Monday, November 19, 2007

Hey Look! I'm on the cover!

Well... almost!
I didn't make the cover, but I did make the title page of Colin Baxter's new book Scottish Pipers.  Colin is probably Scotland's most famous photographer, you've likely seen his great images of castles, glens, and mountains on calendars, postcards, and coffee table books.  

The new book is his first on pipers and it has some great photographs.

The cover (with mandatory Royal Stewart tartan and feather bonnet):

The title page (yours truly piping at Glenfinnan.  A rare day of glorious sunshine!):

The back cover (more feather bonnets!):

Saturday, November 17, 2007 Survey

I hope you'll take a few moments to take my brief survey.  I've got some great ideas for features I'm hoping to add to the site.  Your response to a few questions will help guide the future of!

To take the survey click here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What is Piobaireachd?

Piobaireachd ("pee-brock") is the classical music of the great highland bagpipe. It is less commonly referred to as Ceol Mor, meaning Great Music. It is an entirely different from the category of music known as Ceol Beag (or Little Music) that includes marches, slow airs, and the various idioms of dance music (jigs, reels, strathspeys, and hornpipes).

Piobaireachd tunes are often several hundred years old, dating as far back as the 1400's. It is distinct from the other forms of Celtic music in that it is only traditionally played by a solo piper on the great highland bagpipe.

The tunes tend to be much longer than light music tunes, and feature a theme called the Ground or Urlar and several variations. The variations take the basic melody established in the ground and present it a variety of different rhythmic contexts with a variety of different technical embellishments. Common variations include the use of the Taorluath, Crunluath, and Crunluath-a-mach movements.

Piobaireachd tunes are often associated with particular individuals or clans or historic events. Colorful titles include: Too Long in this Condition, The Piper's Warning to his Master, The Lament for the Children, Beloved Scotland, The Little Spree.

Many pipers consider Piobaireachd to be the highest form of bagpipe music and also most satisfying and challenging to play. The world's most prestigious piping competitions, such as the Gold Medals at Inverness and Oban, are won by pipers who compete by playing Piobaireachd tunes.

I'm very pleased to offer for the first time Tune Lesson Downloads for Piobaireachd. The first batch of these tunes includes:
  • The Glen is Mine
  • The Little Spree
  • The Munros' Salute
  • Too Long in This Condition
With each Tune Lesson Download you receive:
  • A high-quality, studio-produced audio recording of your tune played by one of the world's top pipers.
  • A professionally-typset printed sheet music for your tune -- perfectly matched to the audio recording.
  • A detailed audio instructional lesson on the tune, including learning tips, practice strategies, suggestions for improvement, and demonstrations played on the practice chanter.
  • An additional sheet of BONUS written instructional materials related to your tune.
For more information on these tunes, please visit the Tune Downloads page.

Here's a complete list of all the tunes that you can download and print.

Here's a brief video of me playing some of the Piobaireachd Mary's Praise at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, Scotland.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Bagpipe Slipping?

My problem is that I can't keep the bag under my arm for very long at all. It starts to slip the moment I start playing. Help!

This is fairly common problem for pipers. It could be that your pipe bag is too large. Most people would do best with a small bag. If you are tall you might think about a medium size bag. (Only very tall should play a large bag, if anyone.) It could be that your blowpipe is too long. If you feel you have to stretch your neck to reach your blowpipe, it's probably too long and you ought to try a shorter one.

Even if your pipe bag and blowpipe are the perfect size, it could be that your bag cover is too loose or too slippery. A loose bag cover can be adjusted with a needle and thread (or get a smaller one) and slippery material can be fixed with some non-slip material from dycem.

Visit the Dycem home page. You'll want to get a non-slip reel in the color of your choice. Then you have to sew it on your bag cover.

Highland Gear makes nice covers and they can install dycem patches for you on both sides (arm side and body side).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Videos

I've added four new videos to the Videos page.

Three are from the recent shows at the Kirkland Performance Center, the fourth is from the Skagit Valley Highland Games this past July.