Editor’s Notes: Lockdown Tunes & Drawing/ James Robertson/ Piob Soc Fb/ Balmoral School/ Sam Young Offer

PP Lockdown Challenge…Friend and composer Eddie McGuire read of the request for paintings and artwork and reminded me of this drawing by artist John Gahagan. It’s not for the competition but might inspire someone.

Eddie writes: ‘I see that you are putting up artwork featuring pipers. Here’s the excellent drawing that John Gahagan did for the front cover of the music I wrote for the Glasgow arts festival ‘Mayfest’ in 1986 – ‘The Piper’s Return’.

‘You’ll remember the photo with George MacIlwham on Highland pipes, Martin Hughes on bombarde and yourself on lowland pipes (plus harp, clarsach & bass) in the People’s Palace Winter Gardens [Glasgow].

Yes, I remember the gig Eddie. Have the picture somwehere of us sweltering in the hothouse.



To the PP competition proper…two good jigs from reader Lance Dorris. All tunes will be judged by Barry Donaldson. Please submit any genre except pioabaireachd (unless under 21) or 2/4 ‘competition’ marches. Lance’s tunes, first parts only:

Lance expressed a concern that one of his tunes was handwritten. Don’t worry about that Lance. I think that provided they are legible – as your tune is – handwritten scores have a charm and personality computer generated staves don’t have. Download the tunes in full:


I mentioned P/M James Robertson’s tune ‘Farewell to the Creeks’ a few days back and journalist and piper Tom Peterkin picked it up for the Press & Journal in Aberdeen and it was subsequently carried by the Courier in Dundee. Thanks to all those who sent in clippings from the relevant papers.

I have to say I think the connection between Bob Dylan and the ‘Creeks’ is overstated. There can’t be anything more than a very slight resemblance. When Dylan said he got the melody for the ‘The Times They are A-Changin’ from an old Scots tune he must have been referring to something else surely.

Duncan Watson writes: ‘I arrived in Aberdeen in 1967. I went to the Police College and Joe Wilson [Robertson’s pupil] was also there on a course. Joe was in the Invergordon pipe band before joining in the police. He was undoubtedly the best player Robertson taught. 

‘There were, and are, pipers in the Turriff area who can trace their learning from James Robertson who was known as ‘Robbie’. He would probably have been a founder member of the Turriff Pipe Band, and after he left the band, the family of Hepburns took over and they would have had a teaching association with Robbie. James Robertson was the Pipe Sergeant in the Gordon Highlanders when GS McLennan was the pipe major apparently. He has caught a melody which is standing the test of time.’



Some great work going on on the Piobaireachd Society Facebook pages where members are playing tunes. Good music from Peter McCalister, Callum Wynd – and John Frater with a seldom heard version of Tulloch Ard. Many more good tunes to follow. There is also an interesting video from member Leslie Barrett. Check out PSFb here.


The Balmoral School in the US have sent out the following to all students: ‘We just received notice that East Stroudsburg University of PA is not allowing any summer camps or conferences to take place on their campus this summer. So unfortunately we must cancel the Balmoral School’s East Stroudsburg University summer session July 12-17, 2020. Deposits will be refunded immediately.

‘Given the current situation with the corona virus, we may not be able to lock in another nearby location during the same time-frame. Airfares for Bruce Gandy and Robert Mathieson have been paid for. We are trying to find another venue, and we’ll be in touch as developments unfold. As of this writing, the Pittsburgh session July 5-10 at ShadySide Academy has not been cancelled. Stay safe. George Balderose, Director, Leslie Clark, Associate Director.’


Sam Young in Australia has responded to Peter Candy’s query on the out of print USA Bicentennial Collection. Sam says his books are not for sale but writes: ‘I just found the four (4) United States Bicentennial Collection of Bagpipe Music in my untidy system here. Did I read somewhere you were looking for something from these books. Happy to help with anything you might need.’ 


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