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This book of session tunes, compiled by Jock Agnew for the Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society, is a convenient size with a spiral binding which opens flat or can be propped up. The music ranges from traditional Highland pipe tunes to the Lowland and smallpipe reper- toire, including Burns and Dixon. All are graded easy, medium or hard, but none are rated more than medium hard.

All the music is written for the smallpipes in ‘A’ with chords for other instruments, but with no grace notes which are quite rightly left to the player. One of the tunes Leaving Lewis, is set for both ‘A’ and ‘D’ smallpipes, and two of the tunes Chevy Chase and Mary Scott, have harmonies. Although most of the tunes are well-known, it would have been helpful to have indicated the type of tune such as slow air, march, reel etc. Also, with a number of smallpipes having a key for high ‘B’, there is a place for showing where this note could be played, such as the second part of The Mill Mill O

However these are minor quibbles for a book which is a welcome addition to the grow- ing body of music for Scottish smallpipes, which are becoming increasingly popular for playing with other instruments. This user-friendly book is very reasonably priced [£4.50 members, £6.50 non members + 50p postage surface mail] and would fit into any pipe box. It would be a boon to anyone who takes their smallpipes along to a session.

David Hannay



GATHERING OF THE CLANS Vol 2. A collection of music, photographs and historical essays. Compiled & collected by Barry Shears

These 130+ tunes were, it must be remembered, composed and notated for the Highland bagpipes - which presents no problem to the players of Scottish smallpipes and Border pipes.

The historical essays include some fascinating vignettes on both well-known and not so well-known pipers who have contributed to the musical traditions that live on in Nova Scotia. Then follows 77 pages of music after .which there are 9 pages of notes on the tunes, (though it would have been helpful to have had the page numbers of those tunes immedi- ately alongside).

Of the 130 tunes, some 56 are marked “traditional”, and most of these are arranged by Barry Shears. The majority are great to play, particularly on Border pipes, but I would spe- cially recommend you try the strathspey Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk, a lovely ar- rangement of that tune, If I had a wife of my own, the only 9/8 jig, and Farewell to the Creeks as a 6/8 jig.

The gracings, while appearing to be set for Highland pipes, in most cases also work well for smallpipes. Only about a dozen tunes use grips and toarluaths, and while some of them are rather heavy on the ‘G’ grace note, they can usually be ‘adjusted’ by the smallpipe player


(to an ‘E’ or ‘D’) if they become too intrusive.

The marches are mostly, in my opinion, best suited to being played on the big pipes, as is of course the one Piobaireachd - Failte Mhorar Bherisdale. But this leaves 46 reels, 30 jigs, 22 strathspeys, 6 hornpipes and 11 airs and waltzes for the small-pipe player to get his or her teeth into.

Although the reel Oran Na Teine has a tantalising reference to “Melody traditional, Words by Am Bard Ruadh”, no words could I discover! And occasionally I found that I recognised the tune, but not its title. For instance the jig The Leg of the Duck I first played as a 6/8 march from William Ross’s 1885 collection, where it is called Boddach­a­lander.

One tune - J Scott Skinner’s Hector the Hero ­ has seconds printed alongside, and al- though I couldn’t (naturally) play melody and seconds together, it does appear to have been treated in the usual pipe band style, i.e. note for note harmony.

Now I have mentioned mostly traditional melodies up to this point, but there are some really nice contemporary ones. As a taster it is well worth playing Barry Shears’ Aunt Maes Reel, and John Daily’s Biodag Chalein. I have marked many more that I intend to return to - let me just mention Brenda Stubbert’s lament The Longest Night which is really haunting.

This book is rich in music and reminiscences. I could go on, but best you obtain a copy for yourself - you wont regret it.

Jock Agnew