Time Out Of Mind

By Chris Ormston

  1. I Saw My Love Come Passing By Me
  2. Coilsfield House
  3. A Dog’s Life
  4. Owen Hackett’s
    St. Cuthbert Crossing The Rhine
  5. Miss Crawford
    Miss Maydell Armstrong
  6. A Fig For A Kiss
    New Road To Tynemouth
  7. All The Night I Lay With Jockey
  8. The Lark In The Morning
    Bobby Robson’s Rant
  9. Keening In The Wind
  10. Bigg Market Lasses
  11. Bonny Woodside
  12. Woo’d And Married And Aa’
    Four Bare Legs Together
    The Lad Wi’ The Trousers On
    The New Way Of Getting Bairns
  13. Dove Crag
  14. O Little Wat Ye Wha’s Coming
  15. Memories
    Father O’Flynn
  16. Noble Squire Dacre Came Over The Border
    Jemmy’s Wallet’s Stolen
  17. Morpeth Lasses
    Ha’d The Lass Till I Win At Her
  18. Holy Ha’penny
  19. The Flower Of The Quern

Two comments

Time Out Of Mind - Chris Ormston

This features the solo Northumbrian piping of Chris Ormston, with occasional tasteful contributions by Stewart Hardy (fiddle) and Hazel Bullock (flute); it was put out by Kyloe Records in 2003.

It stands to be of particular interest to Northumbrian pipers or afficionados because Ormston has made it his business to resurrect a playing style that was practically lost - that of the great N /pipes player and teacher Tom Clough, and probably a line of pipers before him. Clough died in 1964, leaving very little of his own playing recorded.

This style is staccato, with a certain number of lead-in grace-notes but an avoidance of legato successions of notes: the main idea is to have the notes coming out sharply distinct, even in very fast passages - and there are some very fast zips up and down the scale on tracks such as Holy Ha’penny and I Saw My Love Come Passing By Me, the latter of which fleetingly combines very fast passages higher up the scale with the popping of deeper notes being played at the same time, in an eyebrow-raising fashion.

It strikes me as a hard style - hard in its sound, and hard to play. It shows up the slightest deviation from perfect time unforgivingly. I get the impression that playing fast involved stuff on the N / pipes is practically impossible to do without some wobbles and glitches - however minor - even for pretty good players: there are some on the album, which is not to say Chris isn’t a pretty good player. It has been courageous of him to take on this style, and see how far he can go with it.

Time Out Of Mind - Chris Ormston

I’m still being intrigued by this album, and the piping style it showcases.

Listening to the sequences of notes, strung out like beads between sometimes firm, sometimes flexible nodes, I’m getting the impression that metronomic timing - so well-nigh impossible to achieve - isn’t *really* the be-all and end-all here. There’s something about the way this music is played that makes me think of the harp, with its plangency and continuously managed micro-variations of tempo.

Track 17 (Morpeth Lassies / Ha’d The Lass Till I Win At Her) got me thinking along these lines. The tunes are modal and sound as if they’d be absolute naturals on the harp.

I imagine some Border / Northumbrian pipe tunes really might have their origin in harp music, as this was a favoured instrument in Lowland Scotland in the Middle Ages (and place-names attest harpers’ lands in Northumbria). Not that I know personally of any direct link between the styles of the developed N / pipes and any harp-playing in this part of the world in the c19-20 - but there’s a lot I don’t know, to say the least.