A contemporary painting of siege of the Alamo. Around 200 ‘Texans’ and 600 Mexicans were killed when General de Santa Anna stormed the Alamo in San Jacinto after a 13-day siege in March 1836. Just over three quarters of the Texans who died at the Alamo in 1836 were Scots or of Scots descent.

The piper at the Alamo

Among the men who fought and died at the Alamo during the Texas War of Independence were several Scots. The best remembered of these brave Celts was John MacGregor. Born in Scotland, he was 34 years old and held the rank of Second Sergeant when the Alamo fell. During the […]

Piobaireachd Society Secretary, Bill Wotherspoon plays at the grave of one of piping's great figures of the past, Major General C. S. Thomason. 2011 was the centenary of his death.

The Piobaireachd Society salutes its first president, General Thomason

By John KS Frater Major General Charles Simeon Thomason, one of the leading figures of the great Highland bagpipe, died on July 12, 1911. The first President of the Piobaireachd Society (PS), he had become quite an obscure figure until fellow Sapper and piper, Brian MacKenzie brought him to life […]

John D. Burgess and Brian Donaldson are but two examples of how pipers should present themselves.

It is time pipers learned those all-important presentation skills

By Arvey R. McFarland Over the years, I’ve read commentary in the Piping Times regarding the fact that piping receives very little of the same respect and appreciation afforded to other forms of classical music. After attending professional competitions in Scotland and the US, and most recently, one held by […]

The Rock and the Wee Pickle Tow as it appears in the Scots Guards collection, volume 1.

A new date for an old melody – A Rock and a Wee Pickle Tow

By Seán Donnelly A Rock and Wee Pickle Tow (or The Linlithgow March) is a tune that needs no introduction. Like Cock o’ the North, a descendant of Joan’s Placket is Torn, first published in 1685 but referred to from the 1660s onward, A Rock and a Wee Pickle Tow […]

Commonwealth Games, Edinburgh 1970. The Queen inspects the Guard of Honour.

The tale of a shirt, the Queen and my bare backside

By Lt. Col. David Murray Forty years ago HM The Queen paid her usual autumn visit to Edinburgh, arriving by train which in those days still ran to time. The protocol was that she was greeted at the station by a Guard of Honour found by the Scots Guards, specially […]

Opinions, assumptions and truths

Opinions, assumptions and truths

GREY’S NOTES by Michael Grey Piping Today #65, 2013. Summertime and the livin’ is easy; fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high. Great words; in fact, great lyrics from George and Ira Gershwin. And while it’s our standard holiday season, with weather that’s light on the back, summer isn’t […]

Simon McKerrell: what’s the story?

Simon McKerrell: what’s the story?

By Simon McKerrell At this time of the year, most pipers around the globe are busy learning the tunes they’ll play during next year’s competition season. Band and solo competitors are working hard on mastering the music, working on the the technical improvements in their playing and hopefully, as my […]

‘Big Ronnie’ bridges the generations

‘Big Ronnie’ bridges the generations

Ronald Lawrie of Oban (1927-2008) wasn’t called ‘Big Ronnie’ for nothing. But his broad-shouldered, 6ft 5in frame and imposing, square-jawed presence were almost incidental to his considerable stature in piping — and an involvement that began with direct influences from the 19th century and continues into the 21st century. He […]

Brett Tidswell: piping in Australia

Brett Tidswell: piping in Australia

By Brett Tidswell The oldest pipe band in the southern hemisphere is arguably the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Caledonian Society of South Australia. The band was first established in 1894 in Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. There is some argument that it was not a pipe […]