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.
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.