All of the tunes featured on this album are arranged by Jeremiah McLane & Timothy Cummings
Named for a cat, 'Pixel' was originally composed as a 12/8 pipe tune inspired by Bulgarian rhythms. At some point it was decided that, if swung, it would pair well with a traditional, unnamed Breton laridé 6 temps recorded on Strobinell's An aotrou liskildri (1991) and published in David Surette's Fest Breizh collection (2006). (To be clear: we are swinging the tune, not the cat.)
J: piano accordion (Petosa) | T: Border pipes (baritone and tenor drones tuned to D and A [and muted for the first tune])
The 'ground', or theme, of the Scottish pibroch, 'The Old Woman's Lullaby' [Cronan na Caillich sa Bheinn Bhric], serves as the basis for the first part of 'Port William' (named for the fictional town in many of Wendell Berry's writings). It took only two glasses of pinot noir to transform the ancient pibroch into a contemporary 5/4 waltz. One of the McLane family’s favorite excursions is to a scenic hilltop orchard near South Strafford, Vermont; and so it is that 'Apple Knoll' was written for Annemieke McLane.
J: piano accordion (Petosa) | T: smallpipes (D-chanter; baritone and tenor drones tuned to D), whistle (alto-A)
The danse Plinn is a Breton dance involving repetitive, energetic, two-footed hopping, and is a traditional form thought to have been used by villagers to tamp down the dirt floors of newly erected homes long ago. On this track we take a 'smoother' approach to these than what might be played for an actual dance. These tunes come to us from a variety of sources, including Storvan's An Deiziou Kaer (1996). The closing melody, originally a rond de Loudéac (another type of traditional Breton dance), was learned from le couple de sonneurs Pierre Catrou and Corentin Dauneau.
J: piano | T: whistle (low-F)
The French word montagnarde is used to describe a type of bourrée, and can also be translated as "mountain girl". The renowned Jean Blanchard recorded the first bourrée on Musiques pour Cornemuses (1988), having sourced the tune from Jean-Baptiste Bouillet's Album auvergnat (1853). The second bourrée was recorded by violinists Jean-Pierre Champeval and Olivier Durif on Dans les rochers du Viallaneix (2012), and the third was recorded by Laurence Dupré and Olivier Wely on Fatcha peta lou peis: Violons des Monts d’Auvergne (2007).
J: piano accordion (Petosa) | T: Border pipes (taped B-flat; baritone and tenor drones tuned to D and A)
This march was composed by Herri Leon (1933-1962), a piper and Breton revivalist, and was recorded by Kornog on Première (1984) and published in David Surette's Fest Breizh collection (2006). We offer it in a style reminiscent of a Highland pipe 6/8 march. The title is in the Breton language and translates to "the song [or tune] of the roast", meaning that it might accompany the roast meat course at a wedding, for example.
J: piano accordion (Petosa) | T: smallpipes (A-chanter with C-natural thumbhole; alto drone tuned to E)
We take a slightly unorthodox approach to these Breton dance tunes, taking them at a slightly faster clip, and mixing ton simpl, ton doubl, and ton tripl gavottes. The last tune has been variously labeled a gavotte de montagne (ton doubl), a dans fisel, and a hanter fisel (the latter as heard on Skeduz's Couleurs Livioù, 1999).
J: piano accordion (Petosa) | T: Border pipes (with high-B key; bass drone tuned to B initially, then exchanged for baritone and tenor drones tuned to D and A [this witchcraft was achieved by recording the drones separately])
'Les Morvandiaux' was recorded by René Zosso on Chante & Vielle (1968). The first part of 'César's' is based on a theme from César Franck's Symphony in D minor. 'The Sound of Sleat' [pronounced "slayt"] is a well-known pipe tune, and its title refers to the inlet between mainland Scotland and the Isle of Skye. J: piano accordion (Pietro Mario) | T: smallpipes (D-chanter; tenor and alto drones tuned to G and D)
According to the editors of The New Oxford Book of Carols (1992), 'Entre le bœuf et l'âne gris' is a melody that may be of Breton origin. The version now used for the carol, and performed here, has almost certainly been altered from its Breton origins. The polka comes to us from Julie Vallimont, and can be found in The Massif Central Tune Book compiled by Mel Stevens, published by Dragonfly Music (1987).
J: piano accordion (Pietro Mario) | T: Border pipes (bass and tenor drones tuned to standard A)
'Keys to the City' was written for Tim on the occasion of his move to Burlington, Vermont. The Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) is a small, reddish dragonfly native to the Eastern U.S.
J: piano | T: whistles (low- and high-D)
The hanter dro is a simple, traditional Breton dance. It is rare for Breton dance tunes to have titles, and it's likely these two are titled after the lyrics that may be sung to them. We begin this set in the nervy Phrygian mode, a mode almost never heard on Scottish-style bagpipes. 'E kostez An Henbont' ("On the Hennebont side [of the river]") was recorded by the Battlefield Band on Celtic Hotel (1987). (And according to the Celtic Hotel album notes: "We learned it from the playing of one of the early and best known bands of the Breton revival, Diaouled Ar Menez… By the way, we don't play the full tune —these are the 'edited highlights'!")
J: piano accordion (Petosa) | T: Border pipes (with high-B key; bass drone tuned to B)
The first of these "triple-time" hornpipes was arranged by Irish/English/American fiddler Robert Ryan. The second tune existed in obscurity as a fragment of an old slip jig before the Welsh flutist/piper Ceri Matthews named it and "cobbled" it into the 3/2 hornpipe setting it now occupies so beautifully. (We decided this tune was strong enough to händel a brief countermelody.) Both of these tunes originally came to us from Robert, via Dominique Dodge, who both tend to play them in reverse order. The final tune was published in Matt Seattle's The Border Bagpipe Book (1993). We took the liberty of swapping the second and third parts from what appears in print.
J: piano accordion (Pietro Mario) | T: smallpipes (A-chanter with C-natural thumbhole; bass, tenor, and alto drones tuned to A, A, and E [with the E muted for the first two tunes])
'All You Shining Stars' was originally written as an instrumental lullaby for the pipes. Its title is taken from Psalm 148, and our performance here is dedicated to Luke McLane (born 2013).
J: piano accordion (Petosa) | T: whistles (alto-A, low- and high-D), smallpipes (A-chanter; tenor drone tuned to A)
Jeremiah plays Petosa and Pietro Mario piano accordions, and a Yamaha C7 (7'6”) grand piano.
The Border pipes used on this CD are comprised of mopani Garvie drones (including a custom baritone) and a hop-hornbeam chanter made by Nate Banton and Will Woodson (with custom high-B key). Pieces of tuning tape were used on occasion to help secure consistent Bbs and F♮s. The smallpipes consist of plum Banton drones (including baritone and alto), a hop-hornbeam Banton-Woodson A-chanter (with custom high-B key and C♮ thumbhole). The D-smallpipe chanter is of African blackwood, made by Hamish Moore. Both the Border and smallpipes were powered by Simon Hope bellows, and the smallpipe bag was made by Michael Mac Harg. The low-D and low-F whistles are MK Whistles made by Misha Somerville. The alto-A whistle is an aluminum Burke, and the high-D is a brass Copeland.
Produced by Jeremiah McLane and Timothy Cummings
Recorded by Lane Gibson at Lane Gibson Studios
Mastered by Colin McCaffrey
Cover Art: 'Wetland' © 2012 Tracy Vartenigian Burhans
Photography: © 2016 Miles Scanlon
Design by Oasis Disc Manufacturing
©℗ 2016 Jeremiah McLane & Timothy Cummings. All selections BMI, Floating Bridge Music & Birchen Music. All rights reserved.
Warning: Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.
Produced, printed, and manufactured in the USA.