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dead hand on the chanter


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  • How is bagpiping like NASCAR? Read on.

    "This fosters an atmosphere in which avoidance of error becomes the major virtue, producing drab safety-first performances which would hardly be tolerable in another setting. In píobaireachd particularly, the fantastically deliberate modern style appears to proceed on the principle that 'anything you can play I can play slower; I can play anything slower than you', the general effect being of laboriousness seven times laboured. Pipers call it 'the dead hand on the chanter', but it is a phenomenon by no means confined to piping. Mendelssohn summed it up well when commenting on the concert keyboard style of his day with its penchant for empty technical display where 'the only thrill in the performance was in the anticipation of an accident'."

    —William Donaldson, Pipers: A Guide to the Players and Music of the Highland Bagpipe (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2005), 26

    July 31, 2008