By Mark Stewart and Stuart Letford.
In the decades ahead we will reflect on the last few years as being one of the most creative periods in modern bagpipe composition, albeit music that’s suited mainly to pipe bands and folk ensembles. Whether some of this new music will be played in the next decade and beyond remains to be seen, of course.
It was Pipe Major Angus MacDonald MBE, we think, who said that composers should not self-publish their collections but rather they should get a company to do it: let them arrange the production, handle the marketing and distribution … and the risk. He knew there was little money to be made in publishing your tunes unless you were a Donald MacLeod or a Willie Ross, for example, whose books are reprinted time and again. Angus’ two volumes sold well, too.
Composers today realise this and most view their collections as nothing more than a marketing tool and a relatively inexpensive means of getting their music ‘out there’. There are other exceptions, of course – the superb collections of indefatigable and creative people like Bob Worrall and Michael Grey spring to mind – and Kyle Warren’s new book may well prove to be one, too.
Kyle graduated with First Class Honours from the Scottish Music (Piping) degree course at Glasgow’s Royal Scottish Academy Of Music And Drama. He is an ex-Pipe Major of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland and of Australia’s Hawthorn City Pipe Band, and his compositions and arrangements have been played by bands across the grades for a while, including Grade 1 outfits such as Field Marshal Montgomery, Inveraray and ScottishPower. He has one tune book already under his belt, 2010’s Tunez. With all this in mind, we looked forward to reviewing his new collection for Bagpipe.News.
Kyle dedicates the book – Eat Sleep Pipe Repeat – to the late Bob Semple with whom he got to know well during his time with Hawthorn. Semple, a true legend, had a life-long association with the band, and a couple of years ago Kyle took the band to the Worlds for the first time in its 105-year history.
Kyle’s collection comprises 38 new tunes from his own pen, eight from others and the rest being his arrangements of modern tunes that have become standards in the canon, e.g. Gordon Duncan’s superb reel, The High Drive for which Kyle has an attractive jig arrangement. (On the subject of Gordon Duncan, this book has been published with assistance from the Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust.)
The collection includes some pieces that are not too difficult to learn but which are very melodic and attractive to play. The opening tune, Kyle’s Trouble at the Croft is an excellent jig.
Kyle includes harmony arrangements for some tunes, which is useful and probably gives an indication that the book is geared more toward bands.
The 6/8 marches are uplifting and nicely constructed, but what pleased us both was the inclusion of 7/8 tunes. It’s great to see a composer create and introduce 7/8 tunes to the piping world. It’s a time signature that’s fairly common in other branches of traditional music and it was probably most famously used by The Beatles in the bridge and the phrasing interludes of Here Comes The Sun. Being fans of ‘odd’ time signatures, it’s nice to see them being introduced more in pipe music. We recall Kyle also included a 7/8 tune in Tunez so he’s clearly comfortable with this time signature.
Playing through the tunes we feel the book is geared, in the main, towards the advanced player and also to top grade bands looking for new medley tunes and concert material. If you’re a Pipe Major you will certainly find something in this book to add to your band’s repertoire. If you’re looking for something different then definitely give this book a try.
During this difficult time we as musicians need to continue to support each other and what better way than to order Kyle Warren’s new book of original compositions.
- Eat Sleep Pipe Repeat is available from The Bagpipe Shop priced £18.00 (plus p&p). Buy a copy HERE.
We have a signed copy of Eat Sleep Pipe Repeat to give away to the first person who sends us the correct answer to this question:
Q: From 2016-2019 Kyle Warren was the Pipe Major of which Australian pipe band?
Email your answers to us as: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Mark Stewart and Stuart Letford were, at different times from each other, members of the Grade 1 Vale of Atholl Pipe Band. Like Kyle Warren, Mark Stewart’s compositions have been played by top level bands for many years, some of which can be found his own collection, The Crieff Collection and in those of others.