October 20, 2009

Facebook TMI

FB TMIIf a generation’s label lasts five years these days, then this must be “Generation Facebook.” A recent blog-post by Michael Grey prompted me to think, as his writing (words and music) is prone to do. It seems that much of the piping and drumming world, just like much of the world in general, is “on” Facebook.

I’ve been at it for three years or so, and don’t tend to do too much with it, except follow friends, link p|d stories and tweets. My interest in FB tends to rise and fall.

But lately I’ve noticed some late-adopters to Facebook from the piping world. Some of these, I’ve also noticed, are quite prominent pipers and drummers who are still active, to be sure, but whose glory years were maybe back in the 1970s and ’80s – well before Generation FB.

I wrote a few years ago about venturing to Scotland for the very first time (as a piper) in 1983, and heading to the Skye Gathering at Portree, and seeing the late, great John D. Burgess. Yes, he, too, was human, although his playing to me was super-human. It was a thrill to see and hear him, Iain MacFadyen, Pipe-Major Angus MacDonald, John MacDougall and others after years of reading about them and listening to their recordings.

To some extent, I’m finding that Facebook is sapping the mystique from superstar pipers and drummers, especially when they post stuff that portrays them as the regular people they really are. On one hand, it’s great that they can connect to the mortals but, on the other hand, the excitement that I felt in 1983 of actually seeing and meeting these people is irreplaceable. For me it was like finally seeing Bob Gibson pitch and Lou Brock steal a base after forever gazing at their baseball cards.

I don’t know. Something just doesn’t quite sit that well with me seeing the legends of piping and drumming carving turkeys or sitting around in their jammees with their family on Christmas day on their Facebook page. It spoils a mystique.

There’s a lot to be said for maintaining an air of mystery, and some of the greatest figures in piping and drumming history were, not coincidentally, some of the most enigmatic. There’s a fine boundary to be drawn between modesty and TMI.

July 06, 2008


Good times . . .

A long time has passed since I recorded a pipe band competition. When I was a kid I would haul around this bulky cassette apparatus to places like Alma, Michigan, to capture the Grade 1 bands. I still have those somewhere. I then progressed to a Sony Professional system, which for a while was state-of-the-art for handheld remote analog recordings.

But I recently picked up a little device that makes very high-end digital audio captures – not really for my own interest, but for yours. I used it for the first time at Kincardine yesterday. Being on the roster of a band, I recused myself from judging the Grade 1 event, which allowed me to record the contest. The files – 128-bit MP3 format – are very good, and I hope pipes|drums readers/listeners enjoy them.

Interesting, too, that in sync with my plans Michael Grey wrote about the change in the speed of piping and pipe band information due to technology. Like him, I remember well the days when news of results from Scotland would come not hours or even days after the event, but sometimes months in the form of the Pipe Band or Piping Times magazines when I used to read them.

To be honest, I felt a bit of a tube being one of the recording geeks, but I think the trade-off is small price to pay. I plan to bring more of these to the magazine as I can coordinate them.


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