(Tunes for) Summertime

July 1, 2011 on 1:53 pm by Michael Grey | In Audio File, Music, Solo Piping | 2 Comments

Here’s a few tunes to help while away your day – a holiday if you live in Canada.

Here’s me playing my solo spot at the May 21, Toronto Police Pipe Band show at the el Mocambo club in Toronto.
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Copyright this Way

April 5, 2011 on 6:45 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, News, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Tips | 4 Comments

A week or so ago I led a talk at the annual judge’s meeting of the Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario. The day’s always a good one. At the very least it’s a great gathering of old friends and acquaintances and at it’s best its a really insightful exchange of ideas and perspectives.

Anyway, my bit was a comparative look at pipe band ensemble. I checked out competitive orchestras – yes, they do compete – American high school concert bands and British brass bands. I learned a lot in my seeking out of information related to other competitive musical worlds. For instance, I can now tell you with great certainty that it’s scarily, freakishly and jaw-droppingly amazing how close the British brass band world mirrors that of the pipe band. Maybe a blab for another day.
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Advice from Jimi Hendrix

March 25, 2011 on 6:52 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Random Thoughts, Tips | Comments Off on Advice from Jimi Hendrix

I have to admit I’m not one of those blindly obsessed Jimi Hendrix fans. Not even close. Guitar players tend to worship him – especially electric guitarists. I do appreciate his musicianship, though. Absolutely [I’m sure Jimi is sighing with relief amongst his rock and roll angels].

But his stuff, unlike, say, Cathy-Ann MacPhee’s, is not what I listen to; it’s not music that tends to make my day – or night – better. And we all know music has that magical power…if directed to the right ears.

But just because someone hasn’t dialled in to your music, well, that doesn’t make it any less great.
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Japanese Cinema and Pipe Bands

February 17, 2011 on 6:46 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, Music, Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Video | 3 Comments

Now there’s a subject line you probably never imagined.

I always thought those old cheesy Japanese movies from the 1950s might benefit from a little kick, a little something to give them a boost. I’m not talking Seven Samurai or Rashomon here, I’m talking about movies like those from the Godzillaand Mothra franchises (did they call ever call old movie serials “franchises”?).

Anyway, I thought how great it would be for one to snag a pipe band soundtrack, music to go along with the badly dubbed English.
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A Healthy Band: It’s About Feeling Good

December 16, 2010 on 7:41 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Tips, Whinges | 6 Comments

We’re entering the time of year (in the northern hemisphere, at least) where pipe bands experience a drop in consistently good attendance. For as long as I have played in bands this has been a truth. From January through to March a good whack of the band, a sizable group of people (usually the same), fail to attend, or attend sporadically, due to “busy-ness” – or whatever. Excuses are legion and, to paraphrase Dorothy Parker [she of “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy”], they run the gamut from A to B. The reasons may be unique to those “busy” but to core membership – and every band has a hardcore group of members that keep the ship afloat – they bore.
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Bagpipes and Inuit Tradition

November 21, 2010 on 6:11 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Random Thoughts | 4 Comments

People who love bagpipe music also love to deliberate what makes good bagpipe music. It happens in solo piping all the time (“Ooh, did you hear how s/he played the first variation of Mary MacLeod? Rubbish. Clipped to hell…”).

But, really, its when pipe band music is talked about that we most often hear the most intense debates. I guess its due, in part, because there’s more people involved. I think, though, its more the sports-like, hyper-competitive, team elements that characterize the pipe band movement that makes for the fertile ground of relentless pipe band music debate.
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Those Who Can, Teach

November 5, 2010 on 6:09 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Photographs, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips | 4 Comments

The world’s population is roughly 6,697,254,041. Of those people, I figure, based on what I know, what I’ve read and what I sense to be true (so we’re talking science here) there’s about 100,000 of us Great Highland Bagpipers (GHBs).

And what’s that percentage? GHBs represent about 0.0014931492726393354 of the world’s population. More or less.

Should pipers feel vulnerable? I think I really refer to the pipe and not the piper so, I put it this way: is the playing of the GHB an at-risk art form?
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A New Kind of Pipe Band

September 23, 2010 on 5:17 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands | Comments Off on A New Kind of Pipe Band

The last couple of weeks have seen a surprising spike in the disappearance of drum corps leadership around the world. I know it’s a temporary moment of change for all affected bands and a coincidence that so many top bands have experienced big drum corps change but…I wonder.
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What Makes a Good Pipe Band Score Sheet?

September 15, 2010 on 9:25 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands, Tips, Whinges | 5 Comments

Having been around the game a while it sort of stands to reason that I will have seen a whackload of pipe band “score sheets”; you know, those near-impossible to read pages (sometimes due to penmanship) passed to bands following the announcement of results. And yay, reason prevails: I have.

It’s on these pages that bands usually learn what adjudicators thought of their competitive performance – and, by the way, it’s from these pages that pipebandspeople generally judge adjudicators. I’m a sentimental sort, believe it or not, and have, truth be told, quite a few pages dating back to my earliest times with bands laying around the old archives – and some recent artefacts, too.
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Gimme Shelter

August 9, 2010 on 8:08 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands, Whinges | 3 Comments

This is Worlds week and as usual the city of Glasgow is thronging with pipers and drummers and all kinds of related Piping Live! events. It’s looking like a damp week (to put it mildly) is in store for pipers and drummers. Between “heavy rain showers”, “light rain showers” and “light rain” the cape carriers of the pipe band world will be sure to be under-employed. A good thing a lot of the Piping Live! events are either indoors or under cover.
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