Sunday, February 5, 2017

Pre-season Piping Plans

I just had a good lesson with my piping instructor, Angus Martin, and we've concocted a plan for my pre-season piping activities. We'll mix in new tunes for the 2017 season proper, but keep last season's tunes ready to go as well.

The first event up will be the Lexington regional qualifier for the Terry McHugh Memorial Solo Piping Contest. Since I'm still working on my new 2/4 march I will be polishing Prince Charles Welcome to Lochaber for the Lexington regional on February 25th.

Angus and I are planning on getting a taste of the EUSPBA at the Cincinnati Piping & Drumming Solo Competition & Workshop on April 8th. This contest opens some more opportunities for me and I'm looking forward to playing some new tunes. For the 2/4 march I'm preparing Captain Norman Orr Ewing and hope to have it ready to go by April 8th.

They're also offering piobaireachd, however EUSPBA rules have Grade 4 piobaireachd play the entire tune while the MWPBA only has Grade 4 pipers play the Urlar and 1st Variation. I don't have the entirety of The Company's Lament nor Lament for the Rowan Tree prepared yet, so no piobaireachd for me.

They are offering, a micro-mini S/R (strathspey, reel) and that is interesting. When Angus and I looked over this he determined that two of the tunes that Fountain Trust Pipe Band is playing will fit the bill (and I need to learn them anyway). So I'm focusing specifically on Aspen Bank and Malts on the Optics for the micro-mini S/R. I'm calling it a micro-mini because they only want 2-parted tunes, normally a S/R or MSR (march, strathspey, reel) is composed of 4-part tunes. A mini-MSR is a 4-part march and 2-part strathspey and reel.

Friday, February 3, 2017


Chicago Games
Tunes, we call them tunes. Sometimes it sounds like it is pronounced "choons", but tunes they are. A bagpiper without tunes is a sad creature indeed, forlornly thumbing through the Green Book looking for something exciting to get the fingers dancing and the pipes skirling.

A wise piping teacher once said (last week when he set my ass straight) that breadth of tune knowledge is far more valuable than knowing a few tunes backward and forward. I need to learn more tunes, of different idioms (marches, slow airs, hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, reels, and piobaireachd), to become a better piper. I'll create three lists of tunes here: those I know and can play well, those I can play passably while hiding in a band, those that I'm working on, those I want to learn (yes, that's four lists, counting can be difficult at times).

Tunes I know and play well (well for ME at my level as opposed to objectively good):
  • Scots Wha' Hae
  • Amazing Grace
  • I See Mull
  • Skye Boat Song
  • Green Hills of Tyrol
  • Brown Haired Maiden
  • Mhairi's Wedding
  • Prince Charles Welcome to Lochaber
  • The Company's Lament (Urlar and 1st Variation)
  • Will Ye No Come Back Again

Davidson Scottish Arts Academy
Tunes I can play while hiding in a band:
  • Going Home
  • Wings
  • Rowan Tree
  • Bonnie Galloway
  • Scotland the Brave
  • Bide Awa (Johnnie Scobie)
  • When the Battle's O'er
  • Balmoral
  • Murdo's Wedding

Tunes I am working on:
  • Captain Norman Orr Ewing
  • Spogan
  • The Judge's Dilemma
  • Black Stream
  • O'er the Bows to Ballindalloch
  • Aspen Bank
  • Malts on the Optics
  • The Stone Frigate
  • Donald MacLean's Farewell to Oban
  • Dorrator Bridge
  • Captain Lachlan MacPhail of Tiree
  • Dr. Ross' 50th Welcome to the Argyllshire Gathering
  • Castle Dangerous
  • The Company's Lament (remaining Variations)
  • Lament for the Rowan Tree
  • Jean Mauchline
  • Oft in a Stilly Night
  • Rocking the Baby
  • Loudon's Bonnie Woods and Braes
  • Gravel Road
  • High Road to Gairloch
  • Wearing of the Green
  • Minstrel Boy
  • Boys of County Cork

Three seasons of solo competition
Tunes I want to learn:
  • Mist Covered Mountains
  • My Home
  • Flower of Scotland
  • Flowers of the Forest
  • Captain Colin Campbell
  • Sleepy Maggie
  • Piper's Wedding
  • The Lochaber Gathering
  • Lochaber No More
  • The Thief of Lochaber
  • Dumbarton's Drums
  • The Mason's Apron
  • Lament for the Children
  • Afternoon at the Green Monster
  • The Rose of Kelvingrove
  • Farewell to the Creeks
  • Steam Train to Mallaig
  • Battle of the Somme
  • Heights of Dargai
  • Hector the Hero
  • Highland Cathedral 
  • The Gael
  • The Dark Isle