For this bagpipe lesson Pipe Major Bill Robertson explains playing the tune The Hens March. Bill breaks the lesson down into sections with commentary for each section.
The tune is set as a jig and the tune was composed by Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, MBE
This fine four parted jig in duple time is of a higher degree of difficulty, suitable mostly for good intermediate to the more advanced pipers. Bear in mind the regular pulse rhythm of 1,2,3; 1,2,3; and so on, almost round yet with a degree of feeling/duration on the “3”, not the “1” that gets a natural enough stress without any extra duration relatively. Simply come off the 1 to 2, then 3. With the G, D, E, groupings and strikes clarity of the G, D, E, and enough openness of three notes groupings and before strikes is necessary.
Clarity is aided with a certain relaxation as you play along with a reasonable tempo and momentum of about 108 – 112 BPM, or very slightly faster. My audio is not quite relaxed enough in the first part, but left when not too bad, as I prefer to leave “off the cuff” rather than re–record. I mention and show that in the early stages especially to play at a slower tempo to be able to methodically open up the notes just before strikes, and G, D, E, groups.
As necessary, take certain bars of perceived difficulty separately with slow methodical application and openness of execution repeated correctly often enough. The tune is written out in full to accommodate the small variations and certain starting notes. The very small variations were from my former Pipe Major Hugh Fraser who knew Donald well. Perhaps they were from Donald.
The composer for the four parted jig, The Hen's March was Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, MBE (1917–1982) and was one of the most prolific composers of the light music, if not the most prolific.
He also composed some notable Piobaireachd. His Music books and many recorded tutorials on Piobaireachd are most worthwhile to my mind. Much of the music in his books is played regularly throughout the World. I was inclined to say “especially his jigs and hornpipes”, but really all, including fine marches, strathspeys, reels, and Piobaireachd.
Donald was a multiple winner of Piobaireachd gold medal events.
Donald MacLeod enlisted in the Seaforth Highlanders regiment in 1937. Four years later to was appointed Pipe Major. In the Second World War was taken prisoner, but he managed to escape and returned to UK. It has been reported that Donald when apprehended during his escape that when questioned he replied in his Gaelic language. That so confused the German interrogators that they thought he was from a strange country and let him go. Further in depth information via internet at: Fine piobaireachd legacy Pipe Major Donald MacLeod – Andrew Wright.
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