In the final ever edition of the Piping Today magazine published in May 2020, a wide range of people were asked to give their 2020 vision for piping going forward. They were all sent a list of questions and asked to choose one to answer in no more than 200 words.
The questions prompted a wide range of interesting and entertaining answers, and we will share them on bagpipe.news over the rest of this year. To give the writers a chance to update their thoughts, we have asked them to write us a short and snappy postcard from 2022, letting us know their thoughts and plans for this year now that piping is opening up again and life getting back to some normality.
Iain MacInnes’s 2020 Vision
Here are three wonderful things that have happened during my time in piping.
Pipe bands have evolved musically to become near-orchestral in scope and ambition. Competition medleys drove this change from the 1970s onwards, and at the very top level pipe majors and leading drummers have produced some genuinely great music.
Next stage: drop the enclosed circle routine, at least at the Worlds. Face the audience.
Pipers and drummers are being educated as never before (in Scotland at least). From primary level upwards, the quality of teaching is impressive, with organisations such as The National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music at Plockton and The National Piping Centre doing outstanding work. Players can now get a well-rounded musical education which takes in so much more than simply piping and drumming.
Next stage: beware over-reliance on the private sector. Encourage local councils to maintain music education services.
Bellows-blown bagpipes are now part of the piping landscape in Scotland. This certainly wasn’t the case when I started in the 1970s, and full credit to the pioneers and pipe makers who helped drive this change. With the bellows has come a willingness to explore alternative repertoire, including the old and often forgotten music of the Borders.
Next stage: more of the same and (note to pipe makers), can Border pipe chanters be made easier to play? They’re still a challenge to all but the very best.
Iain’s postcard from 2022
If the pipes are going well, why not consider making a recording?
There are perhaps fewer commercial record companies now than there used to be, but I suspect that demand for well-made pipe music recordings remains strong. The technical side of the process needn’t be expensive – two or three days in a good studio should be enough to record an album’s-worth of solo material, plus a day for mixing and mastering – but the challenge then comes with the process of packaging and selling the product.
However, don’t let this put you off. Pipe music recordings tend to have a long shelf life, and new web-based opportunities for sales and marketing are opening up all the time. The Irish uilleann piping community has shown the way with an impressive catalogue of self-released CDs, and I think that the same could work for our own music. Making a recording is fun, and can provide a lasting legacy. Seize the moment!