Scott Garden’s new book of music: Duality 2

May 26, 2020 on 12:20 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Shout Outs! | No Comments

I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t review anything I didn’t like. In fact, any “review” I committed to would be more of a “shout out”, words of support and one way to help get a project more attention. The piping world is a small one and negativity in reviewing a project is, as some say, juice that is just not worth the squeeze.
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Video: Behind the Scenes: Glasgow Police Pipe Band’s Ceolry Concert

May 13, 2020 on 6:26 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Stories, Video | No Comments

I’ve always wanted to play tunes in a bagad, that great combo of musical sounds found mostly in Brittany, France. Just after I had finished up my time with the Toronto Police Pipe Band (and the hugely fun “damned suites” period) I thought I’d have my chance. With the good consulting of my friend (and Breton), Yoann Le Goff, I was sure I was good-to-go. Allons-y!
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Life goes on

April 26, 2020 on 12:57 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag | No Comments

I have my doubts that my dad was a big reader of the poet, Robert Frost. I do know that when it comes to life, what they learned is identical. I once asked Bill if he’d figured out the so-called “meaning” to life. With pipe in hand (he was among the last of the inveterate pipe smokers), he said: “It goes on.” Frost said these three words “sum up everything I’ve learned about life”. It’s mighty easy in a historic pandemic lockdown, as most of us are today – to think otherwise. With our common space radically reduced, our in-person social contact upended and not much to look forward to beyond supper, life goes on – barely. It grinds. Days blur. Continue reading Life goes on…

Covid-19 and forever changes

April 9, 2020 on 9:32 am by Michael Grey | In News | No Comments

One of the more challenging jobs I’ve had in my life was trying to convince managers and employees at a big Canadian bank that work could be done anywhere. Remote work, distributed work, telework, mobile work; pick the jargon of choice but it really boiled down then, as it does now, that work could – and can – be done anywhere – not just at the company office.
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An old postcard and a wee January ephemerid

February 14, 2020 on 8:37 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag | Comments Off on An old postcard and a wee January ephemerid

Beyond nostalgia, I imagine one reason for the popularity of old posters, crate labels, postcards, (and, yes) magazines is due to the ease in which these items can be shipped. Online sites everywhere are bursting with stock for sale; from old newspapers to matchbook covers to everything in between. You may know these things are known as ephemera to those most interested namely, collectors. And this stuff is collected. Ephemera. While it’s a Greek word meaning “lasting only one day” it has the ring of the name of old Uist aunties: Hughina, Fenella – and Ephemera. I imagine Auntie E, yet, with yellow nicotine fingers and purse full of linty mints – and absolutely no time for collecting old bits of paper.
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Survey Summary: 100 Years of Pipe Bands

January 1, 2020 on 8:00 am by Michael Grey | In News, Pipe Bands | Comments Off on Survey Summary: 100 Years of Pipe Bands

With over 200 respondents a summarized view can now be passed along of the “100 years of pipe bands” survey offered last month to readers of bagpipe.news (and those of my blog). In my working life (corporate communications) I’ve always found surveys a good way to take a temperature check of a group of people. You’ll know political pollsters are masters in calculating the exactness – or degree of accuracy – of any group of responses. You may be surprised to find – as I once was – that response levels do not have to be especially high to show a degree of accuracy. I projected that 5000 people would likely be reached through both bagpipe.news and blog channels. Considering participant rate and target audience size it might be said that from the “100 years of pipe bands” survey, a confidence level of 95% can be inferred, with a margin of error of 7%. Margin of error (that the results don’t jive with the perspective of the target group) is quite high here. 5% is the industry standard (you can read more about confidence levels and survey margins of error here).
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Carpe Diem

December 18, 2019 on 6:40 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag | Comments Off on Carpe Diem

It says something about me – or, at least, my age – that when the clocks struck midnight on December 31,1999, I thought the wild empyrean future had arrived: the year 2000. The year marked the beginning of the third millennium, one predicted to start with, among other things, a massive failure of the world’s computer systems. Then, to even say 2000 in the context of a calendar date fairly tripped up the tongue. To George Orwell, his 1949 novel, 1984, was his imagined distant future. By 2000, the year 1984 was old news. And here we are: at the front steps of the remarkable year, 2020.
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100 Years of Pipe Band Music (Survey)

November 28, 2019 on 2:02 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Pipe Bands | Comments Off on 100 Years of Pipe Band Music (Survey)

In listening to a recording of the 1947 World Champion, Bowhill Colliery Pipe Band, I got to thinking about the many, often dynamic, changes that have come to pipe band music over the last 100 years. From music to pitch and overall sound the transformation of the art form over a relatively short period has been remarkable. You can hear Bowhill Colliery here.

Bowhill’s march, strathspey and reel is interesting – if not the easiest listening – in part, because parts of tunes have not been repeated to fit the 3 minute and 30 second recording limit of the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) 78 RPM record. This is from a Beltona production recorded their winning year. Their tunes: Highland Wedding, Athole Cummers and Mrs MacPherson of Inveran.
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More Mississippi than Molendinar

October 18, 2019 on 5:27 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Music, Photographs, Pipe Bands, Score & Sound File, Whinges | Comments Off on More Mississippi than Molendinar

Hamish Henderson is generally acknowledged as the father of the Scottish folk revival. It was Henderson, poet, activist and folklorist – among other things – who is credited with coining the phrase “the carrying stream”.

Broadly, the carrying stream refers to the passing along of cultural tradition, especially words and music. The flow of the stream, any stream, is a tranquil image on its own. Even Heraclitus had something to say about it: no one ever steps in the same stream twice since it’s never the same stream – and they, with that step, are not the same person. Let the thought of that undulating water transporting a little culture and a lot of music, and the idea of the carrying stream and the forward movement of tradition becomes at once attractive – and easy to understand.
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A Line Up of Knees

October 10, 2019 on 7:08 am by Michael Grey | In Humour, Photographs | Comments Off on A Line Up of Knees

I was talking to John Walsh the other evening and learned – among other things – he had one brand new knee. It was last week in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia when his plastic patella was, er, planted. Like so many procedures of this kind there’s no shortage of discomfort in recovery.
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