June 18, 2007

Dust up

I didn’t attend the Sarnia Games this past weekend, but I was told that it was hot, dry and dusty, but, with an excellent beer tent and a large crowd, it was a great success. That’s good to hear, since this contest had to cancel last year due to bad weather and crowd-attendance in 2005.

It’s remarkable how the little Scottish Highland games keep going year after year, some for well more than a century. I suppose the Scots hope for sunshine but expect rain, so venture out in whatever to uphold the local tradition. North American contests are impacted far more severely, since only piping and drumming zealots will stand around in the rain waiting to compete.

I do wonder, though, which is more difficult: for North American competitors used to dry and hot conditions to adjust to a damp and relatively cold Scottish climate, or for Scots to make the journey here and deal with the reverse.

Perhaps North American bands have become so experienced at adjusting that the change hardly impacts their performance. If UK bands came here more we could more easily draw conclusions. I do know that the few Scottish bands that have competed in Ontario in hot, dry and dusty conditions have rarely played to their potential, seemingly melting in the heat.

Personal experience was always that the pipes would take on a better, more vibrant sound in Scotland in August. The instrument, at least with sheepskin and cane, was built for that “close” climate. Personally, I’d be interested to hear from any UK pipers and drummers who have come across to North America in the middle of a hot summer to compete.




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