page 3

JOHNNY D's HOME - A first selection of dances and other piping tunes for Leicestershire Smallpipes, etc.

by John Goodacre ISBN 0 907772 269

Published by John Goodacre, The White House, Ashby Parva, Leicestershire LEI7 SHY.

First the facts. This book (suitably sized for carrying along with the pipes) has 24 tunes. 5 Jigs; 3 Waltzes; 3 Scotch Tunes; a couple of Polkas, a Hornpipe and ten other assorted.  

It is available from John at the above address, or from his brother Julian. Price £4.00. All the tunes, with one exception, are written as though in the key of G or D.

The exception is THE KINGFISHER, a Slow Air in A. Which means that those of us who cannot tread ‘conventional’ music will have to transpose them into Highland Pipe notation - except for the ‘Scotch’ tunes (as one would expect) and the ARTUSI POLKA which may be played as though written in piping notation.

Most of the tunes are within the range of an un-keyed chanter (though the Scottish scale with its flattened 7th causes a few problems - but more of that in a moment). The 2 exceptions are JOHNNY D’s WALTZ; and GOODACRE'’S SALUTE TO LAURIESTON HALL THIRD MUSIC FESTIVAL. (Try saying that in one breath!).

Now for that irksome lead note - the 7th. Some 8 tunes rely rather heavily on either the lower of top lead note being sharp. Without having a bead to allow the sound holes to be altered on the chanter (now there's an idea for some progressive pipemaker!), the lower lead note cannot be sharpened - and neither can the 7th. However some of these tunes can be successfully ‘bodged’ by using a grip, or moving to E instead of low G (and I speak in Scottish piping terms, as if every chanter were pitched in the key of A).

There are some very pretty tunes. There are some foreign-sounding tunes. There are some habit-forming tunes, My favourite (at the time of writing) is the ARTUSI POLKA; a jolly piece with its own harmony.

If I have a criticism it is that with several of the tunes the "shape" of the B part does not seem to quite match the shape of the A. By this I mean that having played, say, almost nothing but quavers in the A part, you may suddenly be faced with almost all crotchets in the B part. But this complaint is really only about cosmetics. Once the eye has overcome the disturbance and the tune is played, the melody itself is fine.

Also - and rather as an aside - tune number 23, BOGGY BRAYS, sounds quite well if played with a C natural instead of C sharp. And while on the nit-picking trail watch out for the 6th bar of THE FIRST FROST. Two of those crotchets should be quavers.