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Performance

For A' That

I had a vague plan to post here my haggis-piping yesterday - but, perhaps fortunately, the video is 'a' weed awa''. However, playing through 'A Man's A Man for A' That' in preparation, a thought occurred to me that has survived.

It's something that is so obvious that I hadn't considered including it here, but thinking about various 'settings' of tunes, and the manner in which each setting in highland collections is 'graced', lead me to realise something that rarely gets acknowledged - that a lowland piper need not be bound by these settings - each time through 'A Man's A Man' I played it differently - some ways struck me as better than others, true, but nevertheless, each time through the tune was slightly different. I don't mean variations of the sort included in, say, Riddell's collection, or Dixon's; I mean variations in gracing, in timing and so on. The tune is, of course, a song, and so lends itself, demands almost, a different sense for each verse, but there is no reason why a similar approach should not be adopted for a dance tune.
So, in  Blanche's tune, for instance, we don't need to decide whether we are going to play some of the groups of three quavers evenly or with the first dotted and the second e semi-quaver-= we can do it one way the first time through, the other way the next. Even in such s simple choice the possibilities soon mulitply. Now this is probably something a dance musician does without thinking, but once you start learning 'settings' with gracings written in, you also start restricting the possibilities...

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