and some of me friends’ tunes
Julian Goodacre


This is more than just a tune book! Julian should need no introduction to readers of this Journal as a musician, pipemaker, philosopher and man about town. As someone who received a school report which stated that I should learn to speak properly and for example use the word ‘my’ not ‘me’, I was immediately taken by the use of the word ‘me’ in the title to this tune book. Upon opening the pages it becomes immediately apparent that this is no ordinary tune book but charts Julian’s personal life, musical journey and musings on the creative process. As Julian admits, he is musically illiterate and has recorded his tunes in various ways for them to be transcribed by Pete Stewart, who deserves any amount of praise for not only doing this but compiling, editing and designing the finished book.
Altogether the book contains 236 tunes composed, or as he admits in some cases maybe thought he composed, along with an additional 56 tunes composed by friends and dedicated to him. The tunes themselves are generally playable on most instruments, in a variety of styles, many suitable for specific dances, in friendly keys and fit within the range of most bagpipes. What interests me are the stories attached to the tunes, the friendships, the events, the humour and the punning titles (Buttered Pete’s) that all make this a fascinating collection of music. There is so much to read that in some cases the tunes become incidental. As a reviewer I must confess to not having played all the tunes. However, those tunes I have tried sit well beneath the fingers and it is a collection which will always reward dipping into. The only criticism that I have is that some of the stave lines in the music are a bit indistinct but perhaps that is me ageing eyes!
The autobiographical sections are particularly illuminating – Julian’s family & partners, his time at Lauriston Hall, making tin whistles in Africa and various travels before becoming a pipemaker. In the introduction we learn of how tunes often appear to him fully formed, philosophising on the creative process, the approach to playing tunes and how to deal with the ‘Inner Critic’ which tries to undermine confidence in the tune that has been created,
It is invidious to only highlight some parts of the book, but I was particularly tickled by a set of tunes which make up the Trouser Quartet. Then there are the stories about the tradition of pipers’ ribbons, the wedding shoes and the Chrystal Theatre which his grandparents, in the early 20th century, created a puppet theatre with fully scripted performances that has survived to the present day. All this and more. It’s also educational – you can learn all about the techniques of painting by the Old Masters as revealed by David Hockney and why there were depictions of so many left-handed musicians.
Catchy tunes and so much interesting reading make this one of the most enjoyable books that has come my way. It should be of interest to musicians and non-musicians alike. A veritable tour de force of autobiography, education and humour with music. I can’t recommend it highly enough. This collection of music only includes compositions up to 2017 so unless Julian has been going through a particularly creative spell we may have to wait a year or two for the next volume. We also need to be told the story of the owl, which was left hanging on page 80!

Graham Dixon, Pathhead 10.10.19

Available from : Julian Goodacre, 4 Elcho Street, Peebles, Scotland, EH45 8LQ