Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 52 > Page 51 - The Bagpipe in Cape Breton: From a Conversation with Barry Shears, Piper

Page 51 - The Bagpipe in Cape Breton: From a Conversation with Barry Shears, Piper

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1989/8/1 (625 reads)

strathspeys and reels. But again, that's basically an army invention. When I talk dancing, I talk stepdancing. Because that is a traditional form. And certainly pipers used to play for dancers quite a bit of the time. A friend of mine in Grand River told me a story about being down in Boston in the '20s, when they used to have Highland Games down there. They'd have a section of the field set aside for the Cape Bretoners to go, and have a few drinks, and a few fights. And they would bring pipers down from Cape Breton, or one or two pipers, to play for the square sets. They would have solo stepdancers. Arthur Severance talks about the Burnt Piper, "Burnt" John MacKinnon. (See "Art Severance Remembers 'Burnt' John" in Issue 47 of CAPE BRETON'S MAGAZINE.) The after? noon he went to see him in Inverness, there was a picnic. And the Burnt Piper was playing for solo stepdancers, strath? speys and reels. Just like a fiddler would today. And then when they were finished, he'd just go right into playing for square sets. Neil R. Maclsaac from Ben Eoin did the same thing. (See Joe Neil MacNeil's talk in "Stories Told about the Bagpipes" in Issue 5 0 of CAPE BRETON'S >fAGAZINE.) (Dan Rory MacDougall--Mike would stepdance to Dan Rory's pipes.) Yes. And Danny Mac? lntyre, a piper in Sydney--he'd be related to those Maclntyres from the French Road-- his father Joe Hughie played for dancers, and Danny's sisters stepdanced to pipe mu? sic. That's what they were used to. They had fiddlers in the family as well. Duncan Maclntyre was a fiddler and a piper. And at one time in the French Road, that's what they would do, at a house party, they would pass a set of pipes from individual to individual, right around the room. And if you couldn't play anything on it, you'd certainly give them a hook and try some. Uoyd MacPonaM NISSAN immi Our 30th Year 124 KINGS ROAD SYDNEY RIVER Toll Free 1-800-565-9427 20 CAR SHOWROOM I don't profess to try to get the bagpipe back into the living room. But I want to get more people involved in actual musical pres? entation on the bagpipe. And you can have both, you can have the best of both worlds. You can be a good competitive player, and yet still play some dance music. (I am unaware of a single tape or record that I could go to to listen to non- military solo bagpipe. Cape Breton bagpipe, playing strathspeys, reels, hornpipes, in a way that I would listen to fiddlers. Am I correct, that it just doesn't seem to ex? ist?) It doesn't exist.... I'm certainly not advocating everybody go? ing back to 19th-century fingering tech? niques. Because I feel what we do have now, what we have come in from Scotland--we're playing with other pipers in the world. I mean, it's a world-wide system. It's stan? dardized. That's all well and good. And for a piper that wants to play in competition or play in pipe bands, and maybe wants to pursue some dance music on the side--Cape Breton dance music--that's good. You can still play all those embellishments in dance music. But we have to get back to the actual music, the actual rhythmic struc? ture. The emphasis on which phrases get the most expression. That's what I'd like to see happen. But I'm really not advocating going back to that old style. (Do you play for dances?) It's something I'm striving for. I've retired from compet? itive piping, because I want to sort of let my musical interpretations go wild. At the ceremony for the Colloden veterans at Knoy- The Violin Shop ' Johannes Sturm Violinmaker/repairer Quality Repairs to String Instruments Custom Work Bow Rehairing New and Used Instruments Strings Accessories For information or appointment, call (902) 345-2883 R. R. 1, Grand Anse, Richmond County, N. S. BOE 1V0 • 89 Pathfinder 4x4 NOW IN STOCK Oceanside Assistance Group Limited Providing Small Business Development Assistance Renwick Place 17ConfimercialSt. Glace Bay, N. S. B1A3B9 Tel. 849-0544 DRUG STORES MAYFLOWER MALL - Grand Lake Road - 539-5080 CAPE BRETON SHOPPING PLAZA - Sydney River - 564-8151 15 % DISCOUNT TO SENIORS LAST THURSDAY EACH MONTH Free Delivery in the Sydney Area
Cape Breton's Magazine
  View this article in PDF format Print article

Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to the PDF version of this content. Click here to download and install the Acrobat plugin
Acrobat Reader Download