------Est. 1980 Glasgow city centre's oldest bagpipe shop------
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Dear Piping Enthusiast,
Thanks for your custom past and present, and to all the contributors to our Newsletter - much appreciated. We are working hard as usual with customer service and advice at the forefront. It's great to be welcoming on board The 78th Fraser Highlanders, Canada, Western Australia Police, Bucksburn and District, Scotland and The City of Invercargill Caledonian Pipe Band, New Zealand. More and more bands across all the grades are realising the benefits sheepskin bags have to offer. With demand at an all-time high, we are well placed with an ample stock of good quality, raw materials but are running something like a 6 week ex-works delivery lead-time - as always, if you have an urgent need, let us know and we will respond accordingly. The new web site has been well received and is a great addition to the shop - now the oldest and best placed to meet your needs.
At this time of year, we tend to start looking to the future to see what 2014 might bring. It's a huge year for Scotland with the Commonwealth Games, the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn, the Ryder Cup and of course the small matter of the vote on Independence(!). We also have a changing landscape in the Pipe Band World with the downgrading of Cowal as a major and the establishment of a new major in Belfast. The Irish, north and south, are amongst the most fanatical devotees of piping and drumming in the world and will ensure Belfast is an outstanding success. It would be no surprise if this even led onto the Worlds being held in Ireland at some stage and who knows where thereafter.
James C. Begg
Field Report - Blair Castle, Perthshire, 26/10/13
De facto World Solo Piping Champion - Iain Speirs. It's time to raise the Glenfiddich glass for the second year in a row to Iain - what a great achievement to be overall champion not once but twice in a row. Iain is from Edinburgh and is the third generation of pipers in the Speirs family. Iain’s father, Tom Speirs, was an Inverness Gold Medallist and Clasp winner and his grandfather, Jock Speirs, was Pipe Major of the London Scottish and of the Johnnie Walker’s Pipe Band. It was a great event streamed live on the internet, and we are grateful for this technology and on the willingness of the organisers to use it - it is reported some 1500-1600 people tuned in. This is a good first step towards allowing so many people around the world to hear and enjoy the world's top players and for the future, some thought could be given to make the event more user friendly - I am thinking of finding a way to reduce the amount of time spent tuning up (you don't go to a classical concert and have to listen to the soloist going through a long drawn out tuning cycle) and on reviewing why each tune in the MSR is played twice - if endurance is regarded as a test then why not play another MSR instead of a repetition? John Wilson put in a superb shift as compere and linkman, whilst it was nice to see my old friend Ian McKerrall from Campbeltown receiving the Balvenie Medal for outstanding services to Piping. Thanks go to all those involved and to William Grant and Sons Ltd for their continued support and commitment to the development of
Any Questions? - for Pipe Major Neil Selbie
Neil is P/M of The Bucksburn and District senior Grade 2 Band. Neil popped into the shop from his home base of Culter, a suburb of Aberdeen on the shores of the River Dee. In addition to his busy piping schedule, he owns and runs Neil Selbie and Co. Ltd, a piping supply/highland dress shop and he is particularly well-known for his synthetic drone reeds.
Good to see you Neil and thanks for coming in.
Q. At what age did you start playing and who were/are your tutors?
A. I started age 7 with Sandy Robertson, ex Gordon Highlanders and with Jim Campbell, Culter Boys Brigade.
Q. What is the best piping advice you’ve had and who gave it to you?
A. Play slowly was Sandy's best advice - take your time.
Q. What would you say has been your biggest piping difficulty?
A. It is tough as a youngster at say novice juvenile level to make the change to a higher level - it's a question of being able to produce the music and not just the notes and this is best illustrated when you think about the complexity of the rhythm, structure and phrasing of strathspeys. I can empathise with the difficulty some of my young pupils face today in making the jump as a novice juvenile to playing a MSR for the first time.
Q. Which is the best piping book?
A. The Willie Ross books are classics and give you a good grounding but I also appreciate contemporary books which can provide an all-round modern approach - Don Bradford's The Call to the Gathering is a good example. Duncan Johnstone's book of hornpipes and jigs also clicks for me as does the Cairngorm Collection of GS MacLellan compositions. I had a hand in the creation of the 3 volume Cairngorm Collection when I met up with ex-pipe sergeant Bambrick of Bucksburn in Jamaica, so this Collection is very close to my heart.
Q. Who is your favourite player and why - past or present?
A. There are many including Donald Morrison who taught me, along with Willie MacCallum and Stuart Liddell. However, if you were to insist I could only name one person, I would go for Gordon Walker - he is the full package with flair, individuality, lift and expression.
Q. Is there something in piping you wish you could have done but haven’t as yet?
A. With hindsight, I should have spent more time on solo piping, and in particular on piobaireachd with Donald Morrison. On the other hand, the camaraderie of a Band is all-embracing and so enjoyable.
Q. What is your pet hate within piping?
A. There is nothing worse than badly maintained instruments (this has been a common theme throughout our series of Q and As)
Q. What has been your happiest piping moment?
A. Some of my happiest moments have been when I have been in concert with the Band. We have had some great times in the past but are all looking forward immensely to the 4th Bucksburn Pre-Season Concert, to be held on May 3rd, 2014 at Aberdeen Music Hall when our main guest is none other than The Field Marshall Montgomery. This is a tremendous honour for everyone associated with Bucksburn and offers great learning potential for all our up and coming players. It will be a great and very happy night for sure!
Q. What is your most prized piping possession?
A. Apart from my wife(!), a 1914 set of Henderson silver/ivory pipes
Q. What do you do outwith piping that might surprise us?
A. I play guitar and sing in a wedding band, and enjoy fishing the River Dee. The pipes are always packed along with the fishing gear!
Neil - thank you so much!
Special Offer - 10% off set of 3 Selbie Drone Reeds. Only £37.50 ( plus vat if applicable) for this Month only
Selbie Imitation Cane Drone Reeds have been designed to provide the stability of a synthetic reed while providing the tonal qualities found in the finest cane reeds. One of the main features of the Selbie reed is their patent pending tongue system. The T shape formed tongued fits into the precision engineered reed body. This eliminates the need to glue tongues to the body. It allows the tongue to be removed and cleaned of any residue or seasoning if a reed were to fall into the pipe bag. It can then be refitted to the reed body and set to its original position.
YouReport- City of Regina Pipe Band and Sir Paul McCartney.
The City of Regina Pipe Band has been playing James Begg sheepskin bags for 20 years, and recently they got to play them to perform "Mull of Kintyre" with Sir Paul McCartney and his band in front of over 44,000 people at an outdoor concert in Regina, Saskatchewan. McCartney performs that hit mostly in Canada, where he contacts a local pipe band to perform with him as a surprise part of the show. The City of Regina Pipe Band got the call about 5 weeks before the concert, and were sent a copy of the pipe music. Band members practiced the tune with YouTube clips to get things right, and while there were no scores for the drumming, they had pretty specific instructions about what they wanted for the snare and bass parts. The tenors had to work out something to fit. Perhaps the most challenging aspect was that the band was asked to play with chanters tuned "as close to Bb as possible." Listening to the YouTube clips, and using a tuner to check them, we heard that there was quite a range of pitches being used, but the best sounding performances were the ones very near Bb. The CRPB contacted P-M Andrew Hayes of the North American Champion (Grade 2) Ottawa Police Pipe Band, who played with Sir Paul a month earlier, and who seemed to achieve the desired pitch. They were kind enough to loan us a set of chanters that helped us attain A=466 for the performance. Using a 1960s R.G. Hardie chanter as the lead chanter (which was perfectly at 466 except for High G and D), we set the Ottawa Police chanters at 466, and of course had to re-set all the drone reeds also. The challenge was that we did it all in a day and a half, right before the concert. The day before the concert, the band's P-M did a walk through the site with the producer, and then on the day of the concert, the band assembled at the stadium several hours previous. We set our sound outdoors, and then did a rehearsal with Sir Paul and the band. He was very welcoming, the band loved our sound (no re-tuning for them) and the tune went off without a hitch. When we got back to the dressing room set up for us, we found boxes of fresh pizza, and a fridge and cooler full of water, pop and beer. We saved the beer for after. The "Mull of Kintyre" segment was scheduled for the second encore, and it was meant to be a surprise, so the band members stayed out of uniform and watched about 2/3 of the show before returning to the dressing room, getting the kilts on, and checking the sound 2-3 pipers at a time. Then we had to exit the stadium out the back, walk around to the other side, and re-enter through covered walks leading to the back of the stage, where we waited for our cue. While it was a beautiful evening, it was still slightly chilly compared to earlier, and the band stood in the dark evening air for about 20-30 minutes before they played, and they were hopeful the sound would hold. Members blew warm air through the pipes all through "Yesterday," the song right before "Mull.." and it worked out OK. Luckily, Sir Paul and the band pumped out a lot of sound to obscure the full impact of some of those 4-bar Ds! As you can hear on the video, the crowd loved it (check out YouTube). The tune went off well, and the band received a huge amount of local press attention for the performance.
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. mailto:email@example.com
A Passing Thought...... on the Worlds
It's good to see the RSPBA are taking a look at the 2 day event format. Obviously, they are not convinced from their current stance that it worked. Overall, it didn't click - perhaps with a few adjustments it can get the flair and excitement that the 1 day gives. 2 days duration dilutes the event but allows better management and more time for the bands and organisers e.g. the juv grade in the Grade 1 arena on the Saturday was a nice touch. Unpredictable Glaswegian weather also plays a big part and one day is perhaps more palatable and safer. So overall, 2 days might work if big improvements are made but 1 day gives better focus, excitement and a clear start, middle and finish. Some imagination will be needed if 2 days is going to work. There's no point doing in 2 days what you can do in 1- it's a hard call.