George Moss – the Master Piper from Strathglass Part 1

Introduction

When I first heard piobaireachd, it was a live performance to commemorate a death, and it made a such a profound impression on me that I took up playing the Highland bagpipes (I was already an experienced border piper), and took it upon myself to learn to play this amazing music.

I bought a few CDs and was particularly moved by “the Lament for Mary MacLeod,” so this became the first piece I studied. I didn’t have access to a teacher, so I did a lot of research online, and eventually came across some resources which have become a foundation of my understanding of piobaireachd and the style of playing I am developing.

The resources are the accompanying notes to the Scottish Tradition Cassette Series No. 6 Pibroch: GEORGE MOSS, along with the CD which has now been released by Greentrax and is also available (at the time of writing) to subscribers to Amazon Prime. Together, these consist of transcriptions and recordings of conversations between the late piper George Moss and ethnomusicologist Peter Cooke, along with demonstrations of piobaireachd as George learned it. It covers both general principles and very specific details.

The CD contains edited highlights of numerous recordings which are available on the Tobar an Dualchais website.

For some fascinating biographical and musical details about Georg Moss, there is an article by his nephew James Hamilton which you can read here.

For various reasons which I will explore in this series, I have developed a deep respect for and trust in George Moss’s teaching as represented by these resources. My intention in this series is to explore this teaching in a practical manner with a view to creating a style of playing which is strongly informed by what he shares. I am not particularity concerned here with questions of authenticity or exactly how “traditional” this style is or should be considered to be.

I hope you will join me on this journey, and find as much joy and insight as I am finding.

List of resources mentioned in this post:

Coming next: Rhythm and Shakes

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