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> Issue 52 > Page 49 - The Bagpipe in Cape Breton: From a Conversation with Barry Shears, Piper

Page 49 - The Bagpipe in Cape Breton: From a Conversation with Barry Shears, Piper

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1989/8/1 (213 reads)

tartan, which is really quite pure rubbish. (I notice that we keep coming back and we're talking about the military. And we're talking about it as a negative influence on what might have been an older--you're sug? gesting a richer--Cape Breton pipe tradi? tion. Am I correct about that?) Well, it's --see, there's different schools of thought. Other people say that the military really--if it wasn't for the military, the piping wouldn't have been kept up at all. So really, you accept a military tradition or really no tradition at all. The military, certainly--the advent of pipe bands--there's quite a lot to be said about that. There's something about a pipe band that still sort of makes the blood boil. If you listen to a really good pipe band. The problem with pipe bands, of course, is, for the more amateur pipe bands, you have to play to your weakest player. So, really, you have to simplify the tunes that the band plays. You can't embellish them like a solo player would. You're under the directorship of the pipe major, who sets the tempo, interpretation, phrasing. You have no musical freedom there whatsoever. I mean, if you had 12 pipers in a pipe band, and everybody was going to play their own style, it would just be a cacophany of sound. So again, the military, they don't want-- they've really discouraged any sort of personal expression when playing in a mil? itary situation. I mean, the military, by nature of the beast, has to constrict and conform everything to a uniform pattern. So, really, the music that bands are play? ing now, again, it's constricted, it's ad? justed to conform with what everybody else is going to play. And it's lost the spon? taneity and the robust nature. If you lis? ten to the fiddlers--that's the closest thing we have to what--unless we can lo? cate more of these old-style players--the fiddlers of the '30s, '40s, and '50s, like John Willie Campbell--piping has certainly had quite an influence on the style of fiddling. We have to listen to the way they broke the phrases up in a piece of music. And some of their tunes that they picked up, that were handed down from gen? eration to generation--they don't know the names, they don't know if they were a pipe tune or a fiddle tune. But we can take those, and we can dissect them, and make-- sometimes we have to make minute changes, other times they just fit perfect on the pipe scale. If we can listen to--any as? piring musician that wants to play Cape Breton music, they should listen to the old fiddlers. Or if they're fortunate enough to get a tape of one of the old pipers that's half-decent. (Describe that music more for me. I've got to somehow separate it from the military mu? sic.) Well, it's dance music. Military, the influence of military--they've takeh strathspeys and reels and sort of dragged them out, and adjusted the phrasing into DON'S FLOWERS Serving Port Hood, Judique, Inverness and Surrounding Areas p. O. Box 179, Port Hawkesbury, N. S. BOE 2V0 Telephone 625-2215 or 625-2717 539-4413 539-4415 "GOOD DEALS ON GOOD CARS!" Located on the Sydney - Glace Bay Highway 1/2 mile before U.C.C.B. y' 'mq OVERLOOKING SYDNEY HARBOUR Vistjiotel Imn Tel: (902) 539-6550 Toll Free: 1-800-565-9409 M 59 Units * Open Year Round Licensed Dining Room open 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. with Home-Styled Meals 140 Kings Road SYDNEY Nova Scotia BIP 6J9 islI i49
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