The Curlew

  1. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    This is a tune I was fairly certain would already be in the SAW group archives, but a search has turned up nothing, so here is my version of a great 4-part pipe jig, written by Donald MacPherson. This tune is a regular in many sessions over here in Scotland, played on many instruments other than the pipes.

    Recorded using my Tascam DR-05 along with the Sanyo camcorder so that synchronising was made easier at the editing stage.

  2. Brian560
    Nice John. You make it look so easy.
  3. Ginny Aitchison
    Ginny Aitchison
    Nice and bouncy. I didn't know Pipe Bands did songs about wading birds. The things you Scots do ....
  4. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    What Ginny said - bouncy and lighthearted (does that properly describe an endangered species? but maybe it wasn't when the tune was written, and then tune names are just that).
    Watching this makes me understand why my own left-hand style is often called "flying" - you don't move your fingers at all, apparently
  5. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Brian, Ginny and Bertram, thanks for your comments.
    I was playing from the notation, Brian, as I needed to remind myself of the order of the four parts. It is one of the big things in playing 4-part pipe tunes, when the parts can be so similar in a sort of call-and-response structure, to get the parts in the right order. We often find in our live sessions that the parts become mixed! The apparent (?) playing ease is just the relief at getting to the next part of the tune safely!

    Ginny, there is no end to the ingenuity employed in naming pipe tunes, especially among the current players and composers, and there is a lot of humour evident in many of the names.

    Bertram, I call my left-hand technique economy of movement - move nothing that you do not have to move! Every finger lifted high is a finger to be put back down again from that height. As I am in my mid-70s flying fingers are long gone from my playing toolbox. Yours may fly, but you know where they are going (or coming back from)! I think we develop our individual sound from the way we use our hands. The regular posters in this group are all very identifiable by their distinctive playing styles. Just look back at any of the postings in the group where we are actually on camera.
  6. Simon DS
    Simon DS
    Yes, fine playing John, you do make it seem easy to record these multi-part tunes.
  7. Gelsenbury
    It may just be me as a non-native speaker of English, but "curlew" is just one letter away from "curfew", which is eerily appropriate to these times.

    I hadn't even noticed the four parts until you explained it again just now. It just sounds like one big, lovely melody. I'm sure it's challenging to play, but you seem to channel the tension into smiles and perfectly relaxed playing. I'll have to try that!
  8. Frithjof
    John, I had your recording at my early morning coffee – very refreshing. But really – its enjoyable again and again.
  9. Robert Balch
    Robert Balch
    Great tune and so well played. The mix is very tight and smooth. A pleasure to listen to.
  10. gortnamona
    lovely bouncey tune John, a pleasure to listen to
  11. Bren
    "It is one of the big things in playing 4-part pipe tunes, when the parts can be so similar in a sort of call-and-response structure, to get the parts in the right order"

    John ,
    I'm sure you're familiar with the practising technique I was advised for 4-part pipe tunes:
    start by playing the (usually more intricate ) 4th part first.
    Then play the 3rd part, followed by the 4th part.
    Then the 2nd, followed by the 3rd & 4th
    Then the 1st, followed by 2nd, 3rd & 4th.

    That way, for every practice session, you play the (usually) harder "variation" 3rd & 4th parts more often so are more relaxed & ready when they come up.

    Of course, some of the variations are micro-adjustments which is much harder to master than big changes.
  12. Bren
    By the way John, that clip was excellent. Thanks for posting and good to see you smiling.

    Ca you share any tips on how to synchronise sound and video when recorded separately?
  13. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Bren, thanks for your advice above re learning 4-parters. Not something I had heard before, but it makes so much sense.

    As far as synchronising sound and video recorded separately, my usual method has been to get the tune recorded to its final version (sound only) then I play that back over speakers (or headphones if you do not mind them being on show). I always have either a chord or an intro in this recording to give me a marker and it can be edited out later or left in. I add in a few seconds of silence at the start of the tune to give me a chance to get ready to run the camera. Back at the camera I turn it on, then start the sound track, lstening for the opening chord or intro and start playing along to the track. Leave camera running for a few seconds at the end to allow for editing and fades or other final touches. In the video editing software I then line up the tracks, using the soundtrack on the camera and lining this up with the audio soundtrack, using the chord or intro as my reference markers. When this is done I can delete the camera soundtrack. Sometimes it takes a few takes, and the odd smiles and facial gestures are usually a sign that I have successfully passed a problem part of the tune!

    I would love to hear from others how they do their recording. Watch this space.
  14. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Great stuff John! The sound is the business as well!
  15. Simon DS
    Simon DS
    I think a four part tune is more difficult to learn than two tunes. It’s to do with remembering the variations.

    I have heard of that technique before, I think it was theatre actors who have loads of lines to learn and often make mistakes towards the end, loss of focus, stress etc. So I guess the technique helps guide towards completion.

    I’m actually pretty lazy with recording. I use an external mic on an iPhone. I take the vid and often just shunt the audio file back by two increments (a couple of miliseconds) because iPhone doesn’t line it up correctly. Maybe I’ll increase the volume setting if I’m outside and fade in fade out, but that’s about it.
    If there is a harmony part I’ll use the end of it to sync and then do a sound check here and there through the track to see that everything lines up.
  16. Simon DS
    Simon DS
    Happy Birthday John !!!!!
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