‘BORDERS PIPES’ represents, perhaps, the first attempt to retrace the musical tradition of the Borders pipers and to set it in a modern context......
The performers are all individuals either belonging to the Scottish Borders or having long association with it. The tunes they play, like ‘Jimmy Allan’ or ‘Duns Dings A’’, are indigenous to the Borders and belong, idiosyncratically, to the pipes of the region. The style that they play is, in so many respects, quite different from Highland piping; and herein lies, as Fred Morrison so aptly put it, the ‘beauty’ and ‘naturalness’ of the performance on this CD.
This is very much a piping tradition that has been resurrected, from the 1960’s onwards, and, as such, part of rediscovering it has been to reconnect the Scottish Borders with Northumberland and the musical traditions shared between two regions that span a border. In endeavouring to do justice to Scottish Borders piping, the producer, Dr Fred Freeman, naturally looked to pipers who had a foot in both Scottish and Northumbrian camps.
It was enlightening for him to work with two pipers who had come to Borders pipes with different piping backgrounds yet arrived at the same conclusions about the instrument and its music. One of them, Chris Ormston, had begun as a Northumbrian piper; took up Highland pipes whilst at university; then, under the influence of Colin Ross, progressed to the Borders pipes and Small pipes in the late ‘80s. The other, Gordon Mooney, ran the progression in something of the opposite order. Gordon began as a Highland piper; took up Northumbrian pipes in the mid ‘70s; then, somewhat under the guidance of Jimmy Anderson and Rab Wallace, fully focused his attentions on Borders pipes (of every variety) from 1981 onwards.
Their respective conclusions about style were obvious to the producer as they worked through the material. Both aver that Northumbrian piping is characterised by a simpler, to use Chris’s description, ‘less chirpy’ gracing. In practice that meant that both, in approaching the Scottish Borders tunes, would make a ‘conscious effort’ to remove heavy gracing; to use Gordon’s expression, to ‘free up the musicality’; move away from fixed pattern ornamentation.
Both Chris Waite and Calum Galleitch approached the instrument as Highland pipers – both members of Duns Pipe Band – who entered the Scottish folk scene via sessions or modern folk ensembles. Chris’s very free-form whistle playing helped in his adapting to the Borders pipes. All four pipers agree with Hamish Moore’s argument that greater ‘freedom’ of performance and individual style are the order of the day here.
The musical arrangements on ‘Borders Pipes’ – sometimes quite modern and off-the-wall – represent a dialogue between the producer and the players: players who, incidentally, include Ian Anderson, Marc Duff, Angus Lyon, Brian Maynard and Shona Mooney. As Gary West, of BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Pipeline’, has it: ‘This is wonderful music – enjoy it!’
1) John Anderson / Hey Ca' Thro (Ormston)
2) Jimmy Allan / Geld Him Lasses / Coffee and Tea / Skint o' Siller (Mooney)
3) Seventeen Minutes to Midnight / Waite's Reel (Waite)
4) The Upland Way (Mooney)
5) Rattlin Roarin Willie / Brose and Butter / My Wife's A Wanton Wee Thing (Ormston)
6) Chevy Chase / Cock Up Your Beaver / Come Boat Me Over (Ormston)
7) Duns Dings A' /Shona's Reel / Lowland Amusement (Mooney)
8) Sheena's Air / Teribus (Galleitch)
9) Westland Winds / Gaby's March / The Mill, Mill O (Ormston)
10) Stumpie / Jack Latin (Ormston)
11) Gingling Geordie (Galleitch)
12) Wee Totum Fogg / Rob Shear'd in Hairst / Duncan Gray (Ormston)
13) The Souters O Selkirk (Galleitch)