The Piobaireachd Society
Patron HM The Queen

Judges Notes 2011

Judges notes 2011

The following notes are from the piobaireachd judges’ seminar held on 20 March 2011 to discuss the set tunes.   They 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.

Alan Forbes
Music Committee Secretary
The Piobaireachd Society
Senior Piobaireachd and Clasp Competitions

A score for the Gesto Canntaireachd tune, scores and guidelines for performance for the Donald MacDonald and MacArthur-MacGregor tunes and a revised version of ‘Port Urlar’ are on the Piobaireachd Society website at www.piobaireachd.co.uk under ‘Set Tunes’.

Lament for Lochnell               PS 13 p398

The version of this tune in PS 13 is considered by some to be erroneous.   Judges can expect to hear  the urlar played as written, or, in line 2, with one of the B double echo beats in bar 5 and/or one of the ‘EFCE’ note combinations in bar 6 of the urlar omitted, and any changes to the urlar carried through to the later variations.

Port Urlar                                PS 12 p387

The version of this tune in the current edition of PS 12, reprinted in 2004, is different from that in earlier editions.   The current version is reproduced on the PS website for the benefit of those who have older editions of PS 12.   The current version suggests a more natural timing of the urlar, but either version will be acceptable for the purposes of the competitions.

War or Peace                          Gesto Canntaireachd Version

The urlar should be played in full after the doubling of each variation, as indicated in the score.   There is no requirement to play it at the end of the tune.   It should therefore be played four times in all.

It was remarked that the manner of depicting the ‘T’ movements – C to C, B to B, A to A – in the urlar and doubling lent a certain rhythmic attraction, and some players may choose to play this way, rather than play the movements in modern form.

The Vaunting                                                           Donald MacDonald MS p223-228

The unusual embellishent in bar 1 of lines 2 and 3 is thought to be unique to this tune and there is no certainty about how it was actually executed

The low As at the end of bar 3 of lines 1 and 2 of variation 1 are nowadays played as Bs, for consistency with the rest of the tune.   Judges can expect to hear either A, as shown, or B.

It should be noted that in the doubling of variation 3 and later variations some note combinations are played to low G, rather than to low A as in modern versions of the tune.

Judges may expect to hear taorluaths and crunluaths played in the conventional modern way (that is, without the ‘redundant’ low A).   Taorluath a-mach and crunluath a-mach variations are required in this tune.   MacDonald’s emphasis on the theme notes before the a-mach movements was remarked upon as particularly attractive and the hope was expressed that this style would find favour with competitors.

In accordance with the published notice of the set tunes, the urlar should be played in full at the end of the tune, but not between variations.

Lament for Iain Garve MacLeod of Raasay                 Donald MacDonald MS p20-24

It is expected that that some players will play the embellishments as written, although it is likely that the throws to high G will be presented in modern form.

It should be noted that in the doubling of variation 1 and later variations some note combinations are played to low G, rather than to low A as in modern versions of the tune.

Although a crunluath a-mach variation is optional in this tune, if one is played, judges can expect to hear it played as indicated in the ‘General Abbreviations’ for Donald MacDonald tunes on the PS website.

In accordance with the published notice of the set tunes, the urlar should be played in full at the end of the tune, but not between variations.

Lady Margaret MacDonald’s Salute                             MacArthur-MacGregor MS p155

The style indicated by the score was considered most appealing, and the hope was expressed that this style would find favour with competitors.

Judges can expect to hear the crunluath variation presented in a variety of ways, as there is no certainty about what the score intends, and presentation will require to be evaluated in the context of the player’s musical treatment of the tune as a whole.

In accordance with the published notice of the set tunes, the urlar should be played in full at the end of the tune, but not between variations.

The Piper’s Warning to his Master                             Donald MacDonald MS p98-102

The style indicated by the score was considered most appealing, and the hope was expressed that this style would find favour with competitors.

Judges may expect to hear taorluaths and crunluaths played in the conventional modern way (that is, without the ‘redundant’ low A).

There are, in effect, two taorluath breabach and two crunluath breabach variations, shown as singlings and doublings.   The melody notes are the same in each pair of variations and the difference depends on different accentuation.   This unusual structure is thought to be unique.

The taorluath breabach singling is played ‘up’ according to the score.   It could legitimately be played ‘down’, although that might be thought out of keeping with the rest of the tune.    The timing of the doubling is at the discretion of the competitor.

The crunluath breabach singling is played ‘up’ according to the score.   It could also be played ‘down’, but is unlikely to appeal in that form.   The doubling is a standard breabach variation.

In accordance with the published notice of the set tunes, the urlar should be played in full at the end of the tune, but not between variations.

Gold Medal Competitions

The sources listed should not be taken to be comprehensive.

 

There are sound clips of some of the tunes, illustrating possible ways of playing them, in the members’ section of the Piobaireachd Society’s website at www.piobaireachd.co.uk

The Battle of Sheriffmuir                               PS 15 p500; K p81

This is a straightforward tune, interpretation of which should present no great difficulty.   It needs to be kept going and shouldn’t become too square.   It was felt that the B in the penultimate bar of each line of the urlar might be held, with compensating shortening of the D, as an alternative to what is in the score.   It was also felt that the last bar lends itself to a smooth, ‘gliding’ treatment.

In variation 2, which is in 3/4 time, it was thought that giving emphasis to the third theme note in each bar would be a natural way to express it musically.   The cadences in the taorluath singling are shown as crotchets in PS 15 but as quavers in K.   Notwithstanding this it would be natural to treat the low As as passing notes.

Donald MacDonald’s version, which is called ‘Cheerful Scotland’ and is reproduced in PS 15, is different in many respects and is not expected to attract interest.   Nevertheless, it would be an acceptable alternative setting.

A crunluath a-mach variation is required in this tune.

Tulloch Ard, The Mackenzies’ Gathering                 PS 12 p391

There is a reference in the notes in PS 12 to irregularities in the variations (but not in the urlar) of both Mackay and MacDonald with deficiencies and what the editors call ‘obvious misprints and ‘obvious errors’.   To quote the editors “… it is open to anyone to favour a different solution (to the one produced in Book 12) or to play the variations as Mackay and MacDonald give them.”   It is expected, however, that most players will present what is on page 391.

It was felt that it would be quite acceptable to play variation 3 with triplings rather than taorluaths, provided competitors made their intention to do so clear to the judges.

The Menzies’ Salute                                                  PS 15 p531; K Supplement No. 2

The tune is of primary construction with a phrase format of AAB, ACB, AD.    The version in PS 15 is from Angus MacKay with a couple of minor amendments.   No time signature has been entered in the PS version as the urlar oscillates between 3/4 and 4/4 time.   Thereafter it is in common time.   This does not, however, detract from the beauty of the tune.

A peculiarity of the tune is that there are no cadences in the singlings of the later variations, but certain key couplets differ from singling to doubling.    It therefore requires concentration both from players and judges to make sure that these are played correctly.   The tune lends itself to significant variation in tempo between singlings and doublings.

Donald MacDonald’s setting is attractive but was considered by Archie Kenneth to be ‘defective, flawed and confused’ and it is also much longer, so it seems unlikely that anyone will attempt it.

Queen Anne’s Lament                                               PS 7 p214; K p67

As well as the PS and K settings, which are from Angus MacKay, there is an attractive version from John MacDougall Gillies, the main features of which are described in the editorial notes in PS 7, with different timings of the first and last bars of line 1 of the urlar, and other changes.

The PS and K scores may be misleading in respect of the Es at the ends of bars 1 and 2 of line 2 of the urlar.   It  seems more natural to play these embellished notes longer, with the preceding notes shorter, rather than as written.    MacDougall Gillies has them as semi quaver, dotted quaver.

The first variation may also be timed in different ways – Donald MacLeod plays the four beats quite evenly whereas John MacLellan emphasises the first and third beats and shortens the second and fourth.

Mackenzie of Applecross’s Salute                            PS 10 p288

Donald MacLeod taught the run-down in the urlar with the E and low G long, the B short and a slight pause on the low A.   If carried through to variation 1 this gives a nice contrast to the cadences in the alternate bars.   Angus MacKay has the run-down with the B long in the urlar, but a ‘Donald Mor’ run-down in the variations.

The two low As and two low Gs at the ends of bars 1 and 2 of the doubling  of variation 1 are shown as ‘stressed’ notes.   It was felt that these should be played consistently throughout the variation, even although they are not all shown as such in PS 10 (the notation being the same as in Angus Mackay).   It will be necessary to express these sensitively, in the musical context of the tune.   As an alternative, the ‘stressing’ could be ignored and the couplets played in the conventional way.

There is an error in the last bar of line 1 of the crunluath singling, where the first low A should be low G.   (The same misprint appears in Angus MacKay’s book.)   Also, the E grace note in that bar should be D, for consistency with the rest of the tune.

 Mrs Smith’s Salute                                                    PS 9 p268

This tune appears in a number of manuscripts, including Angus MacKay, Duncan Campbell and Henderson, as well as in Ceol Mor, David Glen and Binneas.   Variation 2 does not appear in earlier manuscripts and it is possible that it was added at a later date.   The doubling is shown in 3/4 time, whereas the rest of tune is in 2/4 or 4/4.   This musically attractive variation and doubling may be included or omitted at the competitor’s discretion, as pointed out in the notes in PS 9.

Lament for Finlay                                                      PS 1 p28; K p65

A most attractive tune which will test both technical and musical ability.   The PS and K settings are the same.   The tune is also in Binneas is Borreraig and Ceol Mor, where there are a number of notational differences.

There are a variety of options in the opening cadence section – long E with a shorter low G (as in Binneas), short E long low G (as taught by Donald MacLeod) or a more even treatment of both (Bob Nicol).   Both MacLeod and Nicol use the last note in each phrase as an ‘and’ note, giving a pleasing, musical flow to the tune.

In the taorluath and crunluath singlings it is usual to give weight to the first note in the cadences as indicated in both PS and K, using the second as a linking note.   Doublings are straightforward.

Keppoch’s March                                                       PS 12 p390

This tune is seldom heard, but is relatively straightforward, in 3/4 time like The Battle of Sheriffmuir, and should present no particular difficulties.

The 3/4 timing in the ground of the PS score sometimes has the initial melody note as a crotchet, sometimes as a quaver.   It was felt that this timing should not necessarily be adhered to but that timing of these bars should be at the discretion of the player.   As in many tunes where canntaireachd is the only source, cadence placement is conjectural.


Silver Medal Competitions

 

The sources listed should not be taken to be comprehensive

There are sound clips of some of the tunes, illustrating possible ways of playing them, in the members’ section of the Piobaireachd Society’s website at www.piobaireachd.co.uk

The Battle of Auldearn No. 1                                     PS 2 p45

This is a well known tune, interpretation of which should present no great difficulty.   The treatment of the high As in variation 1 and doubling would have a major role to play in the rhythmical projection of the tune and their lengths may differ from the singling to the doubling.   Judges may wish to hear clear open doublings on these high As.

A crunluath a-mach variation is required in this tune.

The Battle of Strome                                                 PS 5 p131

The tune appears in various places and under different names, as indicated in the editorial notes in PS 5.   The PS setting is from Angus MacKay and the other main setting is from Donald MacDonald’s MS.   The editorial notes point out the differences between settings.   The tune is also in Binneas is Borreraig, which contains MacKay’s variation 1, subtly timed, and an open crunluath fosgailte and doubling,  and William Ross, which has no cadential Es in the crunluath singling.   Competitors wishing to play alternatives to the PS setting should give the judges advance notice and a copy of the score.

The Glen is Mine                                                        PS 6 p162; K p107

There are four known sources of this tune – Peter Reid, Donald MacDonald’s MS, Campbell Canntaireachd and Angus MacKay.   The first three all resemble each other and predate Angus MacKay’s version.   The version in PS 6 is more or less the same as MacKay’s.   The main difference is that the first three all start on low A in the urlar and thumb variations, whereas MacKay’s version starts one beat further on, on E, giving the tune quite a different feel.   The earlier versions are not often heard but would be quite acceptable so long as the judges are given advance notice and a copy of the score.

A transliteration of the CC setting has been produced by one competitor and can be viewed by clicking here  It is reproduced only as one example of how this setting might be interpreted.

A crunluath a-mach variation is required in this tune.

MacDonald’s (or Duntroon’s) Salute                           PS 6 p174

It was noted that the lengths afforded to the E cadence notes which introduce each phrase and each half phrase in the urlar would play a major part in the musical portrayal of this seldom heard piece.   These notes also have a major influence in the variations.

The main sources are Angus MacKay and Gesto’s Canntaireachd.   The Gesto version omits some of the cadences and also transposes the B and C in the middle of line 3 bar 3.

Glengarry’s March                                                     PS 2 p57; K p27

Judges may expect to hear the E cadence notes in the urlar and thumb variation played long or short.   The former is more usual, but care must be taken not to over cut the low Gs and As which follow.   E grace notes, instead of G grace notes, may be played on the Bs and low As preceding the grips in these variations.

An open crunluath fosgailte as an a-mach, is a possibility in this tune, as indicated in PS 2.

The Gathering of the MacNabs                                PS 5 p149; K p110

The setting is from the Campbell Canntaireachd with the extra bar in line 2 of the urlar in CC omitted.   PS has the urlar in three pulse rhythm, Kilberry in common time.   It was felt that the former gave a more pleasing depiction of the phrasing.   Both present the variations in 2/4 time and the importance of projecting the same dominant notes from the ground  in to the different rhythm of the variations was noted.

The urlar is technically demanding given the irregular pattern of phrasing but the variations are straightforward and musically attractive.

The unusual crunluath movement on B in the singling can be timed in different ways e.g. by cutting to the second B (dotted) before the dre (as in PS) or by holding the first B (dotted) and playing the dre open on the theme note (as in Binneas is Borreraig).   The K setting cuts straight to the dre.

A crunluath a-mach variation is required in this tune.

The Park Piobaireachd No. 2                                    PS 4 p115; K p47

This beautiful tune is usually played as shown in PS and K.   The ‘run down’ from F to B in line 1of the urlar is usually timed with F and B as dotted quavers and E and D as even semi-quavers.   Slight differences are possible, such as resting a little longer on D.   Judges may expect the high A, Fs and Es in the second  half of line 3 to be afforded full value.

Line 1 in the variations may be played in 2-bar phrases or, following the cadences, in 4-bar phrases.   The phrasing of the rest of the tune is fairly obvious.

The grips in the taorluath variation are usually played with the preceding theme note long, as in PS 4, but may also be played with the theme note short, as in K.

The End of the Great Bridge                                  PS 2 p54; K p58

The PS and K settings are, to all intents and purposes, identical.   Alternative settings, such as Ceol Mor and Donald MacDonald, contain minor differences.

The introductory E before the low G and low A theme notes in the urlar and thumb variation is shown long on all of the source manuscripts and collections, the low G and low A themselves being short.   The E can, of course, be played shorter with some of the emphasis passing to low G and low A.   Sensitive handling of these notes was felt to be the key to expressing these variations.

The second low A in bar 3 of line 2 of the urlar and thumb variations and the low G at the start of the next bar are sometimes reversed.

There are several different ways of expressing the cadence on B in bar 3 of line 3 of the urlar and thumb variations.   Donald MacDonald and Thomason  have a simple G grace note on D before the B.

A crunluath a-mach variation is required in this tune.