The Field Marshall Montgomery** from Northern Ireland

- [maybe a cousin** see note at end] has been one of the world's dominant pipe bands for 20 years having won 99 major championships, including the world event in 2011 for the 7th time.

little known facts about bands like the Field Marshall Montgomery band: the musical virtuoso required from the collective band members far exceeds anything that could be produced by a great symphony organization like the NY philharmonic.

1. for openers, the NY philharmonic could not endure the long hours of practice, day in and day out to produce a competitive champion pipe band. and remember piping in northern Ireland and Scotland starts at age 5; just like Irish Step Dancing. 

2. the speed of a competitive piping exceeds anything an orchestra could produce continuously for 6 minutes. the average note in competition pipe tunes is 1/64th of a second, because of the intricate grace noting. watch carefully the fingers of the pipers; their fingers move so incredibly fast, you will surely miss what they are really doing, particularly with the lower pinky. in piping, only one note can be played at a time.  of course, the pipes are actually playing chords because of the tenor and base drones.  some instruments like the piano and stringed instruments, can play multiple notes at the same time.  in would be physically impossible for clarinet or oboe player as an example to keep up with a piper because of the mechanal keys.  on the other hand, James Galway would have little difficulty keeping up and even exceeding the speed of most pipers with his ;penny whistle or flute. 

3. each pipe has four reeds that need to be precisely tuned and stayed tuned around a very complicated mixolydian (old gaelic) bagpipe scale, in order to produce the overriding clarity, harmonics and tone. and, the tone has to be rock steady - wavering is horrible no-no. a symphony orchestra does not face this challenge. [many symphonies are out of tune, ask someone who has perfect pitch; also opera stars often miss their high notes - piping is unforgiving, and bands get marked down for slight imperfections in every aspect of their musical performance.

4. the drum syncopation is critical and tuned at 1/64th and faster, and simply could not be produced by any symphony in the world. for openers, all the top drummers are in the pipe bands.

5. unfortunately the music style is foreign to non-pipers because the bands play a medley of tunes around jigs, reels, hornpipes and strathpeys. the dance rhythms have unusual qualities in that the beats are not even. some beats are emphasized, others diminished. triplets are rarely evenly spaced. etc, etc many jigs sound altogether different when spacing of triplets is played evenly or accented.  

** number 1 son tom brophy is married to jane montgomery who grandfather samuel montgomery is from fivemiletown, fermanagh about an hour east of cloghboley. samuel's baptismal church and church cemetery and church wall plaques contains many distinguished montgomerys, several with high military distinctions. it is my belief that they all our of common ancestry. I have been to fivemiletown three times and have not spent enough time to prove my theory.


Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band competing at the World Pipe Band Championships 2011. This is them playing their MSR. Finished 1st overall.

FMM Pipe Band - Dungannon 2011

Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band MSR-Dungannon 2011

Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band NEW CASTLE 6/18/2011

Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band winning the March, Strathspey and Reel competition at the World Pipe Band Championships held on Glasgow Green on 13 August 2011.

Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band under Pipe Major Richard Parkes MBE taking the Grade One European Championships at Stormont Estate, Belfast on 30 July 2011.

ust doing their thing after winning the worlds for a 7th time! Also winning best piping in the MSR & MEDLEY! & best drumming in the MEDLEY!

FMM play their winning medley after they won the WPBC 2011. Sorry for the photo pauses.

Brophy Thursday 16 February 2012 - 4:42 pm | | Brophy Blog

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