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I am very pleased to introduce my second collection of bagpipe music, The Blockbuster, which is the follow-up to The Full Monty published in 2004. It contains 49 of my own compositions and arrangements, and 19 accompanying harmony scores.
The Full Monty served as a collection of my earliest compositions, written during my first twelve years playing and writing bagpipe music in Northern Ireland. I was greatly influenced at that time by the explosion of new bagpipe music being produced in the 1990s from composers around the world, and I sought to write the kind of music which I myself was interested in playing as a young piper.
Over a decade later, this second collection is in many ways firmly rooted in the developement of two historic pipe bands. Those bands are the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band of Northern Ireland where I played from 1997 to 2012, and Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band of Scotland where I became Pipe Major in August 2012. The motivation for writing many of the tunes included in this second book has been to furnish the competition the competition medleys and concert repertoires of these two competing bands. It is with a pipe band audience in mind that I have chosen to include harmonies for many of the tunes presented in this book.
I still aim, in everything I compose, to produce the kind of music I myself enjoy playing. It is my hope that the tunes in this collection are transferable accross a range of contexts, from solos to pipe bands to traditional music groups, and are performed in medley competitions, on the concert stage, or simply the enjoyment of one's own home. However, the catalyst motivating me to compose many of the tunes in this book has been writing music for pipe bands. This has undoubtedly had an impact on the quality of my music. As a young composer, I wrote down every idea which came to my mind. Today, I only ever write out on paper those tunes which I feel are strong enough that a band might choose to play them. Reflecting on my own experiences as a composer, I would argue against the claim that pipe bands, and in particular pipe band competition, is necessarily stifling of the creativity required for the production of new bagpipe music.
Ultimately, I hope that there is something within this book for all the different pipers who might leaf through these pages. To those pipers, I hope you enjoy the music.