Monday, October 25, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Banjo Breakdown

Here is one my favourite tune with good melody when I started playing the bagpipe. This is a tune that is popular on fiddle and pipes as well as whistle.

This is a very old bagpipe tune. it was written by Donald MacPhee and first published in 1876 as 'Yankee', a hornpipe. it has been played as a strathspey, a jig and a reel. There are eight parts.

The Banjo breakdown in this recording, is a jig arranged by PM Donald MacLeod, MBE. See music sheet below:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Strathpey, Jig, Reel and Hornpipe

It is easy to recognize March tunes on the bagpipes but when it comes to differentiate strathspeys, jigs, reels and hornpipe, it is very difficult to differentiate them. I know they are dance tunes, but what makes them different? Here are some interesting answers but I find the answer on the Bob Dunsire bagpipe forum.

Jigs, reels and hornpipe

Ostensibly the composer had an idea in mind of the purpose and intent of the use of the music he/she composed.

and it behooves the composer to write the name of the type of tune (jig, reel, hornpipe) in the title line of the tune in any printed/published copy of the tune. (It should not have to be self evident to the musician by looking only at the notes.)

nd hopefully the composer knows what the appropriate time signatures and phrasings and structure should be for the intended dance.

so the intent come first, the signature, cuts & holds.... are "formulaic fences" within which a tune of such intent is written.

e.g. a jig is in 6/8, 9/8, 12/8 time.... tends to flow so eighths and quarters.... not often written dot cut..

most reels traditionally are written in 2/2 time to accomodate the eight (and 16) step dancing phrasing... and the one, two, or four notes per beat. Four notes per beat are typically in eighths, dotted eighths and sixteenths.

most hornpipes are traditionally written in 2/4 time, so the four note groupings for a beat... have a lot of 16ths, dotted sixteenths, and 32ths... and the parts the tune often end in a couple of eighths so the dancer can come to a "calm" end to one of the otherwise frenetic dancing phrases, typically 16 beat phrases.

and all of this is written within the normal piping structure of 8 bars per part (sometimes four bars repeated)....

by Richard Mao, The Peking Piper

Read more here

Here's another explanation:

Wikipedia definition:

The Jig (Irish: port) is a form of lively folk dance, as well as the accompanying dance tune, originating in England in the sixteenth century and today most associated with Irish dance music and Scottish country dance music. Jigs were originally in 2/4 time, but have been adapted to a variety of time signatures, by which they are often classified into groups, including light jigs, slip jigs, single jigs, and treble jigs. More here.

The reel is a folk dance type as well as the accompanying dance tune type. In Scottish country dancing, the reel is one of the four traditional dances, the others being the jig, the strathspey and the waltz, and is also the name of a dance figure.

In Irish dance, a reel is any dance danced to music in reel time. In Irish stepdance, the reel is danced in soft shoes and is one of the first dances taught to students. There is also a treble reel, danced in hard shoes to reel music. More here.

The hornpipe is a traditional irish dance. It's done in hard shoes, which are used to help keep track of how the dancer keeps on time. There are two variations of the hornpipe dance- fast hornpipe and slow hornpipe. Usually, more experienced dancers will do the slow hornpipe, but the younger dancers will start out with the fast hornpipe and then switch in later years. There is a change of tempo in the music, but not the dancing between these 2 speeds. The only difference in the dancing between the fast and slow steps are the dances that the competitor does and the rhythm/sound of how she moves her legs. The rhythm for both fast and slow hornpipes are very even and should be carried out that way by the dancer. More here.

A strathspey is a type of dance tune in 4/4 time. It is similar to a hornpipe but slower and more stately, and contains many dot-cut 'snaps'. A so-called Scotch snap is a short note before a dotted note, which in traditional playing is generally exaggerated rhythmically for musical expression. More here.

It takes time to appreciate the difference between these tunes. It's like differentiating waltz, tango, foxtrot etc. dances... I guess we must first understand the dance moves, especially Irish and Scottish dance moves. Well, where I am right now, it's a very rare dance.

Happy piping!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Scotland the Brave

Playing Scotland the Brave on my bagpipe, a classic March tune on my bagpipe.

"Scotland the Brave" (Scottish Gaelic: Alba an Aigh) is a patriotic song and one of the main contenders to be considered as an "unofficial" national anthem of Scotland. In June 2006, the song came second to Flower of Scotland in an online poll with more than 10,000 votes to determine the nation's favourite unofficial "anthem". The song was used to represent Scotland in the Commonwealth Games until it was replaced by Flower of Scotland from the 2010 games in Delhi onwards.

Source from Wikipedia. Click here for more

Music Sheet (Click on the image for full view/download):

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Highland Cathedral

Playing Highland Cathedral, a bagpipe slow air tune on my bagpipe.

Again, recorded from my laptop using the built in MIC.

The Highland Cathedral (source wikipedia)

Highland Cathedral is a popular melody for the great highland bagpipe. This melody was composed by German musicians Ulrich Roever and Michael Korb in 1982 for a Highland games held in Germany. It has been proposed as the Scottish national anthem to replace unofficial anthems Scotland the Brave and/or Flower of Scotland. It has subsequently undergone various orchestrations and had lyrics added in English and in Scottish Gaelic.

The tune was the Royal Hong Kong Police Anthem under the British rule which ended in 1997. It was played at a ceremonial lowering of the Governor's flag at Chris Patten's residence, Government House on the last day of British rule. Highland Cathedral is Chris Patten's favourite pipe tune as said by himself on a BBC Asia Today programme. It is also a popular wedding song. The tune is played before all Scottish international rugby matches at Murrayfield in Scotland.

Click here for more.

Music Sheet (Click on the image for full view/download):

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Itchy Fingers

Playing Itchy Fingers by Robert Mathieson, a bagpipe reel on my bagpipe.

Recorded from my laptop using the built in MIC.

Music Sheet (Click on the image for full view/download):

Friday, September 24, 2010

Highroad to Gairloch

Highroad to Gairloch on my bagpipe.

The video background are pictures of Genting Highlands, some 60km from Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur

This tune is a 2/4 March tune. Recorded using my laptop.

Background of this tune. Who wrote this tune?

Music Sheet (click on the picture for full view/download):