaireachd. Unfortunately there are only six entries in the latter; a pity.
Check out the programme below. We’ll publish the results as soon as we have them. If you are a competitor please forward if you can. The official Mod results service can be a bit slow at weekends.
André Reinhardt in Germany: ‘Really sad news to hear about Hector. We first met at Andrew Wright’s Piobaireachd Class at the College of Piping in 2007 together with Janette Montague, who did the typesetting for the Alex MacIver book that Hector compiled.
‘At least it is great to hear that he could finally finish the book as it was so important to him. The following years the three of us usually had a meal or a coffee together when I was in Scotland. I can also remember when Hector gave me a lift to a Piobaireachd Society’s conference in Pitlochry.
‘Unfortunately as I wasn’t able to come to Scotland for several years we lost contact. One of these sad things that happen so often and so fast as time flies.
‘Some years ago I composed a 6/8 march that somehow reminded me to Hector and as I thought he deserved a tune named after him so I put his name on it. I think he liked the tune and maybe those who knew him would enjoy it as well. My condolences to his family and friends.’
Many thanks to Chris Brougham for forwarding his father Barry’s obituary from the New Zealand Pipe Band Magazine. I first met Barry on a never-to-be forgotten trip to NZ in 1983. He was an excellent piper and a real comedian. I have never laughed so much, well at least not in the southern hemisphere.
Those with John MacFadyen’s Book 2 will be able to look up the tune Barry Brougham’s Beard by Jim Barrie. An excellent jig and one that will ensure Barry is never forgotten.
Chris points out that I have wrongly attributed one of the tunes in my ‘Glasgow Collection‘, a setting of A Parting Glass. It’s down as Stuart Finlayson’s work when it should have been Barry’s. All those with a copy please get a pencil out and turn to page 14. Will correct in next reprint.
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60 lessons in three outstanding tutor books taking the complete beginner to intermediate level and introducing the classical music of the pipes, piobaireachd. All books have free audio and/or video back-up fully explaining the exercises, tunes and the required expression. Since they first appeared in 2015 these books have sold hundreds of copies worldwide. Price includes mailing of £12.