> 1. How many times does each tune have to be played?
Twice is usual unless the tune is very long - sets of variations, and things like
Mme Bonaparte or Cameron Highlanders are only played once, on the whole.
> 2. Supposing it is an "A B" tune, does each section have to be repeated each time
> (i.e. "AA BB, AABB, AABB" ?
If the tune is written with repeats then AABB would be "normal" (this is the advice
I would give to a beginner), but (particularly in the case of slow tunes) some are
written with repeats but not normally played that way (Keening in the Wind and
Elsey's Waltz are two that spring to mind).
In the more advanced classes there is room for personal taste (on the player's
part) in this matter.
> 3. Classes 12, 13, and 16 - "Duets" , Must the tune first be played through
> completely in unison (AA BB ), before it is played as a
> "duet" with tune + harmonies/counter melody?
Most judges I have encountered will comment unfavourably if it is not - the test of
being able to play in tuneful unison being regarded as important.
You cannot enter class 16 (overseas duet) if you will be there and competing in 12
and / or 13 on the day.
> Does this apply also if there are 5 or 6 players in the group?
Don't know. I've only once seen a group of 5 and I can't remember what they did -
probably did play some unison.
> 4. May the "duet", if there are actually several people in the group, (for
> example, Small Pipes, Fiddle, Harp) have several distinct lines - similar to a
> classical trio or quartette - when playing the second or third time through?
> 5. Is the initial "Tune" to be played each time by the Small pipes? Or may one of
> the other instruments play the "tune" while the Small Pipes play the harmony?
There is no requirement other than that the group contains a small pipes/BP player.
All else is up to the judge.
> 6. Must the tunes chosen come from one of the NPS published books, or may they be
> from any source provided that they lie well, and sound well, on the Small Pipes?
A complete program of non-Northumbrian music mght be frowned on. However not all
N'brian music is in NPS books by any means. Again, up to the judge.
> Class 3 Compositions:
> 1. Recently I have been playing through the winning compositions printed in the NPS
> Magazine. (Many are delightful!) I notice that most are 16-bar tunes. Is this
> considered to be the ideal length?
This is one of the common "dance tune" lengths in this area. There are also 4-bar
reels, 48 bar jigs......etc etc
> 2. I notice also, that they are all a solo melodic line. Are duets are not
It is a melody composition class - I can't speak for other judges, but the tune is
the important thing. IIRC, one of the tunes last year had a harmony line as entered
and I pointed out politely to the entrant that this had not been considered. When a
few have harmony and the rest don't, that's all that can be done.
> 3. Most of these tunes are easily sight-read
I think you would find some quite prominent players who would disagree with this as
they are primarily aural players and read ony with difficulty. Perhaps a tune the
judge can't interpret is not likely to get on a shortlist.
> (Sometimes a tune can have interesting, though unexpected, bars, which may seem
> difficult initially but become easy after having been practiced a few times. Would
> these tend to be thrown out immediately by a judge?)
Depends on the judge. Some like to think of it as tunes accessible to many players,
others go for the "best" tune. Its a very personal thing. I do remember early in m
piping career, a tune requiring more than 7 keys being highly commended but not
placed on the grounds that it was not accessible to many nsp players. Again, judge-
> 4. Are compositions sent in showing the actual name of the composer? Or are
> pseudonyms used so that the judge is not biased in his/her expectations?
In theory they are judged anonymously. How that it is interpreted by individual
judges I couldn't say. I am not sure whether Anne Moore removes composers' names
before sending them on - the one year year I took over that job (the flood year I
think) I passed the tunes on to the judge with code numbers only, and provided a
sealed key. I don't know what the judge did.
> Class 4, Composition of Variations
> 1. The majority of sets with variations for the Small Pipes seem to keep the last 2
> bars of each section of the theme unchanged in each strain of the variations. Is
> this considered to be essential? desirable?
Traditional for melodic divisions is the way I'd describe it - but the "tag" can be
varied later in the piece, and is in any case of varying length. Study of existing
sets is the only way to understand this one.
> 2. Are the variations supposed to maintain melodic and rhythmic interest with, or
> despite, increasing complexity? Or simply more challenging technical dexterity?
Depends. Existing sets are your best guide. There are both melodic and rhythmic
> 3. Should the variations maintain the initial style throughout - e.g. an air
> remains an air, a jig remains a jig? Or can they change in character - e.g. an air
> becomes a waltz, then a march, then a jig as it gains momentum?
There was a time some years ago when rhythmic variations were entered, more so than
now. Malcolm Binns variations to "I hae seen the Roses Blaw" in NPS 3 is one modern
example of this style.
Quite when a set of variations turns into a "suite" I wouldn't like to say in
general, but I think I'd know if I was faced with one!
> The answers to these queries probably seem completely obvious to anyone living in
> Northumberland and steeped only in that tradition
> I remember being very surprised, when a duo who gave
> a beautiful performance, were disqualified because they did not play their tune
> through in unison, before playing in harmony.
Not to that judge's taste, obviously. Us lucky regular attendees get to note these
things and enter - or not - or alter a programme -accordingly.
> Some people consider being asked to judge must be an honour.
Most judges mumble about hating to have to do it, particularly in difficult choice
situations, but also gladly do it because they think it is important.
One of the best general comments I have heard came from Andy May who said something
like " this class was a close call - today, and with the wind in the east, I have
placed person A in (whatever position it was) - on another day, I could easily have
chosen another way.
It is a personal thing.
In the time it's taken me to write this, I notice that Anthony (the judge on the
day this year) has responded.
You will need to consider all comments in parallel, therefore.