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  1. #1
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    Ten Years to the Day

    Today marks ten years since the passing of the great Pitlochry piper, composer and bin man, Gordon Duncan. When I first started getting into pipe music a few years ago, Gordon`s CDs were some of the first I came across. I had certainly never heard the pipes played like that. I have listened to many great pipers since, but Gordon has always remained my favorite. An awesome performer and a true innovator, his music never fails to lift my spirits. I am not a piper, or even a musician, so I would be very curious to know if any of the pipers here on the forum have any thoughts on the man, his music, and his legacy to the piping world.
    Thanks, Doug

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qurj6sSLigI
    Last edited by Dughlas mor; 14th December 15 at 11:12 AM.

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  3. #2
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    Piping

    I play Irish traditional music on the uilleann pipes and am not talented enough to play more than that but I do I listen to a wide variety of music. This includes Scottish traditional music and I frequently enjoy listening to the highland and border pipes and have had the pleasure of playing with several talented pipers. The smallpipes are lovely as well but don't intrigue me as much as the other two. Gordon Duncan was a brilliant musician and I continue to listen to his music from time to time.

    Regards,
    Jonathan
    Last edited by jthk; 15th December 15 at 05:49 AM. Reason: clarification due to poor English skills!

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  5. #3
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    I don't think it's overstating things to say that he revolutionized Scottish piping.

    Such a prolific composer, and many of his tunes are widely played or have even become standards in the Highland repertoire.

    Likewise his innovative techniques are widely imitated, and indeed necessary to play many of his tunes.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  7. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jthk View Post
    While I play Irish traditional music on the uilleann pipes I do not limit myself to that one genre.
    I do limit myself; I stick to uilleann pipe repertoire on the uilleann pipes and Highland pipe repertoire on the Highland pipes.

    I've heard uilleann pipers try to play several Highland pipe tunes like Clumsy Lover and they just don't work for me. Likewise I've heard many Highland pipers try to play uilleann tunes like The Gold Ring and come up far short.

    Seems to me that in various traditional musics there's a three-way synergy or interrelationship between tune, instrument, and performance practice; indeed the tunes were composed on a specific instrument by traditional players of that instrument and the idiosyncrasies of the instrument are built into the melodies. This is most true (it seems to me) of the bagpipes played in various traditions (the Bulgarian Gaida is an excellent example).
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  9. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post
    I do limit myself; I stick to uilleann pipe repertoire on the uilleann pipes and Highland pipe repertoire on the Highland pipes.

    I've heard uilleann pipers try to play several Highland pipe tunes like Clumsy Lover and they just don't work for me. Likewise I've heard many Highland pipers try to play uilleann tunes like The Gold Ring and come up far short.

    Seems to me that in various traditional musics there's a three-way synergy or interrelationship between tune, instrument, and performance practice; indeed the tunes were composed on a specific instrument by traditional players of that instrument and the idiosyncrasies of the instrument are built into the melodies. This is most true (it seems to me) of the bagpipes played in various traditions (the Bulgarian Gaida is an excellent example).
    I clarified my original post.

    I'm not skilled enough to play other genre of music on my pipes but I have had the very fortunate experience of hearing much more skilled pipers play a variety of music on their instruments. As a general statement, I do agree with Richard but would add that -- in my worldview -- reality is usually more complex. For example, I have heard several uilleann pipers play Scottish tunes and some Scottish pipers play Irish tunes to great acclaim and while the execution was innately different than the native instrument, the music was still fantastic and a joy to hear.

    Does anyone have a favourite clip or tune from Gordon Duncan that they'd like to share?

    Regards,
    Jonathan

  10. #6
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    Here is one I just came across, "The High Drive," with banjo back up.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gY6oHQHyN-8

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  12. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dughlas mor View Post
    Here is one I just came across, "The High Drive," with banjo back up.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gY6oHQHyN-8
    That's a nice clip there although I could do without the guitar player. There's a piper in Vermont, Tim Cummings, who has a recording with him playing with the fantastic banjo player Pete Sutherland. http://www.birchenmusic.com/piper-in-holler.html. I like the contrasting sounds of pipes and banjo, personally, although I realize it's not everyone's thing.

    And then there's this ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlTxTCxgG7g from the Piping Centre in Glasgow in 2003.

    Regards,
    Jonathan

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  14. #8
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    To me, traditional musics sound best on the instruments on which the music was composed and transmitted.

    While it's interesting to hear musicians of one tradition dabbling in the music of another, on a instrument not part of the other tradition, to me it utterly lacks the gravitas and emotive content of the actual tradition, and strikes me as little more than a novelty.

    For this example, a tune from my native State being playing as well as possible, by wonderful players, on the uilleann and Lowland pipes

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsgndkJ9p20

    Sounds OK until you hear it on the sort of instruments it's traditionally played on... then you hear the vast amount which has been lost in translation from an instrument native to the tradition, to instruments which are not

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGNOJ9-Biws

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkgfBj2ztk8

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRvwMrucntI

    This is cool, because you have everything: instrumental, vocal, and dance

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJBYHr3MGSk

    Here is the source player, Eddin Hammons of West Virginia (recorded as a very old man on a borrowed fiddle)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHJbZr_zMj0
    Last edited by OC Richard; 16th December 15 at 08:33 PM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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