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The Gordon's Salute
(videos at the bottom of the page)
The Gordon's Salute is an excellent piobaireachd for helping a non-piping audience access this style of music because the structure is exceptionally clear and lends itself to being drawn out and exposed.
Each variation will be discussed here separately, and a video with the complete music to play along with is at the end (high pitch and low pitch).
The full music, notated mostly conventionally:
Where there is a 'T' or a 'C' written under the note, this means play a high G gracenote to the note and if 'T' then you play a taorluath to low A, and if 'C' then you play a crunluath to E.
This is a very helpful convention and saves lots of ink and paper. You play the Taorluath variation first, then the crunluath.
This abbreviation also means you can see the essential harmonic and melodic structure. It is alwas good to learn piobaireachd from these variations to the beginning, noting where the Ground and last variations deviate from each other.
It is very wise to learn the canntaireachd words for each piobaireachd you study and learn how to sing the tune whilst you get the technical elements and general understanding in place.
The canntaireachd reveals that the Es which are so common here are to be thought about as cadence notes, so not main beat notes, but a kind of auxiliary note.
It is suggesed to listen to the video and sing a long with it, paying attention to where you need to breathe and where you feel you should get louder or quieter. This natural rise and fall in your singing will contribute to your sense of connection with your interpration and hep uidl greater sense into it.
Singing a hundred times before you even touch the chanter is OK!
The actual rhythm...
The true challenge of performing piobaireachd is getting the effects that can be produced by singing and taking breaths to come across effectively with a continuous sound and gracenotes to give accents.
This leads to a tremendously complex rhythmical reality.
It is possible (but extremely complex) to notate every single finger movement and its timing in staff notation, and this can be tested and proofed by asking a computer to play the result. Doing this is an extremely helpful exercise as it reveals exactly where the irregularities are and how to comprehend them and overcome them so that the melody can be adequately presented. The full in-depth notation...is essentially impossible to usefully read as it involves rhythmical contrast ranging from whole notes to 1/1024th notes and triplets inside triplets too..
Here is a presentation of a half way house - showing the big rhythmical questions, but leaving some thigns as gracenotes for clarity.
Discussion points about the Ground/Urlar
It isn't 4/4...
Discussion points about the Dithis
Discussion points about the Taorluath
Discussion points about the Crunluath
It is conventional to repeat the Ground for piobaireachd after you have played all the variations. For longer pieces in public performance, the piper often only repeats the first line. For small pieces like this and for private satisfaction, repeating the whole Ground is a good idea.
It is common to add a crunuath a mach variation in this tune, and especially effective for concert perfoemance.
Once you have thought about all of these things, you can sing and play along with the videos below. These videos are made from the notation and are played by the computer as a demonstration that this approach is possible and actually works.
The Gordon's Salute from midi - whole tune low pitch
The Gordon's Salute from midi - whole tune high pitch
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