Quite a lot going on at the moment; I hope to get it all down here. First, it's official; Greig Sharp will close down Kintail/Drumran/Glen/Robertson operations on or by July 31; this will be the official end of Sharp and Co., so if you want anything, order NOW.

In the next few weeks we'll be reluctantly taking down the Sharp & Co. pages on this site and replacing them with pages for Dunbar Bagpipes and Tim Gellaitry Bagpipes. Look here for new links next month.

Seems I'm on someone's shit list - again. One of the minor luminaries of Dunsire's forum doesn't like what I say - screw 'im...I guess I'm taking more to Black Part's attitude as I get older.

I just received a copy of Hugh Cheape's new work, Bagpipes - A National Collection of a National Instrument, which we hope to carry in the near future. It is a scholarly work, and it comes to some interesting conclusions. The main of these is his thesis that the Great Highland Bagpipe as we know it is a product of the late eighteenth century, as there is little if any evidence to show it existed before that time. He does say that older bagpipes, due to their fragility and mainly outdoor use, was not a likely survivor of the ravages of time, and that there may have been fully developed pipes earlier than the late eighteenth century, but because of the absence of examples, we can only go with what the evidence shows. Portraits and engravings show much earlier examples of pipes, such as the 1714 Grant Piper portrait, but the instruments themselves have not survived.

One criticism I have is that the author never went beyond the NMS collections for examples as far as I can tell. There is a nice two-drone pipe in the collection at Blair, for example, that was played during the '45, but its existence is overlooked, among others. I'm also a little disappointed in the accompanying DVD in that it has only cursory examples of what's in the NMS collections, and the Ross collection is completely overlooked. The pictures of the MacDonald and MacCorquadale pipes are not enlargable, so any real detail can't be seen. The whole CD-ROM looks more like a school filmstrip presentation than a real resource for pipers, and is overall not what I as a piper/historian had hoped.

Overall, this is a well-presented volume overview which could have gone a lot further; with a net price (including air post) of about $50, I'd hoped for more.

And now, Black Part Speaks:

Well, 'Ol Black Part got a dose of walking puemonia from the plane on his last trip to Aruba.  I recovered, but then had a relapse just before the Costa Mesa Contests, and was so ill I could not attend, let alone compete.  None-the-less, these contests came off very well, and everyone had a great time, even if the weather was a little off.  My congratulations to all, and to the United
Scottish Socities of Southern California for a great weekend.

Partial funds have been sent to the Southern Branch, and all other branches of the WUSPBA.  There will be some additional funds sent, or so's I've been told.  So the Mutiny is least for now. I'm confident though, that the Execuitve Committee, or the Utah JUNTA, as I calls 'em now, will do, or not do something to render an excuse to again raise the prospects for a Mutiny.  Trust me on this one.  We are talking about the WUSPBA here now aren't we. The San Diego Contests are upon us, so I'll be seeing you all down there, if I don't have another relapse of puemonia.

Well this 'Ol Pirate just recieved his copy of Words & Music, and this is perhaps the finest edition of this newsletter put out in years.  So congratulations to the editor and his staff from the 'Ol Pirate himself!  Keep up the good work!

Now onto the content, which should have the membership thinking about what has been written.Here's some thoughts from the 'Ol Pirate:

1)  WUSPBA numbers should be the ONLY numbers worn by WUSPBA members.  If as Margaret Craig says, at the larger contests there are competitors from outside the WUSPBA present, issue them only a number to wear, different and distinct from those worn by WUSPBA members.  For instance, most WUSPBA numbers are five or six characters in length, as for example 0193PP.  Non-WUSPBA members could get a number seven or eight characters in length, and a different color. This way, at a glance, an adjudicator would know if the competitor is, or is not a WUSPBA member, and this can be important when it comes to certain scholarship awards, etc.

2)  Does the Vice-President of the WUSPBA do anything else but judge a few contests?  Granted some of her advice in her article is good and valid, but what the heck else has she done?

3)  I found Jeff Mann's article very thought provoking, but reasonable goals and challenges are required.  For instance, there could be three Grade II bands within 5 years IF some of the Grade III bands getting close to the Grade II level can keep their memberships stable.  This is not easy. There are some bands always on the prowl for better pipers and drummers; and drummers in particular.  No Grade III band can easily progress to the Grade II level without a good drum section and without a great ensemble sound.  But pipe band drama being what it is with egos and raiders it takes Pipe Majors and Drum Sergeants with great charisma and leadership to keep bands togather.  As to two more Grade I bands; not likely.  My remarks above go double for moving a Grade II band on up to Grade I.  These days, a Grade I band must be a very large band, and again keeping a large band togather and in harmony not just with musical performance but with regard to personal inter-relations is no small task.  Just ask Scott MacDonald.

4)  Jeff Mann suggests that the branches should hold championship contests.  But neither the branches nor the WUSPBA are, or should be contest sponsors.  Financially, the branches are not able to hold or sponsor contests.  Contest sponsorship requires thousands of dollars, and the branches recieve only a few hundred dollars each year.  However, this doesn't mean that branches could not recognize individuals or bands within each of their branches as being branch champions as in the case of the Great Basin Branch.  See the remarks concerning wearing kilt numbers above as a way for branches to gain the assistance of the judges and the WUSPBA for accomplishing this task.  As to Jeff's remarks on establishing scholarships, the Southern Branch is already doing this, and this is an easy task to accomplish.  Just do it! 

5)  Jeff wants each branch to have a piping and drumming school.  Well, the Southern Branch has three:  The College of Piping School in San Diego, California; The Weekend in Paradise sponsored by Ian Whitelaw in Redondo Beach, California and The United States School of Piping in Flagstaff, Arizona.  The Northern Branch has two:  The Balmoral School of Piping and Drumming; and The National Piping Center School.  I believe there still is a school in Couer d'Alene Idaho, which would be in the Great Basin Branch.  In the past, I believe there have been piping and drumming schools, or at least clinics in the Intermountain Branch.  Where you been Jeff?  Obviously not to any of these schools, eh!

6)  Moving a band(s) to a any contest within the WUSPBA is very expensive, and these expenses are rising rapidally.  Going to Maxwell, or the World's sounds great, but costs tens of thousands of dollars, and with large Grade I bands maybe in excess of a hundred thousand dollars.  Raising this kind of cash is no easy task.  Again ask Scott MacDonald.  But it can be done.  I would suggest that bands might first consider getting to as many WUSPBA contests as possible and continuing to support our local contest sponsors.  Its less expensive, and while doing so, our bands are building the skill levels required to make it possible to succesfully compete at these venues when they do go.  This 'Ol Pirate says:  Go to our contests first.  They are every bit as good as you'll find at Maxwell or the World's.  After you've won consistantly here locally, you'll do well overseas, and your trip will be worth your while.

7)  A trust for the education of pipers, drummers, pipe bands, and drum majors sounds good.  But, aren't the branches already doing this?  And aren't we already doing this less expensively than the costs of managing a trust?  If the funding sent to the branches is taken away, and managed at increased costs from a trust fund, the programs already underway will suffer.  Ultimately, this is a slap in the face of the leadreship of the branches who have stepped forward and set up programs, and are supporting schools, and funding scholarships for education.  Jeff Mann wants a trust I guess because he doesn't trust the branches are doing their job(s).

8)  Missed in the Future Events section:  The College of Piping Summer School in San Diego, CA from June 21st to June 27th, and A Week in Paradise Piping School July 7th to July 13th in Redondo Beach, CA.  For more information contact the Southern Branch of the WUSPBA.

9)  With regard to the Music Board:  It is good that efforts are underway to upgrade the Piobaireachd section.  This 'Ol Pirate found the current section on Piobaireachd lacking in real substance.  I'm confident though that Jimmy McColl and Ian Whitelaw will greatly improve this section.  It is also good that the Ensemble portion is being upgraded and workshops are being scheduled.  But there needs to be more information out there, particularly well in advance for qualified individuals to get to these workshops and take the new exams.  As to the current "self-grading" system for soloists, at present, the Music Board has its hands full just grading a few dozen bands, and is barely able to that.  So now you want to take on the task of grading hundred of soloists?  "Never bite off more than you can chew!" says this 'Ol Pirate.

Well....enough....for now anyway......Ahrrrrgh!

'Ol Black Part    

(The management of Cuillinn Craft takes NO responsibility for any editorial statements made by John Eric Partanen PhD. Any and all comments should be directed to BLACK PART)


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