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> Issue 52 > Page 41 - The Bagpipe in Cape Breton: From a Conversation with Barry Shears, Piper

Page 41 - The Bagpipe in Cape Breton: From a Conversation with Barry Shears, Piper

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1989/8/1 (261 reads)

researched those because they're fairly easy to find. Certainly the military pip? ers at the time of the Napoleonic Wars wouldn't have played marches. Because this was quite prior to the advent, or the in? vention, of pipe bands. They would play pibroch (piobaireachd), which is classical pipe music. Your average tune runs any? where from 10 to 12 minutes long. We have some tunes--pibroch--that go over the 20- minute mark. They're really the classical music of the bagpipe. See, in Scotland at one time they had col? leges for the teaching of piping. And the • piper was really on the right hand--he was the right-hand man for the clan chief. He usurped the harper, who used to be at one time the preferential musician in the courts of Scotland, or the clan courts. The bagpipe around 1650 sort of ousted the harp and became the favoured instrument. A lot of the tunes, of which we have approx? imately 250 surviving pibroch--there*s 4 types. There's salutes, laments, marches, and gathering tunes. And each one, each particular clan would have a separate tune associated with it. Like the Camerons used to use a pibroch of Donald Dubh, which is a pibroch approximately 9 1/2, 10 minutes in duration. And it's very warlike. Pibroch itself is quite similar to the Italian rondd, and there is some specula? tion that the MacCrimmons, who are given a great deal of credit for perfecting this style of music, actually came from Cremo? na, in Italy, which would make a lot of sense. Because this resembles a rondd, where you have a theme, or a ground--or an Orlar they call it in Gaelic--and then a series of variations increasing in com? plexity and speed, finishing up with a crOn luath, or a crown of dexterity, which in some cases involves 13 or 14 grace notes to get to the theme note. That's the type of music, plus dance music. I've talked, and I've read articles from people in Scotland, and they keep telling us that pibroch really was the only type of music ever played at that time, and anybody that played pibroch considered the light Best selection of i * || ' hooked rugs "Hfeli''! - Demonstration of rug hooking by Flora - Rugs made by over 100 local craft ladies ='r Hooked Rugs • Coasters • Wall hangings • Rugs Other Hand Crafts Quality . souvenirs Celebrating 25 years of service to the Tourist industry I OPEN DAILY music, or strathspeys and reels--or cedl beag, they call it in Gaelic--"little mu? sic" --quite inferior. I don't think that was as true as (they say), or as authenti? cated. Certainly you did have pibroch players who played light music, and indeed, composed light music. We've located a tune called "The Grey Old Lady of Raasay," (which is) attributed to Ian Dall MacKay, who is the Blind Piper. And his family were pipers to the MacKenzies of Gairloch. His father was a harper and a piper, Rory Mac? Kay. And in fact, Ian Dall's grandson emi? grated to Pictou County in 1805. And appar? ently he came to Pictou County with more pibroch than was ever left in the entirety of Scotland. So. There's some examples of small music that his father had composed. And the gentleman that came to Pictou County, he had one son that excelled in the light music and didn't really bother that much with pibroch. There were several hereditary pipers that came from Scotland after the collapse of the clan system. They immigrated around the 1800s. When they came over here they were taken from a position of prominence--and they were very well-to- do. Then all of a sud? den they were thrown on | the shores of Nova Sco? tia and they were just thrown the lot of every I other settler that came | here, of clearing the land, building a shel? ter for their family. There are some poems that date back to that time. The Tiree bard, John MacLean, wrote one | poem, and he lamented that he had no time for his poetry. He could hardly wait till his sons were old enough to I help around the farm so I he could devote more time to this pleasure. Because he had been a CAPE BRETON REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY TRANSIT INFO 539-8124 539-8129 PEOPLE ON - THE MOVE
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