Through the Debateable Lands

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I see the last entry here was in March. It has been a very eventful year, starting around that time, with workshopd and presentations, festival shows, two issues of Common Stock, a trip to the USA to give workshops on both sides of the country and back for lexctures at the Ntionl Piping Centre, and ending with the collapse of my hard-drive last wednesday.

Another fascinating weekend i spent at new Lanark, four days of workhops on composition organized by Distil.

The result of this has been the beginnings of an extended compostion for smallpipes/harp and string quintet. The working title 'Throug the Debateable Lands' is taken from Norman MacCaig's poem 'Crossing the Border'. The basic concept is to evoke the border lands as they were in the eraly years of James VI, using as thematic materilal a few tunes from the area/era, esdpecially the original border air of 'The Twa Corbies'. More about this soon I hope, as well as news of a pilot one-day workshop in Edinburgh in early April next year...

Distractions, distractions

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Just in case you thought this blog was completed deceased I thought I'd better add a post, just to say I am yet again distracted, first by updgrading the website, then by upcoming presentations , to the International Bagpipe Conference on March 9th and then a workshop at the Bagpipe Society Blowout at the end of May, not to metnion the LBPS competitin. However, I have been listening again to some recordings I made a while back of tunes from Henry Atkinson's fiddle manuscript and from William Dixon's book. Hopefully I will get a moment to post about these soon...

pushing the envelope

Just a quick post here since there's been a rather extended gap. I've spent the last couple of weeks tuning the fiddle up again, for the first time for quite a while, preparing for an extraordinary weekend playing with Callum Armstrong, culminating in a performance at last Saturday's Annual Collogue in Edinburgh. Callum and I spent a day at Julian Goodacre's house in Peebles working on three tunes, two from William Dixon's manuscript and one of Callum's own tunes. The Dixon tunes were 'My Love Comes Passing By Me' and 'Gingling Geordie' [a tune which appears in several other collectins, including Playford's 'Original Scots Tunes']. However, Callum is such an inventive and adventurous [as well as exemely talented] musician that things were never going to be that simple. Some of the results will soon be available elsewhere on the site, but I have to say that there were moments during our day of practice where things happened that were unlikely to happen again, hence my remark on Saturday that 'you should have been here lastg night'. To sit down with a player like Callum [he is a student of baroque recorder at Trinity College, London] with only an outline plan for how the performance might proceed, and the knowledge that anything might happen in the next few bars, is likely sometimes to produce spectacular resutls, but is also just as likely to prove less than successful; either way it was a trully exciting experience for me; I hope it was, at least some of the time, for those in the audience on Saturday.

Piping LIve!

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There's been a bit of an interruption in this blog, due entirely to the invitation I received from Hamish Moore to play at the LBPS evening at the Festival Club during Glasgow's Piping Live! week [that leads up to the World Pipe Band Championships]. I've spent the past several weeks working pretty determinedly on several sets of tunes, chosen in an attempt to cover as many of the various tune-forme and rhythms that form the foundation of the Lowland piping repertoire. The plan now is to cover these forms and review how that intensive practice period developed my understnding. Meanwhile, here's the only record I have of that event:

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An introduction

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Lowland Amusement is one piper's contribution to the furtherance of the music of the Scottish lowland and border regions.