I have eclectic taste

I have eclectic taste. There’s no philosophy or reasoning behind it. If I hear something that catches my attention I get drawn into it.

For many years I’ve cut back on listening to music…watching television or reading newspapers. I don’t want to be bombarded with too much information overload, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out if I don’t know who or what the latest " thing" is right now.

The earliest music I probably heard was most likely something like Jimmy Shand and his Accordian Band. (For those of you who’ve only just cottoned onto The Proclaimers, let me tell you the Scots have a long lineage of music making).

So Google up some Highland dance music and get with it boys and gals… That’ll blow away the cobwebs!

My father played the bagpipes, and he used to practice at home on an instrument called the chanter. ( interesting that chanter means "to sing" in French..for those of you language buffs)

It’s a really hard instrument to master, with all kinds of complex finger patterns. Never took to playing it myself..but check out Piobaireachd …That’s real bagpipe blues.

Here’s a little bagpipe information. I find it all fascinating.

BAGPIPES

The bagpipe is one of the oldest instruments known to man, but it is not originally Scottish, or even British, but was brought across Europe from it origins in the Middle East some four thousand years ago. As Celts migrated westward, they brought their culture with them, including bagpipes and chariots (these were later traded in for Morris Minors…) By the 2nd century B.C., Celts were part of the northern borders of Rome; Cisalpine Gauls (Celts) in the Roman Army brought bagpipes to Britain by Caesar’s time, but the pipes had probably already been brought by their northern Celtic cousins some time before.

Bagpipes have been important in almost every European and Middle Eastern culture, but it is with Scotland that the pipes are inevitably associated. Different types of bagpipes are still played today in ireland, England, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, and several Arab countries; Scottish pipes are played in virtually every British Commonwealth nation and the United States.

Until the Little Ice Age of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the bagpipe was the most popular instrument in Europe. It was played at dances, fairs, and in religious processions, all held outdoors. When people moved indoors and enjoyed the benefits of those great new inventions, the fireplace and chimney, the bagpipe was superseded by stringed instruments- harp, viola, cittern- and other wind instruments- flute and oboe. In the Highlands of Scotland, however, pipes reigned supreme.

There is more than one style of Scottish bagpipe. Highland pipes come in full-size sets, ‘reel sets,’ and half-size sets, for playing indoors. These have much softer tone than full-size sets. Another type, ‘lowland pipes,’ is inflated with a bellows, and has drones and repeaters, similar to Irish Uileann pipes.

Scottish pipes today bear little resemblance to their ancient ancestors. Until the sixteenth century, pipes consisted of bag, chanter, blowstick, and one drone. In the early seventeenth century a second tenor drone was added, and the bass drone was only added about 1700. Thus the instrument played today is about three hundred years old. The pipes are tuned to a microtonally flattened A, with the chanter covering a nine-note range from G to A, with a flatted 7th. This flattening casts most tunes into a mixolydian mode. The three drones are likewise tuned to A; the two tenors are one octave below the chanter, and the large bass drone is two octaves below; all three drones set up a strong harmonic on E, providing a strong tonal coloring behind the melody. Additionally, pipes today are tuned to B flat in order to blend with concert bands. What all this means to those who don’t play an instrument is: Scottish bagpipes ahd a very shrill, piercing sound which is backed by a strong bass line of a continuous note. The pitch of the instrument delights some and strongly annoys others.

The Great Highland Bagpipe is the only musical instrument ever to be banned as a weapon. Playing of the bagpipes was banned in Scotland by an Act of Parliament in 1747. After the last Jacobite Rising ended in 1746, the Hanoverian government tried to obliterate all Scottish culture, forbidding the wearing of tartan and carrying of weapons. Since no clan ever went into battle without a piper, bagpipes were banned as a weapon of war.

JONI MITCHELL.

I discovered Joni Mitchell in the early 70’s when someone I knew bought a copy of Court and Spark. Right there and then she slewed me. In my opinion she is the supreme female artist singer songwriter guitar player of all time. Actually there are few superlatives to describe her talents and skills. She’s a legendary mystic. Untouchable as far as I’m concerned. No one else comes near…but we can gaze from the gutter perhaps.

Check out the latest Joni Mitchell Tribute compilation…I particularly like Bjork’s version of The Boho Dance. I was invited to make a contribution, so I’m there too with my version of Ladies of the Canyon.

STEVIE WONDER

I first heard Stevie Wonder on the radio I guess, at the time when Tamla Motown was just exploding with performers like Otis Reading, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson..to name a few)

To this day, when I hear his vocal entry to Ma Cherie Amor my heart just lifts off. Pure unadulterated genius.