Features

Let’s cut out the vitriol and join together to effect improvement

Let’s cut out the vitriol and join together to effect improvement

In 2000, as the new millennium dawned, William Donaldson published his controversial The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society 1750-1950. It was a landmark publication and it remains a masterly – and controversial – work. It should be part of any piper’s library. In his book, Donaldson takes a swipe at […]

Famous pipers: Duncan Johnstone

Famous pipers: Duncan Johnstone

The Duncan Johnstone Memorial Piping Competition has taken place at the National Piping Centre for over 20 years. It is held in memory of the famous Glasgow piper dubbed the King of Jigs. As Angus J. MacLellan wrote in Duncan’s obituary that appeared in the January 1999 Piping Times, Duncan […]

From bands to ceòl mòr: bad music is the same turn-off

From bands to ceòl mòr: bad music is the same turn-off

An interesting commentary on musicality by Duncan Watson appeared in the Piping Times 20 years ago. Duncan was essentially responding to an article penned by Robert Mathieson on dull pibroch playing. Duncan’s comments are in some ways still relevant and worth repeating. By Duncan Watson On browsing through my back […]

The Edinburgh Competition of 1784

The Edinburgh Competition of 1784

One of the earliest piping competitions took place in Edinburgh in 1784 and was organised by the Highland Society of London. It had actually been intended to hold the contest at Falkirk but a decision was made at the last minute to move it to Edinburgh. The competition took place […]

Breadalbane Pipe Band – possibly the oldest known civilian pipe band.

The oldest civilian pipe band

A small number of civilian pipe bands claim to be the oldest – or, at least, among the oldest. Wallacestone, Inveraray, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch, are among the small list and all four date to the mid-1880s. We think the latter two are in abeyance these days but Wallacestone is still […]

Fáilte Glenfiddich – a new tune

Fáilte Glenfiddich – a new tune

‘MacTavish’ attended the 2018 Glenfiddich. It was his first time at the premier solo piping event and his account was published in the January 2019 Piping Times. With the 2020 Glenfiddich imminent, we reproduce his account here. MacTavish, who was the only amateur piper to be ‘taken on’ by Bob […]

The people’s music: Cape Breton on the floor, part 3

The people’s music: Cape Breton on the floor, part 3

Concluding the lecture that Professor Dan MacInnes delivered to the 1998 John MacFadyen Memorial Lecture/Recital. The history of the Cape Breton fiddler as well as the related art of dance piping have received comparatively little study. There are high and low moments in this history and it has not been […]

The people’s music: Cape Breton on the floor, part 2

The people’s music: Cape Breton on the floor, part 2

Continuing the lecture that Professor Dan MacInnes delivered at the John MacFadyen Memorial Lecture/Recital in 1998. In those years, home was rough housing, forested land, and far too much work for a family to do alone. To survive work had to be shared. People organised their lives around their one […]

The people’s music: Cape Breton on the floor, part 1

The people’s music: Cape Breton on the floor, part 1

Professor Dan MacInnes delivered the 1998 John MacFadyen Lecture/Recital. The following is the text of his talk. By Professor Dan MacInnes Tonight I have four points to make, and the pipers four tunes to play. We shall try our best to avoid controversy. The four points I shall make all […]

(L. to R.) Mr. Alastair B. Murray (Production Director, William Grant & Sons); Sally Grant Gordon (daughter of William Grant's Chairman, Mr. A. Grant Gordon); Pipe Major Gavin Stoddart and His Grace the Duke of Atholl who presented the prize.

The playing at Blair – a look back at the 1988 Glenfiddich

The late 1980s was a period of transition in piping. In 1987 the 78th Fraser Highlanders became the first overseas pipe band to win the World Pipe Band Championships and in 1988 Ottawa-born Amy Garson would be the first female invited to compete at the Glenfiddich. The 1988 Glenfiddich was […]