[The admittedly provocative, but also tongue-in-cheek title, ‘we’re playing it wrong’, is meant to awaken our readership to these facts. After all the times other people have told me, ‘you are playing it wrong’, I thought it would be fun to turn the tables a bit. ]
Fosgailte – open
A proposal to the Piobaireachd Society: Perhaps we consider returning to this form of the the movement when publishing future editions and volumes? It is clearly evident from history that this form of the movement was older than Angus MacKay’s style we play today.
The evidence simply starts to add up to one compelling argument: As performers and musicians, we should rethink our current stylistic limitations and take another look at the materials we have available to us.
Of course, there are many folks who are deeply interested in continuing with the current status quo.
From judges who honestly hold to the conviction that they are carrying forward a tradition history accurately and respectfully, that they are the caretakers of interpretive history bequeathed them by their teachers;
To competitors who have experienced the esteem of their peers, who know that their names have literally been etched into the history books with their victories, and who therefore have little incentive to deviate at all from the way in which they perform and compete.
To students whose tuition by both judges and competitors alike is imbued with the hope of following in the footsteps of their tutor’s success.
But are we competitors, or are we musicians? The terms need not be mutually exclusive.
As musicians and respectful students of the art of pibroch, the lessons we can learn from exploring ancient differences in style, expression and interpretation include a broadening and deepening of our abilities as performers of this music. The toolset for musical expression and interpretation was, and could become, much larger than we now imagine.
As competitors, we may choose to take a more conservative approach, but let’s be clear: we are conserving a modern interpretive shift, not an ancient one. Nevertheless, even a modern interpretive approach to these tunes is better informed when exploring the plethora of options that we, as students, encounter in these older traditions. We become better musicians, and can bring that musicality to bear in our modern approaches.
But make no mistake – the idiom was much larger than it is today. And its musicality was much more vivacious and alive than it is today.
Joseph MacDonald proves it.