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Dixon and NSP

PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:54 am
by ethnopiper
Hi to All,
a week or so ago on this site i read in a mail a passing comment of
playing Dixon tunes on the northumbrian small pipes. i was a little
surprised as with a 7 keyed set of NSP i would have thought the tunes
were difficult/impossible to play due to the natural 7th note missing
in the top and bottom of the scale.
the more i thought of it, i wondered how it could be done?
do people, who play from the Dixon manuscript, play with A drones and
using the A major scale on the NSP starting on the bottom A note as
their tonic, and using the natural 7th - above and below the tonic as
the A scale would allow for this? this would work fine, and keep in key
with the Border pipes key/manuscript setting, but one would be using
fingering that would never have been used in the early 1800s or before,
runs would difficult etc.
or, do people transpose to the G major on the NSP and use the key for
the bottom F# (so raising the natural 7th of Dixon to a sharpened 7th)
for the 7th note, and using G drones?
or, do people pay in D major, and miss out the bottom 7th note all
together, and keep the natural 7th on the top note (C natural); playing
with D drones?
i have been experimenting with these variations. the best i have found
is to play in G major, and tune my drones to D,d. this goes well with
the bottom F# (sharped 7th), sadly missing out the natural 7th note of
the original Dixon scale.
occasionally i play in D major with drones tuned in D,d; if there is
not a bottom 7 note in the notation, and gives me the flattened 7th
note in the top register.

these natural 7th notes are often strong and give a real feel to the
style of music, but i wonder if this is what Peacock had to think about
when designing and compiling music for the early NSP manuscripts?
i am wondering what do people do when playing Dixon with NSPipes?

Best wishes,

Re: Dixon and NSP

PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:57 pm
by John Gibbons
About half the tunes, with an 8-note compass, work indifferently with a sharp or natural g.
These transpose back to G, and play very well using the f#, and the Peacock versions of some of them do exactly this.

The 9-note tunes really need the flat 7th, and are probably easiest to play in A, as the c# key lies easier under the thumb than the F nat.
But you can't play these tunes without keys. They sound better on Border Pipes, I feel.


Re: Dixon and NSP

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:50 pm
by Dally
Is there website with Dixon tunes in G?

Re: Dixon and NSP

PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:12 am
by Matt Seattle
Dally wrote:Is there website with Dixon tunes in G?

I hope not, John. While I obviously have no copyright on the tunes themselves, I did put a lot of hours and sweat into presenting the music and giving it some kind of context, explanation, and a few careful corrections, and each copy of the book sold puts a little food in my mouth.

I had to make a choice about which register I would publish it in and knew the pitfalls well in advance - whether I chose A (BP, SSP) or G (NSP, Euro) I would not be satisfying everyone. I couldn't afford to print two editions and I thought the G-crowd are as a whole more musically literate than the A-crowd and could cope with transposing from A to G. The A-crowd - I surmised - would have ignored the music if I published it in the original register. This may have been a good thing - I don't have the overview to know - but perhaps they were more in need of knowing that there are more ways of playing pipes than their own way. The others already knew that - mostly.