Set Tunes for the Silver Medal Competitions in 2012
The following notes are from the piobaireachd judges’ seminar held on 1 April 2012 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. Likewise, 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
Music Committee Secretary
You’re Welcome, Ewen Locheil PS 2 p69; K p34; Binneas p125
PS 2 and Kilberry are essentially the same. Binneas has a minor difference in the ground, namely a D grace note instead of a grip to B in bar 3. The MacArthur MS setting has the first phrase with the low G long and the preceding B short, and also omits the E and D from the final hiharin. All sources show the siubhal played ‘down’, but playing it ‘up’ could also be effective. All sources have the standard ‘closed’ crunluath fosgailte except MacArthur, who has it ‘open’ and preceded by a cadence E.
The Bicker PS 4 p107; K p70
It was felt that this tune required a brisk approach. The low G at the end of phrase 1 could be played long, as indicated in the PS text, or treated as a passing note, but not clipped too short. The notes at the beginning of Variation 1 might be played as a ‘run down’, but weighting to the B might also be heard. In the taorluath and crunluath the PS and other sources show even quavers at phrase ends. These would commonly be played with the second note as a passing note.
A crunluath a mach is optional in this tune.
Catherine’s Lament PS 5 p133; K p101; Binneas p35
Different ways of playing the ground can be expected, and the tune is a good test of musicality. It was felt that the last low A in bar 1 should be treated as a connecting note with preceding F as the phrase end. The cadences in the taorluath and crunluath singlings might be played (more or less) evenly, or with the first note long and the second note a passing note. Either way, it is important to maintain the flow throughout the variations.
A crunluath a mach is required in this tune.
MacLeod’s Short Tune PS 6 p170; K p14; Binneas p60
There are minor differences in the timing of the urlar in PS and K, and Binneas is similar to Kilberry. The tune is also in Ceol Mor under the name of ‘A Taunt on MacLeod’. The Es with embellishments should not be cut too sharply even although they are shown as semi-quavers.
Ceol Mor and Binneas agree on the timing of the crunluath doubling with the 1st and 3rd notes of groups of 3 being stressed and the middle note cut (i.e. played ‘up’) whereas PS 6 shows the second and third notes as even quavers.
Lament for Donald of Laggan PS 8 p219; K p21; Binneas p65
Although usually played in fairly uniform fashion, there is scope for different ways of playing the first phrase of the ground. The first two bars could be represented in 6/4 and 5/4 time respectively, with the rest in 4/4. Binneas shows the crunluath breabach timed the same way as the taorluath, and this style, although seldom heard, is also attractive.
Salute to Donald PS 8 p229; K p10
The cut from C to low A at the start should be gentle, not too sharp, and the first phrase should not be cut in two, but rather rounded off and smooth. Patience and sustained blowing quality are required through the long passages of the tune in order to get the most out of it. Middle beats of double echos should not be too short. The second high A in line 1 of the ground is sometimes played as a passing note. In the taorluath it seems preferable to push to the notes following the taorluaths, although the opposite is a possibility.
Note that bar 3 line 2 of the taorluath and crunluath variations do not follow the ground.
MacLeod’s Controversy PS 10 p282; Binneas p11
A ‘masterpiece in miniature’, probably best presented with a Donald Mor run-down throughout the ground. The tune requires a confident, bold approach with strong, medium, medium, strong pulsing and two-bar phrases to bring out the music. The taorluath and crunluath variations would benefit from strong melody notes, moving on quite sharply after each movement to sustain the bold effect throughout.
Binneas has a D grace note to low G in bar 1 of line 2 of the ground, whereas PS 10 has an E grace note. In bar 3 of line 3 PS 10 has the throw to high G with E and F grace notes on low A, whereas Binneas has the grace notes on low G. Donald MacLeod, Brown and Nicol all preferred the low G.
In line 3 of the ground the Campbell Canntaireachd setting indicates that the second bar ends on the E, the low G (probably played short) being the first note of bar 4. This interpretation might be heard. The Campbell Canntaireachd also has E instead of D in line 2 of the crunluath singling. Further, the Campbell Canntaireachd represents the crunluath singling and doubling in a breabach form, which gives quite a different feel to these variations.
PS 10 shows a full cadence to low A at the end of line 3 of the taorluath and crunluath singlings, followed by an E grace note to low G, whereas Binneas shows a G grace note on E to a plain low A and follows through to low G with a D grace note.
A crunluath a mach is optional in this tune.
The MacGregors’ Salute PS 10 p286
The birl is likely to be heard either in the conventional way or ‘spread’ or with straight-finger taps to low G. In relation to variation 3, most now consider that the theme notes should follow the rest of the tune and that Angus Mackay’s setting is wrong. Given its acceptance as correct by many master players, however, it cannot be rejected.
A crunluath a mach is required in this tune and a taorluath a mach may also be played.