Bagpipes: A Disnae view.

Bagpipes: A Disnae view.

I was going to post this on here: https://thesession.org/discussions/30402, but then it descended into a discussion about restaurants.

Anyway, my curiosity got the better of me and I went to see Brave the other day. Great film, made me smile lots. I did pick up on one musical point which, in hindsight, actually didn’t surprise me in the slightest, namely that:

GHBs provided the (stereotyped) soundtrack to the comical fight scenes in the film.

However, as the film moved to the beautiful panoramic animated views of a Disneyfied Scottish landscape, with forests, lakes and mountains, the distinct sound of a related instrument with more than 9 notes, more commonly seen on a different island, could be heard.

Question: is it really fair that the GHB and the uilleann pipes are compared in this way?

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I think the sound of the pipes were used to reflect what was going on in the film i.e. the harsher tones of the GHB for fight scenes and the softer tone for the panoramic views

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This also came up with Braveheart. Apparently when questioned why they used Irish pipes in a film about Scottish legend (I was going to say history, but that wasn’t the right word…), the answer was something like ‘we filmed in Ireland, and it didn’t seem right to play Scottish pipes.’ I would suggest they didn’t want to insult anyone by say the UPs have a greater musical range, tend to blend better with conventional orchestral instruments, and are often played more sensitively. That, and the overwhelming majority wouldn’t know the difference even if you were playing right in front of them.

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The sound of the GHB has for too long implanted in the minds of British people and sundry other humanity notions that are at odds with sensations of peace, rest and gurgling delight in the bosomy folds of the natural world.

These notions are either that a large number of highly worked-up men are about to fall on them and cut them in half, or that similar numbers are about to march up and down in their earshot for what will seem a very long time playing Highland Cathedral and stuff, in an over-the-top celebration of fanatical regimentation and uniforms that make them look like colossal turkeys that have come to take revenge for Christmas, after a winter of Dad’s Army-like sessions in church halls.

This may not marry up very well with the songs of the colours and clouds and flowers, though I cannot be entirely sure, never actually having heard these.

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Pure ignorance … the same Disney research that means anyone going anywhere in London passes Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge…

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You hit the nail on the head, there, nicholas. **snort**

That, and GHB just make my delicate pink ears ache. I am generally the one cowering in the corner with my hands over my ears when those things go off.

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Michele, I love ‘em! I take the mickey out of them, and pipe bands, from a position of affection. I wish the local session piper (all sorts of pipes) would get his war-pipes out in the pub, but he sticks to the Border Pipes there. Mind, they’re pretty loud.

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Michele, does this imply you consider every other instrument to be "played", whilst the GHB "go off"?

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And if I see one more talking animal, I’m writing a letter.

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I have a friend who indulges in the GHB, nicholas. Like dogs, they are at their best OUTSIDE. Fortunately, he also dabbles in the elbow pipes, as well as a dangerous assortment of whistles, so he is welcome in my house, along with his lovely wife’s delicious elk stew. His lovely wife is welcome, too, because she dances, and that doesn’t scare the cats.

STW, the highland pipes do seem to ‘go off’. As in detonate. 🙂

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I think Michele is on to something. The words "go off," also associated with things like fireworks and other pyrotechnics, are perfect for describing that moment when those drones start to growl.

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"go off" is also associated with old milk or the sandwich under the seat of your truck…

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My favourite scene in Braveheart is where the camera pans on a guy playing Highland pipes on the top of a hill, but the sound you hear is the uilleann pipes.

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I, for one and perhaps not the only one, was extremely unhappy by the lack of GHBs in several "Scots" themed flicks over the past few years.
Filmdom really missed the boat, and badly.

Whinge over.

"They are saying kiss off in their own way. Making an outlawed racket on outlawed plumbing."
Bravehurts, Act 2, Scene 4, on the balcony at Bunratty Castle
😏

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A remark from a Northumbrian Piper…"I love the sound of the highland bagpipe in the distance,…… and the highlands are just about the right distance!!

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During traditional music workshop in Brittany a few years ago a large number of bombarde, biniou koz and biniou braz (a.k.a. GHB) students were accomodated wisely in a remote farm’s barn. After the classes they would walk around the fields training whatever they’d just learnt. Asked what he thought about it all, the farm owner said: "They are a fine lot, really, but I can’t wait for them to leave - since they’re here my cows are so scared that they give only sour milk".

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I hope Mel Gibson did not insist on trying to star as any kind of pipes player in "Braveheart".

As for the invasion of uilleann piping, perhaps running through Disney’s mind are such worldly-wise thoughts as these:

"The Irish in the USA are a prominent urban demographic who are ready to spend money at the drop of a hat.

‘The Scots just became Canucks who sleep most of the year. Either that or they stopped in the Appalachians and live on moonshine, greens and wildlife and wouldn’t spend money even if they had any.

‘Therefore, it’s a no-brainer to pitch the film at the Irish, stroke them the right side of the fur and induce them to cross our palms with silver to see a bit of their own history. Their history according to us, that is. Even if it takes half our music geeks to process the sounds of that bagpipe of theirs that sounds like waterfowl being eaten alive."

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While amusing, nicholas, I don’t think that Scottish Americans are outnumbered by Irish Americans. For some reason though, many Scottish cultural events and such seem to get co-opted by the Irish Americans. Milwaukee Irish fest is this weekend and I guarantee you can go there and see Scottish country dance performances and hear highland pipes being played somewhere. To the public at large, Scottish and Irish culture are basically the same. In reality Irish Americans are often Scottish Americans as well as Irish and Scottish families were more likely to intermarry than either were with any other ethnic group back when this country was nothing but a scattered collection of ethnic enclaves.

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Americans generally lump any group that includes red-haired people under the general category of "celtic," and many of our ideas about those "celtic" cultures are broad stereotypes at best. Which, I suppose, explains how Scottish culture is portrayed in "Brave."

Pipes

"My favourite scene in Braveheart is where the camera pans on a guy playing Highland pipes on the top of a hill, but the sound you hear is the uilleann pipes."

I never saw the film. Maybe it was just a sound editor who heard the original cut & decided to substitute it with a good bit of *piping*. Was it at least the same tune, maybe?

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Wow. Who knew the uilleann pipes were banned from Scotland in 1200-something!

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The movie "Brave" has no historical significance, and it’s a bit of fun (yon Doric speaking geezer who nobody is supposed to understand raised a laugh in the cinema - as it was an Aberdeen cinema). The uilleann pipes probably developed as much in Scotland as they did in Ireland - they are relatively modern - but the movie is not too serious anyway. Who gives a toss?

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"the movie is not too serious anyway" - which movie? That ridiculous cartoon stuffed full of myths and historical howlers? Or Brave? Unfortunately the film from which Ben posted a clip is taken all too seriously by all too many.

I look forward to seeing Brave though.

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"which movie? "

The one mentioned in the opening post?

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"the movie is not too serious anyway"

You mean princesses don’t turn the queen into a bear to get their own way? Or maybe Camilla already tried it…

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Disclaimer: I know Camilla isn’t a princess, nor is the Queen her mother.

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Actually, she is a Princess. She’s Princess of Wales. She just prefers to be known as The Duchess of Cornwall. Probably doesn’t like Welsh people …

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In the sense of the film, she isn’t a princess, whilst back in the real-world, she is.

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Yes, of course. I’m so tied to reality. My bad. 😏

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😀

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@Earl Cameron:

My knowledge of Scottish Americans could probably be written on a grain of semolina.

But I did read an article once about people in Appalachia who still call themselves ‘Scots Irish’ (or some combination of the words) and have a spokesman who is trying to increase their group visibility in the American ethnic market-place. I think they are descended from Ulster Protestants and maybe Lowland Scots also who came over in the c18, some time before the Potato Famine and Catholic Irish immigration. I suppose the Appalachians were the first unclaimed territory beyond the lands already settled by then, in New England e.g.

I believe a great many Lowland Scots were driven from the land in the c18 by a combination of rapacious landlords and the beginnings of industrialisation. (I think I heard the estimable Neil Oliver talk about that in a TV series on Scottish history.) So a lot of them emigrated.

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Ha ha! love it!
That looks like my house in South London.
Not much chance of me turning into a Scotsman - I am one already.
BTW in case it hisnae been cracked before oan this thread: What’s the difference between the Old Crooner and the maker of such classic cartoon films such as Snow White?
Bing Sings but Walt Disnae

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A friend of mine played the Bagpipes for Brave, a couple of them were Irish from SLOT who won the Worlds a few years ago, and the other guy Scottish from the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

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Nice one, Danny. 😀

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You guys are thinking too much, trying to inject all sorts of historical and political considerations into the minds of Hollywood types.

They probably used the uilleann pipes simply because they liked the sound of them. They probably didn’t think for a moment that the uilleann pipes might be associated with one country or another. If you tried to explain it to them they would be disinterested and bored.

These are the same people that used the Armenian Duduk on a movie about a Spaniard in the Roman Army.

I saw a trailer for an Irish-themed film that used Spanish Gaitas in the soundtrack.

I’ve done hundreds of gigs for these people and many’s the time I’ve played uilleann pipes when the Highland pipes are seen onscreen. When you work for these people you do what you’re told, if you want to keep working.

BTW a Highland piper friend of mine, who also happens to be an orchestral composer/arranger/conductor, was disgusted at the Highland piping in Brave. He says he can hear the pipers making all sorts of mistakes etc.

Thing is, the pipers probably did a large number of "takes" and most were probably flawless, but for whatever reason the Hollywood people liked the rough-sounding take.

I played Highland pipes on one album and the composer was dismayed that when he doubletracked me, both "takes" were exactly in tune with each other. He didn’t like it! He asked me to re-tune the pipes between takes so that the result was out of tune. I did what I was told.

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dolla dolla bill y’all!

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Thanks Michele, as you can imagine that is a very old joke…even older than me.
Richard you are absolutely correct, people reading into things too much, but having read the rest of your post I and maybe some others will now feel so humbled to be in the company of a recording star such as yourself, as you have so modestly outlined. I am not worthy. Allah be praised. 🙂

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Recording star, not even close. Just somebody who happens to live in the LA area and happens to work in the industry from time to time.

There are dozens of working musicians here who play on all the soundracks, who never get screen credit… they’re just people working in the industry, like the people who build the sets and haul around the lights and drive the trucks that carry all the stuff and so on.

I suppose you’re trying to imply that I’m egotistical or boasting or some such, but that’s not the case at all. I just work sometimes, so when a thread is here on which people are saying things which give a distorted slant on how the industry works, I just thought I would try to set things straight a bit.

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Richard, if you haven’t already, you should contact ecooke on this other thread—I’ve a feeling you could really help him/her out.

https://thesession.org/discussions/30429

I’ve worked as an art director, writer and creative director for over 20 years. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some incredibly talented composers and musicians like yourself, Richard, who help create custom scores to order. I only wish I had half the chops required for that kind of work.

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@blaydo - All of the Highland pipers on the film are Scottish to the best of my knowledge. There were:

Lorne MacDougall
Craig Munro (who I see plays with SLOT these days)
Kyle Stuart Howie
Kyle Warren
Willie Armstrong

All of them have an association with the Red Hot Chilli Pipers to a greater or lesser extent.

As an aside the uilleann pipes were played by Jarlath Henderson and the whistles by Matheu Watson. The fiddle was Chris Stout and percussion was provided by Jim Sutherland and Neil Percy. Harp was Bryn Lewis.

Good musicians all of them. I have not seen the film yet but am looking forward to it. Pixar did spend a lot of time researching for the film and travelling round Scotland taking photos, studying castles and the like to try to make it as believable as possible (whilst it is obviously still a fantasy story).

They did some trickery with the piping animation so that the fingers of the characters were doing exactly what the pipers were doing when they played in the studio.

I am sure the film will be a great advertisement for Scotland.

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"They did some trickery with the piping animation so that the fingers of the characters were doing exactly what the pipers were doing when they played in the studio."

That makes it more realistic than "The Boys and Girl from County Clare" then.

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@No Cause For Alarm

Those names for the bag pipers don’t match what I was told, unless there was a different piping section in the film, the people who played bag pipes were:

Stuart Cassells (from the RHCP who organised it)
Craig (that you already mentioned)
Donald McKenzie
Noel Kelly (Irish from SLOT)
Alan Tully (also Irish from SLOT)

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Hi Blaydo,

Nope. Not sure where you got those names from but they definitely weren’t on the film (except for Craig). Stuart was asked to do it but couldn’t so passed it on to Lorne. All the info is on that link I posted from Lorne’s website.

All the best,

Alistair

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What I forgot to mention is that I lifted all the names (including harp, whistle, UPs) direct from the credits of the film.

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Cheers for that Weejie. Can’t say it was the most interesting review I have ever read but it certainly does break it down.

Either way, in the photo, left to right, you have Kyle Howie, Willie Armstrong, Lorne MacDougall and Craig Munro.

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Then there must have been another piping section. Whether their names are on the credits or not, Noel Kelly and Alan Tully most definitely recorded for the film with Craig Munro when he was here in Dublin for band practice. As Craig is our only common denominator, you could ask him.

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I’m sorry but there really wasn’t another piping section. If Noel or Alan did some recording then it wasn’t for the soundtrack. I don’t know Craig to ask him but there isn’t really a need. Lorne was asked to put together the piping for the film and he invited the rest of the pipers, including Craig to join the group. All the recording was done in the studios down in London.

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lol, just been having a read of this! amazing what you can do on a boring sunday….

@blaydo;
Below is the only group of highland pipers that were recorded for Brave. It was indeed an amazing experience, although we were asked to make the odd weird noise!

Lorne MacDougall
Craig Munro (SLOT)
Kyle Stuart Howie(MacKenzie Caledonian)
Kyle Warren(FMM)
Willie Armstrong