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Welcome to Begg Bagpipes
------Est. 1980 Glasgow city centre's oldest bagpipe shop------
click on the banner for our home page

Dear Piping Enthusiast,  
Wow - what a great month we had in August. Piping Live! was awesome and at the Worlds on their new 2 day format, the Field Marshal did as was expected and won Grade 1 for the third consecutive time (have I  previously said they are 100% on Begg Bags - had to sneak this in!).  Boghall delivered a great performance with 2nd and the massive band of the Scottish Power came in 3rd (also 100% Begg Bags). We also have to mention two other big customers - firstly,  Inveraray who were 6th, played an interesting selection that perhaps didn't strike a chord with everyone but it was very clever; secondly, P/M Richard Hawke from New Zealand also had an excellent Worlds, with his Grade 1 Band Canterbury Caledonian Society qualifying for the final and finishing a very creditable 11th whilst his  juvenile band, St Andrews College, won their grade and were crowned World Champions. That is quite an achievement, not least of all when you consider the logistics and costs of moving two bands and support staff to the opposite side of the world.
Did the two days Worlds achieve its objectives? I think the jury is still out on this one. The atmosphere wasn't there as the crowds were spread thinly (weather didn't help of course) and security was over the top - were they expecting the third Jacobite Rebellion or what? The two days maybe worked for Glasgow City Council in that things ran smoothly but it was not so good for the bands and public - the RSPBA may be perceived as having achieved what they set out to do but was this change a major step forward? Did it position this event as the world leader it really should be? Glasgow Green is a dreadful setting, even if the logistics of transport, accommodation and catering all work. Scotland has some of the best scenery in the world, and we end up on the Green?? Those watching the live streaming on the web had the added pleasure all day long of seeing a huge smoking chimney as the back-drop. You couldn't make it up. Can you imagine what it would be like if the Canadians, Aussies, New Zealanders or others had the chance to stage the Worlds?
On a lighter note, my brother Bill and I were in action the week before Piping Live! at the Rathsallagh Hotel in County Wicklow, Ireland on the occasion of Bill's son's wedding. Bill on fiddle, accompanied by a classical guitarist, played a selection of Scottish and Irish airs as the guests awaited the arrival of the bride and then played the bride "up the aisle". I then had the pleasure of playing the newly married couple and guests out for a champagne reception. After the wedding, we carried on a for a week's holiday, based in Killarney - the craic was mighty and if you get the chance, you should visit there. We also came across the Kilorglin and District Pipe Band who had just done a sponsored march round the famous Ring of Kerry, in aid of the Kerry Hospice - 11 towns, 11 marches, 1 day. Well done to them!
Yours aye,
James C. Begg
Piping Perfection

A Grand Piping Recital will take place  at Tulloch Castle, Dingwall on Friday15th honour the late John Anthony (Tony) Macdonald (Scots Guards), with all proceeds going to the famous Erskine Home for ex-service personnel.    P/M Stuart Liddell will play, supported by two of Tony's pupils, Christopher and Steven Gray, from Lockerbie. Time:  7.30 for 8 p.m. Raffle and refreshments.  Enquiries to P/M Campbell McGougan. Tel:01349 864046........It will be a great night of Piping at its BEST.
Nicholson's Pipes & Drums are a new band just established in Ingatestone, Essex, England and hold practice nights in the local pub every Wednesday. This is a Band with a difference in that the Pipe Major is a round lad called Michael Heaslipp who runs Nicholson's Pipe Shop in Ingatestone.  So for the first time ever in the History of Piping it is rumoured there will be Pipe Major who can actually supply a reed! Please pass this onto prospective new members or possible supporters, or call Michael on 01277 356 969 or 07789 035182.
Mr. R MacLeod, who kindly features below,  has brought out new chanters -  a synthetic band chanter at £99 plus VAT and a blackwood solo chanter for £200 plus VAT. I attended the launch at the National Piping Centre and thoroughly enjoyed the event. With Roddy's design, you surely can't go wrong! ( See Special Offer below).

 Any Questions? - for Roderick J. MacLeod M.B.E.      
I had the one of my now infamous and regular lunches with my old friend Roddy MacLeod. Roddy needs no introduction really other than to say he is arguably the greatest piper of his generation. The excuse for the lunch, if we actually needed one, was to discuss my part in the Piping Live! event which Begg Bagpipes has been supporting for some time.  However, I took the opportunity to ask Roddy some questions over a curry at the Wee Curry Shop - equidistant from my shop and from Roddy's base at the National Piping Centre, where he is the Principal. I used a dictaphone for the first time and it worked well - I got far more information than asking just for one-line answers. It also gets to the point there and then rather than waiting for the replies to come back on email or snail mail. We have to remember pipers supply these nuggets of information free of charge and we appreciate that. Here's how the discussion went - enjoy. James.
Q. At what age did you start playing and who were/are your tutors?
A. Roddy initially garnered some basic movement at the age of 5 from his 2 older brothers who had been taking lessons from Willie Campbell (originally from Skye) in Cumbernauld but it was when he went to Hugh Wilson of the Cumbernauld Pipe Band age 10/11 that more serious tuition was experienced - Hugh polished up any movements that needed it.  His first tune was the Quaker's Wife which is a fairly straight forward tune to start on. Having gained a strong interest, Roddy moved onto the College of Piping where tutorage was gained mainly from Duncan Johnstone . There were of course other influences as well - Angus MacLellan and Duncan MacFayden in particular. I too was at the COP and met Roddy there. We recounted that I was somewhat in awe/fear of Duncan MacFadyen but Roddy seemed to think Duncan Johnstone was more challenging . it's funny how we both perceived things differently but the crux of the matter is that great tuition was received over the 3 years or so that the two of us spent at the College.
Q. What is the best piping advice you’ve had and who gave it to you?
A. The best advice was from Alex MacIver of the 214 Glasgow Company of the Boys Brigade - Roddy's acquaintance with Alex was via the Lewis and Harris Association Pipers. it was always to "practice your movements" - never stop - so practice the exercises at a slow speed until you have mastered all the movements before you bring it up to normal speed - this is what Roddy still does and it was the legendary Alex MacIver that suggested that users of other instrument practice their movements so why should piping be any different .

Q. What would you say has been your biggest piping difficulty?
A. Roddy's biggest difficulty was time management - particularly running the Scottish Power Band, competing in solo competitions and running the National Piping Centre. 10 years of juggling with amazing success- quite a feat .
Q. Which is the best piping book?
A. I suggested the NPC's tutor. However modesty is Roddy through and through, so he suggested D MacLeod's collection in particular, along with the Willie Ross collections. Roddy is still finding gems in Donald's books - the sheer musical beauty of his compositions and his extensive use of different time signatures sets him apart from others.

Q. Who is your favourite player and why - past or present?
A. P/M  Angus MacDonald was one of many that Roddy mentioned - more recently on light music, he enjoys Alastair Gillies. Hugh MacInnes featured strongly due to his great tone as did Iain Morrison, John Wilson, Iain MacFayden, Donald MacPherson, and John Burgess. If he was forced to nominate one person only, it would be Donald MacLeod because of his ability to compose, teach and compete and for his all round kindness to those seeking his guidance.
Q. Is there something in piping you wish you could have done but haven’t as yet?
A. Winning the World Championship as Pipe Major of a Grade 1 Band
Q. What is your pet hate within piping?
A. Tuning phrases that make no sense.
Q. What has been your happiest piping moment?
A. Winning the Glenfiddich as well as being Pipe Major of Scottish Power and winning a major championship -  a feat no one else has achieved. I mentioned that the honour of being awarded an MBE by the Queen was perhaps also high on his list and Roddy agreed - it was a most unexpected career highlight and a great mark of recognition.
Q. What is your most prized piping possession?
A. His R G Lawrie pipes and the bicentenary gold medal from the 200th year of the Northern Meeting at Inverness.
Q. What do you do outwith piping that might surprise us?
A. Roddy likes watching football and boxing,  and doing a spot of cooking now and again.
Roddy- thank you so much!

Special Offer - 2 hand picked reeds free of charge for every Roddy MacLeod chanter purchased. His chanters will be up on the website shortly, but in the meantime, please order by calling 01413330639 or email

Field Report - Balmoral Highlanders take Scapoli Festival by storm
Under the irrepressible Pipe Major Willie Cochrane, four Balmoral Highlanders travelled to Italy to perform at the annual bagpipe festival in the beautiful mountain village of Scapoli from the 26th to the 28th July. The village is relatively close to Monte Cassino. Willie had been there with the group the previous year so this was a return visit. The others in the group were pipers Fred Budge and Lachlan McDonald plus drummer George Wilson. Arriving on Friday 26th, their first appearance was to play marching along the main street in the village on the Saturday passing groups of Italian pipers playing a variety of  mouth blown Italian instruments. Playing intermittently throughout the afternoon and early evening either marching along the streets or standing at strategic points, they were very well received and attracted enthusiastic crowds wherever they stopped. They met up with and played for a short while with a group of Italian pipers playing highland bagpipes, some of whom live in the UK. The pipes became very dry as temperatures were around 40 degrees centigrade in the daytime. A variety of liquids were consumed by all throughout the day provided by the hosts.
On Sunday the routine was the same during the day with a performance on the main stage in the evening much later than was originally intended. Willie Cochrane played a lament at the war memorial in the village with the Mayor in attendance during the day
On stage Willie played a medley of popular tunes much to the enjoyment of the enthusiastic crowd. Then George Wilson was outstanding with his rousing drum solo working the audience like a pop star. They signed off with Auld Lang Syne to rapturous applause and hope they will be invited back next year.
Lachlan McDonald

A Passing Thought...Ireland continued
How about this for a fishy tale? James claimed the bragging rights with this fish caught in Lough Barfinnihy, just outside Killarney. Bill was using wet flies as befits a true sporting approach but James and our other brother Iain employed some more debatable techniques - he claims this rainbow trout weighed in at 3 and 1/2 pounds!

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.
Begg Bagpipes
202B Bath Street
Glasgow, Strathclyde G2 4HF
United Kingdom
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