016 – The Bagpipe as an Extension of your Self – Philosophy

I think, therefore I am.

The vast majority of Bagpiping Schools of Thought:
…I [refuse to] think, therefore I am [magically a musical authority]…

Philosophy is a necessary product of a bagpiper’s rational mind. To play the bagpipes, a piper must gain knowledge of the music and of the instrument. To understand the music, the piper must form conclusions about its very nature. For instance, to gain knowledge of particular musical objects in pipe music, the piper must recognize that those objects have identity. He must recognize that conclusions are possible because the music does exist, and exists in a particular way. (adapted from http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Epistemology_Philosophy.html)

A Philosophy built on false premises and faulty logic prohibits us from achieving better music.

How much of your fundamental skill-set can you logically explain? How much of it does your teacher posses the ability to explain?

For instance, why should you “hold the note before the taorluath?” How long do you hold it? How do you measure the note’s length?

Most schools of thought rely on mystical stories to answer the errors in reason that accompany their musical philosophies.

“That is the way pipers play it.”

“That is the way my teacher taught me.”

“I know it doesn’t come through in the manuscript, but I magically know how to interpret this manuscript.”

To be honest, the most logical explanation I have heard in addressing un-explained Bagpipe Rules is this:

“Because it sounds better that way.”

That is at least a reason based in rational thought. As musicians (and as humans?), to strive to be better is at our core. To learn a fundamental because it makes the music sound better is thus at least a reason. However, why does it sound better that way? Are there other variations/patterns within this concept that can be extrapolated across all bagpipe music? Do you hold every note before a taorluath?

My philosophy is that the Bagpipe should be a true extension of my Self, and my mind, thus all of my fundamental technique and musicality must be rooted in reason. Music and Art are projections of the artists’ personal values, thus to neglect your own ability to reason is to remove your own voice from your art.


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