Tag Archives: PROFESSOR SIR DONALD NEIL MACCORMICK

PROFESSOR SIR DONALD NEIL MACCORMICK – THE BAGPIPE TUNE


Neil Edin Pipe Tune 2.13.2013

I posted this bagpipe tune score on the Viper Piper site at
http://www.therealviperpiper.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13318 Part of the tune’s provenance is covered in an earlier blog here re. my Cornell Sketches pieces and is further explained in the Viper Piper entry. . I know I am giving readers a challenge by scattering tales of the piece here and there. Well I will compound that fault by offering two more stories about it.

A number of years ago, my cousin Neil and his wife Flora were staying for a few days at Cornell University where he was a Visiting Lecturer at the Law School. My wife Kristina and I decided to get together with them there. While walking across the campus I dragged them into a basement practice room of the Music Department and forced them to listen to my seven part Cornell Sketches. When I finished playing the “Bagpipe Tune to Accompany the Climb Up the Libe Slope,” I turned and asked with some trepidation, “Neil, do you think that’s an original melody?” To my great relief and pleasure he agreed that it was indeed. Phew!

Later, when I learned of Neil’s terminal cancer, I decided that I should formalize the bagpipe score of the piece and name it for him and I wrote him as follows.

March 12 2009
Dear Neil and Flora,
Well, does audacity have no bounds?
As you have already noticed, I have named a pipe tune after you, Neil. It is a tune you and Flora once heard in a basement room of the Cornell Department of Music more than a few years ago. I captured an audience (you two) and asked you Neil, if you thought the tune was an original. You assured me it was. Well, I was fiddling around recently with my newly dusted-off music software, revisiting my pile of unscored music. I had thought of doing a pipe tune for you and kept coming back to this one which is, immodestly speaking, a nice one. So I decided to extract the tune from its original home, Five Cornell Sketches, which have been languishing unscored in my back-again box. (In any event I have always believed in the recycling of musical ideas. A composer’s license?) I had a handwritten score of the tune prepared by a local piper for a Cornell reunion bash ten years ago so that I had something to base this score on. It was a welcome challenge to get everything lined up (oh them-there damned grace notes). Unfortunately, I have had not had an opportunity to have it test-driven, so to speak. My computer seems intent on playing it back in a minor key which is not what is intended. I have put that down to the nine note scale of the Great Highland bagpipe. If I find a piper to play the score and it needs tweaking, I will send you a revised version.
Anyway, I have always admired the Scottish tradition of naming tunes after people and events. And a better use of this air I cannot imagine.
I will say no more.
With great affection, admiration and sadness,

Neil

Neil replied  shortly before he died:  Typescript follows.

 

7/3/09

 

Dear Neil, Thanks for tunes! And sorry for delay in writing. I’ve had a difficult patch lately that prevented me from writing.

I specially like the first of the two tunes, and am much honored by it. Today’s tune seems (forgive me!) over-adorned with non-standard grace notes, but will be none the worse for that if played with suitable instrumentation.Please note e-mail address above. This is now the only mailbox I can access.

All the best and thanks.

 

Neil