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Your email will never be sold, and I won't burden you with tons of meaningless drivel (just an occasional spoonful!) I will keep you posted a couple times a month on upcoming shows, music releases,and the occasional free download for fan feedback! I look forward to writing you. Mike "Pops" McGee

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."

Monday, February 09, 2009

elegant solution


I had just gone into the garage to begin my practice session when once again my base drone reed found its way out of the drone and into the bag ( a non-zippered hide bag). My son who was working on another project asked for a quick definition of some of the explicatives that followed and what was the cause. Now he is a rather fine mechanic and when I explained the situation he came up with a most elegant solution. He went over to his tool box and took out a set of taps. He then “threaded” all my reed seats, in both the drones and the chanter. I doubt I will ever drop another reed! Thanks son!