In Praise of Morag (and teachers)

January 2, 2019 on 8:44 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag | No Comments

I can remember the near-precise moment I was hit with a serious dislike for cane drone reeds. I was last on in the Gold Medal contest at Oban and it was at the start of the last line of the crunluath a mach of my tune – maybe 20 seconds from the finish line. I’ll let Seumas MacNeill, one of the judges of that year’s event take it from there: “The strongest challenge to this fine piper was coming from Michael Grey … playing a quite magnificent In Praise of Morag. As so often happens in such a competition, everything went well until almost the very end, when disaster struck in the form of a stopped bass drone. Michael, and many more of us, will grieve over this for years to come.”
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New Book: Young MacCrimmon and the Silver Chanter

December 17, 2018 on 10:29 am by Michael Grey | In Reviews, Stories | No Comments

I picked up the new children’s book, Young MacCrimmon and the Silver Chanter as a Christmas present for a (lucky) kid on my list. It’s a rare book that doesn’t gift its reader some new insight or bit of knowledge. Written by Mick Broderick and Robert Wallace and illustrated by Norman Matheson, this children’s book didn’t fall short: I was reminded that the late Broderick stood as a great Scottish tradition bearer and found piper-solo-piping-judge, Matheson, to be an outstanding illustrator – and so, an artist beyond his piping.
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Performance Options

December 12, 2018 on 7:39 am by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Pipe Bands | No Comments

A frequent topic of conversation in some pipe band, em, circles relates to performance options. For instance, is the three-pace roll start and march to centre field (where the band moves to centre stage and curtly turns their collective back to the audience) the best we can do? Except for the most change-averse, most interested in such things, I think, say a big “no”.
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From Benbecula to Quebec (Documentary Interview)

November 8, 2018 on 5:11 pm by Michael Grey | In Audio File, Stories | Comments Off on From Benbecula to Quebec (Documentary Interview)

For a strong dose of wistful nostalgia its hard to beat listening to an audio recording of a long-gone – and much-loved – relative. Presented to you today is my grandmother – Grammy, to all of us – my dad’s mother: Margaret Teresa (MacBain) Grey. Thanks to the passionate and thoughtful field work of the late Ian Tait of Sherbrooke, Quebec the world has access to about 600 recordings of tradition-bearing residents of Quebec’s Eastern Townships. The full recording sits in the archives of Bishop’s University (Lennoxville, Quebec).
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Book 7: Barry Ewen (a hornpipe)

October 23, 2018 on 4:23 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Tune Score, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on Book 7: Barry Ewen (a hornpipe)

A long time ago I made a tune for my friend, Barry Ewen. It was first published in Neil Dickie’s “First Book”. Knowing that there has yet to be a music book published anywhere (to my knowledge) that has been without error or typo, it still bugged me that there was a typo in bar one of the tune I named for Barry.
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A little tartan colour and a bonnie balmoral

October 16, 2018 on 5:32 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag | Comments Off on A little tartan colour and a bonnie balmoral

It would be hard to argue that the Scots have not punched above their weight in leaving a bold mark on the world. Given the relative size of the country it’s inspiring to think of the remarkable contributions Scotland has given humanity. Golf, whisky and bagpipes aside, con- sider the telephone, TV, the threshing machine, Adam Smith, Ishbel MacAskill, Robert Burns and chicken tikka masala. Historian Arthur Herman underscored the Scottish impact in publishing his popular book, How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It (2001).
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Prepare for an emergency landing!

August 24, 2018 on 5:05 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Stories | Comments Off on Prepare for an emergency landing!

NO matter how often I cross the Atlantic, I always pause to marvel at the awesome speediness of aviation. Even without supersonic Concorde engineering, the Atlantic can still be crossed in single-digit hours on a 10-a-penny Airbus or Boeing.
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New Book: More Music for Everyone

August 8, 2018 on 6:38 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, News | Comments Off on New Book: More Music for Everyone

It’s been five years since my last book of music and so hoping the time is about right for another effort. I’m kicking off the release of the book – or “launching” – as is said, as a small part of Piping Live! at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow next week: Wednesday, August 15 – 2:30 pm.
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A Signature Book of Signatures

May 30, 2018 on 9:03 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Photographs, Stories | Comments Off on A Signature Book of Signatures

That which is used – develops. That which is not used wastes away. Such was the opinion of Hippocrates, Greek physician and huge figure in the history of medicine. He might’ve said, use it or lose it – so much more meme-friendly – but his considered opinion of over 2000 years ago holds true today. The great golfer, Sam Snead said practice puts brains in your muscles. He’d know. His record of over 80 championships didn’t happen by chance. We know idle muscles shift to flab, or, at least become weak. Unpracticed skills fall away.
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What is Traditional Music? [hint: It’s big. It’s bouncy. And it’s spectacular.]

March 13, 2018 on 5:31 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Music, Random Thoughts | Comments Off on What is Traditional Music? [hint: It’s big. It’s bouncy. And it’s spectacular.]

I think it was this past January when it came to me. It was one of those crisp, cloudless and cold sunny days, a kind of winter’s day so familiar to those of us who live in my part of the world. The sky was screaming an indescribable deep blue. And why? Why blue? A short simple question – surely the archetypal young child’s question, one asked just as a glimmer of awareness of the world beyond the back garden begins to show itself. Blue sky? Something to do with refracting light, I thought. Why blue? And this blue? Um, the temperature. Yes, it is the cold temperature and the universal prism…
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