Published: May 10, 2007

Listen to the dissin

I’ve done about 70 full-length interviews over my 19 years of putting together the Piper & Drummer and pipes|drums. I do them because I am personally interested in what the interviewees have to say, and I have some compulsion to make sure that at least some of their first-person thoughts are preserved for historians.

I gain at least some new different insight from every one of them. Part 1 of the current Fred Morrison Interview is no exception. He opened my eyes to the perspective of many, many people, and caused me to think of competitive solo piping in a slightly different way. Here’s the excerpt I’m thinking of:

FM: But I’d absolutely no intention of going out there and playing controversial music that would put people’s noses out of joint. I mean, there’s absolutely no gain in that in me. It’s not respectful. If I were going to go round the games, I know the crack and I know the style of music that’s required. And, to me, it’s not the only style of music, but it’s a style of music that I’m going to acknowledge and do and play to the best of my ability.

p|d: Your point about respecting the music is very interesting.

FM: Yes. Those great guys are sitting on the bench and I have heard them giving great performances themselves. That’s the style that they were brought up in and I was brought up in and I’m not going to go and start harassing people. I acknowledge what they’ve done and if people like solo piping, great, because it’s a great thing to get in to. I’m not going to start criticizing a great scene. I know the style required and, if you go to the Northern Meetings, it’s a great, exciting event. It’s fair enough to play in that style.

For me, that is a fascinating debate. Is it disrespectful to introduce a new style to a tradition? Is the task at hand simply to imitate what’s been done forever? Should judges be the keeper and protector of the tradition?

There are many, many enlightening aspects of Fred’s interview, but, for me, this one point hit home the most.

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