Editor’s Notebook

The big winner at Lochearnhead were the games themselves but these pipers, Darach Urquhart (Piob.), William Geddes, (Strathspey & Reel) and Angus MacColl Jnr. (March), did very well too

Heartening attendance figures at Lochearnhead Games last Saturday. Twenty-one in the light music and 19 in the ceol mor. It must have been just like old times. Well done to all concerned. You are proving that a traditional games, with none of this grading carry-on, is still an attractive proposition for competitors.

There is something viscerally satisfying at play here. Head off to a handsome Highland village, get out your pipes, meet fellow pipers, play your music, go home. Take the rough, the wasps, the wet, with the occasional sunshine and the odd brown envelope…be happy.

I hope Ben Mulhearn gets due credit for his second place at Lochearnhead and his first at Luss, though I doubt it will count for anything. Still, he can enjoy these moments of success from the 2019 season.

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I don’t know if Jim Heron is still running things at Lochearnhead (50+ years since we first met Jim!) but if he is then more power to you. Credit too to the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society for loyally, stably, ably supporting this games over many, many years. That Bronze Star for the piob is a draw no question and the additions to the benches in recent years have given things a lift.

Perth and Crieff, Perthshire ‘games’ that have turned their backs on solo piping, can stand in the shadows chin on chest.

That great supporter of the Highland games, the late Jimmie McGregor, will be looking down with dismay at these two. Jimmie was an enthusiastic steward and organiser at countless piping events for most of his adult life. Though not a competitor, he volunteered each year to compile the Guide to the Games for the Competing Pipers’ Association.

Friends together.. Jim Hood, Jeannie Campbell, Jimmie McGregor, Ian Cameron and Colin Drummond at Oban

I had occasion to drive through Blairgowrie last week and stopped off at his grave. Eight years since he left us:

MacStig apologising for his spelling (see Comments): ‘Dear ‘Hard Pressed but not Perfect’, My apologies for the clunking spelling error of Portlethen (Portlethan), which is entirely attributable to my own stupidity. The Editor has rectified the heinous crime and has a hard job combing my reviews for such regular mistakes. 

‘I should apologise in advance to all bands in the various grades as I regularly type faster than my spelling can keep up with, leading to all sorts of conundrums. The old Balagan would regularly autocorrect to Badlads, Grampian to Grumpy Police, and I daren’t venture to think about Huntly or ManorC. (Ed please triple check those before we scare the horses). 

‘All the very best to you and your Porty (note that I’m no longer risking it) colleagues on Saturday. I hope the fine sound you had at Inverness is repeated. Over and Out. MacStig.’

South Africa correspondent Nicholas Taitz on practice chanters: ‘Hi Rab, Often people wonder why the practice chanter traditionally was short and not spaced like a pipe chanter.  

‘I don’t know the answer, but I observed that when playing my old short lawrie from about 1935 along with Hugh MacCallum’s amazing record, the chanter tuned with his pipe chanter!  

‘Perhaps the idea was to have chanters close to the pitch of the pipe chanter, and making them short was how this was achieved? Try the same with a modern long chanter, and they don’t go with pipes at all.

‘Just a wee observation. It is fun to play along with Hugh and other masters. It only really is in tune with the slightly flatter pitch he and others of his time favoured. Regards, Nick.’

Thoughts anyone? 

Grampian League placings after Tomintoul are as follows:
George Taylor, 5
John MacDonald, 4
Gordon McCready, 4
Greig Canning, 4
Ben Duncan, 4
Angus MacPhee, 3
Brad Davidson, 2
Alan Russell, 2
Neil Clark, 1
Calum Brown, 1

George Taylor, currently heading the Grampian League in piobaireachd

Light Music
Ben Duncan, 23
Calum Brown, 16
Allan Russell, 11
Gordon McCready, 8
Colin Gordon, 8
John MacDonald, 7
Jeffrey Lawson, 5
Greig Canning, 5
George Taylor, 5
Gordon Barclay, 4
Angus MacPhee, 4
Michael Laing, 2
Neil Clark, 1
Edward Gaul, 1

Rory Robson, 4
Jake Robertson, 4
Craig Mitchell, 3
Calum Robertson, 3
Aiden Phimister, 2

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Light Music
Jake Robertson, 17
Eosaph Caimbeul, 10
Travis Gordon, 8
Liam Brown, 8
Kieran Walker, 8
Rory Robson, 6
Ciara Anderson, 5
Craig Mitchell, 5
Shannon Thomson, 3
Kenzie Stephen, 3
Thomas Stevenson, 3
Eilidh MacGregor, 3
Katelyn Keir, 3
Sarah Keir, 3
Josh Davidson, 2
Caryn Strachan, 2
Alistair Rowles, 1

The league is sponsored by John Milne Fine Arts, Aberdeen, and cash prizes are awarded to the winners after the results are announced at Braemar.

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