This reader contacted us after we published the article from Scotland’s History magazine ‘The Meaning of Bagpipe Music on the Western Front During WW1‘
My name is Robyn M Pio. I am a 70-year-old American woman raised by a German great-grandmother (who was born in Bremen, 1878). I now live in Chicago, Illinois, but my first language was German. I became a Catholic Francophile whilst living in France years ago. I am retired, but do volunteer work as an artist.
So this comes from someone who is not a Scot, nor with any deep awareness of Scottish history, yet I am so compelled to testify about the power of the sounds from your bagpipes.
It is not an instrument that makes music to merely entertain, or convey a simple, or complex emotion. I do not listen to bagpipes for relaxation or entertainment.
However, when feeling depressed or anxiety torn, there is no method of sound making that can so engage the listener – and transform the very mood or mode one is in, as the rousing sounds of the pipes.
The very timbre of the music allows for no ignoring of the tsunami of energy that is rolling through. All negative, alienating, emotions are simply steam-rollered, and one finds a proper wind in taking up one’s responsibility – whether arising from a grief, or recovering from a fall.
One returns to the bloodstream of the living – even if it is only to meet one’s final test. I do not know who invented the bagpipes, or how long it takes to master the skill of handling them, but I do recognise, far removed from the Scottish language and culture, that there is a miraculous transformative grace channelled by those who can do it well. Thank you for reading this note.