Papadum preach

Published: June 27, 2007

'Blair Drummond' eat your heart out.At the PPBSO Judges Seminar in April for some reason someone was talking about the cut C-doubling-C to an E-gracenoted dotted low-A (that’s a mouthful). It comes up frequently in strathspeys, as in the fifth part of “Blair Drummond.” The person at the meeting referred to the combination as a “papadum,” and most people seemed to know what he meant.

Papadums are the fast-fried cracker things made from chickpea flour that you get in Indian restaurants. (Sadly, the waiter never can bring enough.)

I was later reminded at the meeting that it was a sidebar I wrote in a 1990s issue of the now defunct Piper & Drummer print magazine that coined the term, since the movement was just begging for a descriptive name. I had completely forgotten that, but was amused to hear that the little column registered and is part of the piping lexicon of some.

Piobaireachd has canntaireachd, of course, with all the gibberish terminology for notes and embellishments, all hippity hoppity taree tarah. Light music benefited from being written down as it was being invented, so it never needed to be taught via a mouth music system. And most pipers use their own form of hick-um-bro light music canntaireachd, making it up as they go along.

But, thinking about it, Indian food could really serve as the basis for light music canntaireachd. Papadum works, but what about “pakora”? That could be an all-purpose term for a triplet in strathspeys, as in “The Caledonian Society of London ” or “The Islay Ball,” i.e., pakora, pakora, pakora, pakora, pakora, pakora, daal.

Or what about “samosa”? Perfect for GDEs of all varieties, as in “The Judges’ Dilemma”: samosa-samosa-samosa-naan, samosa-samosa-samosa-samosa-samosa-samosa-naan, etc. Try “tika” for any cut-dot combination. Kind of like a tachum, but for the top-hand.

The possibilities are endless: “vindaloo,” “rogan josh,” “chutney” . . . and of course “baji” really works well for more top hand work, as in the start of “Lord Alexander Kennedy” – “baji naan vindaloo . . . tika daal baji naaaan . . .”

Sushi is also chock-a-block with potential light music canntaireachd, although I challenge anyone to use “California roll.” In fact, here’s a call for someone to write a complete light music language based on ethnic foods. Next time you find yourself at the Shish Mahal in Glasgow, just use the menu to transpose your entire MSR and get rid of all of those tedious written scores. You can thank me later.


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