------Est. 1980 Glasgow city centre's oldest bagpipe shop------
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Dear Piping Enthusiast,
Summer is now with us in sunny Glasgow and we hope all goes well for the Commonwealth Games, Piping Live! and the Ryder Cup. We will be pleased yet again to showcase one of world's top bands at the marquee outside the National Piping Centre on Wednesday the 13th August. The Vale of Atholl Pipe Band under P/M Adrian Cramb has kindly agreed to play a full set from 2 o'clock onwards. The action is all day from 11- 17.00 with various acts including the Pipe Idol event, and full catering and drinks will be available. If you are around, we'd be delighted to see you and please come and say hello.
Our sheepskin bags are having a great run at the majors again this year with Inveraray, The Field Marshal and Scottish Power all achieving success, along with Torphichen in Grade 2 - well done!
James C. Begg
Congratulations to Jeannie Campbell for the honour of receiving an M.B.E. I have known Jeannie in various capacities since the late 70s and there can be few people who have done so much work in the background to help the cogs of piping go round - competition organising, stewarding etc. Jeannie without doubt is a book worm and I'm sure her knowledge extends well beyond the bounds of piping too. She has also researched and produced her own book on Highland Bagpipe Makers
- a fine work that must have taken some considerable time and dedication. It's really nice to see someone who generally is in the shadows receiving such recognition for unstinting effort and endeavour.
Piping Hot Forres - the European Pipe Band Championships. The event held in June in Grant Park Forres was the biggest single day ticketed event held in Moray in the last 25 years and possibly ever. Over 20,000 people watched 119 bands compete to be the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s European Champions. The big surprise was that the brilliant young Inveraray and District Band won Grade 1, whilst the favourites, The Field Marshall Montgomery, could only muster 4th place. This is a fantastic achievement for P/M Stuart Liddell, a long time customer and friend of Begg Bagpipes - we are absolutely thrilled for the entire Band and the many back-room helpers - amazing! Photo courtesy of John Paul.
The Merits (or otherwise!) of: Modern Innovations
We all want to have the bagpipe that just purrs along, with harmonic drones blending in complete unison with every note on the chanter - easy to blow, whilst pulsing and vibrating, so that all is in complete unity with bagpipe and the human body. What a wonderful experience when it's achieved. However, whilst the general sound has improved greatly over the years, we seem to have lost the bagpipe with the wow factor. Have any of you been fortunate enough to hear the wow factor when Roddy MacLeod plays? If so, you will know exactly what I am getting at and how some other players seem dull by comparison. What is the merit in having an instrument that does not perform to its true ability? Is this the result of the newer items like synthetic bags and plastic reeds which may bring uniformity and a more consistent sound, but at what cost? Modern innovations are a great boon to all and has certainly helped achieve a bagpipe that performs with little alteration or adjustment. There is a lot of merit in that, particularly when modern life yields little time for busy pipers to expend energy on the mechanics of a bagpipe. Hence, in the same way you take your car to the garage, we get numerous requests for assistance in our bagpipe garage. We know that synthetic bags are instant but they can produce a weaker tone generally and less depth of sound. As a result, we have many top bands and soloists using the real McCoy - a Begg sheepskin bag of course! Some bands obviously achieve success with the synthetic bags and that is fine and works for them. However, it's not for me and it appears not for many others as well. Piping has changed dramatically since I started in the 1980s and is better now for sure - it's more vibrant, youthful and energetic. When people ask me if piping is dying out, I say quite the reverse. This in part is due to the new instant products that make the pipe an easy "pick up and play" instrument for some, as well as there being more access to good tuition. I would have to say that maybe 20 years ago, I thought that computers, play stations and the like might have had a negative effect and could have taken potential players away but the new technical items in the bagpipe have actually helped. In fact, the computer has had the opposite effect in stimulating piping with skype, music writing, tuners and more. As usual, there is a cautionary note - no, I am not a stick in the mud as we are very innovative too - don't get too carried away with modern innovations and remember your hand made pipes and your bags with natural materials are made that way for a reason. We have what you need to get that consistent quality of sound. On some occasions when you hear a dull, lacklustre output from a band or soloist, you can be pretty sure that this is due to a lack of attention to the reason why a bagpipe achieves its sound via the type of bag used, the setting of pitch and the hemping. Whilst we would like a Ferrari sound from our instrument, we do need to understand it and caress its characteristics. Maybe this is why it is important to look into how it operates - if we don't, we might achieve a reasonable sound quality but without any je ne se qua. So modern innovations have merit for some and should be recognised accordingly, but we should not forget the heritage, tradition, experience and craftsmanship which really deliver the ultimate sound.
As part of our Merit series, we would like to invite nominations from our readers as to who within their piping/pipe band community deserves a special mention in our newsletter and who will go on to being considered as the candidate to receive the Begg Bagpipes 2014 Merit Award. The person can be a player or an administrator/back room supporter but should be someone who has gone way beyond the call of normal duty to advance the cause of piping and/or pipe bands within their local community. In addition to a handsome trophy, the winner will receive a voucher for £250 to spend with Begg Bagpipes, either online or in our shop. Please email your nominations with a short write up and photograph if possible to firstname.lastname@example.org
Special Offer - A Double Offer this Month
1. A set of 3 wool brushes
normally - 13.20 plus vat - now only £10 plus vat. Used extensively by SFU and others, giving better control of moisture than canisters etc
2. Hemp with 20% off
- black waxed, and introduced to the market by Begg Bagpipes. Normally 6.67 plus vat - now only 5.34 plus vat.
YouReport - The Innerleithen Pipe Band Championships 2014 is on the move!
This very popular and successful contest in the Lothian and Borders Pipe Band competition calendar, which was previously held in Victoria Park, Innerleithen is now moving to its new home, in the extensive grounds of St Ronan’s Primary School on Saturday 13th September 2014.
Bruce Hamilton President of The St Ronan’s Piping Society who organises this annual event explained the reasons behind this move,
“This will be our 13th year of holding the Innerleithen Pipe Band Championships and I am delighted by our new venue. Traditionally we have held the contest in June however a major contest has been scheduled by The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association for the 14th June 2014 which would clash with our contest and restrict the number of bands who might be available to compete at Innerleithen. Also because of the number of local festivals about that time there were no other dates available in the summer months, therefore we have made the bold decision to move the contest to the early autumn and to a new venue, St Ronan’s Primary School. I am delighted by the help and enthusiastic response we have received by Head Teacher at St Ronan’s, Keith Belleville to our relocation and I am certain that the contest is sure to be a huge success.
This year’s competition will be guaranteed to be an absolute treat to the eardrums with something for everyone with Novice Juvenile, Grade 4, Grade 3 and Grade 2; a Grade 4 March, Strathspey and Reel competition and a senior and junior Drum Major contest. By the end of the day a spectacular array of trophies will be handed out and prize money totalling over £2500.
Save the date, and note the new venue and come along and have a great day out in the small picturesque town of Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders. For more information please contact Allan Johnston, St Ronan’s Piping Society 01896 830928, 07595 002 863 email@example.com
Good luck with the Event Bruce, and Begg Bagpipes are pleased to be supporting it.
If you would like to report on any aspect of the Piping World from wherever you live, or if you would like to comment on any articles or issues, we'd be pleased to hear from you. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
A Passing Thought
- another fishy tale
Photo of Yours Truly, having landed 4 brownies from the River Balvaig, Strathyre, The Trossachs, Scotland. This was a lads' holiday in a log cabin - 3 Begg brothers and a Springer Spaniel. Two great music sessions also took place in the local village with James on small pipes, Bill on fiddle and local musos on accordion, guitars and vocals.