Practice Chanters Up!

November 30, 2023 on 11:59 pm by Michael Grey | In Stories, Tips | No Comments

There are apparently no fewer than 19 musical instruments that can be played with one hand (or no hands!). Among them, as you’ll likely know, are the trumpet, trombone, harmonica and didgeridoo.
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Magic with No Borders (Prosit!)

August 31, 2023 on 8:21 am by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on Magic with No Borders (Prosit!)

It’s the last day of August and, for the second time in about a month, I’ve found myself in the stunning pastoral countryside of rural Germany – for piping. What else!
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Maxville Games 1949 / What’s their secret!?

July 31, 2023 on 5:34 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on Maxville Games 1949 / What’s their secret!?

In undertaking some other work related to this coming weekend’s North American Championships, the Glengarry Highland Games at Maxville, Ontario, I stumbled on an interesting broadsheet page from Glengarry County Archives. This edition of the paper is full of interesting facts and colour related to the 1949 games, including, one back-page story headline, a real eye-waterer for pipers, especially: “Ottawa Girl Loses 3 Fingers While on Vacation”. You will see most of the games’ headline reporting lands on the front page (photo from front page included here).
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In Praise of Round Reels

June 30, 2023 on 1:11 pm by Michael Grey | In Audio File, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on In Praise of Round Reels

I’ve always been a big fan of “roundish” bagpipe reels. Not every reel suits this style but when I say “roundish” I’m talking about tunes that are less dot-cut and more even; that is, where time is more evenly distributed. In saying “dot-cut” I’m referring to a figure of notes where a note steals time from the note next to it and so the thief note is held longer than the victim note (and apologies for the strained metaphor).
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Advice from G S McLennan: “There are those who can …

November 30, 2020 on 2:05 pm by Michael Grey | In Solo Piping, Technique, Tips | Comments Off on Advice from G S McLennan: “There are those who can …

George Stewart McLennan was not just a great player and composer; he was an important contributor to the evolution of the music of the Great Highland Bagpipe. In his approach to technique (meaning embellishments and associated phrasing) he was on the vanguard of the music’s transition from the 19th to 20th centuries.
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An ardent epitaph

September 24, 2020 on 7:57 am by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on An ardent epitaph

I was recently part of a very small group of people who were lucky to have a private expert tour of a few choice corners of Bruce County, Ontario. Bruce County is Ontario’s largest county and – as the name might suggest – magnetic for many of the settlers of The Clearances – and even later. With verdant, rich arable land (well, after newcomers found their way to fell the massive trees, haul the stumps and clear the stones) the county is full of echoes of Scots and Irish immigration. Continue reading An ardent epitaph…

The 2021 pipe band season: possible solutions

August 31, 2020 on 6:13 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on The 2021 pipe band season: possible solutions

Not too long ago Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr Teresa Tam offered up a sobering – if not depressing – update to Canadians:

“We’re planning, as a public health community, that we’re going to have to manage this pandemic certainly over the next year, but certainly it may be planning for the longer term on the next two to three years during which the vaccine may play a role. But we don’t know yet.”

It seems that – as much as we’d hope – there may not be a swift magic way out of the fog of our pandemic-lived lives.

I’ve been thinking for a while about competition possibilities for pipe bands (and soloists, too). Pre-recorded online activity is ok, maybe, for a brief locked-down moment in time but it does nothing to slake the thirst of the competition-loving piper and drummer. To create an event – a real event, a happening of importance and one where a paying audience is interested – any competitive online presentation must be live (or, at least, a recorded “one-off-only” performance; more on this later)
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Online Piping Competitions

June 10, 2020 on 7:01 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on Online Piping Competitions

Hats off to New Zealand. This past Monday (June 8) marked the first day since February that there’s been no active cases of Covid-19. Among many other pleasant pre-pandemic freedoms, the country can again hold public events without limitations on numbers. Thinking of piping and pipe band competitions the Royal New Zealand Pipe Bands’ Association enjoyed a pipe case full of good luck in the timing of their final contest of the year. Presented in the South Island city of Invercargill on the weekend of March 13, the organization’s national championship came in just under the quarantine wire. I thought at the time it would be the world’s final pipe band championship of 2020. And I may be right (sadly). Barring, of course, some kind of online “championship” – just the kind of post-apocalyptic thing New Zealand pipers and drummers can take off their to-do – or worry – list.
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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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Recommendations for Solo Piping

January 6, 2018 on 4:53 pm by Michael Grey | In Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on Recommendations for Solo Piping

A little while ago I received a note from Jim McGillivray asking if I had a copy of the solo piping report we had (diligently) worked on together with Bob Worrall – over 20 years ago. “Word Processing” was still newish then and stuff was saved on 3.5 inch “floppy discs” and, well, no – the report was long lost, as far as I knew. Until last week. I found a paper copy while going through boxes of stuff – ephemera. Now there’s a great word.

So for all administrative wonks and lovers of arcane piping history, I pass it along here.
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