In the above score, the B’s with the fermatas that conclude the first doubled bar line unit is a good example of dwelling on a note others would treat as a link.

A second example of this trend is “The Prince’s Salute” shown below. This approximates the timing of William Barrie from the recording “Ancient Piobaireachd, Volume IV”.


The phrase ending D’s marked with an asterisk are often interpreted at link notes, but playing them as phrase endings is a perfectly Cameron touch.

13. The use of these dissonant notes and singing notes as phrase endings leads to one of the most recognizable characteristics of the Cameron style interpretation: fewer link notes.

The Cameron trained performer has no interest in confining a given number of pulses or beats within each structural phrase or bar. The phrase can end where is seems to make the most artistic impact. This creates interpretive possibilities. Many notes that others may treat as bridges or links, a Cameron stylist draws out and makes into a phrase ending. “The Princes Salute” case is a good example of this. Often the notes chosen to close a passage or phrase are ones of dissonance or one of the singing notes

The distinct interpretations that Cameron pipers offer are often the result of a different understanding of what constitutes a musical phrase, combined with a delight in the character of each note of the chanter scale. The result is a music that maximizes the unique tonal qualities of the Great Highland Bagpipe.


14. The Cameron stylist looks at the introductory E in a manner seemingly at odds with contemporary understandings.

Connell impressed on me that these E’s are introductions. While often erroneously called “cadences” or “cadential E’s” or “E cadences” a cadence is something quite different. See below.

In modern printed scores these E’s are usually portrayed as a gracenote size of eighth note duration (quaver). This is represented below in the first line of the ground “Praise of Marion” set to suggest the presentation in the “Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor”:


The actual duration of these introductory E’s can vary based on context and convention, but their essential nature as an embellishment is usually correctly conveyed by the published texts, with one exception. That one exception is the E of the hiharin movement as conventionally written in the Piobaireachd Society books and the Kilberry book.

The fifth phrase that begins the second line shown above depicts the E as a melody note. Properly speaking it is an introductory E like all the others in the line, technically not part of the tune’s “tone row”. That motif would be more properly rendered with the E gracenote size with its stem pointed up as in the first edition of Volume One of the Piobaireachd Society collection that is shown here:

In my experience, the even timing of E and low A as suggested by the Kilberry book was not desirable. In keeping with its embellishment status, in this motif the emphasis was usually, if subtly, on the low A.

Though these E introductions were perhaps at one time discretionary, practice through the 19th century has firmly established where they need occur. They have become a standardized feature of accepted settings of all tunes. We may not know why the collective wisdom of several generations has settled on introductory E’s where they exist, but as performers we must reckon with them.

The introductory E’s function two ways within a tune.
1. On one level they act simply as bridges or link notes between musical ideas. The very existence of that bridge however implies that there is something distinct or important about the two sections that are being linked.

2. More importantly, every introductory E marks the beginning of some melodic unit that is worthy of having attention drawn to it or is distinct enough to warrant a bridge. The introduction marks a beginning of something of musical importance; it also adds its own aural weight to the following bit of melody.

If the introductory E marks a beginning, there are three options for what comes before it:
1. silence (if the introductory E begins a tune)

2. the note before an introductory E may be the last note of the previous phrase or passage. If that is the case, then that note as a phrase ending must be lengthened or resolved. Without that resolution there would be no need for the bridging effect of the introductory E and no need to aurally prepare for the upcoming phrase.

3. sometimes the note before an introductory E is itself a bridge or linking note. This note ties a previous phrase into the introduction of the subsequent one. A rhythmic double linkage is created. The note before the linking note needs a resolution.

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