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There have been comments on


the formation of pipe bands when they form a circle, notably in this august magazine. Maybe pipers are happier facing inwards as they can keep an eye on the fingers of their colleagues.Thankfully they do not do that at concerts. The pipers are required to be more self-reliant and maybe learn the tunes properly. Indoor performances by bands


presents a sound/volume issue – it is wise to wear ear defenders. It is understandable that all members of the performing bands want to take part and the pipe majors and leading drummers will be sympathetic to this, but it can lead to an enormous number of personnel on stage at the same time and any imbalance in sound affects


the audience


enjoyment. Compere for the event was James


Campbell, a past member of Bucksburn, and a Glasgow-based adjudicator for the RSPBA. The concert commenced and the


start was atmospheric with a background orchestral arrangement of music. There was an overhead screen at the rear of the stage and depictions of pipe band competition performances were


shown


throughout the concert.This added a bit of colour and interest. Bucksie, the local name for the Bucksburn band, played six sets of tunes. Some of those tunes were familiar to me; others less so. They were occasionally accompanied by other instruments. It seems normal for pipe bands now to create arrangements with altered time signatures and bits of tunes. This can be effective, but occasionally I have to


41


admit to wondering what was going on, as the main melody was lost to me. The acoustic may have added to this as there was a great deal of echo in the hall. Some of the arrangements were attributed to the pipe band members. This obviously motivates interest within the ranks. Sound and technique is the currency spoken of in various terms. Not surprisingly then that


the


participating pipe bands had their competition sets in their concert programme. The junior pipe band joined the senior band for a session and the stage was well filled. Bucksie competes in the very


competitive RSPBA Grade 2.There is a significant difference between Grade 1 and Grade 2. The sound produced by the first is more cultured and fingering is probably better.Why? Is it simply practice? I feel fairly strongly that it is mainly due to the attention they give to the basics such as good finger and blowing technique. Bagpipe set-up obviously plays a big part too. The Bucksburn band does play well but there are ragged aspects to their playing. I don’t know what terms the adjudicators at pipe band competitions use, but clearer definition of embellishments and greater attention to blowing technique may sharpen up their playing. Of course this requires practice and there is no escaping that. Good teaching – and I am sure the band is getting that- is therefore essential. The Bucksburn Pipe Band have a youth policy and this is to be commended. It has well taught individuals who can play solo. I would suggest that teaching young persons


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