August 31, 2006

Masterful Medleys: Strathclyde Police

We continue our series by leaders of contending Grade 1 bands at this year’s World Pipe Band Championships, with the Strathclyde Police, winners of the 2006 European Championship.

Strathclyde Police

Pipe-Major Donald Mackay writes:

This year we decided that we would keep most of last year’s World’s medley as we enjoyed playing it and ultimately the band played it well. The only major change that we have incorporated is a new opener. We did this to make an important initial statement and, after all, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!

The Opener is called “Pipe-Major Raymond Bradford” and there are no prizes for guessing who composed it. Yes, indeed, it’s Don Bradford’s tune for his father. Don has certainly got the track record for composing great modern pipe band music and in particular exciting opening tunes. This one we chose because of its “attacking” nature, especially when we hit the third part. It gives the pipe corps the chance to show the high level of technical dexterity they are capable of producing. I think a high degree of technical content must be shown, not everywhere but in subtle places to prove your standard. This is important at the Grade 1 level.

You have only two realistic options when picking an opener for your medley. The dot-and-cut style that can be expressed well and flow nicely, or the round and possibly more aggressive style. As a change for us we decided to go with the latter.

The medley then progresses into a couple of jigs, the first one 6/8 time is “Michael MacDonald’s Jig” then straight into a traditional Irish 9/8 jig “The Humours of Whiskey.”

The slow air, “A Song for Shona,” was composed by the 1970s Scottish pop-star, Billy McIsaac, and one that the band has recorded recently on a charity DVD for him to help raise funds for the Puffin Hydrotherapy Pool in Fort William.

The medley then livens up with the classic Lowland Scots tune “The Strathspey King,” composed for James Scott Skinner by G.S McLennan, and then into another old strathspey “Miss Victoria Ross” by William Ross. The medley starts to build up a final impetus here when we play a reel version of “Miss Victoria Ross, “ then in to two traditional Gaelic/Highland reels, “Lady Margaret Stewart” and a “Port a Beul.”

We then cut to a waltz 3/4 style for the opening bars of the tune, “The Noose in the Ghillies,” until changing back to reel tempo to finish on that tune with syncopation and harmonies, and hopefully an exciting fully orchestrated climax.

We hope that Piper & Drummer readers and the huge army of new supporters of the band enjoy our performance at this years World Pipe Band Championships. We are practicing hard and are very much looking forward to the big day itself. We would like to wish all our fellow competitors the very best of luck and hope for memorable day of great performances and glorious weather.

Strathclyde Police – Worlds Medley 2006

“Pipe Major Raymond Bradford” (hornpipe) – composed by Don Bradford
“Michael MacDonald’s Jig” – composed by Jim McGillivry.
“The Humours of Whiskey” (jig) – trad.
“A Song for Shona” (slow air) (composed by Billy McIsaac
“The Strathspey King” (strath.) – composed by G.S McLennan
“Miss Victoria Ross” (strath.) – composed by William Ross
“Miss Victoria Ross” (reel) – trad.
“Lady Margaret Stewart” (reel) – trad.
“Port a Beul” (reel) – trad.
“The Noose in the Ghillies” (reel) – composed by Perry Gauthier


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