Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Piping Circle

My favorite part of piping is the piping circle.

When we play, the pipers form a big circle, so that we can all hear each other's playing.  The more pipers, the bigger the circle. You can also see what everybody else is playing by watching their fingers, and see the tempo the Pipe Major is setting (with his foot).

Those are advantages of the piping circle, of course, but my favorite part is the camaraderie   The banter and teasing and joking that go on in the circle is more fun than a circle of monkeys! Nothing is sacred; everybody gets into the act.

Your place in the circle--varying from day to day--changes based on any number of decisions you or anybody else in the circle make. You might stand by your Circle Buddy. Maybe you got to the circle late, and the only place left is facing the flood lights, or next to the Pipe Major.

Evil Look
Next to the Pipe Major is not a favored position. When you are next to the Pipe Major, he (or she) will pick at every note you play.  You will be tuned more than anybody else in the circle, and you will get more evil looks than anyone else.

Here, Lee has the unhappy luck to stand next to the Pipe Major, and is getting tuned for the ump-teenth time.

If you are playing harmonies, you will not be allowed to stand next to the drum corps. Harmonies throw them off.

You might end up standing across the circle from your Circle Buddy, in which case you can communicate with facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language. This is also visible to the rest of the circle, of course, to interpret as they will.

Your Circle Buddy is your BFF (Bagpiping Friend Forever). This person can also change from day to day, depending on who shows up for practice that day. I will usually try to stand near or next to one of the few other women in the band.  Mostly, however, they are newbies, and play a lot of wrong notes, which is distracting and can put me off my tune. Or, heaven forbid, I am off my tune to begin with, and play a lot of wrong notes, which is embarrassing.  But if you are standing next to a newbie, you can always blame it on them.

When you are preparing for competition, you will be assigned a place in the block when marching in, so that when you form the circle in the arena, you will be in anoptimal place:  all the newbies won't be together, the PM will be visible to the Drum Sargent, all the pipers playing harmony won't be together, but will be spread evenly around the circle, etc. It's all strategic to get an optimal sound.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've never liked playing next to the pipe major either. Thanks for the 2nd reader welcome.