This is the first installment in what will hopefully be a series of short blogs about tunes written or arranged by Tim Cummings. Tim runs a small tunebook publishing business in Vermont called Beithe Publishing. It’s a gem of publishing house focusing on new music for bagpipes.
Photo by Ryan MacDonald
One of my college students failed to turn up to a lesson one day, and so I decided to make the best use of the spare time by writing a new tune. I wanted to try one in the Lydian mode, as it’s rarely used and I didn’t know of any other pipe tunes based on that scale. This reel seemed to write itself in a matter of minutes. The Lydian scale is essentially a major scale with a raised 4th. On the Scottish smallpipes that happens naturally when we base a tune in G; our C# is an augmented 4th above G. The whole effect is secured with a drone tuned to G. One thing I love about the Lydian mode is that it often creates a light, ethereal aura, almost taking the listener away into some mysterious, fictional world. John Williams used the Lydian mode for some of his E.T. soundtrack; ditto for Thomas Newman in many of his film scores. The title of this particular reel suggests a far-away fictional ocean, while also nodding to the C# that gives it its unique Lydian flavor.