The Piobaireachd Society
Patron HM The Queen

Judges Notes 2009

 

Gold and Silver Medal Set Tunes 2009

Judges Seminar Notes

Piobaireachd judges’ seminars are held twice a year to give judges the opportunity to discuss styles and settings of the set tunes in an informal way. The following notes are from these seminars.

These notes are published in the hope that they will be of some interest to competing pipers and others. They should, however, be regarded only as the output from an informal discussion and neither as a complete and authoritative analysis of the tunes nor as a set of directions on how they should be played. Like wise, the sources listed should not be taken to be comprehensive.

Alan Forbes
For the Music Committee

Lament for MacDonald’s Tutor

PS 3 p85; K Tune 78
 

A fairly straightforward tune with relatively few stylistic vaiations.

 

The cadences in the ground are a matter for individual preference and might be played with long low As or long  Es or possibly with alternation of long low As and Es.

 

Variation 3 is open to a variety of interpretations as in a number of other tunes such as Mary’s Praise, Waternish, etc.

 

A crunluath a mach is required in this tune.

 

Lament for the Dead

PS 11 p354 William Ross p8
 

Again, a straightforward tune. Also known as ‘The Rout of Bendoeg’ (Thomason, Reid), which raises the question of whether it should be played as a lament or as a more rousing battle tune.

 

There is scope for variety in the timing of the runs up to the grips on C in the ground.

 

Being fairly repetitive there is scope to raise the tempo in the variations to keep the tune interesting.

 

A crunluath a mach is required in this tune.

 

The MacRaes’ March

PS 10 p302; Angus Mackay p21; Macarthur Macgregor Tune 22 (Saurachan); Glen
 

The ground is usually played pretty much as shown in PS.

 

There is scope for alternative ways of playing the thumb variation. An attractive version, attributed to James Campbell, was discussed whereby a long E is played after high A followed by an even run-down to low A.

 

The taorluath is normally played ‘down’, but playing ‘up’ is a possibility.

 

The cadence E at the start of the taorluath and crunluath singlings (and doublings) is optional. It may also be played at the start of the taorluath and omitted from the crunluath.

 

The tune would benefit from being pushed along a bit to sustain interest.

 

The Macarthur and Glen versions differ quite a bit from PS.

Nameless ‘Hiharin dro o dro’

PS 4 p107; K Tune 7
 

The PS and Kilberry versions of the ground are identical apart from the first B in bar 2, which is shown long in PS and short in K. Either is acceptable. Apart from this there are few stylistic differences.

 

An excellent tune, felt to be ‘pastoral’ rather than a lament or salute.

 

The Mackays’ Banner

PS 7 p199; K Tune 83; Angus Mackay p119; Binneas
 

There is scope for variety in the timing of the Bs at the ends of phrases in the ground and thumb variations. These may be treated as ‘linking’ notes, as in Angus Mackay, or as full crotchets, as in PS and K. Similarly, the low A in bar 5 of line 1 and corresponding notes in lines 2 and 3 and may also be played as ‘linking’ notes or given full crotchet value.

 

In the doubling of variation 1 the cadential E may be played long, as a full melody note, giving quite a different feel to the variation. It is omitted altogether in some settings (eg Angus Mackay). Angus Mackay also has C instead of B before low A at the end of each line.

 

Some players may favour Angus Mackay’s treatment of the half-crunluaths in the crunluath singling and doubling – ie first C long and an open throw to E – rather than as shown in PS and K.

 

The cadence E at the start of the taorluath and crunluath singlings (and doublings) is optional. It may also be played at the start of the taorluath and omitted from the crunluath

 

There is an alternative setting in Thomason’s Ceol Mor, where the notes low A, E, E and F in bar 5 of line 1 of the doubling of the second variation, and in corresponding places later in the variation, are replaced by E, F, C and E, to correspond with the ground and the singling of that variation.

 

The taorluath is usually played ‘up’.

 

The Piper’s Warning to his Master

PS 12 p384; K Tune 112; Angus Mackay p125; Binneas
 

The PS and Kilberry versions of the ground are rather bland. Angus Mackay’s setting is more interesting – quavers are held or cut, not shown even. This is a bold tune – the ground needs to be kept moving!

 

The setting in Donald MacDonald’s manuscript is very attractive, although very different from the PS and K settings.

 

A crunluath a mach is optional.

 

 

 

Senior Set Tunes 2009

 

The Earl of Ross’s March

 

PS Book 10 shows only two low As in bar 3 of each line of the crunluath and doubling, whereas Angus Mackay and Donald MacDonald have four, which is consistent with the rest of the tune. The four low A crunluaths are therefore considered to be correct and should be played.

 

The crunluath fosgailte may be played either open or closed but is seldom, if ever, heard with both in the same performance.

 

Lament for Donald Ban MacCrimmon

 

John MacDonald played the ground and first variation quite briskly – a ‘forceful lamentation’. It was noted that the initial E was not too long, the weight being on the following low A. Different timings of the first variation can be expected. The variation should not be too slow. Some players will slightly stress the second note of each group; others will play the first and second notes nearly even.

 

In bar 6 line 1 of the taorluath and crunluath variations, and corresponding places, the theme notes can be transposed – F,E instead of E,F. This derives from Thomason’s Ceol Mor.

 

The MacDonalds’ Salute

 

It was agreed that the printed score of the ground (PS 11, page 340) was unhelpful and that Angus Mackay’s score was a better representation of the style usually heard nowadays.‘Run-downs’ may be played in the ground and the singlings of the taorluath and crunluath.

 

It is now acknowledged that the variations in PS Book 11 are deficient, probably as a result of a misprint in Angus Mackay. The Donald MacDonald, Junior, variations are correct. Book 11 is due to be re-printed during 2009. The re-print will contain the corrected variations and the notes will contain an explanation of why the earlier version was deficient. The Angus Mackay version of the ground will also be reproduced in full in the notes. In the meantime, the corrected version of the variations has been posted in the ‘Set Tunes’ section of the PS website.

 

The tune also appears in Kilberry under the name of ‘Fannet’.

 

Lament for the Duke of Hamilton

 

This tune requires a good top hand. The similarity between the ground and the first and second high G variations was noted. It was felt that the second high G variation should be played considerably faster than the first.

 

In bar 5 lines 1 & 2, bar 3 line 3, the low G in the second half of the bar might be played long, to balance with the earlier low As, or short as written. In bar 4 line 2 the cadence E (marked 7 in PS 3) can be played long, with the cadence E (marked 4) played shorter.

 

The suibhal variation may be played ‘up’ or ‘down’.

 

Rory MacLoude’s Lament

 

Low G grace notes on low A are written as semi-quavers, indicating a fairly heavy treatment.The couplets in variation 1 might be grouped in twos or in fours. Variation 2 can be played evenly, or as written.

 

In view of the fact that cadences fall only at the ends of lines, changes in tempo between singlings and doublings are probably required to give variety and interest to the latter part of the tune.

 

Lament for the Children

 

Various differences in settings are possible. In particular, John MacDonald’s (and RU Brown’s) last bar of line 2 of the ground, with a G grace note on the F before high G, instead of on the E, appears only in Binneas is Borreraig and not in the other usual sources. Similarly, the high G grace note on the last B in the last bar of variation 1, instead of the GED cadence.

 

Kilberry’s ‘Sidelights’ contains an extensive note on different styles.

 

The Battle of Waternish

 

RU Brown played the cadence E’s alternately longer and shorter, with the following low A or low G timed accordingly. RB Nicol noted the last bar as not being played slower, as written in PS Book 2, but more round and open. Nicol would play the second variation round and ‘loose’.Brown cut up to the last note of the phrase. It was thought important to avoid a ‘sing-song’ effect. In the doubling of this variation it was thought that either long or short low As before the taorluath movements might be heard. If long, the pace would have to be kept up to avoid monotony.

The Lament for the Harp Tree

 

It was generally thought that pipers would choose to play either the Campbell Canntaireachd variation or the one following, but not both. The 4th note in bar 2 of the Campbell Canntaireachd variation would follow the ground more closely if it were F, not E as written. However, E is written, as in the canntaireachd. The length of the tune would tend to suggest that it should not be played too slowly. It was noted that some players might play the taorluath ‘down’. Also, the crunluath is shown in PS 12 as being played ‘up’, whereas in Kilberry it is ‘down’. It was thought that players would probably play the brebach in the conventional ‘round’ manner.

 

MacLeod of MacLeod’s Lament

 

The low A/B couplet in the ground could be played evenly, rather than cutting up from low A to B. Angus Mackay omits the 2nd half of bar 3 line 1 of the ground and this would be acceptable.In the Gaelic song, a short F is introduced in lines 2 and 3 as a passing note after the grips to high G and before the E double echos. Other possible interpretations, e.g. Thomason, would be accepted. Malcolm MacPherson played it as per Angus Mackay, including the ‘spread’ birl.

 

John Garve MacLeod of Raasay’s Lament

 

The attractions of the Donald MacDonald version of the tune were compared to Angus Mackay’s setting. While it is accepted that, in Mackay’s setting, the first line need be played only once, it was recognised that repetition of the line probably represented the correct form of the tune.

 

Lament for the Earl of Antrim

 

The ground may be played in single or two bar phrases. Brown and Nicol inserted a G grace note on the last E in lines 1and 2 of the ground, as taught by John MacDonald.

 

Variation 1 is sometimes played in 5/4 timing, that is, with a full crotchet for the second E.Different timings might be heard in variation 3, for example distinct couplets or a more even treatment.

 

Kilberry’s ‘Further Sidelights’ contains a useful note regarding different styles of playing the tune.

 

Mrs MacLeod of Talisker’s Salute

 

It was noted that Angus Mackay wrote F instead of E at the 4th and 12th beats in line 1 of the taorluath and crunluath, and at the 4th beat in lines 2 and presumably 3. (There is no line 3 in Angus Mackay) A cadence is sometimes played on B, the first note of the last bar in each line, as in Angus Mackay.

 

An a mach may be played although it is not in any of the sources.

 

MacLeod of Colbeck’s Lament

 

The C in bar 2 of the ground has no G grace note in Binneas is Boreraig. The G grace note appears in Angus Mackay’s book and in PS book 10. The corresponding C in the first variation is plain in Angus Mackay, but it has a G gracenote in the tripling variation.

 

The first edition of Binneas reproduces what is thought to be a misprint – D instead of B in bar 10 of line 1. The second edition has B.

 

Different timings, all attractive, are possible in the singlings of variation 1 and the tripling.

 

A more detailed note on this tune, prepared by Colin MacLellan for the judges’ seminar, is attached to these notes  HERE

 

Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon

 

Two basic styles were identified, distinguished by the treatment of the notes at the ends of each phrase throughout the ground, the doubling of the ground and the singlings of the variations. These notes may be treated as ‘passing notes’ or given their full note value according to taste. Care should be taken, however, not to make them too long.

 

John MacDonald played the cadential Es longer in the ground than in the doubling. This places the beat on E, which is not the theme note.