It's a great shame that fantastic melodies like this are not heard in the top flight band contests simply becuuase they are 'only' 4-parters. So many good tunes are not seeing the light of day, and played by brilliant ensembles, for fear of this simple perception that its some sort of inadequacy. I'd suggest a band that demonstrates quality with this tune (and other great 4-parters like it) could easily polish-off a 6-parter as well. So, instead we grow tired of hearing what are great tunes in their own right (but are now done to death) e.g. Donald Cameron, Highland Wedding, Clan MacCrae, Links of Forth etc. A great pity.
Some things about this tune really irk me. The fact that it celebrates the RSPS irritates me quite a bit,- heavens above, men are welcomed in to Knitting Bees nowadays and Women are winning Gold Medals for Piping. It annoys me that I would be denied entry to anything purely because of being a woman.It's a reason why I wish he'd called it after a loch or a mountain somewhere. Then into the tune itself, and it doesn't sit comfortably for me, anywhere, in terms of keys or modes or tonality. Obviously there's some kind of E thing going on. As there are no C(#s) in it at all and the F(#s) are just passing notes, you could say ok its a minor pentatonic on E. But for some reason, that doesn't entirely sit right. I think its all the predominance of As, and when I was harmonising it to try and get a feel for it, the inclination to use C naturals in C chords, before the G chords- there's a strong G maj presence too. All this says to me it doesn't really sit easily in a set place. It's annoying me that I don't know more about the composer to know whether he himself felt any of this. So while the jury's still out, I prefer to leave it open as E minor, and wait for more evidence. One thing I always think about good or even great music, is that it should communicate something to the player or the listener, stir something, say something, make the person feel something. This tune certainly does that, the more you look at it and hear it/play it, so in that way, it surely stands out from the crowd a bit. I've ended up really liking the tune, which irks me slightly. I think Roderick Campbell must have been quite a fascinating character. I too love this series and look forward to each new tune. Thank you Jim and pipes|drums.
Thanks, Jim. It strikes me that Campbell's tunes are heavy, dark even. There's not a lot of lightness or brightness to them. They're not easy listening so not easy playing. I think maybe that's one reason people don't play them more. There's a vibe in say, Edinburgh City Police PB, that is grumbly in the extreme - to my ear (see bars 3, 4, pt 1 for example). When a piper is prepping for the boards and needs countless reps of tunes I think tunes higher on the cheery scale tend to make the final repertoire cut. I don't know what his best tune is but Cecily R is my favourite.
Tenor drummers: When composing rhythmical passages in a tenor drum score, don't just think about replicating the accented phrases within the snare score, but give equal consideration towhat is happening in the melody. Question your composition. For example, if a triplet occurs in the snare score,check if that triplet exists in the melody. If not,ask yourself if there is any value to that triplet being incorporated into the tenor score. That's just a short example, but applying that principle is a small step towards improving ensemble.