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  #1  
Old 01-29-2012, 05:05 PM
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Default Highland Pipers around here?

I am just curious if there are any pipers here, or serious fans of the Highland bagpipe. I learned almost 40 years ago from a Scotwoman. I still teach bagpipes in the north of Israel. We have had pipe bands here in Israel, but it is tough to train-up enough pipers. We lose them at a critical time to army duty, and then, life in Israel gets seriously university oriented after that. But we do have some great pipers here, and some Israeli-composed pipe music has made its way into Keltic music groups and pipe bands around the world.

Just curious, as pipes are quite popular with soldiers in a number of countries, including the US, even though there are no official military pipe bands there.
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:05 PM
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I like almost all music, and am a fan of bagpipers also, though not what you would call a "serious" fan. The Black Watch Regt.'s marching tune tends to feature somewhere in my recently played list often though, as does Highland Laddie and other popular ones!

Many armies of Commonwealth countries including the Indian Army feature pipe bands. Several of our Regiments have bands featuring bagpipers and it is an important tradition. Two bagpipers from our army are sent to Ypres on 11th Nov. each year to sound the Last Post in memory of British Indian Armymen who fought in Flanders, WW1.
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Old 02-05-2012, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David of Galilee View Post
I am just curious if there are any pipers here, or serious fans of the Highland bagpipe. I learned almost 40 years ago from a Scotwoman. I still teach bagpipes in the north of Israel. We have had pipe bands here in Israel, but it is tough to train-up enough pipers. We lose them at a critical time to army duty, and then, life in Israel gets seriously university oriented after that. But we do have some great pipers here, and some Israeli-composed pipe music has made its way into Keltic music groups and pipe bands around the world.

Just curious, as pipes are quite popular with soldiers in a number of countries, including the US, even though there are no official military pipe bands there.
I would say that I'm a serious fan of the Highland Pipes. I cannot remember a parade here that has not included the magical sound of the Great Highland Pipes. Ten years ago or so we vacationed in Scotland and made the Tattoo in Edinburgh a priority must see. We also never miss the Clan gathering here in the King County Fairgrounds at the end of July. There is no other sound so great then 4 to 500 hundred pipers playing.

Myself, I'm a student of the Uilleann Pipes and have been playing on and off for about five years. I was very fortunate to find a teacher who played the Uilleann...they are hard to find! While I like the sound of the GHP its the haunting sounds of the Uilleann that really grabs me. Playing the Uilleann Pipes has been described as a chicken wrestling an Octopus.
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Old 02-07-2012, 06:55 PM
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The uilleann pipes are possibly the most difficult instrument to play at a virtuoso level that I know, followed by the Highland pipes. Several of my Highland pipe students have been uilleann pipers. Fortunately, the two varieties are as different as night & day, although there is a small overlap of music.

We do have one very good uilleann teacher here, who went off to Ireland years ago to study. He's no Seamus Ennis but he has solid, musical control of the instrument.

Highland pipes, too, are very hard to play well. Many people, maybe most, who play in public are not really playing them at all, and give the instrument a bad name. Tuning and even blowing have to be conquered before all the fingerwork even comes into the picture. Most parade pipe bands are not, unfortunately, musically trained.

The Irish music scene in Israel is well-developed, and several use uilleann pipes.
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Old 02-08-2012, 01:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David of Galilee View Post
The uilleann pipes are possibly the most difficult instrument to play at a virtuoso level that I know, followed by the Highland pipes. Several of my Highland pipe students have been uilleann pipers. Fortunately, the two varieties are as different as night & day, although there is a small overlap of music.

We do have one very good uilleann teacher here, who went off to Ireland years ago to study. He's no Seamus Ennis but he has solid, musical control of the instrument.

Highland pipes, too, are very hard to play well. Many people, maybe most, who play in public are not really playing them at all, and give the instrument a bad name. Tuning and even blowing have to be conquered before all the fingerwork even comes into the picture. Most parade pipe bands are not, unfortunately, musically trained.

The Irish music scene in Israel is well-developed, and several use uilleann pipes.
Maybe it was Seamus or one of the other great Uilleann pipers that said it took seven years listening and seven years of practice and seven years of playing before you were ready to play the pipes......something like that. I had never seriously thought about learning to play an instrument until I became smittened by the sound of the Uilleann in the movie Braveheart and that haunting sound put me on my journey to learn to play them.

Thank G-d I was able to find a good teacher who started at a young age with the penny whistle and worked her way up to a full set of pipes. Her father played the Highland Pipes by the way.

I didn't know that the Highland Pipes were that hard to play also. I think I'll stick to my own peculiar octopus.

There is one advantage of living on the coast of Washington State is that the humidity is always fairly high and it keeps my reeds in fine shape. No cracks in them yet.

Its good to hear that the Irish music scene is doing well in Israel.
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Old 02-08-2012, 06:41 AM
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Have you come accross Ian Lawther, and Englishman who lives in Sammamish, Washington state? He is a fine piper on a variety of bagpipes. Or Seth Gallager? Haven't been to Seattle in 30 years, but it was a good town for Irish music then.

The world of pipers is tight and many uilleann and Highland pipers play both instruments.

Yes the Highland bagpipe is also excruciatingly difficult to learn well, partly because we mouth-blow, and have to deal with moisture. Also, the ability to blow steadily and play cleanly is absent from all those parade bands because you have to do exercises on the practice chanter, and then build up to the big pipes, over several years. Not many have the dedication or discipline to stick with it.

There have been pipers in the IDF, but nothing has ever gotten organised. We are a very UN-ceremonial army, and although we have Tizmoret Tzahal, the band of the IDF, live military music and parading just doesn't play a big part in Jewish life. Even the music at a "Bible and Gun" presentation for a soldier who has been through basic is likely to be a CD--except Ha-Tikvah which is sung live by the men. Many love bagpipes here, but we both fought the British, and fought with them, and Scottish troops were stationed here in large numbers. So the pipes are perhaps unfairly a bit of a Imperial symbol.

---
"To the make of a piper, go seven years of his own learning, and seven generations before. At the end of his seven years one born to it will stand at the start of knowledge. And leaning a fond ear to the drone, he may have parlay with old folks of old affairs"

Neil Monroe, writing of Highland Pipers
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Old 02-09-2012, 02:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David of Galilee View Post
Have you come accross Ian Lawther, and Englishman who lives in Sammamish, Washington state? He is a fine piper on a variety of bagpipes. Or Seth Gallager? Haven't been to Seattle in 30 years, but it was a good town for Irish music then.

The world of pipers is tight and many uilleann and Highland pipers play both instruments.

Yes the Highland bagpipe is also excruciatingly difficult to learn well, partly because we mouth-blow, and have to deal with moisture. Also, the ability to blow steadily and play cleanly is absent from all those parade bands because you have to do exercises on the practice chanter, and then build up to the big pipes, over several years. Not many have the dedication or discipline to stick with it.

There have been pipers in the IDF, but nothing has ever gotten organised. We are a very UN-ceremonial army, and although we have Tizmoret Tzahal, the band of the IDF, live military music and parading just doesn't play a big part in Jewish life. Even the music at a "Bible and Gun" presentation for a soldier who has been through basic is likely to be a CD--except Ha-Tikvah which is sung live by the men. Many love bagpipes here, but we both fought the British, and fought with them, and Scottish troops were stationed here in large numbers. So the pipes are perhaps unfairly a bit of a Imperial symbol.

---
"To the make of a piper, go seven years of his own learning, and seven generations before. At the end of his seven years one born to it will stand at the start of knowledge. And leaning a fond ear to the drone, he may have parlay with old folks of old affairs"

Neil Monroe, writing of Highland Pipers
Yes, I know of Ian Lawther. I think I read a bio on him and was thinking of taking lessons from him. I live about ten miles off the coast and Ian lives about 150 miles off the coast. To many miles to travel. Also know of Seth Gallager through his web site. Was looking for a practice set from him but they were lawyer prices.

It seems Seattle and the area around has a large number of pipers and as you work your way South you will find some in Tacoma. Keep going South and you will find one In Chehalis and she was my teacher who was only 50 miles from my home.

I don't think I would even attempt the Highland Pipes. I know after hard blowing I would get light headed and fall on my face and my Kilt would fly up.On the serious side. With your chanter do you experience finger pain from holding the chanter to tight...aka death grip? I have about wiped out my thumb on my right hand.

Yep, I'm still learning about the discipline, dedication and patience of the instrument I've choosen or who choose me. Just strappin' in can be a feat. Getting the bellows in perfect placement, air line hooked in tight and the bag in good position...I could go on and on but the end result is worth it eh?
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Old 02-11-2012, 05:36 AM
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Yes, I know of Ian Lawther. I think I read a bio on him and was thinking of taking lessons from him. I live about ten miles off the coast and Ian lives about 150 miles off the coast. To many miles to travel. Also know of Seth Gallager through his web site. Was looking for a practice set from him but they were lawyer prices.

It seems Seattle and the area around has a large number of pipers and as you work your way South you will find some in Tacoma. Keep going South and you will find one In Chehalis and she was my teacher who was only 50 miles from my home.

I don't think I would even attempt the Highland Pipes. I know after hard blowing I would get light headed and fall on my face and my Kilt would fly up.On the serious side. With your chanter do you experience finger pain from holding the chanter to tight...aka death grip? I have about wiped out my thumb on my right hand.

Yep, I'm still learning about the discipline, dedication and patience of the instrument I've choosen or who choose me. Just strappin' in can be a feat. Getting the bellows in perfect placement, air line hooked in tight and the bag in good position...I could go on and on but the end result is worth it eh?
The infamous "death-grip" on the chanter kills fingering technique. Pressure is a tricky thing to generalise about, though, as different movements and embellishments can require a very differnt approach. In Highland piping we use a slow-motion practice method--breaking down the melody into phrases, and playing everything with exaggerated extension of the fingers. Almost everyone can then play cleanly. From there, the object is to speed up only as much as can be played cleanly and with proper expression, while maintaning the pressure. Bottom-hand thumbs do hurt in both forms of piping, but this should dissappear in time.

The biggest secret is tonnes of practice, but effective, methodical practice with that slow-motion training of the fingers. Highland pipe music is very heavy on the grace notes, both simple one-note cuttings, and complicated series of 32nd notes, often played as 64ths. (Again, parade bands never bother much with traditional piping technique.) Our reels, jigs, and hornpipes clock-in at some of the fastest music on the planet, so for us, technique is critical, as is that blowing pressure. The faster the tune, the more the mistake of the "death-grip" is likely to occur.

Is it all worth it? I think so. I am only a bit saddened that so many unserious folks have taken up the Highland pipes without ever really learning how to play them. So most of the world hears very poor, unpleasant sounds, and tunes like Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave, that are not real pipe tunes, though they are fine tunes in their own right. The real music, composed for the instrument itself, is very different. Especially the medieval piobaireachd tunes, which have a distinct ancient affiliation with the Irish homeland of Scottish Highlanders (who were called Wild Irish by the Lowlanders. The Highlanders called them Aynglis in return, as they were mostly Northumbrian Anglo-Saxon settlers). Anyway, Ireland and Scotland are very connected through bardic traditon, harp, and also pipe music.

Last edited by David of Galilee; 02-11-2012 at 05:42 AM..
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Old 02-11-2012, 07:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David of Galilee View Post
The infamous "death-grip" on the chanter kills fingering technique. Pressure is a tricky thing to generalise about, though, as different movements and embellishments can require a very differnt approach. In Highland piping we use a slow-motion practice method--breaking down the melody into phrases, and playing everything with exaggerated extension of the fingers. Almost everyone can then play cleanly. From there, the object is to speed up only as much as can be played cleanly and with proper expression, while maintaning the pressure. Bottom-hand thumbs do hurt in both forms of piping, but this should dissappear in time.

The biggest secret is tonnes of practice, but effective, methodical practice with that slow-motion training of the fingers. Highland pipe music is very heavy on the grace notes, both simple one-note cuttings, and complicated series of 32nd notes, often played as 64ths. (Again, parade bands never bother much with traditional piping technique.) Our reels, jigs, and hornpipes clock-in at some of the fastest music on the planet, so for us, technique is critical, as is that blowing pressure. The faster the tune, the more the mistake of the "death-grip" is likely to occur.

Is it all worth it? I think so. I am only a bit saddened that so many unserious folks have taken up the Highland pipes without ever really learning how to play them. So most of the world hears very poor, unpleasant sounds, and tunes like Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave, that are not real pipe tunes, though they are fine tunes in their own right. The real music, composed for the instrument itself, is very different. Especially the medieval piobaireachd tunes, which have a distinct ancient affiliation with the Irish homeland of Scottish Highlanders (who were called Wild Irish by the Lowlanders. The Highlanders called them Aynglis in return, as they were mostly Northumbrian Anglo-Saxon settlers). Anyway, Ireland and Scotland are very connected through bardic traditon, harp, and also pipe music.
Yes sir, the dreaded "death grip." I was taught to think of my chanter as a giant straw with holes that I lightly covered with my pads. Your are right on, its the faster tune that the death is likely to happen. The thing with me is that I don't realize I'm doing it until my thumb is about to fall off. The main thing is, the thumb is feeling better.

I really got to love playing grace notes/cuts. It was a time when the pumping of the bellows and bag pressure wasn't so mechanical which left me able to think more about the chanter.
My gosh David it baffles my mind on how fast you guys play. I had know idea.

Cleanly....thats a good way of explaining a good sound. And yea I think its all worth it myself. Practice, practice, practice.

I mentioned that we liked going the clan gatherings at The King County Fairgrounds. It is a blast and for my untuned ear the piping sounded ok. But, in Bellingham, Washington they also have a clan gathering. Its held on a large farm and is just a perfect setting for a gathering. Something thing caught my interest over on the edge of the parade ground. There was a young lad methodically marching on this plywood stage and a older gentleman studying his moves and playing. The lad was playing Pio Braireachd. I'm thinking it was a some kind of test?

I'm kinda tired so hope this makes sence.
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Old 02-11-2012, 02:52 PM
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Piobaireachd--more or less pronounced "pee-brokh"--is the medival/early modern music for the Highland pipes. It is a theme, and stylised variations on a theme, some very complicated. Then finish off with a return to the opening theme. A classical piobaireachd can take anywhere up to 20-30 minutes to perform fully, and yes, is the supreme test of the Highland piper. These old tunes are what the Clans gathered to, and the Union of the English and Scottish parliaments, what Scottish Highlanders in the new British army rallied around in the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimea, India, WWI. Not the modern 2/4 or 6/8 quick marches. Imagine stepping out of the classic British Square formation at Waterloo, and playing a very slow, difficult tune!

If you have some good, time-tested dexterity exercise, then give them several weeks of repeated playing. We do that for death-grip problems. We tell students to play slow, open exercises, scales, and no tunes, for a few weeks. But I am sure there are some differences with all those keys.
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Old 02-12-2012, 12:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David of Galilee View Post
Piobaireachd--more or less pronounced "pee-brokh"--is the medival/early modern music for the Highland pipes. It is a theme, and stylised variations on a theme, some very complicated. Then finish off with a return to the opening theme. A classical piobaireachd can take anywhere up to 20-30 minutes to perform fully, and yes, is the supreme test of the Highland piper. These old tunes are what the Clans gathered to, and the Union of the English and Scottish parliaments, what Scottish Highlanders in the new British army rallied around in the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimea, India, WWI. Not the modern 2/4 or 6/8 quick marches. Imagine stepping out of the classic British Square formation at Waterloo, and playing a very slow, difficult tune!

If you have some good, time-tested dexterity exercise, then give them several weeks of repeated playing. We do that for death-grip problems. We tell students to play slow, open exercises, scales, and no tunes, for a few weeks. But I am sure there are some differences with all those keys.
I always tried to keep my head down in Vietnam but I somehow managed to be situations where I would get a few bullets and rockets wizzing by me....at times it was a depends moment. Its kinda how I view what your saying about the "stepping out of the classic British Square formation at Waterloo, and playing a very slow, difficult tune". Talk about dicipline!

In time my shoulder injury and thumb will heal up just find. I have a squishy(sp)ball to work my fingers and light weights for shoulder. I think I just over did it. I was working on the Braveheart theme, Paddys Green Shamrock Shore and Frankies Lament. With Braveheart I was learning to bend some notes and practicing finger vibrato just before I blew my shoulder out. It will mend and I'll be off again.
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