Monday, June 28, 2010

Carrying the Wrong Tune

Last week practice, as per usual, people were facing walls and trees, warming and tuning their pipes. Me, too. I ran through my march and slow aire, then the circle was called. PM went around fine-tuning. As he tuned the person next to me, he commented on my playing during the warm-up: What was that you were playing? It sounded . . . nice.

What was wrong with me? Playing nice? We like variety, but puh-lease!

Then Saturday the band had a gig for the Tooele (that's Two-ILL-ah) Arts Fair, west of Salt Lake about 45 minutes. Warm up and tune up happened, and as we only had an hour, we verbally planned out the program we would play, to see who would do what. PM asked if anybody had solos they could be called on to do. I volunteered my slow aire, but doubted I would be called.

We marched around the fair on the grass and nobody fell into any holes or got strangled on wires, oddly enough. We circled up in front of the beer tent where it was cool and shady and a ready-to-welcome-anybody crowd was assembled, glasses in hand. The two competition sets were run through (I even played the timed medley--including the jig--and did well), the 9/8s, a few small groups, then PM turned to me and asked if I would play my solo. I stepped forward and struck in and played.

But . . . hey! There's no birl in my slow aire! It's sounded like it went with the rest of the tune, but didn't sound like My Slow Aire. I carried on, because what else could I do with everybody standing around watching? Got to the end of the first part, and . . . no second part came to mind. My fingers also failed me and did not automatically start the second part. Mentally I knew it started with E or something, but . . . . nothing was there. So at the end of the 'first part', I cut off. Shrugged. Puzzled.

The point of having people play solos is to give the other pipers a break, so the longer the tune is that you play, the longer the break is that the others have. That goal was not achieved with the (short) (VERY short) tune that came out of my chanter. My slow aire can be as long as 4 minutes if you stretch it out. If I had played it.

After about an hour of puzzling, I figured out that I had played Cearcl a Couinn (spelled wrong even in Gaelic), a (short) . . . (VERY short) slow aire we were going to put into the Grade IV medley. I learned it, and then it didn't get put in. There it still was, lying dormant, waiting to embarass me. I'm sure even now, 5 days later, it still stops periodically and falls over laughing just to remember the time it knocked me off my High Horse.

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