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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tune it D*#mn it!

I'm not much in favor of "Cutting and Pasting" Blog Posts but Nate over at keydetpiper.com has posted a very good blog. Rather than commenting on "tutored" versus "self-trained" pipers he focuses on the primary problem with many self-trained pipers. ie. They don't TUNE THIER INSTRUMENT. Listen up lads, no one would tolerate a guitarist who was seriously out of tune.

Here follows a re-print of Nate's post. Its a very good read.

"As much as I hate to admit it, not everyone likes bagpipes. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but there are people dislike or even outright hate bagpipes. Just do a search for “I hate bagpipes” and you’ll find a plethora of sites devoted to the hating of the instrument I love.

I have this theory that goes like this: “If you don’t like the bagpipes, you’ve probably never heard them played correctly.” I will be the first to admit that listening to bad bagpipes is a terrible experience. The best way I’ve found to describe it is sushi. Good sushi is a wonderful dining experience, but bad sushi will have you in the bathroom retching your guts out. Bad bagpipes have a similar effect.

The problem is that most people don’t have an opportunity to hear good piping. If someone only hears pipes that sound like this, or this, or this, there’s no wonder the instrument has a bad reputation. Those performances have all the musicality and tonal quality of banging pots and pans together, and most people would recognize that it isn’t really music.

So the question is how to expose the general populace to better piping. It doesn’t have to be top-notch playing, but it should be close to in tune with correctly-played embellishments and some sense of rhythm. I offer a two-part solution.

First, if you are a decent player, play often in the public eye (or ear). I play outside all the time when the weather is nice, and your local park is a great place to get some playing in while exposing the non-piping public to decent playing. The more they hear good piping, the better off everyone will be.

Second, educate the poor pipers that most people usually end up hearing. Once a piper learns how to tune his or her pipes, the result is much more pleasant on the ears. I think the problem with a lot of the buskers and street bands is that they haven’t been taught properly in the first place, so they themselves don’t really know how the pipes are supposed to sound.

There’s my recommendation for how to improve the pipes’ public image: better pipers should play more where the public can hear them, and we should all work together to improve ourselves and our peers as pipers."


sheela said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Mike (AKA Pops) said...

Thank you for the kind words! I hope you enjoy.

LG said...

No objection. If the instrument is but in tune and blown steadily, it should produce a sound pleasing to the crowd.

Timimg and proper embellishments, while important in their own right, I think are somewhat less important than proper intonation. I have things I do differently, as does pretty much everyone (i.e. minimal use of gracenoting in our case). Still sounds good, just a wee bit different.

Mike (AKA Pops) said...

LG, I couldn't agree more. All the embellishments in the world will not help if the instrument is not in tune. It must reverberate as a single instrument, not as four school children with penny whistles.

Dave said...

No doubt!!!