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 Post subject: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:09 am 
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The "sound" of the Uilleann pipes as we know it today is influenced by the very Irish style of ornamentation.
But I'm curious as to how the ornamentation and playing style may have differed of the union pipe players in England. Do you think they would have been influenced by the English folk tradition, or would they have played in a more baroque style?

Anyone have any insight?


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:51 am 
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That's an extremely interesting question. I cannot approach it from a musical background but I can touch it a bit from a historical background.

The baroque as a period rose up right after the renaissance, mainly early in the southern-europe regions while the north of europe was still busy with renaissance. Its influence was spread from italy to surrounding countries and played a heavy role in the French society during the 17th and 18th century. The "cornemuse baroque" was born during this period. Baroque was more or less (one can discuss in how far) associated with (roman)-catholicism and was much more present in countries such as italy, spain, and french while for example the netherlands (half catholicism/half protestantism) and also the U.K. there was more presence of protestantism and baroque had less influence, or so to say: in a different way than in overall-catholic countries.

I can only guess from this point of view that the irish type of music has been more influenced by English folk tradition than the baroque style. Another arguement could be that
baroque as a style would've most probably (partly) transitioned into successor periods such as the romanticism period and kept a more classical flavor.

that's my 2 cents from a more historical point of view. i'd like to see anybody else give some nice input about it. i'm gonna try to find/read more about it though! interesting :)


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:02 pm 
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I question your opening statement. Do we actually know if the "Irish style ornamentation" existed prior to union pipes, or, if it did exist, if it was even the same as what we think of now? And, are you sure you have it the right way around - ie, was it pre-existing irish style that influenced players of union pipes or was it players of union pipes who influenced irish style ornamentation?

Back when union pipes developed, I'd guess that all players played with a somewhat "baroque" style. But maybe we'd have to look at the influence of Scottish Highland pipers, French musette pipers, and other styles as well....


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:57 pm 
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There are certainly records of people in Scotland and England (particularly the North) playing and making pastoral and union pipes in the early part of the 19th century. One of the Allan family of Border pipers had a set of union pipes, for instance. Part of the issue might have to do with the background of the particular player. "Gentleman" pipers of the landed gentry would likely be musically literate and get at least some of their tunes from books. Their repertoire and style of ornamentation might therefore not conform to any particular "local" style. Pipers like the Allans would almost certainly have played local tunes and have adapted ornamentation to suit those tunes appropriately.

Geoghegan's tutor for the pastoral pipes published in 1746 includes a number of tunes with birls on the low D, as the chanter extended down to C. The question of how union/uilleann pipe ornamentation developed in the first place in Ireland is one that I'd be interested in knowing more about, as it seems to have developed to a pretty complex state not too terribly different from what we know of today by about the middle of the 19th century.

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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:45 pm 
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I've never understood the idea of regional differences as applied to uilleann piping - is there such a thing? because when I hear piping I don't categorise it as pertaining to any given county, I just hear influences like ennis, Clancy and doran and all the other founding fathers of contemporary piping - would it make sense to say that ennis had a Dublin style (he was from Dublin wasn't he?) or that Clancy had a Clare style? and as for travelling pipers if they were always moving around perhaps that means they don't have any particular place they call home


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:49 pm 
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NicoMoreno wrote:
I question your opening statement. Do we actually know if the "Irish style ornamentation" existed prior to union pipes, or, if it did exist, if it was even the same as what we think of now? And, are you sure you have it the right way around - ie, was it pre-existing irish style that influenced players of union pipes or was it players of union pipes who influenced irish style ornamentation?


That is an interesting way of looking at it. Pipe ornamentation has definitely influenced the way other Irish musician's ornament their playing, but the reverse must also have been true too! There was a strong musical tradition that predated the arrival/development of uilleann pipes in Ireland. There's no doubt UP pipers added to the way the music was played and ornamented, but personally I can't believe one instrument could change the way a whole tradition sounds.

Although close relatives, and sometimes musically incestuous, Irish, Scottish, English and Welsh folk traditions do have a different accents, and to my ear the accent comes from the ornamentation (and I guess phrasing too).

John - Everyone of the pipers you mention are Irish pipers, playing in the Irish tradition. I'm trying to understand if the Uilleann pipes would have sounded different in an English or Scottish setting.

EDIT Wow I sound so snarky there John, sorry. I was rush posting from work :oops:


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:02 pm 
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The Sporting Pitchfork wrote:
The question of how union/uilleann pipe ornamentation developed in the first place in Ireland is one that I'd be interested in knowing more about, as it seems to have developed to a pretty complex state not too terribly different from what we know of today by about the middle of the 19th century.


Yeah that would be interesting. Musical reverse engineering!

Border pipes where played in the North of England... Is there a noticeable difference in ornamentation between Border pipe tunes and their Highland counter parts, could there be a clue there?


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:50 pm 
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That's a big question... The answer is yes, but to what extent is harder to gauge. We have the Dixon manuscript of Border pipe tunes dating back to 1733, but Dixon gave very few clues about the ornamentation. The nature of most old Border pipe tunes suggests that there wasn't a need for much if any of the complex ornaments common to Highland piping. Matt Seattle does think that as with uilleann piping, the top hand ring finger did the lion's share of the gracenotes (as opposed to the top hand index finger as in Highland piping), but this is mostly conjecture, I think.

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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:53 am 
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PhilD wrote:
There was a strong musical tradition that predated the arrival/development of uilleann pipes in Ireland.

But the questions remain... what did this musical tradition sound like, what ornamentation did they use, etc etc

That said, the thrust of the question is interesting - did union pipe players in England, Scotland, and Ireland sound different? Probably, but maybe not any more than individual style could dictate. We probably can't ever know for sure. One thing to look at is O'Farrell's "national tutor" - he's an Irish union piper *in* England... Might give some ideas. (Very little ornamentation is discussed)


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:04 pm 
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Nick that very subject was discussed by messrs Sky and Hutchinson in the introduction to Pat's re-issue of the O'Farrell books.


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:25 am 
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That's true, I forgot to mention the introduction - it's been a long time since I read that.

Very interesting and might answer some questions here!


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:18 am 
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I have no objection if you want to quote at length. Check with Pat first though.


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:25 am 
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I'd rather Phil find the book in question. Better to have specific questions afterwards, I think.

Mostly I wanted to shed light on the fact that some of Phil's assumptions may need to be re-examined.


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:47 am 
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Ross's Music Page has plentiful scans of old pastoral/union/Northumbrian/highland pipes manuscripts, too.


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation - regional variation?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:34 pm 
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Yeah I found that introduction. It was very infomative, and confirmed what I was thinking. English folk music has less ornamentation to my ear. A lot of the rhythm coming from the space between the notes, that in the irish tradition is filled with musical embroidery.
I like both traditions very much. What got me wondering about onimentation is the idea of play uilleann pipes on English folk tunes in a way that would complement the style rather than detract.

Kevin - Thanks for the link I'll check that page out.


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