Project to Place Piping Magazine Archive Online and Produce Piping Times Print Annual

The National Piping Centre has launched a ‘crowdfunding’ campaign to raise funds to digitise and place online back issues of the now defunct Piping Times and Piping Today magazines. The archive will be free for the public to access and search. In addition the Centre are looking at producing an annual print publication under the Piping Times banner.

The Piping Times ran from 1948 until 2020. It was the flagship magazine of the College of Piping established by Seumas MacNeill and Tommy Pearston in 1944. The NPC’s Notes and Piping Today were set up to rival the Piping Times and were published from 1996. The Piping Times was subsumed into the NPC milieu when it took over the failing CoP in 2018.

Both print magazine were losing significant circulation and money before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. At the time Finlay MacDonald, the NPC’s new Director of Piping, said: ‘It was with the deepest regret that we have made the difficult decision to cease publication of the two magazines, Piping Times and Piping Today. Both titles hold a special place in the hearts of pipers across the world.

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‘Sadly, publication of the magazines could no longer be justified on the grounds of the associated costs. Dwindling circulation numbers – a common trend in publishing in recent years – has meant that, despite their long histories, the savings made had a significant impact on the organisation’s ability to weather the pandemic.

From the outset the Piping Times had a clear editorial policy: competition results, reviews, it provided a platform for the exchange of opinions and ideas. It was also influential in bringing together the international piping community.

Until his death in 1996, the magazine was edited by Seumas MacNeill. In 48 years as editor, Seumas never missed an issue. His honest but informed, humourous writing made the magazine very successful, though his failure to offer the right of reply caused great frustration among those he criticised.

Seumas MacNeill was an outstanding editor of the Piping Times

On Seumas’s death the mantle of editorship was taken on by Dugald MacNeill. In 1999 Robert Wallace took the Editor’s chair and remained in post for 15 years fully upholding, and adding to, Seumas MacNeill’s journalistic legacy. Under his stewardship the magazine was commended in the Scottish Magazine Awards in 2005 and saw circulation reach almost 2,000 per month. Failure to uphold the Piping Times’ core traditions can be seen as a root cause of its ultimate demise.

The National Piping Centre began publishing its own in-house magazine Notes shortly after opening in 1996. As the focus of the publication shifted to the broader world of piping, its title changed to Piping Today.

Robert Wallace edited the Piping Times for 15 years winning a commendation in the Scottish Magazine Awards in 2005

The money raised from the crowdfunding campaign will be used to professionally digitise the combined magazine archive. It will then be hosted on the NPC’s website and be free for the public to access and search. 

Donations to the campaign will also support the design and production of a new physical annual publication, entitled the ‘Piping Times Annual’. The annual will be added to the digital archive each year. 

Finlay MacDonald continued: ‘Creating a physical record of the year’s piping news is still a priority for us. By publishing a Piping Times Annual we hope to create a new archive for the future. This first volume, covering the period from Spring 2020 to Autumn 2021, will be of enormous historical importance.

NPC Director of Piping, Finlay MacDonald

‘While, on the one hand, far less piping activity has taken place due to the pandemic, the innovations that have taken place – most notably the explosion in online competitions – may be seen as a pivotal moment in the development of piping performance. It is essential that this is documented appropriately for researchers of the future.’ 

The Crowdfunder will be live from Tuesday 4th until Monday 31st May 2021 and will be available to donate to via 

Rewards for the Crowdfunder include: £15 or more: Named as a sponsor + eBook edition. Your name will be included in a list of sponsors within the new Piping Times Annual and you will get access to the eBook edition 

£35 or more: Named as a sponsor + Physical Copy. In addition to your name being included in a list of sponsors in the new Piping Times Annual you will receive a physical copy of the book

£70 or more: Ticket to Launch Concert + Physical Copy. In early December 2021 there will be an exclusive launch concert hosted at The National Piping Centre and livestreamed. For £70 or more you will receive a ticket to the event (either online or in-person). In addition, you will receive a physical copy of the new Piping Times Annual and your name will be included in the list of sponsors.

£150 or more: Piping Live! Online Pass + other rewards. In addition to the other rewards listed above (name listed as a supporter, physical copy of the PT Annual, ticket to the launch event) you will receive an Online Pass to the 2021 edition of Piping Live!

£300 or more: Piping Times / Piping Today Back Issue Cover Print. In addition to all of the rewards above (name listed as a supporter, physical copy of the PT Annual, ticket to the launch event, and a Piping Live! Online Pass), you can have the cover of any Piping Times or Piping Today issue blown up in a high-quality print. 

£500 or more: In addition to the rewards above (listed as a supporter, physical copy of PT Annual, ticket to launch event, and a Piping Live! Online Pass) you can commission an original composition by one of The National Piping Centre’s teachers. This is a unique way to support the project while being able to name a tune and be sent a hand-signed copy from the composer.

The official launch video is available to view here:

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