Black Bear, a bagpipe lesson by Pipe Major Bill Robertson. Bill breaks the tune down into sections and provides a brief comment for each section. The lesson includes audio, video and downloadable sheet music.
The Black Bear is a popular tune and was recently requested by a piper through my website. It is a small two parted tune, yet some of the clarity and timing especially in the second part is not easily interpreted by some less experienced pipers.
Try to relax in the second part fifth and sixth bars especially and notice how the first two notes are written evenly and played almost as such to help without any anxiety.
The tune was used as the main theme music for the old comedy film “Tunes of Glory” about a fabled Scottish Highland regiment, its neurotic Commanding Officer (Alex Guinness) and certain personnel.
In most Scottish infantry regiments of yore it was customary for a battalion led by the Pipes and Drums re–entering their barracks after say a route march to play the tune. Similarly when a company was coming back from a route march of ten or more miles usually the Company Piper would play the tune as they entered the barracks (as I did as young piper in my regiment).
Often the drummers and the soldiers would shout the likes of “HI” very loudly when the tune came to the fourth bar two beats only of the first part to further herald their arrival.
The Black Bear is native to North America. I can only surmise that the tune might have been a common Sailors' Hornpipe (dance music) that was based on or named after a dancing Bear that formed part of traveling entertainment troupes common at one time around Britain and some other European countries some hundred or so years ago.
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