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Mark Knopfler's "piper To The End"

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After having bought the wonderful "Get Lucky" album a week ago I just couldn't stop going through this song, mostly in mind, but I played and sang it several times as well. This morning I decided to record my rehearsing for critical listening but found that this very first take turned out well enough to present it here. Having learnt the bridge not earlier than last evening I messed up one line completely, but that doesn't bother me too much because it's a work in progress anyway:


Piper to the End (Mark Knopfler)


As always, any comments - be they written or, even better, musical - appreciated!


Best wishes to all - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor
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Wolf -


great that you came across this wonderful exceptional album eventually. I've been a close follower of Knopfler's solo work for a long time, and I do believe that Get Lucky is one of the true gems in contemporary music as well as one of his best. Following Kill to Get Crimson, it has marked his return to a folk tradition in the best sense of the word. His most recent one, Privateering, also contains a number of very folkish songs (example given, Haul Away - absolutely stunning). Would that Knopfler got the attention he deserved as a master songwriter and story teller as well as the exceptional guitarist he is.


As for your rendition - I like the ornamentation, but the song imho comes across too hurried. You need to add more breaks in between the lines to grant the lyrics space to breathe. Alternatively, slow it down a little? After all, this is a heavy song which needs time and emphasis to sink into the mind of the listener. Given that it tells the story of the slow death of a soldier in the battle field who (in my interpretation) comes to terms with the madness of it all and eventually prepares to become one with the beautiful nature that surrounds his death, every word deserves all the affection it can get.


Makes sense?


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I agree - even in Dire Straits there was a really strong folk element in Knopfler's writing. I don't know the original of this one, but it feels to me as though it ought to have a similar feel to "Brothers in Arms" (the song) - I agree, I'd take it slower, and possibly strip down the accompaniment a little.


But that aside - nice work Wolf. And you've spurred me into recording a rough draft of Romeo and Juliet, which I'll post separately.

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Rüdiger and Stuart, thank you both very much for the attention and commenting! As to breathing, breaks and space, I didn't mean to conclude with the lyrics after the bridge, but having just been over that tongue twister I seemed to stumble involuntarily into the final couple of verses. But there's more, it's a shame what happened to the "clouds" as well as to some other words. I take it from you, slow down, halt at the end of the lines, one more interlude - and the accompaniment might recede just due to the slower tempo. I'm looking forward to working on the song with all that in mind.


As to the meaning, I really love the first verse with that "going down below"..., it's thus rather about fitting and company but righteousness...


Besides, I had acquired the "Privateering" album before and liked it, of course, but that didn't set me up for this previous album which I immediately had to rate as "classic" like LP records in the 60ies and 70ies...

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Hi Wolf, I was not able to open your rehearsal sound file. The site said something was wrong. I will try to get it later today.


I have been having fun trying to copy your Barbara Allen on Valentina! If it turns out to be a decent albeit slightly different rendition, I will post it so you can hear.

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Soundcloud has its ups and downs, so to speak..., and is thus requiring a second or even third try from time to time.


My previous (second last as yet) recording (a third take on "Apley House", a Playford English country dance) doesn't seem to get streamed at all, it's just listed among the "tracks" of mine and to be activated from there.


As to "Barabara Allen" I'm "following" you "back", thus soundcloud should stream your version for me as soon ad you've uploaded it. As said, I'm looking forward to that, particularly since your inclined to make a difference. That's what it's all about as to me... :)

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This is great, both - the folk process in full effect!

I'm very happy with this comment. And thank you again for having induced that with your intial recording!


Steve, glad you liked this one too. I played it like that (although not that fluently of course) from the very beginning; it's the instrument which seems to lead to these progressions and ornamentations pretty naturally (at least in some preferred "home" keys).


My instrument is a 48b Lachenal Excelsior ("old model" from Victorian times, but kept available further on; "hook" action, steel reeds in dovetail-shaped brass shoes) from around 1927. Here are some pics:






I luckily acquired it online in the summer of 2011 out of an instant inspiration that the EC in general would be my long sought-after new favourite free reed instrument (and this nice specimen the one for me). Added silk baffles and beautiful bellow papers from Dave Elliott last year.


Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor
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It seems to have a very nice tone.


That's true - however, it took me some time to fully realize that. My appreciation of the instrument (which I certainly wouldn't swap now) grew parallel to developing my skills with it... :)


(at last year's German, Robert might say "European", Concertina meeting I still was kind of amazed at a number of fellow concertinists speaking of my instrument's particularly nice tone to me...)

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Wolf! What a lovely lady you posted! That is the most elegant I have seen! I love the gilt work. So happy you shared it with me (with us all)! I am still working with Valentina, not ready to post yet.

Why must life intrude when music awaits?

She sits breathing shallowly in a small, dark, space,

And longs for a breath and a bow,

And to sit thus bowed upon Her knee,

Making sweet reed-music just Her and she.

Making sweet reed-music, together.


To fill her bellows she bows both ends

Drawing close together, neighbors and friends,

Some rise to kick and some to sing

and some to cry if there's suffering;

Valentina's sweep, Valentina's sighs,

Making sweet reed-music just She and I..

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