September 30, 2012

Grey readies hard-bound limited edition “Damned Suites” collection

Collections of pipe music are difficult to sell these days, but composer Michael Grey is hoping that a limited edition hard-bound book that compiles five of his controversial medley-suites, along with several other compositions published for the first time, will attract discerning buyers.

Damned Suites and Other Music is Grey sixth collection of pipe music, and will be available via online orders at $50 each, with a print-run limited to 500 copies. The hard-bound book is 84  pages, and includes illustrations, splashes of colour, editorial and is wrapped in a dust-cover, a rarity for modern pipe music. Grey will sign and number each copy.

“I’ve been asked for years for copies of the scores for these medleys and thought  recently that there was  now enough material to justify a book where some good people might pay for the tunes – and others, well, they  can now scan and copy, and burn in hell,” Grey said. “I had an idea to create an ‘arty’ book. I was thinking of a scrapbook thing – tunes, words, images, whatever, very random, one that really talked to the idea of the music, one that projected the feel of the music, and me, too.  So that’s what this book is. I don’t think there’s been anything quite like it before.  I’ve incorporated comments from adjudicator’s scoresheets – direct lifts, or scans off the pages – some good; some not.   Even if you hate my music, I think you might  get a kick out of this book.”

Damned Suites include all five of the avant-garde medleys that Grey has composed for the Grade 1 Toronto Police Pipe Band since he joined in 2007: “Variations on a Theme of Good Intentions,” “Idiomatica,” “Gallus No. 3,” “Huff” and “Cutting Bracken,” the last which the band performed in the Grade 1 Final at the 2012 World Pipe Band Championships. The medley was easily the most discussed and debated music of the competition.

Grey said that the new collection will be ready to ship on November 12, 2012, and that advance orders are accepted and will receive a 10 per cent discount.

The scores of the suites include all harmony lines and musical directions from Grey.

When asked how he arrived at the $50 price, Grey said, “Too much?  I don’t know.  Lots of  people seem to be cool with buying limited edition Barbie dolls at Toys”R”Us for $50 a pop,  keep them wrapped in cellophane and  flip them on eBay five years after purchase for twice the price.  Who knows? Maybe that can happen here: me and Barbie:  eBay competitors.”


  1. Am I the first one?!?! This is an amazing collection for sure. Not often people are willing to give up their tunes, nevermind whole medleys. Besides now people have a chance to physically see how this music plays out for themselves. Good luck. Jamie D.E.

  2. Just like the music, this looks like a beautiful book. Love the colour, the style, the title. Maybe if people can see how the music works, they’ll have more appreciation of it. There again, many can’t read music in the way you’d need to to understand a score. How about a world tour where Michael arrives at band halls with the book, and guides people through workshops on the medleys. Or study days arranged by piping organisations for musical development purposes? I can feel the feet digging themselves in as I type. Whatever, it looks like a beautiful book to have.

  3. JanetteM – an odd proposal. I wonder if the likes of Donald MacLeod, G.S. MacLennan et al had to travel around and explain their works in order for their music to be truly appreciated..? Indeed, Michael’s more ‘straight laced’ music never had to be explained either, just listened to. It was mostly superb. In this case, I think an ‘e- book’ is very wise…..

  4. Lawrie” — at least Donald MacLeod and GS McLennan had the stones to put their name to whatever they wrote. If you’re going to say the stuff you say why not back it up with your name? Change your profile and be a man.”

  5. Lawrie–from experience some of the most beautiful and now appreciated pieces of music were written off initially as rubbish, incomprehensible, and as having no future. Read a book called A Lexicon of Musical Invective – a brilliant book with comments on how new music was first received over the years. Also from experience, I know that seeing how a score works, and understanding the inner workings of the music, helps people greatly with appreciating it. I don’t find my proposal odd at all. It happens all the time where people want to understand more, develop as musicians, and keep up with developments.



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