Argyllshire Gathering

by John Harvey

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about

The source recording was made at the Argyllshire Gathering of the Oban Highland Games, Scotland. It features the sound of two senior contestants for the piobaireachd (literally: pipe playing) championship. The music of piobaireachd consists of a theme or ‘ground', which is repeated, varied, and played in different patterns (often slowly), around which the bagpiper improvises.

During the day of the games, each piper practices the test piece in readiness for its performance before a panel of judges. It is not unusual to hear several rehearsals taking place simultaneously in different parts of the competition field. Each of the soloists plays concentratedly and in isolation, largely oblivious to (and sometimes out of ear-shot of) the efforts of their fellow competitors. Consequently, the casual audient hears a collage of separate renderings of essentially the same piece of music, none of which are synchronous – each being begun and ended at different times to, and played more quickly or slowly and more or less elaborated with musical flourishes, grace notes, and ornaments than, the others.

The album’s four compositions focus upon this phenomenon of desychronicity in relation to a pair of pipers (shown in the album cover photograph) who were playing to my left and right at one corner of the field. The systems or methods used to explore the source recording are outlined under the ‘info’ section of each track.

credits

released April 9, 2013

Personnel: two anonymous bagpipers and John Harvey

Instrumentation: sound sample extract from a video file captured on a Canon PowerShot G12 camera, and Adobe Audition CS6.

Context: sample recorded at the Argyllshire Gathering of the Oban Highland Games, Oban, Scotland on 25 August 2011. Conceived and mastered in Aberystwyth, UK, April 2013.

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about

John Harvey Ceredigion, UK

Harvey is a historian of art, visual culture, and sound art, and also a sound- and visual-art practitioner. His research field is the visual and sonic culture of religion, principally. He explores non-iconic attitudes to visualization and sonic articulations of religion by engaging visual, textual, and audible sources, theological and cultural ideas, and systemic and audiovisualogical processes. ... more

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