Cape Breton's Magazine

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

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

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1989/8/1 (234 reads)

dart a couple of months ago, I played (near) the end of the concert. I was quite pleased to see 14 or 15 people get up and go through the third fig? ure of a set for reels. I sat down and played, which is something I don't normally do. I've always stood up and played. But there's a few of the old pipers around that say you can't get the timing, you have to sit down and beat out the syncopated time. Much the same way the fiddlers do. That's where you get the rhythmic structure and the drive.... (It just seems clear to me, as a real outsider--just someone with ears, I play no instrument--that thel battlefield for the preservation of | the pipes is the dance hall, is the | home, is the casual party situation.! We're saying that the music once was! alive there and worked there.) Yes. (And didn't drive people out of the house. And the question is, can it regain that posi? tion? And it sounds to me like that's the job of the modern caring piper.) It is.... Yeah, certainly that's what I'd like to see. Again, I'm at a loss of how to go about it. Myself, I was fortunate enough to marry into a family in Antigonish that have stepdancers, and I play--I'm constantly asking advice from my mother-in-law and several of my aunts and my wife's sister. "Is this a good tempo? Can you dance to that?" "Yeah, I can dance to that." And I've had one person, a piano player in An? tigonish, remark that I could play' for a square set or I could play for a dance, I'm good enough to play for a dance. And that's what I'm striving for. You know, I've done the competitive scene locally. Six times winner of the Professional Piping Award in Nova Scotia, the last four years in a row. But there's something missing there. I mean, I've never touted myself as the best in the world or anything. But I like music, and I want to get back--I'm a Cape Breton- Breton Energy Ltd. er, first and foremost, and I'd like to get back to that style of playing. I'm trying to strike a middle of the road, happy medium--combining the current fin? gering techniques and the current scale of the bagpipe with what had gone on before. I think there's a place for our music. Which is another reason why I'm working on a col? lection of pipe music. To make available to some people in the province that are inter? ested in that, that have a similar inter? est, some of the tunes that I've managed to collect over the last 4 or 5 years. 34 Johnstone Street SYDNEY 539-4949 Barry Shears is working on a book called Cedl Piob as Alba Nuadh (Pipe Music from Nova Scotia). He would like to hear from anyone who has old pipe tunes, recordings, or manuscripts. Write to him at 6556 Cork street, Halifax, N. S. B3L 1Z7. Barry got the photos of Stephen B. MacNeil from Fr. Ray MacDonald, Heatherton; John Jamieson from his grandson Neil Stewart; and the three pipers from John and Patsy Gibson, Judique. The portion of the Gaelic song "Cumha" is from Smeorach: Smeorach nan Cnoc 's nan Gleann. Our thanks to Dr. Charles W. Dunn for permission to use his English transla? tion of "Cumha," taken from his splendid book Highland Settler: A Portrait of the Scottish Gael in Nova Scotia. Barry Shears plays the bagpipe he got from Art Severance of Fourchu. onnie Beverage Room Home of Scottish Hospitality REEVES ST. 562-4484 jflora's; Home Coolced Meals Steaks a Specialty SYDNEY
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