Congratulations to Dave Mason on winning the John Cruickshank VC composing competition.
I think his tune is one that will be played and thus serve the memory of a true war hero.
It was a very difficult competition to judge made all the easier working with legendary figures such as Ian McLellan, Richard Parkes and Stuart Liddell.
On going through the entries one was struck by how difficult it is to be original with the nine notes we, as pipers, have at our disposal.
The variety of our pipe music shows the creative talent among the many composers who have put pen to paper in the recent, and not too recent, past.
Thanks to them an astonishing array of ceol beag has been assembled in just over 200 years.
Our nine notes points up the prolific genius of the likes of P/M Donald MacLeod, and GS MacLennan.
Donald had the resource of his Gaelic background and GS could fashion a masterpiece from a four note melodic nodule he heard on his travels (Kilworth Hills, Ireland.)
I think this is where the true talent lies; to take a simple melodic idea and build it into a two, four or six part, wholly satisfying, pipe tune.
In winning this contest Dave Mason has shown that he has just such skill.
Thanks to Calum MacLean, Tobermory, for sending on a slightly better version of the original Gesto Manuscript book than we had hitherto.
Calum’s version now replaces the existing on the PP Shop. It costs £1.50 to download, the fee to cover overheads.
Accompanying the book is P/M William MacLean’s transliteration. He does a good job of producing playable scores from the unfamiliar canntaireachd.
Check out both books here.
Planning your piping summer? Make the Clan Cameron/Commando Museum at Achnacarry near Spean Bridge a must visit.
Small, but with very interesting clan artefacts and history and much memorabilia linked to the hundreds of brave men who trained on the Locheil estate during WW2.
In the museum we learn that Commando recruits were met by a piper at Spean Bridge train station and marched the eight miles to Achnacarry, fortunately downhill for much of the way. Welcome to Scotland.
A lovely set of pipes is on display in the museum as pictured up top and here:
The note accompanying the pipes reads: ‘Set of bagpipes…which belonged to Captain Allan Cameron of Lochiel, killed in action in France 1914. The pipes were made by Peter Henderson, Glasgow, c. 1895, and accompanied the Cameron Highlanders to Gibraltar, Egypt and Malaya. Lent by his son Lt. Col. Angus Cameron MC.’
Captain Cameron must have been one of the first pipers to have been killed in the WW1 conflict, though as an officer I doubt he was piping when he met his sad end.
The pipes will have all the dealers out there salivating and it is a pity, I suppose, that this instrument is not being played.
Notice the ivory bowl on the chanter, a feature we don’t see very often these days. The original mouthpiece is clearly missing but I think the regimental ribbons set the pipes off well.
These went out of fashion among Army pipers after Robert Reid had a drone stop whilst competing at Braemar – or so the story goes.
A gust of wind got up and blew a flimsy piece of ribbon onto the top of a tenor stopping it neat as you like.
Now here’s an idea; could the museum organise a small ceremony this year to mark the outbreak of WW2 with these pipes being played by young Sandy Cameron or his brother Finlay?
Maybe a re-run of the march from Spean Bridge to Achnacarry and a new tune composed with that title?
Send your tunes on and we’ll pick the best. ‘Spean Bridge to Achnacarry’ has a nice ring to it.
SPA President Tom Johnstone: Our next ‘club night’ will be Friday, 11th January 2019 – usual time and place, the National Piping Centre, Otago St., Glasgow.
Thereafter, as usual our meetings are 1st Friday of each month at 7.30pm.
All welcome to play, listen or just chat. Look forward to seeing you there.