2018 Archie Kenneth Quaich – APC and Lament for Finlay

For your consideration: Lament for Finlay (PS 024).

Here are the notes from the judges (as published in Piping Press, a Rab Wallace site):

Outstanding amongst this list was David Hester who had come from the USA to play a tune he learned directly from the Campbell Canntaireachd – Finlays’ Lament. This was a powerful bit of playing in the style (if one is allowed to use the word) of a previous winner of this contest, Barnaby Brown. Unfortunately he got a bit lost in the crunluath-a-mach and the judges felt that the later variations lacked phrasing.

Can you find where I “got a bit lost in the crunluath-a-mach”?

What I would do differently?

  • Stick to warm up and tuning routines.  I stuck with them up to the point of the final tuning room, which room surprised me because there were a lot of people in there, including competitors!  It was a nice, but unexpected group of people milling about;
  • Continue focusing on blowing.  I’ve decided that the major difference between grades isn’t just the obvious things like finger technique, but the extremely subtle (and yet very difficult) art of steadiness of blowing;
  • Relax the crunluath and a mach movements a bit more; what I would not do is rephrase that cycle – I like the steadiness of the swing (though, there is always more musicality to explore, isn’t there?);

and finally,

  • Find more venues, both competition and recital, for performance opportunities!

Questions? Comments?  Feel free to post them. I welcome your feedback!


8 thoughts on “2018 Archie Kenneth Quaich – APC and Lament for Finlay

  1. Very nice listen. Latter started to feel rushed, with some subsequent loss of the ability for a listener to follow the emotion. But a joy to hear. Good work!

  2. There were two things about the last cycle of motions I was concerned with:
    1) how to phrase them, since they are split into lines of 15 – 11 -23 – 9; what does one DO with that? I copped out and played the lines straight, though I tried to indicate line endings.
    2) full traditional crunluaths are busy; big and busy.
    I will definitely need to keep exploring how best to help the listener follow along.

  3. As you very well know, embellishments serve the theme notes, and theme notes tell the story. A bumbling listener like myself enjoys occasional respites in familiar territory before plunging again into the deep side of the pool. Spending too much time in the deep can make even a competent paddler anxious.

  4. I thought it was the best I heard you play and a great example of what APC is about. You might have lost the tuning, setup and mistake free fingering contest but you won the musicality. crunluath-a-mach sounded great to me. I could see relaxing crunluath a bit more but I could see that difficult under competition pressure.

      1. I really enjoyed listening to that right through. How refreshing to hear something different and so musical. I found it rather jolly, and only half way through remembered it was a Lament but maybe it was a celebration of Finlay’s life rather than a dirge re his sad demise. It would be great if there was a CLASP competition around the same time as the Archie Kenneth so that you could compete in both in the one trip, and at the same time, allow more people the pleasure of hearing your style and interpretation of the music. Looking forward to many more performances and even more musical fresh air in the future. Bravo!

  5. Allan tells me that our concept of Lament may have been limited by a Victorian-era construction. Many cultures send off the dead in a variety of ways, including celebratory, demonstrative, even chaotic ways.
    This is clearly interpretive on my part. But not, perhaps, musically unfounded?

  6. Indeed. It would be interesting to research the nature of send offs of the time. Attitudes, practices, customs, the person himself – to look for clues. However even if we found gloominess in the past, no reason not to offer a new interpretation. Unless you were going for an authentic performance true to the time on original instruments—that sort of thing. Do we know who Finlay actually was?

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