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Author Topic: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme  (Read 48146 times)

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Bill Young

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #100 on: April 20, 2010, 01:48:43 PM »

Good to hear that old track, Ian. I was hoping that yourself or Graeme would post a version of how the great Scottish players of today play this Retreat March.

Bill

Clive Williams

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #101 on: April 20, 2010, 03:18:26 PM »

This recording is particularly recommended for those who obviously have no idea what a Retreat is or what speed it should be played at, and who may have been misled by earlier examples. Ditch the dirge by the Dubliners! and forget (please!) that travesty of the tune by the Albion Band, whoever they were.

Ahem. Personal opinion alert, I think. I would suggest and encourage people to play/see this tune however they like; I firmly believe there is absolutely no right/wrong when it comes to playing music, any music, and reinterpreting a piece often comes out with some great and unexpected music as we've seen in earlier months.

Personally I loved the Albion Band version... and Battle of the Fields which it comes from, is one of my favourite albums, ever.  ;D

Cheers,

Clive

Clive Williams

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #102 on: April 20, 2010, 03:23:19 PM »

... and please, don't post artist recording mp3's here - they're subject to copyright, even if they're just snatches. I personally don't have a problem with linking to recordings/videos that already exist on youtube/wherever (and you didn't upload it!), but uploading a copyright recording yourself and linking to it is on very dodgy ground.

Besides, TOTM is about *our* music, not about how Artist A or Artist B played a piece.

Thanks,

Clive

Bill Young

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #103 on: April 20, 2010, 03:33:49 PM »

Fair enough. Offending post removed.

DRUMKILBO

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #104 on: April 20, 2010, 03:38:33 PM »

OK point taken Clive, probably another year before it's out of copyright.
Bill,
sadly there are no great players in the vicinity today so I've recorded it myself on the Shand Morino.

http://www.onmvoice.com/play.php?a=18894
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 03:41:28 PM by Drumkilbo »
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Bill Young

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #105 on: April 20, 2010, 03:47:40 PM »

OK point taken Clive, probably another year before it's out of copyright.
Bill,
sadly there are no great players in the vicinity today so I've recorded it myself on the Shand Morino.

http://www.onmvoice.com/play.php?a=18894
We both got a taste of the Lochgelly there, Ian! Well done on putting this up so quickly.

Others - this is how the tune is normally played. If you're going to give it your own "interpretation", start from here.

HallelujahAl

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #106 on: April 20, 2010, 03:53:49 PM »

Quote
sadly there are no great players in the vicinity today so I've recorded it myself on the Shand Morino.

http://www.onmvoice.com/play.php?a=18894


Ian - you are fantastic - what a brilliant recording, and its precisely how I know this tune. It's almost exactly how I'd play this tune if I were as brilliant a box player as you - although I did miss the final chord!
 ;D

Bill, you're spot on as usual.

BTW way I was too slow to get the original Powrie recording that was taken down - can anyone help me  ;)
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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #108 on: April 20, 2010, 04:25:20 PM »

Others - this is how the tune is normally played. If you're going to give it your own "interpretation", start from here.
I'm probably out of order here, but I mean no disrespect to anyone.
However....
If this is the way the tune is normally played, it seems far too jaunty. To my mind it sounds more like 'Dr Finlay's stroll on a sunny morning to buy a newspaper in Tannochbrae', and has no business being entitled 'Battle of the Somme' which was a terrible, wicked affair, and one of humanity's lowest points ever. My grandfather was an ostler in the Battle of the Somme, in charge of horses which pulled supplies, artillery and ammunition, and which were often killed or maimed so badly he had to shoot them himself, which broke his heart.

I simply cannot reconcile what I hear with the title of the tune. But perhaps I'm missing the point. Like I said, I'm not trying to be disrespectful; I simply don't understand this one. Perhaps it's a culture thing.

Sandy's interpretation does it for me.
http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,3770.msg47901.html#msg47901
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPPlL1kR2sE
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ladydetemps

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #109 on: April 20, 2010, 04:53:52 PM »

My grandfather was an ostler in the Battle of the Somme, in charge of horses which pulled supplies, artillery and ammunition
Maybe your grandfather and my great-grandfather knew each other?

Chris Brimley

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #110 on: April 20, 2010, 05:53:49 PM »

Steve and jb, I have a lot of sympathy with your comments, because there is such a glaring disparity between the reality of the awful battle and this cheerful-sounding tune (I wanted to try to show this clash in my version, by putting in the discords at the end.)  The tune is difficult to play slowly with meaning, and was clearly written as a march.  However, that's actually what interested me about it - how can it be that the composer, who must have been through the horror of this battle, could possibly choose to call it by this name? 

I think the answer is that the point of military music is presumably to provide some sort of stirring gung-ho encouragement to troops to carry on accepting horror as being normal, and not think of desertion or mutiny.  William Lawrie must have written this tune as a 'good soldier' in order to support the idea that the battle was some kind of glorious victory.  Nowadays we see the 'Great' War as a futile nightmare, but I'm pretty sure that just after it, the propaganda was very different, and the truth was kept pretty quiet.  (I wonder which clever propagandist decided to call it 'Great'?)

I think it's OK to see the tune in this historical perspective, and maybe it's an (unintended but meaningful) comment on how nations can be induced by their leaders to be so appallingly self-destructive.
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HallelujahAl

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #111 on: April 20, 2010, 06:40:12 PM »

Well, here's my pathetic attempt. I make no apology for the fact that I only know this tune as a bright-ish' kind of march - not as a lament.

Here's my take anyway  ;D It has a certain - HallelujahAl 'twist' about two-thirds through  ;)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OesLZqOXJI

Regards to all!
AL
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Bill Young

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #112 on: April 20, 2010, 07:18:43 PM »

I simply cannot reconcile what I hear with the title of the tune. But perhaps I'm missing the point. Like I said, I'm not trying to be disrespectful; I simply don't understand this one. Perhaps it's a culture thing.
Steve,
I can understand your puzzlement at the apparent contradiction between the title of the tune and the way it is played, and I cannot explain it. It may well be a culture thing; best suggestion is to forget the title and concentrate on the music. It's only a supposition that the tune was written after the battle of the Somme. It's possible that it was already composed, as a Retreat March, just needing a title; and he picked an attention-grabbing one. As a "Retreat March" it falls into a very well-established category of military pipe band tunes, and there is no doubt that it should be played at a decent lick (about 100 bpm). "The Battle of the Somme" is not unique in this respect - two other Retreat Marches, which I play almost weekly, are "The Highland Brigade at Magersfontein" and "The Bloody Fields of Flanders". The battle of Magersfontein, in the Boer War, was terrible, not just for the Highland Brigade but for all the British Army involved, because of the casualties incurred; and the Bloody Fields of Flanders speaks for itself. The composer, John McLellan of Dunoon, was at, and survived both of these (d.1949), so there's no doubt that we know how he wanted his tunes played. These tunes are played at a similar pace to the "Battle of the Somme". We can't know why the composers chose the titles that they did, but there's no doubt about how they intended the tunes to be played, as Retreat Marches.

There are three categories of Marches in the military (and civilian) pipe band repertoire. Slow Marches - this includes funeral marches, laments, slow airs, Gaelic airs and actual slow marches. The tune "The Battle of the Somme" is not included in Slow Marches. Marches - this includes the 2/4, 4/4, 6/8 (and the odd 12/8) tunes used for marching (sometimes called Quicksteps - not the dance!), although some of them are really competition tunes. Then there are Retreat Marches, often, and perhaps better, simply called Retreats. These are almost all 3/4s; plus the 9/8s "The Battle of the Somme" and its usual stable companion "The Hills of Dargai" (there's at least one other 9/8, which I've never heard played). These are not marched to. They are "show tunes", attractive tunes to listen to, played at a certain point during the ceremony of Beating Retreat. There's an expected way of playing them; they are all good-going tunes, regardless of their titles.

What is surprising is how this tune won the TOTM poll, if so many people didn't understand what kind of tune it is. I've know it for years and voted for it in the full knowledge of what it should sound like. Was I in a minority in this, I wonder?

HallelujahAl

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #113 on: April 20, 2010, 07:24:46 PM »

Quote
"The Battle of the Somme" and its usual stable companion "The Hills of Dargai"


Cracking good combination - and they're definitely the two that I play together.
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Ollie

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #114 on: April 20, 2010, 07:36:21 PM »

What is surprising is how this tune won the TOTM poll, if so many people didn't understand what kind of tune it is. I've know it for years and voted for it in the full knowledge of what it should sound like. Was I in a minority in this, I wonder?

As has been said before, it is all down to personal interpretation. I nominated this tune and then voted for it in the full knowledge of what I think it should sound like, just the same as you voted in full knowledge of what you think it should sound like. The original way of playing something is just one interpretation and is not the 'correct' way of playing it; there is no correct way!
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Bill Young

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #115 on: April 20, 2010, 07:58:09 PM »

. . . just the same as you voted in full knowledge of what you think it should sound like. . .

Me, and 100,000 pipers an' a', an' a'!   ;D

Clive Williams

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #116 on: April 20, 2010, 08:09:21 PM »

I simply cannot reconcile what I hear with the title of the tune.
I'm not doing this months' totm, for several reasons but mainly for this one.
I think that intrinsically (i.e. as a sequence of notes) this tune is amenable to many different treatments. But its title is not.
As it happens I don't much like it anyway. But I would not be able to play it the way I want to without appearing to disrespect the title it happens to go under, and the context in which it was composed. I think this is regrettable, though no-one's fault.


That's a shame; I was rather looking forward to seeing what you were going to do with it! Perhaps you'll have a go at the theme of the month instead?

Cheers,

Clive

Clive Williams

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #117 on: April 20, 2010, 08:20:36 PM »

As has been said before, it is all down to personal interpretation. I nominated this tune and then voted for it in the full knowledge of what I think it should sound like, just the same as you voted in full knowledge of what you think it should sound like. The original way of playing something is just one interpretation and is not the 'correct' way of playing it; there is no correct way!

Agreed. I didn't vote for it, but if I had (!), it would have been on the basis of how I hear in the tune in my head by default, which is not as a stirring march, but a lament... and that is pretty much as I tried to play it in my video a week or two back. Not everyone's cup of tea, I understand, and not as originally written, but that's how I see it now, so I'm happy that my viewpoint has a right to co-exist with others.

It's interesting that this tune seems to stir up quite a lot of comment/emotion about 1) It's timing/phrasing; 2) The name of the tune; 3) How faithful to the original tune to be - to me, all that chat is a little offputting to those who are considering having a go for the first time. So, if you *are* considering having a go, please do - the more the merrier, and *all* approaches are valid.

On a side thought, it's also interesting just how few Theme of the Month entries there are this month - I had expected a *lot* more pickup on that, so if you're put off the TOTM this month, give the Theme a go instead.

Cheers,

Clive

Pete Dunk

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #118 on: April 20, 2010, 08:48:34 PM »

Despite saying I was going to give this tune a miss I have been working on it, and I'm another that likes the tune as a lament. This came about because I found the dots without ever having heard it played by anyone, I also played it straight without the dotted rhythm. I'm now playing it with a dotted rhythm but struggling to find enough air to play it the way I want to, not many days left in the month but I'll give it a shot at the weekend if at all possible. I also intend to put something up for ThOTM but time is my enemy at the moment!
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Bill Young

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Re: Tune of the Month for April 2010 - Battle of the Somme
« Reply #119 on: April 20, 2010, 09:24:14 PM »

Aren't a few of you rather overdoing the "interpretation" thing?  I would expect that, for every hot-shot who wants to put their own interpretation on this, or any other, tune, there are probably more who would just like to play it in something like its normal, accepted, form. Now they can hear what that is for this TOTM.

I suppose many Morris dance tunes have a generally-accepted tempo. If one is selected as a future TOTM, and nearly every submission is played at half the usual pace, wouldn't that excite some comment? If a future TOTM is labelled "jig", and nearly every submission comes in at waltz time, wouldn't that similarly be commented on? I hope there are some out there who would want to know what this Scottish pipe retreat march normally sounds like. That said, play it however you like, or as best as you can. The more the merrier. At least this has given some exposure to a hitherto closed book (book of pipe tunes, that is).

Squeeze on.   :||:

Bill

Edit: Tallship, this is not a comment on your post. I didn't see it while typing mine.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 09:26:33 PM by Bill Young »
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