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The Pipeline
Chrismackenzie@hotmail.com by Chris MacKenzie
I
t does sometimes seem like name mentioned previously, John
MacKenzie, John MacColl and of the key driving forces in the
life is like a Monty Python MacDougal Gillies.
Willie Gray gives insight into the globalisation of piping.
film and the recent threat of
music they produced. As you
ASBO’s (Anti Social Behaviour Seumas’s book, ‘Masters of
would expect the information for ‘Piping All Over The World’ is a
Orders – effective restraining Piping’, was a work in progress
some of the players, such as the two disc set that has performances
orders) being issued to pipers when he died and Jeannie
MacCrimmons, who were around from the aforementioned bands
busking in the Royal Mile in Campbell and College Principal,
in the fifteen through to the early plus the likes of the National Youth
Edinburgh just adds to the Robert Wallace, have used
seventeen hundreds, is sketchy, Pipe Band, The LA Scots, The
feeling. Despite holding the archive radio material of Seumas
but that doesn’t diminish the Western Australia PB, Dysart and
Military Tattoo every year and extracts from his work in
book. The information on those Dundonald and the Royal Ulster
and having held a number of the Piping Times to complete
in the eighteen and early nineteen Constabulary. That certainly
spectacular piping parades with it. The book is a look at the key
hundreds is far more reliable represents piping all over the
thousands of pipers, such as the piping figures, ‘the Masters’,
world. As you would expect there
Marie Currie parades, and even from Donald Mor MacCrimmon
All very well - but what does this are some great sets with those
though the Army’s Pipe Major (1570-1640) to Robert Reid
have to do with John MacDougal from the Victoria Police under PM
course was for many years run (1895-1965). Four hundred
Gillies and Glasgow? Well JMD Nat Russell perhaps the standouts.
at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh years of the great highland
was the among the first of the The Victoria Police under Nat
just isn’t considered to be a bagpipe encapsulated through
Highland ‘Master’ pipers to Russell were and awesome pipe
piping city. This latest lunacy biographies of the pre-eminent
move to Glasgow and naturally band and deserved to win the
confirms it. The ‘home’ of pipers of their day. Anyone
other players sought him out. Worlds more than just the once. In
piping is, of course, considered that heard any of Seumas’s
The number of master pipers fact there was nearly a riot when
to be Glasgow, which in itself is broadcasts in the second half
in Glasgow rose as he taught they didn’t win one year despite
surprising as given the Highland of the last Century would know
and played in the big smoke. being in many peoples eyes
nature of piping’s origin. that he held the players of the
The book ‘Masters of Piping’ is streets ahead of the competition
Somewhere north of Stirling past in great esteem. Indeed he
available through the College of - but they just shrugged it off and
might have been a more obvious could sometimes be so harsh on
piping website - www.college-of- came back to win it the following
place to become the piping performances that you wondered
piping.co.uk - for a tenner plus year. If you have been collecting
capital of the world, yet Glasgow if he actually got any enjoyment
postage. It is worth every penny. the main pipe band Cd’s over
it is and as each year passes it from listening to the present
the last few years then obviously
cements that reputation. generation of players. He did of
Another interesting snippet from you will have most of these
course but his fascination with
the book is that in 1906 the Cowal tracks, (though I bet you’ll have
Now the pre-eminence of the great players of the past
Gathering decided to hold a pipe forgotten a number of them and
Glasgow as a Mecca for pipers is obvious from the book. As
band competition billed as the be pleasantly surprised to hear
is undoubtedly due to a number you read each biography, you
World Pipe Band Championship them again). If you haven’t been
of factors over at least the last become convinced that the
- (the first ‘Major’). It was won by such an avid collector, this is an
Century. Two of the people person in question was the best
the Highland Light Infantry (HLI) excellent introduction to the pipe
who have had important roles piper ever. If it was possible, it
under PM John MacDougal Gillies. band music of the recent past.
to play in its emergence are would be fascinating to get all of
I wonder what he would make of
the curmudgeonly co-founder the players in the book together
the Worlds today? Finally, Glasgow is of course
(along with Thomas Pearston) of and hear them play; that would
also the ‘home’ of the World
the College of Piping, Seumas be one special ceilidh! It would
He could be given a taste the Pipe Band Championships and
MacNeil and the piping legend also answer the question that runs
modern pipe band by listening to anybody heading for the Worlds
John McDougal Gillies. unwritten throughout the book.
the new compilation CD, ‘Piping in August this year should check
Despite there being a number of
All Over The World’, issued by KRL out the website for the ‘Piping
In creating the College of Piping, possible ‘lines’ from present day
to celebrate 30 years of the label. Live’ festival. Piping Live runs in
Seumas and Thomas created an pipers back to the Maccrimmons,
As most piping enthusiasts know the week prior to the Worlds there
institution that is loved and revered no-one can say for certain
KRL have an off shoot label called are a load of events planned with
the world over. It has introduced how Donald Mor MacCrimmon
Monarch which is entirely devoted such talent as Chris Armstrong,
and improved thousands of pipers played his tune - one of the great
to recording Piping. Over the Angus MacColl, Jack Lee, Daimh,
over the years and undoubtedly piobaireachd tunes – ‘The Flame
years they have captured some Breabach, Skerryvore, and Stuart
had a huge role to play in keeping of Wrath’ for Patrick Caogach,
of the great pipe bands both live Liddell to name but a few of those
Glasgow as the centre of the or indeed how any of the
and in the studio. Any Roster that appearing at gigs throughout the
known piping universe. Indeed MacCrimmon’s really played.
has The Victoria Police, the Field week. You should also check
a book should be written about
Marshal Montgomery, Boghall and out the College of Piping website
the college history and its impact The book is a fascinating read
Bathgate, Simon Fraser University, as they are also running a series
on piping not just in Scotland but for those that have an interest
and the Scottish Power pipe bands of recitals and Shotts are doing
world wide. That book is still to in the great players of the past.
has to have respect. Indeed there the world’s concert at the Royal
be written, but one that Seumas Knowing more about the lives
is a strong argument to say that Glasgow Concert Hall. Enjoy. q
did start before he passed on of people such as Patrick Mor
with their recordings and those of
to the great pipe band in the and Patrick Og MacCrimmon,
their solo piping series, Pipers of
‘Piping All Over the World’
sky, included details of the other Angus MacKay, John Ban
Distinction, they have been one
- Monarch CDDMD 6002
The Living Tradition - Page 
Issue80.indd 66 14/7/08 14:56:33
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