PP Ed’s Blog: Piping Live-Worlds/ Anacrusis Debate/ Barry Donaldson/ Charles MacArthur

Well done to Piping Live for making such a significant contribution to the economy of Glasgow and the wider country (£2.5m according to last week’s press release). I found it amusing however that the festival’s organisers, the Piping Centre, could put out such a self-congratulatory notice and barely mention the Worlds!

Here’s the full quote from Festival Director Roderick MacLeod: ‘We continue to break our own records, bringing in more visitors to Glasgow each year, and showcasing some truly amazing talent. Piping Live is intrinsic to Scotland’s cultural calendar and we’re delighted to say that this report reflects a worldwide thirst for traditional music that is going from strength to strength. The number of overseas visitors are a welcome boost to tourism in Scotland, and Glasgow, bringing vital custom to local businesses, including hotels, bars and restaurants.’

Without Glasgow Green there would be no Piping Live hence the reason it is a  week later next year. The Worlds moves; PL moves. So come on McPhater Street how about better acknowledgement for the ready-made audience the RSPBA provides for you via the World Pipe Band Championships


Don’t know if you’ve been following the anacrusis debate, but full marks to Janet Montague for stating the correct position so lucidly. Here’s an example: ‘Stewart Gardiner — when you speak to many of the top pipers and pipe band leaders they’ll tell you themselves that music theory wasn’t really high on the agenda when they were learning and even though they themselves learned from top people, the placement of bar lines and the finer points of music notation and theory weren’t really a big thing that was focussed on.

‘Exact placement of certain notes in embellishments and all the finer details of the actual playing yes, but not the theoretical side. So it was easy for the error just to slip by, copied relentlessly through the years, and repeated over and over without anyone questioning it really. So I don’t think anybody’s trying to be ‘uppety’, not that you were suggesting that, but just merely pointing out an anomaly that’s more obvious to people outwith piping but less so to those within it.’

Check out Janet’s and other comments here.


Principal Ronnie Bromhead and Barry Donaldson relaxing after class at the 2017 Northern Winter School at Lohheide, Germany, last month

More support has come in from Germany for Barry Donaldson: ‘In regards to the ‘Barry controversy’, don’t use my name, but you can use my story if you like.  BD is a passionate and understanding teacher. He failed me one time on an exam and said afterwards he hopes this wouldn’t impact our friendship and it did the opposite. He is legit, thorough, and holds to the standards at all costs, even for people he likes; he is not only a great teacher, but loaded with integrity, something I truly respect.’



Regular contributor Duncan Watson has been having a difficult time in hospital recently so everyone will want me to pass on their best wishes to a man who has done so much for piping in the north-east. Get well soon Duncan and let’s be having more letters.


A recent trip to Skye took me to the Kilmuir Burial Ground where you will find the memorial to Flora MacDonald of Bonnie Prince Charlie fame. Also there is a burial stone for Charles MacArthur the last hereditary piper to the MacDonalds at Duntulm Castle:It reads: Here lies the remains of Charles MacArthur whose fame as an honest man and remarkable piper will survive this generation for his manners were easy and regular and his music and the melody of his fingers will….. Then nothing. The display explains: This stone marks the burial place of Charles MacArthur, one of the famous pipers of the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles. The inscription is unfinished because, according to tradition, the piper’s son who had commissioned a sculptor to letter the stone drowned whilst crossing the Minch. As the sculptor considered that he was unlikely, therefore, to be paid, he abandoned his work, never to return.