Sunset the Set

April 27, 2009 on 8:08 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands, Whinges | 18 Comments

If you were going about promoting a Highland Games, or a pipe band contest, and investing piles of your own time and money would you want the pipe band contests across the grades to be designated a “set” (march, strathspey and reel) or “medley” contest? A set contest, where listeners hear the same narrow repertoire, a maximum of three tempi and two key changes? Or a medley contest where, from a repertoire perspective, almost anything goes? What would an audience prefer? The overwhelming majority would opt for medley. I’d bet my outside tenor on that. If I were a games promoter I’d insist on an across-the-board medley designation.
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Easter Baggs

April 7, 2009 on 6:28 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Solo Piping, Stories | 3 Comments

In December I wrote about the dearth of Christmas tunes composed specifically for the bagpipe. I came upon this (slightly wierd) antique Easter postcard – see below – and was struck by a similar thought. Easter is the highest of Christian holidays and [Great Highland] pipers have traditionally been overwhelmingly Christian. Where are our joyous Easter tunes? Is there an Easter tune made for the Great Highland Bagpipe?
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Pibroch Piobaireachd

April 3, 2009 on 10:17 am by Michael Grey | In Music, Solo Piping, Tips, Whinges | 4 Comments

We know there’s politics everywhere. And, when given the option, the way we choose to spell words is no exception. A Canadian, say, living in the United States, might exert quiet subversion by hanging on to Canadian spelling of any number of words. A note to his boss might read, “…followed up on the neighbourhood initiative; successful in addressing the signage colour controversy; local employees in good humour…”. That Canuck is implicitly saying to his American boss, “I’m Canadian, I’m not like you, I spell bigger, better…”. He’s also implicitly proclaiming to his boss he’s an asshole. But that’s a tangent of a different colour.
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