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Monthly Archives: December 2011

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Piobaireachd Wednesday: Lament for MacSwan of Roaig

Our tune this week is a little gem I dug up from YouTube: Pipe Major Gordon Walker playing Lament for MacSwan of Roaig. I don’t know where or when this was recorded, but definitely worth a listen.

If you’d like to submit a tune for Piobaireachd Wednesday, please email me.

Christmas music on bagpipes?

Pipehacker’s Morning Comix sums up my answer to this pretty neatly. Check it out.

New Bagpipe Music Podcast from Pipehacker

This week a new podcast appeared over at The Small Tunes Podcast. For a while he’s had a feature on small tunes that he’s dug out of somewhere, and now he’s launching that feature as an audio podcast. The first episode explains his thoughts on small tunes and where the podcast is going, and it’s pretty interesting. That whet my appetite, and I’m looking forward to the next episode when he starts posting tunes.

Subscribe to it with your RSS reader or iTunes, and be ready to add some small tunes to your repertoire.

Piobaireachd Wednesday: My King Has Landed In Moidart

I must admit that I’m very disappointed in you, the readers of Piobaireachd Wednesday. For many weeks now, I’ve had to comb the internet for tunes, and that’s not the intention of this feature. If you have a tune that you’ve been working on, please consider recording it and sending it off to me. Remember, no judgement, no criticism, just music.

Anyway, our tune this week is from Jori Chisholm, a professional piper who lives in Seattle. He’s made a name for himself on the competition circuit, and was also one of the first pipers I was aware of to incorporate the internet into his teaching. This video of My King Has Landed In Moidart was recorded at Winter Storm in 2008, and this performance won him the U.S. Gold Medal that year. I think you’ll agree that it was indeed a fine tune.

This video is split into two parts, so be sure to catch the ending of the tune in the second video.

Part 2:

If you’d like to submit a tune for Piobaireachd Wednesday, please email me.

Start your piping season with a good workshop

Even though we’re in the piping offseason now, it won’t be long before things start up again. I’d venture to say that most bands are already hitting new music pretty hard, and if you’re a solo competitor this is a good time to be thinking about learning some new music as well.

If you’re in the mid-Atlantic area (or even if you’re not), I suggest you check out the Delco Mid-Atlantic workshop, coming up on January 28 and 29. This is a regular event in the Mid-Atlantic branch of the EUSPBA, and it always promises to be a good time. The piping and drumming instructors are well-known as judges, and it’s a good way to get your fingers warmed up and learn some new music before the competition season gets started.

Also, if you’re a young piper, consider entering the Gilchrist Challenge. This piobaireachd competition requires four tunes from each player (everyone must be under 22 years of ago), and the winner receives airfare to play at the MacGregor Memorial competition, part of the Argyllshire Gathering held in August.

I’ve been to this workshop before, and I highly recommend it. It’s definitely worth considering, and I hope to see you there.

How do you spend your piping off season?

Over the past few months our competitive season came to an end in the eastern US. Everyone seems to deal with the time off a bit differently, and after you’ve been piping for a while you develop your own way of handling it.

I find the off season to be a good chance to go over the pipes and check for maintenance issues. Last weekend I rehemped all of the tuning pins, checked the hemp on the stocks, checked the bag for leaks, and that kind of thing.

I’ve also been trying to play once or twice a week to keep myself in something resembling piping shape. I didn’t do that last year, and when the band started up on pipes again it took me a good few months to get to where I had been. I’ve decided I don’t want to do that this year, so I’ve been playing to avoid that. Not seriously practicing, but playing tunes I enjoy just to keep both myself and the pipes functioning.

I’ve also been looking at new music, both for the band and myself. Band practices lately have been pretty enjoyable. We have an all-new medley for 2012, and we’re working together as a band to get harmonies and breaks arranged. It’s fun to sit around the table and throw out some ideas, then run through them to see if they work. The tunes were selected by the pipe major, but the final arrangement has been very much a joint effort.

So how do you spend your off season? What do you do to prepare for next year? Any other wisdom or tips for other pipers?

Piobaireachd Wednesday: The Glen is Mine

Last week Piobaireachd Wednesday presented the blog author’s winning piobaireachd from the Online Competition, and our tune this week is also from those results. Nicholas Lundberg took second place in the grade piobaireachd with The Glen is Mine, and here is his tune:

If you’d like to submit a tune to be featured on Piobaireachd Wednesday, please email me.

Should the judge be able to end a competition?

I recently posted about breaking down during a solo competition, and this post is related to that. My advice is that no, you shouldn’t break down in a competition if you can help it. There’s always something to be gained by finishing your tune, even if it isn’t a prize.

But what about when that breakdown comes from outside the player? Earlier this week I was reading rules for the gold and silver medal piping competitions at Winter Storm, which in my mind is the premier competition in North America. Each of the rules pages has this in it:

The Judges are empowered to stop any Competitor while playing if, in their opinion, the play is such to bar him/her from any chance of winning a prize.

First, keep in mind that these competitions are limited to open or professional grade players, who will have a lot of competition experience. Judges’ comments, for them, aren’t as important as they would be to a new competitor. These folks are more focused on prizes, and going off a tune or losing a drone is likely to take one out the running entirely.

Even so, I can’t imagine any judge hopping up from behind the table and chasing a competitor off the stage. Maybe it’s just that I’d never do that if I were a judge, and I can’t picture any of the numerous judges I know doing that either.

I’ve never seen that rule listed for another piping competition at any level, but I also have to admit that I haven’t really looked. Do the Gold Medal contests in Scotland have that clause in their rules? I don’t know. If you’ve ever come across something like that, or seen it in action, please let me know.