Old School: thoughts on c¨¨ol m¨°r with four piping legends – James Campbell of Kilberry
Iain Speirs: I have with me Mr. James Campbell of Cambridge, a prominent figure in the piping world. His father, Campbell of Kilberry, was a founder-member of the Piobaireachd Society. Mr. Campbell, how long have you been playing piobaireachd?
James Campbell: How long? Oh, let me see. About 55 years I should say.
IS: And over that time what changes have you seen?
JC: Within the competition world?
IS: Anything – playing, writing.
JC: No, I would say that the actual playing of piobaireachd hasn’t changed in the style of playing. It’s the same as it’s always been. I would say there have been new developments in the style. The way the tunes you hear today are played are the way in which they were played when I started attending competitions.
IS: That’s interesting. Many of the replies to my questionnaire have expressed the view that many pipers relying heavily on finger ability rather than musical ability. Do you have any views on this?
JC: Yes, I think that that’s so and it’s a thing that one wants to try to foster the whole time is music with ability in it. It’s what you look for when you’re judging competitions. And, personally, I pay more respect to music with ability than to finger ability. In other words, I’m not alert the whole time to spot technical errors. I mean, there are some technical errors that are so gross that you can’t overlook them. But in my book a person who plays a musical tune has a tremendous advantage over a less musical but technically more correct player.
IS: Could you define the difference?
JC: How to define the difference?