Published: February 29, 2012

Livingstone’s first piobaireachd a p|d exclusive (incl. MSS, video, audio files)

While he’s a prominent light music composer with two collections published so far and scores of arrangements for pipe bands over his 40-year career, Bill Livingstone had never completed a piobaireachd – until now. “For Ranald” is the master piper’s first attempt at ceol mor, and he offered it exclusively to pipes|drums readers.

The tune has been in the works for several years, Livingstone said, and he was inspired to complete it following the passing of his brother, Ranald, in January 2011, ultimately choosing to name it after him. Ranald Livingstone was also a piper, but committed most of his piping life to being an enthusiast, supporting his famous brother’s career, and often acting as emcee at concerts by the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band, of which Livingstone was pipe-major for almost 30 years.

Scoring the tune was a challenge, according to Bill Livingstone. “Piobaireachd time signatures can be troublesome. I had Alberto Massi score this in the fashion of no time signatures, disregarding arithmetic, and it ‘played’ the way I had played it for him.”

Livingstone contends that the tune is neither a lament nor a salute, but more of a “declaration.”

“I heard it in a declaratory way, sort of like the big ‘Nameless.’ As the ground developed, line three needed to swing a bit, and out came compound time. The melody in that passage seemed to suit that treatment. But I think that the rest gets a bit sing-songy with a relentless compound rhythm.

“I’m a fan of finding the hidden compound time bits in tunes written in 4/4, like ‘Beloved Scotland’ and ‘MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart.’ My take is that it’s in the discretion of the performer . . . and pipers should do what they think will present the tune best.”

Livingstone said that he hopes “For Ranald” will be the first of more piobaireachd compositions in the future, including a commissioned piece he may compose especially for the Toronto Police Pipe Band, with which he currently plays.

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