I played for private woodland ceremony over the weekend. It was not a paid gig – I was invited to go and delighted to do it.
Piping is generally an outdoor activity, but usually it takes place in highly controlled environments – highland games, weddings, funerals, parades. Twice now in the past few months I have played out in the woods and it was completely different experience. Back in the summer I played in the woods next to a hotel where I was staying. No audience (at first) except for trees and crickets. It was peaceful and beautiful. I could just feel my playing, knowing no-one else could (at first). The trees seemed to wrap around me. I stared at them in detail while I played and just lost myself.
This past weekend, I was out in the woods again, in a heavily wooded valley near Salt Lake City. Rich fall colors, crisp air, mountains rising around me. Once again, peaceful and beautiful, but this time with an audience. For that reason it was a little less reflective than the previous experience, but still a wonderful time.
I have a recording of Barnaby Brown playing piobaireachd in a cave above the ocean on the Isle of Skye. He climbed in on his own with his pipes and recording equipment. You can hear the waves crashing throughout the recording.
Playing in nature is a totally different feeling. Audience or not, it’s worth experiencing if you’re a piper.