The National Piping Centre (NPC) today launches a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to protect the legacy of its two magazines, the Piping Times and Piping Today.

The two-strand project involves the digitisation of the magazines’ archive – a resource that will be free to access online – and the production of a new annual publication that carries the Piping Times title.

With the Piping Times and Piping Today together recording over 70 years of piping history and recognised internationally as the most significant source of piping information, opinion and news, both were forced to cease publication in spring 2020 due to the unprecedented financial challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Piping Times was first published in October 1948 as the monthly ‘house’ magazine of the College of Piping. As well as printing competition results, reviewing events and reporting general news in the piping world, it provided a platform for the frank exchange of opinions and ideas. It was also influential in fostering an international piping community. Contributors in those early years included some legendary names in piping such as Archibald Campbell (of Kilberry), Willie Gray, John MacLellan, Robert Meldrum, John MacFadyen, J. P. Grant of Rothiemurchus, John Garroway and D. R. MacLennan.

Seumas MacNeill in the 1950s.

Although not the Piping Times’s first official editor, Seumas MacNeill, co-founder of the College, was the Convenor of the Editorial Committee that produced the magazine from 1948 until 1959 when he then became the sole editor. Seumas produced the magazine each month until his death in 1996.

Throughout these years, he took no payment from the College and never missed a single issue. An acerbic style of writing made him a controversial personality but his commitment to the publication – and to piping – bequeathed to the art a substantial and valuable historical record. Subsequent editors were Dugald MacNeill, Robert Wallace and Stuart Letford. 

In 2018, when the College was incorporated into the National Piping Centre, the magazine archive and its continued publication became part of the Centre’s legacy commitment. 

Roddy MacLeod MBE.

The National Piping Centre began publishing its own in-house magazine, Notes, shortly after opening in 1996. As the focus of the publication shifted to encompass the broader world of piping, its title was changed to Piping Today. The bi-monthly magazine, under the editorship of the then Director of Piping, Roddy MacLeod MBE, maintained a distinctive voice for almost 25 years. Covering developments such as the introduction and history of Piping Live!, the inception and development of The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland and key developments in the resarch and study of piping history, it charts the history of some of the most important newer events in the piping world.

The NPC’s Director of Piping, Finlay MacDonald, said: “It was with the deepest regret that we made the difficult decision to cease publication of the Piping Times and Piping Today. Both titles hold a special place in the hearts of pipers across the world. However, creating a physical record of the year’s piping news is still a priority for us. By publishing a Piping Times Annual we hope to create a new archive for the future. This first volume, covering the period from spring 2020 to utumn 2021, will be of enormous historical importance. While, on the one hand, far less piping activity has taken place due to the pandemic, the innovations that have taken place – most notably the explosion in online competitions – may be seen as a pivotal moment in the development of piping performance. It is essential that this is documented appropriately for researchers of the future.”

The organistion’s Head of Piping Studies, John Mulhearn, added: “The history recorded in both magazines’ archives is of great value to the international piping community. The unmatched resource it represents for students and scholars of the bagpipe cannot be overstated. In making this resource more accessible, future research will benefit profoundly.”

The money raised from the crowdfunding campaign will be used to professionally digitise the magazine archive. It will then be hosted on The National Piping Centre’s website and be free for the public to access and search. 

The Crowdfunder is live from now until the end of this month (May 31). Donations can be made directly by clicking here.

Rewards include:

  • £15 or more: Named as a sponsor + eBook edition –Your name will be included in a list of sponsors within the new Piping Times Annual and you will get access to the eBook edition
  • £35 or more: Named as a sponsor + Physical Copy In addition to your name being included in a list of sponsors in the new Piping Times Annual you will receive a physical copy of the book.
The NPC’s Finlay MacDonald and John Mulhearn browsing through copies of the Piping Times.
  • £70 or more: Ticket to Launch Concert + Physical Copy – In early December 2021 there will be an exclusive launch concert hosted at The National Piping Centre and livestreamed. For £70 or more you will receive a ticket to the event (either online or in-person). In addition, you will receive a physical copy of the new Piping Times Annual and your name will be included in the list of sponsors.
  • £150 or more: Piping Live! Online Pass + other rewards In addition to the other rewards listed above (name listed as a supporter, physical copy of the Piping Times Annual, ticket to the launch event) you will receive an Online Pass to the 2021 edition of Piping Live!
  • £300 or more: Piping Times / Piping Today Back Issue Cover Print – In addition to all of the rewards above (name listed as a supporter, physical copy of the Piping Times Annual, ticket to the launch event, and a Piping Live! Online Pass), you can have the cover of any Piping Times or Piping Today issue blown up in a high-quality print.
  • £500 or more: Tune Commission from your choice of NPC Teachers –In addition to the rewards above (listed as a supporter, physical copy of the Piping Times Annual, ticket to the launch event, and a Piping Live! Online Pass) you can commission an original composition by one of the National Piping Centre’s teachers (choose below). This is a unique way to support the project while being able to name a tune and be sent a hand-signed copy from the composer.

• The NPC has produced a launch video that can be viewed here: