for 9 bagpipes
for bagpipe and recording
When I started writing LAD
I was lucky to meet Matthew Welch and the Saffron Kilts Pipe Band. They are an intergenerational bagpipe band that meets regularly at the Irish Community Center in Babylon, New York. We rehearsed amidst conflicting bagpipe rehearsals, Irish drumming filtering in from other rooms, and young girls busy with Irish dancing lessons. I started exploring and found that the instrument plays one scale (forever in myxolidian mode) and one dynamic (very, very loud) so loud, in fact, that being in the same room with a bagpipe (or nine) is sonically completely overwhelming. I started to work with Matthew in search of other sounds sounds that would broaden the palette. The first sound I found was the very first thing pipers do before they start to play, which is to fill the air bag with wind to produce the drone, and it is this sound that starts the piece. Among the other unpiperly sounds you will hear are the bending of the notes into continuous slides up the scale of the instrument, and a chaotic erratic trilling that sounds like cries of 1,000 birds. LAD
was premiered at the Winter Garden in New York City, with the pipers descending into the main space from multiple directions. For this recording Matthew Welch plays all 9 parts. The piece was written in memory of a musically raucous and powerful violist and friend, John Lad (1945-2007).