Piper James Duncan Mackenzie, Lewis, Releases Book of Own Compositions

Lewis piper James Duncan Mackenzie has released a book featuring 70 of his own tunes for pipes and other instruments. It includes tunes which have already become popular in both the pipe band and folk music scenes, writes Katie Mackenzie.

The ‘James Duncan Mackenzie Collection’ features 52 pipe compositions, including tunes such as Smelling Fresh and Willie Bucach Macleod of Stornoway, and 18 tunes that go outside the range of the chanter.

Many of James’ tunes have been played by other musicians and bands around the world including Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band who included Smelling Fresh in one of their World Championship winning medleys. 

James commented: ‘I’m delighted to release my debut music collection. It’s made up of many of the tunes I’ve written over the last 15 years or so. I’ve really enjoyed trying to write tunes and have taken inspiration from people and places all over the world.

‘It’s great when other musicians want to learn and play some of my tunes and this encourages me to keep writing and trying to come up with new ideas and new tunes. I hope the tunes in the book will cater to a diverse range of pipers and other instrumentalists and that people will find something that they enjoy playing.’


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From the village of Back on the isle of Lewis but now living in Shawbost, James started piping at the age of eight and was initially taught by Pipe Major Nicky Gordon and the late Pipe Major Iain Murdo Morrison.  

He is a former member of the folk band Breabach with whom he released four studio albums and toured internationally with for over a decade playing Highland pipes and wooden flutes. James is currently a member of Tryst, a 10-piece bagpipe group made up of some of Scotland’s most well-known contemporary pipers and composers. 

In 2019, James returned to competitive piping and won the Silver Medal at the Northern Meeting at Inverness. 

James at the Games in 2018

To date, James has produced and released two solo albums, ‘James Duncan Mackenzie’ and ‘Sròmos’, with his third due for release in 2022. James’ recent and forthcoming albums consist entirely of his own tunes, all of which can be found in his new book. The book is currently exclusively available from James via his Bandcamp page: https://jamesduncanmackenzie.bandcamp.com

James is a graduate of the University of the Highlands and Islands and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where he studied on the piping degree course. During his studies in Glasgow he played with the Scottish Power Pipe Band. 


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