McGillivray’s ‘Piobaireachd Fingerwork’ available in Feb.
In 1998 Jim McGillivray’s Rhythmic Fingerwork defined a new approach to developing light music technique, and now the Aurora, Ontario-based piper will unveil Piobaireachd Fingerwork, a 120-page, 10-chapter guide to the technical side of ceol mor.
“I had requests for this book from the day Rhythmic Fingerwork was published,” said McGillivray. “It follows a very similar formula, which is to explain and demonstrate the gracenoting of piobaireachd so that those who are new to it or those who simply want to improve their playing can better understand the movements.“
There are 120 exercises in the book, mainly focusing on more conventional and common modern piobaireachd embellishments and movements. McGillivray said there is a chapter that discusses how to decipher notation and abbreviations found in the Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor and the Piobaireachd Society’s 15-volume Collection, which can be somewhat mysterious to the beginner.
“I‘ve found over years of teaching, particularly teaching piobaireachd novices, that many potential enthusiasts have turned away from piobaireachd simply because they couldn‘t figure out how to follow the music. The Piobaireachd Society scores were created for seasoned players and with brevity in mind. Novices were not the target audience.“
While Piobaireachd Fingerwork will focus mainly on modern conventional styles of playing ceol mor technique, the book also covers more antiquated movements found in settings and collections that generally pre-date the formation of the society in 1903.
The instructional work also provides a guide to playing common piobaireachd variations, some of which cover even more antiquated movements that McGillivray has found people want to know about.
“Things like the ‘redundant low A‘ taorluaths and crunluaths and Donald MacDonald double echoes are covered in detail as well. I suppose the timing is good in this respect since several old settings were played this past year in the Senior piobaireachd events at Oban and Inverness. Modern scholarship around the old sources has renewed interest in these styles of play, so I thought they should be touched on,” McGillivray added.
The book will include a chapter on canntaireachd, the vocable language of piobaireachd, as well as five complete piobaireachds to help start beginners. But McGillivray said stressed that the book isn‘t just for piobaireachd novices.
“Like Rhythmic Fingerwork, a big focus of the book is on helping experienced players improve their technique and practice it so that the movements become more automatic.“
The book will be complemented with MP3 sound files that can be downloaded from one of his websites.Piobaireachd Fingerwork will be priced between $38 and $42, and available from McGillivray Piping in February, and later from retailers.
Piobaireachd Fingerwork is the third instructional book for ceol mor in the last 20 years, although, McGillivray said, it is the first that is solely a technical tutor. In the 1990s the late Seumas MacNeill produced a rudimentary piobaireachd tutor for those working with an instructor, and Archie Cairns of London, Ontario, published The “How To” Piobaireachd Manual in 2004.