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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:19 am 
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it *never* ceases to amaze me how that someone can purchase a highland bagpipe & kilt uniform, and immediately presume they are expert enough to hire themselves out, with only 3 tunes & 2 drones under control.

Here's an equal perspective: playing "Twinkle-twinkle" on your violin or "Hot Cross Buns" on your flute DOES NOT put you on the same footing as Izthak Prelmann or James Galway, let alone the thousands of hard working, un-sung, experienced, quality players leading up to these 2 gents status.

WHAT IS IT about the highland bagpipe in particular, that encourages this behavior? Leaving aside our personal feelings about the instrument (love it or hate it)..., playing it to an acceptable degree (let alone a high degree) takes every bit as much work, sacrifice, & dedication as every other instrument under the sun.

And to take *MONEY* from people for doing this?!? :evil: Go pick blueberries.

Either get it right - or put your pipes away in public. :swear: :tantrum:

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:51 am 
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Presumably this rant is directed at the band featured in the links at the bottom of the posting ... in which case you may be gratified to know that the band's home-page is poorly designed and effectively allows one to download the music without charge ...
... should one so wish :twisted: :devil: :wink: :boggle:

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:34 pm 
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:really: I'm not certain what your intention is, here...
but, whatevs. :lol:

My intention,for the record, is to solicit opinions as to WHY beginners, without the ability to play with reasonable intonation or execution, insist on considering themselves able to make an acceptable public, recompensed presentation on the instrument.

I'd honestly like to hear folks sound in on that topic, here on C&F.

IDK who tf you are, or how expertly you pipe (you may be Jack Lee for all I know), therefore my comment is clearly not directed at you *personally* (unlike as you have done to me) but, go on & feel free to criticize, in as much as this gentleman has already done:

http://www.folkworld.eu/51/e/cds2.html#sylv

PS, I am not an admin of the website, but this material is under international ©. have you downloaded these titles without expressed permission from the copyright holder?

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:42 am 
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I think Kypfer was just gently teasing, Chas ...

Where's this rant come from? It sounds like it's a reaction to something specific. I can imagine you going to some event - ceilidh, Burns night or whatever - and coming across one of these charlatans. It happens. I don't think it's unique to bagpipes. Over here, it's really very common for people who think they can play fiddle.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 1:53 am 
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PS, I am not an admin of the website, but this material is under international ©. have you downloaded these titles without expressed permission from the copyright holder?
... I wasn't going to go into detail, but since you ask, if one goes to to the web-page and plays the tune(s) using the embedded "app", the mp3 files are "automatically" downloaded onto one's computer. Seeing as how the web-page has effectively "given" me the music files, I figure it's my perogative as to whether I keep them or delete them. Let's not go into the esoterics of "loaning" digital data here :lol:

For reference, there are app's, plugins, call them what you will, that will stream on-line music without leaving the residual file on the local hard-drive, so I see the option being with the web-page designer, not the web-page viewer :devil: :wink: :twisted:

Just having a bit of a dig ... it seemed "right", somehow, that this "insufferable audacity" was actually being given away ... even if the perpetrators don't realise it :thumbsup:

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:15 am 
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I would imagine it's a supply and demand thing. In US there must be a lot more demand than there are pipers. In Scotland the only public place you're likely to hear a dodgy piper is busking on the street in Glasgow or Edinburgh. If anyone here hires an incompetent piper then they deserve one. My only experience of a hired charlatan that I can remember was at a whisky event in New York. There was a guy dressed to the nines in revolting MacLeod of Lewis (bright yellow) tartan and a bonnet with a huge peacock feather in it. He was (edit: more rubbish) than any player above the age on about ten that I've ever encountered in Scotland.


Last edited by bogman on Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:38 am 
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Some people just have an overinflated sense of their own musical ability. For instance, I know a girl that started learning bluegrass fiddle last December, and is now already teaching bluegrass fiddle at a local music shop. Now, I haven't heard her play yet, but I have heard her on mandolin and I HIGHLY doubt she's at a level of competence to be teaching.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:01 am 
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gotcha kypfer :love: no worries. :D the sites a prime example of what happens when musicians try a bit of DIY web design. :oops: Thanks for letting us know, we'll see what can be done.
Back to topic,
Bogman, unfortunately there is more supply than demand in the US at this time, at least in areas Im familiar with. Hobbyist pipers whose real jobs have been compromised have, en masse, lit on the idea that they're on the same footing as *truly* gifted, or even merely competent players, because they can find gigs too. & I know of the gent you mention. :shock:

As Thomaston says, some people DO have an inflated idea of their abilities...always a modest percentage in any given segment. But in early learning stage highland pipers it seems this percentage is far above normal, on par with a "group psychosis",,, and also the acceptance level of poor performance is much higher.

What has contributed most to pipers of lesser ability believing they're of a greater musical caliber? The trappings? uniform? the machismo? quasimilitary aspects? competing? greed? all of the above?
It seems when a pianist, (for ex), feels as if any job;s too much for them, they will pass it on to someone they know can execute the service flawlessly, (proven fact!)...but a bad GH piper wont let that gig go no matter what! :-? why?

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 5:12 pm 
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..but a bad GH piper wont let that gig go no matter what!
Maybe it's simply because good pipers are so few and far between that the majority of the "general public" wouldn't know a good performance from a bad one, so no-one tells the bad GH piper how bad he really is :devil:

Joe Public probably has a reasonable idea of what most "main-stream" instruments - piano, flute, violin and such like - are supposed to sound like, he's been exposed to them on a regular basis, but the only time he's likely to get exposed to live piping is at a function where there's a lot of background noise and an excess of alcohol, not the ideal circumstances to form an appreciation of the finer points of the performance :twisted:

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:53 am 
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I think there are two elements to this, Chas:

Firstly, I think there's a mystique to piping itself. Not just the costumes etc, but how the things work is a mystery to most people. Also, I think most folks' ignorance of highland piping extends beyond not knowing how it's supposed to sound; most folks think it always sounds awful, whoever's playing it. This sort of ignorance allows charlatans the space in which to operate. And even breed. :o

Secondly, as I've said above, I don't think charlatanism is confined to bagpiping. There are plenty of fiddlers, at least there are here in the UK, who seem to genuinely think they can play and even manage to persuade others that they can to the extent sometimes of getting hired for many many gigs that could have been taken by actual musicians. I think there may be an element that one notices the charlatans who happen to play ones own instrument. So you're noticing the pipers, Chas. I'm noticing the fiddlers. Sadly, neither of us can do a thing about it. Might as well given in before the internal knots of frustration grow too big and strangle us from inside.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:42 am 
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benhall.1 wrote:
Also, I think most folks' ignorance of highland piping extends beyond not knowing how it's supposed to sound; most folks think it always sounds awful, whoever's playing it. This sort of ignorance allows charlatans the space in which to operate. And even breed. :o

This one for sure, although I would fine-tune and venture that (most?) folks think it's supposed to sound awful. TBH, I've encountered very few non-pipers myself who dislike the GHBs out of hand, but even those who say they love the pipes regularly admit they wouldn't know good piping from bad when questioned about the piper that they report they just heard playing in the park. And for the non-piper it does take a fair amount of exposure to start to be able to recognise some of these differences, but I assure them that if they heard good and bad side by side, they would certainly be able to tell good from bad then, and no problem. Well, it's a start. At least get them thinking about it.

I think bad busking pipers, and bad buskers in general, bank on this ignorance. And you know how it is: we musicians who really care are often guilty of it to an extent, too, in the sense that when we bollix something up at a gig, we console ourselves or each other with, "Eh, they won't know the difference anyway." On the one hand that may be so, but on the other I don't like falling back on that because it carries with it a whiff of too-easy dismissal of the audience's ear; after all, you don't really know who's out there listening, so it's really only a dressed-up variety of contempt, if we're going to be honest with ourselves about it. It's probably not the worst thing we could do, but it still nags at me.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:52 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
benhall.1 wrote:
Also, I think most folks' ignorance of highland piping extends beyond not knowing how it's supposed to sound; most folks think it always sounds awful, whoever's playing it. This sort of ignorance allows charlatans the space in which to operate. And even breed. :o

This one for sure, although I would fine-tune and venture that (most?) folks think it's supposed to sound awful.

That's what I meant really. Slack use of English on my part. :oops:

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 1:43 am 
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The reason does largely seem to be the lack of general idea of what good piping sounds like on the part of the public as well as the new performer.

I think the audacity is also just the relative audacity of the thing itself. The instrument has a raucous reputation then add the attention-grabbing tartan kilt and you have a one person parade/riot.

Between the two a person can be perceived as an instant rock star, and who doesn't enjoy feeling like a rock star?

Even though there are competent players abound in some areas, in others the next piper might be hours away. But even if an area has a good ratio of competent players, not everybody knows a piper or even knows somebody who knows a piper. Combine with the aforementioned lack of familiarity with good piping and voila!


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:53 am 
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As I often tell people, a person's propensity for playing the Highland pipes in public is usually in inverse proportion to his skill level.

The best players only play when they're paid well to play, and/or will only play in competition. So the public here rarely if ever hears the best local players. Many of the best pipers are successful in other fields and have high-paying "day jobs" and turn up their noses at being paid to play the pipes. (Lawyers, doctors, businessmen, etc.)

This bad piping in public has many faces! One face is the good "legit" musician who picks up the pipes and somehow has none of his musical skill transfer across.

There's a good tuba player here who "teaches" pipes at a local school, using false fingering and a bastardised style he evidently invented himself. His students are ruined as pipers, because they have been assured by their teacher that their playing is correct, and no amount of later exposure to "real piping" will knock this notion out of their head.

There's a decent trumpet player here who noticed, while playing taps out at a funeral, that pipers could make money doing funerals, so he went out and bought pipes and a flannel women's skirt and starting "piping" at funerals. His piping in incredibly awful, chanter and drones outrageously out of tune, and the typical false fingering and self-created style of playing. He knows perhaps five tunes, all of them horrid, and does more funerals around here than anybody. His website has sound bites he must have stolen from some "real" piper's website (they sure aren't him!) One time I was out somewhere where this guy was playing and I offered to tune up his drones. He refused, telling me "they're perfectly in tune. I tuned them before I left for the gig!" Oi oi.

These people burn me up more than the ignorant non-musician who picks up the pipes and is bad though lack of knowing. These professional musicians have good ears, can hear when things are out of tune, but just don't bother to tune their pipes, possibly because they don't regard the pipes as being a "real musical instrument".

Stuff like this is why I strive to play as in-tune as possible especially when doing a gig at which "legit" musicians are present. They don't know if a piper is playing a taorluath properly or not, but they can hear whether the piper is playing in tune or not!

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:53 am 
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I live within driving distance of Fergus, which hosts a major Scottish festival every year, and Shelburne, which hosts an annual old-time fiddle competition. While there may be a few charlatans around in piping or fiddling, this isn't hospitable territory for them.


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