PP Ed’s Blog: Band MSRs/ Aberdeen Games/ Honours/ New Books/ Renfrew PB

I have some sympathy with the views of Calum and Stewart who commented on ‘The Analyst’ piece on MSRs – some sympathy but not too much.

It is one of the problems of pipe band competition that the legislators, those who have the power to effect positive change, seldom sit through the events in need of an overhaul.

Nor do bands people, the competitors, those on whose views the RSPBA are duty bound to act. The judges listen to the whole of an MSR contest perhaps only once or twice a season, but they are not there to be entertained. That leaves the dwindling number of listeners and scribes such as myself.

It is the same with the suggestion that bands should have the right to compete in concert formation should they so wish. The legislators don’t sit in the audience so don’t really know what drives people like me to feel so strongly about it. Winning bands don’t want to change from the circle either because, well, they’re winning, so why change anything?

To take you back to the MSRs for a second, when I played in the Muirheads band in the 70s we regularly changed our MSRs – even after the advent of the Medley discipline in 1970. Here’s some of the marches we played: Dr MacLeod of Alnwick, Mrs John MacColl, Highland Wedding, Lord Alexander Kennedy, Brigadier Cheape, Colin Thompson, Balmoral Highlanders. There will be others that escape me for the moment.

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I don’t think it is asking too much to compel bands to submit different MSR tunes say, every three or four years as a minimum. And here we should applaud  Scottish Power, Inveraray and others who show readiness to try out new pieces. They don’t always work right enough but when they do it enhances the listening experience no end.

If pipe bands want parity of esteem with other musical disciplines they have to start putting the audience closer to the centre of their endeavour. Until the do they will always be regarded by some sections of the public as second-rate musicians even though we know nothing could be further from the truth.

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Piping convenor Jack Taylor has asked us to point out that entries are still open for Sunday’s Aberdeen Games. Dr Taylor: ‘Those not going to Belfast might be interested in getting out for a tune. Pre-entries are still being accepted even though it’s past the closing date, and entries will be accepted on the day too. Start time is 10.30am with piobaireachd, light music for juniors and seniors.’

Apologies for missing these two worthy recipients in our Queen’s Birthday Honours list: Andrew Davidson Ainslie, Pipe Major, Duns Pipe Band – for services to music and to the community in Berwickshire (Duns). Thanks to Major Stevie Small for this picture of P/M Ainslie:

Mrs Elizabeth Rice. Piper, Moodiesburn and District Pipe Band – for services to Music Education (Glasgow).
Congratulations to both P/M Ainslie and Mrs Rice and thanks to all those who pointed out our discrepancy.

Walter, Ross and John Cowan

Annan’s Ross Cowan has sent interesting information regarding a new collection of pipe tunes from the south-west of Scotland (pictured top). Before we get to that, what about the picture above! Ross is pictured with his uncle Walter (the good looking one, left) and father John after winning the Silver Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering. I think the year was 2003. Anyway apropos the book, Ross says, ‘Attached is a press release from Karen MacCrindle Warren on the new South West Scotland Collection.

‘Karen is a graduate from the RSAMD and she has done a fantastic job in compiling the books. She has a complete history of our area contained in the collections. Up to present, my grandfather’s tunes, previously unpublished, are in there in full – including The British Legion March.  George Grant, Walter and my dad’s uncle, has music  in there too. I think there is a list of composers on the Facebook site, including William Livingstone Senior, Gordon Walker’s tutor Davie Kay, and a host of others.’

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Press release: The South West Scotland Collection – Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland’s forgotten corner is home to Scotland’s most famous song writer Robert Burns.  Yet the music of this region goes widely unrecognised. This collection represents the past, the present and the future of South West Scotland’s musical and cultural heritage, including fiddle and piano repertoire, old pipe music that has lain forgotten, and modern compositions from the region’s top players.  The collection also contains the biggest collection of Burns music ever presented on the bagpipe. It even includes a book specifically written for young learners, to get young hands playing and having fun learning about the heritage of South West Scotland.

Book compiler Karen Warren

A collection of 350 tunes with historical notes and folklore with each tune, these books are the regeneration of a lost tradition, heritage and culture, and ensure the music of South West Scotland continues into the next generation and beyond. The books will be launched on Monday 13th August the Piping Live Street Café from 2pm – 3.30pm.  They are now available to pre-order from www.elixir.scot, and are available at a special discounted rate of £35 for volumes 1 – 4. We have a great line up of players performing at the launch – stay tuned to the South West Scotland Collection’s Facebook page for more information, featured composers, and upcoming events!

Allan Chatto has responded to the Renfrew Pipe Band story of a few days ago: ‘Interesting read on the Renfrew PB and Ian McLellan. By way of interest the MacGregor family who migrated to Sydney, Australia, in the late 1940s, were all members of Renfrew Pipe Band. There was the father Gregor a piper, then Alex who had been L/D, then Bill a drummer and Angus also a drummer and I think also another piper. Sadly all have passed on now.’

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1 thought on “PP Ed’s Blog: Band MSRs/ Aberdeen Games/ Honours/ New Books/ Renfrew PB

  1. Hi Rab,
    In furtherance to Alan Chatto’s recent article regarding the McGregor brothers. I met up with Bill McGregor on several occasions when I was in Sydney. In fact May and I stayed with him and his wife Betty a couple of times when we were there.
    Bill was always proud of the fact that he and his brothers along with another snare drummer called Duncan Syme had won the Worlds Drum Corps Championship in 1948 while with the Renfrew Pipe Band.
    If my memory serves me right I think the whole McGregor family moved over to Australia the following year.

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