On the other hand , William Barrie prefers an introduction to “The Bells of Perth” like Reid’s version of “MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart”, i.e. with an extended introductory E and a shortened low G. Exploring with these introductory E’s, lengthening them, shortening them, introducing variety seem characteristic of the Cameron influenced players.
Another case of deviation from first principle that takes on a rule like quality is in the motif gE dB lowGdC D (introductory E to B followed by a D throw). The Cameron influenced piper will often extend the introductory E; that extended E takes duration from the following B. The rhythm becomes Long - Short - Long, sometimes Even - Even - Long. Below is the motif as commonly presented and conventionally played. Then the Cameron presentation:
By analogy a similar rhythm may be employed in other motifs where the introductory E graces a lower note which is then followed by a grip or throw to a note of the same pitch or higher up the pipe scale. Campbell remarks on this (1984, page 34) but seems to restrict the application to motifs with embellishments from B.
To summarize, one may recognize a Cameron influenced piper by the following characteristics:
-- fluidity of expression, severely cut notes are rare
-- consistency of interpretation
-- emphasis on lower notes of the chanter that are often employed as phrase endings
-- second strike of double echo embellishments given good weight
-- use of the so-called ‘light’ D-throw
-- fewer link or bridging notes
-- Donald Mor rundowns often played as tumble down motifs
-- redundant A movements
-- low G taorluaths and crunluaths per MacKay’s book
-- simple two note cadences are usually timed evenly in the variations
-- a pre-cadence pause before an introductory E in the crunlutath variations (at least)
-- most taroluath breabachs and siubhal variations are played “up the way”
-- flexible phrasing of “pendulum variations”, perhaps phrasing notes in groups of four or eight crunluath breabachs mostly to be even timed or very nearly so; some variety in expression among different pipers and tune to tune; good weight to the low A of the “kick” is characteristic.
-- use of an a mach to conclude fosgailte tunes
-- crunluath a mach may be played in two time signatures
-- generally introductory E’s are thought of as embellishments, not melody notes; introductory E of the piobaireachd birl movement often shorter than the low A melody note; in certain stereotyped contexts introductory E’s may be lengthened at the expense of the following note
-- low A’s accented with a low G gracenote are rarely shortened especially if they conclude a cadence phrase.
Not all of these characteristics are equally diagnostic.
Not all are found in any one piper’s performance style.
Some would be rejected by one or more of my informants.
There are modern pipers with no Cameron claim or interest who adopt some of these traits. They are, in many cases, still part of the collective performance culture.
Even with the above caveats, and recognizing that a performance style is more than a collection of “quirks”, familiarity with the features discussed above will go a fair way toward recognizing the Cameron influenced performance and this sets the stage for Part Three.
References cited in Parts One and Two:
Campbell, Archibald. 1948. The Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor. John Smith and Son, Ltd. Glasgow, Scotland.
Campbell, James (ed.) 1984. Sidelights on the Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor. The Piobaireachd Society, publisher.
MacIntosh, James. 1997. “Schools of Thought” in The Voice, Fall, 1997, pages 14-15.
MacKay, Angus. 1972 (original 1838). A Collection of Ancient Piobaireachd or Highland Pipe Music. E. P. Publishing Ltd., East Ardsley, England.
MacNeill, Seumas. 2008. Masters of Piping. The College of Piping, Glasgow, Scotland.
MacNeill, Seumas and Frank Richardson. 1987. Piobaireachd and its Interpretation. John Donald Publishers, Ltd., Edinburgh.
Thomason, C. S. 1975 (original circa 1890). Ceol Mor. E. P. Publishing Ltd., East Ardsley, England.
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