I’ve made a decision.
I would like, with the help of your feedback, to embark upon a project. The goals of the project are two-fold:
- To record pibroch. The first phase will be on the Hannay-MacAuslan collection, the proto-Macdonald scores that reflect a particular pibroch style no longer heard.
- To develop a concrete, memorable and replicable approach by which others may embark upon a similar journey. In fact, it would be great if members of this Club, while witnessing my sausage making in develop the approach and recording the scores, would take the same approach to other primary source songs* and submit their journeys as well in the future.
Looking back, I see that I most recently spent 11 posts “Interpreting Primary Source Manuscripts”. This was a precursor to what follows.
I am concerned with legacy. I am concerned with the fact that pibroch performance has been limited and distorted over the last 100 years by the capricious and audacious actions of two aristocrats running the Piobaireachd Society: capricious, insofar as the Campbells each decided to publish materials based upon their own research and editorial style, rather than making the original sources available; audacious, because they coordinated such activity with other groups and individuals at the time to create an interpretive orthodoxy. This orthodoxy not only damaged personal reputations, but resulted in a significant and continued reduction in the interpretive and performative space of pibroch.
The primary source materials are our means of correcting this imbalance. And yet, few people are exploring and performing them with the kind of success that would constitute traction for their re-introduction into the musico-cultural sphere. I would like to see more: more students, more performances, more competitors, more choices.
How best to do this? Well, perhaps this might not be the best way to do it, but it is a way I would like to explore here and see what happens.
This way is something I will call the Alt Pibroch Club Approach.
Yes, that’s kind of obnoxious, but follow along for a moment.
If we can present a concrete, memorable and replicable approach to interpreting the primary source materials, it will be easier to share this approach with others and let them explore. The purpose is not to create another stylistic or interpretive orthodoxy, but to offer a toolkit that allows pipers to try their own hands at taking on these priceless treasures and feel confident with their ability to explain and defend their results.
So, what is the core of the APC Approach? I suggest (for the moment – this is dependent upon your feedback) the following five rules for clearing out the cruft and getting a handle on the ancient materials.
- Primary sources are required.
- Genres are distinctive.
- Cadences are optional.
- Crahinin are flexible.
- Urlar refrains are transformative.
These are simple, yet profound rules that can help any piper grapple with a score, find the song behind the score, and turn in it into a opportunity for informed, but also potentially quite personal interpretive expression.
In the weeks ahead, I will develop these thoughts a bit more fully, and apply them during my effort to record the 10 scores in the assembled Hannay-MacAuslan collection.
More to follow…