Monthly Archives: July 2012

Giving the Hende’s their due

The last post of my Henderson’s was pretty pathetic (it’s at the bottom of this post). So, here they are in full frontal glory. First up is two modern compositions, the first I heard on the Spirit of Scotland CD that came with John MacDonald’s “On The Day” box set and the second led the St. Laurence O’ Toole pipe band to their first grade 1 World Pipe Band Championship in 2010. Ooo, looks like John has t-shirts for sale now too. Neato!

Findhorn Bay (Stuart D. Samson MBE) and The Big Yin (Terry Tully)

This next selection will be semi-recognizable for those of you who own Battlefield Band’s “Home Is Where The Van Is” album. Ged Foley put this tune together and it features him on the northumbrian smallpipes. Unfortunately, the highland pipes are shy a note or two (depending on which key you set in) so I fudge the high part a bit and it detracts from the original melody a little, but I don’t own a set of northumbrian smallpipes and I love this tune, so, oh well.

Blackhall Rocks

A couple of other tunes I’ve heard over the years finally reared their little heads so in honor of them, as I always do here on the blog, I played them mediocrely sight read off the page. I wish I could find a reliable source for the version of the first tune as it’s a little suspect.

Ballyvanich Inn (Iain Kirkpatrick) and Ian Green of Greentrax (Gordon Duncan)

Lastly we’ve got two tunes that I think are really cool. However, the 2 hour band practice yesterday wore on my arm and I was pretty beat by this point. Having tried to read the first tune off my iPhone didn’t help either, so this is like the 10th try through the set, so as you can tell, as long as I made it to the end, I couldn’t care less what the middle sounded like. Bleh! I really like the hornpipe as it has already been featured on the blog recently (probably better played too) so I think this will be the next tune I memorize.

Leaving Friday Harbor (John McCusker) and PM Calum Campbell’s Caprice (Joe Wilson)

Lastly for real is on my Gellaitry’s. The high A is crowing a bit with this Gilmour reed and since I was recording the following tune for general consumption I tried to blow it out a bit, but that was really distracting, and the tuning suffered a little but I’ve been making enough excuses lately. This tune was written by Prince Edward, you know, that guy who abdicated the throne out of love for an American woman back in the early half of the 20th century. Yeah, that King Edward, the 8th, I think. A professor at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center is also a big history buff on this Edward and has asked me to play this on several occasions. It’s been a while, but I figured I’d record it for him anyway. Apparently Edward was a piper, of sorts.

Mallorca (H.R.H. the PRINCE OF WALES K. G. (1934)) – at least that is how it is attributed on the photocopy I was given of some sort of original print.

Bagpipe Setup and tunes all on the Robertson’s with Rockets

Bagpipe setup is VERY important. The post contains recordings of a set of 1950’s Robertson’s accompanied by a Colin Kyo chanter and Husk reed. But first, bagpipe setup. The guy who owns these pipes would marry them if he could. They are great pipes. They are his solo instrument and up until his purchase of some Colin Kyo pipes, they were his band pipes too, despite owning 3 other sets of pipes. But, ever since he got the original mount added to a modern blowpipe, he’s been having trouble with the pipes. The blowpipe was a little short when manufactured so we used one of my longer mouthpieces to compensate. But turns out, the bore of the mouthpiece was TINY and that was causing ALL the trouble. Unfortunately, we didn’t discover this until after about a year, and more recently, shaving this new Husk reed down a little and squishing it just a little bit with pliers. DOH! I think a mandrel will set it just right but in the end, all it needed was a little squeeze with the pliers to bring the F up to pitch, no scraping needed really. So it’s a bit on the easy side and I search around for high G and A a bit in the recordings below. Regardless, the drones with custom glass Rockets sound FANTASTIC! Other salient point, the other reason why the recordings below aren’t as perfect as usual (yeah right!) is that most of it was sight read off the stand. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played all the tunes before just didn’t have them memorized. Additionally, I pity the fool who doesn’t know how high up to tie the chanter stock, basically as high up as it will go and not obstruct the air flow. Otherwise you’ll be like me with hands that are worn out from reaching down doubly suckifying already sight read playing. We better git on that too now that we’ve got a bigger bored mouthpiece on there. There are A TON of variables to get right when setting up a pipe you are unfamiliar with, a la new. If your pipes are hard to play, check everything! Here be a picture of the pipes:

Some time ago I transcribed what were referred to as “European Dance Tunes” off the Piper’s Controversy album. Here’s the sheet music (note that the comment at the very bottom actually refers to the first set of 1st/2nd endings). They are tunes from Brittany, France.

You’re A Peein’ Dance Tunes

I’ve been playing a lot of reels lately so here are a couple more:

Major David Manson (Peter R. MacLeod) and Willie Cumming’s Rant (D.C. Mather)

Then we have a set I’m working on with the owner of the Robertson’s:

Salute to James A. Henderson (Robert Mathieson), Scarce o’ Tatties, Queen of the Rushes, Fraher’s Jig

I listened to the July 2012 COP radio program today and they had I think Alasdair Gillies playing the Foxhunter’s Jig, or at least somebody was so I figured I’d work that in:

Sleep Dearie Sleep, Donald Willie and his dog (D. Morrison), and Foxhunter’s Jig

And just about the time my hands were wore out I decided to play some jigs that I barely know:

The Weaver and Ian Fraser of Foregin (both by Donald MacLeod)

Rockets in Robertson’s and a few other odds and ends

First up we have a slow air by Sean Tracy as posted on the Bob Dunsire Forum. Here is a direct link to the sheet music as of right now. It’s still a work in progress on my part but the tune is quite nice, with a new embellishment or two. It is played on my friend’s 1950’s Robertson’s for which he just recently received a set of glass fiber Rocket drone reeds by Mark Lee. I am currently setting the chanter (Colin Kyo) with a Husk reed so it’s still a little out but this is the best I got today. It’s a pretty neat tune.

Farewell to Amherst Shore (Sean Tracy)

Edit: Another version of the tune on my MacPherson’s with a carbon fiber Rocket bass apparently made for Robertson’s but seems to work quite well in my pipe. Tenors are Kinnaird. Just listen for the harmonics on B! Also, the run to the C is closed a bit to make it sound less happy and more sad, as the composer intended.

Farewell to Amherst Shore twice through

Next we have the Gellaitry’s with a slow air, some small reels, and then the big comp reel Lachlan MacPhail. My father has played the last tune for as long as I remember, and therefore so have I. It was also the reel in the MSR set when I played with Lyon College and got 2nd in grade 3B at the Scottish Championships in Dumbarton in 2001. However, my favorite rendition of the tune was by Iain MacFadyen from an early 1980’s Grant’s Piping Championship album I had on tape and have just recently repurchased off iTunes. You’ll notice other tunes in that MSR performance included Kantara to el Arish and Inverary Castle, other staples in my competition MSR repertoire. One thing about Iain’s playing, it isn’t the most technically perfect performance compared to a few of the others on the album, however, you WILL be entertained. He leaves nothing behind in his playing of Lachlan MacPhail, or any other tune for that matter, and in my opinion is more entertaining and flat out bagpipe-ish than tunes presented more carefully. Just a few misses here and there whilst giving the melody everything he has. Recently I’ve tried cutting the tune quite a bit as it would seem a lot my playing has suffered from over roundness. However, as Iain plays it, this tune really requires some gusto and can take a little roundness and I’ve readopted this style for the tune as the over dwelling really just killed the flow. Two times through just for Iain, a la Grant’s/Glenfiddich style. The drones are a little out, blame it on my laziness.

Fair Maid, Lady Doll Sinclair, Hen Wife’s Daughter, Captain Lachlan MacPhail of Tiree

Lastly, we have one of my go to 2/4 marches. Surprisingly, between offering this tune along with Cowal Gathering for several years now, Al McMullin was the only judge to pick it, with all the others: Jack Lee, Bob Richardson, and Ken Liechti, picking Cowal Gathering 3 years in a row at the same competition. I guess it took a trip to a different games to get the other tune. Anyways, that’s all beside the point. The tune is Major Manson’s Farewell to Clachantrushal and the point being the cut C at the end of the part in this tune, which is fairly unique for this genre. I have for quite some time fiddled with other embellishments, one of them being an embellishment of the darado, or bubbly note: {GdGcG} as found in Susan MacLeod, some versions of Charlie’s Welcome, and a few other tunes. Well, what I call the daradodo, because potty humor entertains me, is as follows: {GdGcGBG} all the way down to A and I figured it would be cute to substitute the daradodo in for the cut C at the end of the part in Major Manson’s. And here is the product, I think played on my Henderson’s on one of those days where the fingers aren’t really working that well and are all mushy feeling.

Major Manson’s Farewell to Clachantrushal