minstrel: periodness of the great highland bagpipe?

EoganOg at aol.com EoganOg at aol.com
Thu Mar 2 09:28:25 PST 2000


I finally came across the old Motley Crew article I was thinking of.  The 
author is Iain Donnachaidh mac Aindreis, and the article was written based on 
a post he made to this list, I believe.  It appreared in the Winter 1996-7 
issue of the Motley Crew.  

I don't want to retype the whole thing, but the main points he made were 
these:
The music and style of highland piping you hear now is mostly post-1800.  
Here are some of the differences . . .
Piobaireachd was played faster with less emphasis on technique (it was 
improvisational at the time).  
Strathspeys were much less exaggeratedly pointed than they are in competition 
playing today.
Reels were played fairly even or swung, and jigs were not 6/8 march type 
tunes.  The 6/8 march as we know it today did not exist.
Hornpipes were tunes in 3/2 and not "really cool reels" which is what they 
seem to be considered now.
2/4 marches were not played like the piper was marching with a broken leg.

Basically he emphasizes that competition piping today is NOT authentic for 
our period, and shows a lot of English and continental influence.

Traditional piping has a strong relationship with traditional Gaelic music 
and singing.  He suggests recordings by Allan MacDonald of old Cape Breton 
fiddle players (the fiddle playing has a lot of the same tunes and is pretty 
true to style).  Other artists he suggests:  Hamish Moore, Fred Morrison.

I asked him specifically about Fred Morrison's CD "Broken Chanter" because I 
had it and Iain told me that the style is authentic Gaelic but that he is 
much more precise than the average musician would be and he doesn't play 
anything that you can call medieval.

The best thing he reccomended for authentic medieval piping was the works of 
the Goodacre Brothers--I have no idea what they have recorded or how to 
contact them, however.

And that about sums up the relevant points of the article.  I hope it was 
useful!
Aye,
Eogan Og

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