Editor’s Blog: Electronic Chanters/ John McLellan, Dunoon/ Black Watch/ Xavier’s Album/ British Legion 1968

I hope children who currently have to learn their piping using eletronic chanters won’t have to do so for too much longer. They have to press the fingers much too hard on the ‘holes’ and as we all know the lighter the grip the better.

Learning pipes this way will be like learning piano on an electric keyboard; the sensitivity is all wrong. John MacDougall Gillies advocated treating the chanter as though it were red hot. You gripped it but would rather not, and lifted the fingers high to safety.

Our well-read report of a few days ago offered some hope to those in the schools teaching milieu but I suspect it will change nothing. Vaccine noises rise in volume, but be in no doubt that piping and pipe bands will remain in cold storage till the spring.

As you would imagine, John McLellan, Dunoon, featured strongly in our series on WW1 pipers and now a reader ‘Duggy’ writes: ‘I’ve created a tribute website dedicated to P/M John McLellan DCM of Dunoon. The website address is https://johnmclellandcm.weebly.com

‘My late mother was a great niece of P/M McLellan and she would often talk fondly about Jock and how proud she was of his talent and many accomplishments. A few months before my mum’s passing in 2018, I mentioned that I’d like to create a website dedicated to Jock and his legacy, and she was so pleased to hear that. 

‘Over a decade ago I created one for the Dunoon Argyll Pipe Band. I wanted to do something that would keep me connected with piping and also my hometown of Dunoon in Argyll, as I worked abroad.

‘I recently returned to Scotland, and these past few months I’ve found myself with a bit of time to spare, so I decided it was the time to create a tribute website to Jock.’

There’s actually a lot on P/M McLellan on PP. Just enter his name in the search box.

Good news that the government has guaranteed the future of the Black Watch name in the British Army. (Now also known, soullessly, as the 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland.)

There had been rumours that MoD number crunchers were bent on extinguishing the flame. Cue sighs of relief among old soldiers in their recruiting grounds up in Fife and Perth following the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday.

The Black Watch at JFK’s funeral in 1963

Distinguished for many things, in 1963 the Black Watch Pipes & Drums were invited by US President John F Kennedy to play on the White House lawn. Tragically, and only a few days later, they had the duty of playing at the great President’s funeral. You can read about it here.

Breton piper Xavier Boderiou has a new album ‘Liamm’. Xavier says of it: ‘It’s a piping-focused album, accompanied with flutes, multiple guitars but also duduk, bansuri flutes and breton biniou. It might be the first piping album in more than a decade to gather Scottish, Irish and Breton music.

‘Liam means connections/links in the Breton langage. This unique album highlights the great Highland bagpipe in its specific context in Brittany, at the crossroads of repertoires, history and stories…’

Download the album here.

British Legion Contest 1968, held in the Royal Arch Halls, Edinburgh, 4th May

1 Hector MacFadyen, £15
2 George Lumsden, £12
3 John MacDougall, £10
4 Ronald Morrison, £8
5 James McIntosh, £5
6 William Maitland, £3

Hector MacFadyen, Pennyghael, Mull, swept the boards at the 1968 BL contest

1 Hector MacFadyen, £10
2 Iain McLeod, £8
3 Iain MacFadyen, £5
4 James McIntosh, £3
5 John MacDougall, £2

Strathspeys & Reels
1 Hector MacFadyen, £10
2 John MacDougall, £6
3 James McIntosh, £4
4 Iain MacFadyen, £2
5 Thomas Anderson, £1

Piobaireachd judges: Captain DR MacLennan, Captain Ian C Cameron, Lieutenant John MacLellan MBE
Light Music: Hugh MacRae, P/M George Stoddart BEM. Other competitors listed: Andrew Wright, Archie MacPhail, P/M John MacKenzie, Ian F Clowe, P/M Ian Laidlaw, Willie MacDonald (Benbecula), P/M Ronald Lawrie, Duncan MacFadyen and Dougie Ferguson.

1 thought on “Editor’s Blog: Electronic Chanters/ John McLellan, Dunoon/ Black Watch/ Xavier’s Album/ British Legion 1968

  1. Re ‘electronic chanters’. Interesting comment. Yes, not a good idea to press the the fingers too hard. Couldn’t agree more. Thankfully there is another chanter (not electronic) which requires the same amount of pressure as a practice chanter and has holes and spacing like one. It’s been a life saver for many during the pandemic. It is of course not a substitute for the real thing and never was intended to be. All will hopefully be back to normal soon. Happy Piping. RS

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