PP Ed’s Blog: Vincent’s Tune/ NEPADA Ts/ Joe Wilson/ Reader Query/ Graham Brown

Piobaireachd composition winner Vincent Janoski has given some reaction to his big win announced yesterday on Piping Press: ‘I’m quite honored by this, truly! I’m one of those people who is never fully satisfied with their creations, always thinking it falls short somehow, even if I like it!  Piobaireachd also offers so many ways to capture the right feeling, so you’re never really sure if you are on the right track. I’m happy that my little tune was able to stand out! 

‘This tune took a long time for me to title. On many listens and plays, I couldn’t shake the way it made me think of my father and grandfather, both of whom have been gone for some time, and both of whom knew nothing about Highland bagpipes aside from what they learned from me and the fact that I played them. That was not on my mind in the composing but the tune develops a quality that is similar to the feeling I get when reflecting on their individual struggles.

‘The connection was instant and persistent, not easy to brush aside. Making that emotional connection is the goal of any art. Piobaireachd in my mind, has always acted like an emotional ‘snapshot’, a moment of feeling captured and then used as a reminder of sorts. I hope others are able to make their own connections when listening to or playing this piece.’

Vincent’s win means that this is the second time the top prize has gone to the US. Last year’s winner was Jori Chisholm, Seattle. For sure piobaireachd needs now to be seen as world music and not the narrow preserve of some Highland enclave. Eighty years ago P/M Robert Reid, from the pit bings of Slamannan, brought respectability to the lowland piper’s performance of it, and now, surely, we must all acknowledge that you don’t have to have been born in a Ross-shire peat bog to play it or compose it well.



Here they are folks, the new T-shirts for the forthcoming New England Pipe and Drum Academy. They will be available in a variety of colours and sizes:To anyone who hasn’t been at this camp, now’s the time to sign up. I think it pretty unique and I’ve done quite a few overseas schools in my time going back to Couer D’Alene in 1991. For one thing the food is superb and the surroundings of peace and tranquility at the Adelynrood Retreat are the perfect opposite of the blast and clatter that we make!


Mention of Joe Wilson in my obituary of Michael Martin prompted another look at Joe’s fine book of tunes. The settings are superb and he makes use of the double dot and the demi-semi-quaver note to properly portray the tunes as we play them. Here’s Joe on Alick Cameron, Champion Piper for example:

Joe’s book

Joe was a great teacher and authority and could cite as his teachers James Robertson, Banff, Captain John MacLellan and P/M Donald MacLeod. I believe his book may still be available via the NPC Otago Street (aka College of Piping). Joe is pictured up top in the famous Army School class photo 1959. Those in the picture are (back row) P/M Angus MacDonald, Scots Guards, Jim Henderson (Argylls, co-editor of the recent book of A&SH tunes and tutor of Stuart Liddell in his younger day), Joe, Jock Allan (later Major and Director of Army Bagpipe Music).
Front: P/M Halley, Scots Greys, Captain John, Sgt. Stewart, Irish Guards.

I hope some reader will correct me if I’m wrong but I seem to remember that Jock Allan is the grandfather of young Cameron MacDougall who is achieving such success just now. If my memory serves well, Jock must be very proud of Cameron’s progress.


Reader John MacKay has sent us a difficult one. John writes: ‘Can you help solve a discussion in our family? Can you confirm if my father, Angus MacKay, won either the Gold or Silver Medal playing Leaving Lunga at Paisley in the 1930s? I hope you will be able to give me the answer. Looking forward to a favourable reply. Yours in anticipation. Regards, John MacKay.’

Firstly John, I don’t know of any games or major solo competition held at Paisley in the 30s. If there was there may well have been a medal for the Marches. Perhaps it was one of those one-off celebratory solo contests. We are stumped, so over to all the piping historians out there.


A word of encouragement for north-east piper Graham Brown. Graham has just undergone a lengthy operation and is now recovering in intensive care. Graham has many friends and acquaintances both here and overseas and we thought you’d be interested to hear of his progress.

Graham is the father of the promising young piper Calum Ian Brown, now with Inveraray & District Pipe Band, and the first winner of the RG Hardie Trophy for Intermediate MSR at the Argyllshire Gathering. A wee snap to cheer you up Graham:

Calum Ian Brown, winner of the RG Hardie MSR

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