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LOWLAND AMUSEMENT

One piper's exploration of the music of the Scottish Lowlands, its history and its performance. It's a diary of discovery, not a series of essays. You're invited to make your own contributions using the comments option on most pages.

 

For A' That

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I had a vague plan to post here my haggis-piping yesterday - but, perhaps fortunately, the video is 'a' weed awa''. However, playing through 'A Man's A Man for A' That' in preparation, a thought occurred to me that has survived.

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An introduction

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Lowland Amusement is one piper's contribution to the furtherance of the music of the Scottish lowland and border regions.

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The Lowland Jig - an introduction

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Tunes in compound times are far less common in lowland sources than those in simples time - for instance, of the 48 tunes in Daviid Young's Collection of Coutnry Dances from 1740, 9 are in 6/8 and 4 in 9/8; the other 36 are in 'cut-time'. Nevertheless, amongst these and those from other sources there seems to be a variety of 'dirds' and in some cases more than one of these dirds can be applied to the same tune.

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Blanche of Middlebie

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Yesterday I spent the afternoon [some of it] getting to grips with 'Weel Bobit Blanche of Middlebie'

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Gracings and fingerings continued

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The following is a quote from the 'entry in the Encyclopedia Perthensis' published in Perth, Scotland, between 1796 and 1806, under 'Bagpipes' 

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Gracings, fingerings and other contentious issues

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The question of ornamentation in Lowland music is probably the most confusing for pipers. Most come from a background of highland piping and have put a great deal of effort and time into acquiring the necessary repertoire of gracings that form the distinctive character of highland pipe music. They are also familiar with the inclusion of these gracings in any notated source. However, when it comes to lowland music, whilst indications of ornamentation do appear in some sources, they are uncommon, and where they do appear we have no direct information about how they are to be interpreted.

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How fast does it go?

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The question of tempo is crucial in arriving at an appropriate dird for many of these tunes. Pipers with a background in playing for dancing may well understand how certain tunes seem to lay down their own tempo. For those without this background, and for those tunes in the repertoire which do not conform to the more familiar rhythms, we need some other guide.

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Digging the Dird II

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According to the Orkney fiddler Dany Rosie, only three things are needed for playing for dancing, 'Time, Sound and dird'. Since the word 'dird' is not common usage these days, I'm going to attempt to describe what I understand by it, and how it applies to playing Lowland music, particularly on the pipes.

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The Notes in their place

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The challenge for me with all these tunes is to get the notes in exactly the right place;

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