Inveraray Games Announcement and Letters on the Modern Pitch of the Bagpipe and on the Popularity of Amazing Grace

James Beaton, Piping Convenor of the well-run Inveraray Highland Games, has announced that entries for their piping competitions are now open. The games take place on July 19.

All entry forms must be received no later than 24th June 2022, no late entries will be accepted and senior places are limited to the first 25 entries received.

A draw will take place after the closing date and if required a reserve list will be used. Competitors not picked in the draw will be notified and refunded.

Entry fees: Chanter £1, Juniors £3, all other events £5. All queries to

Four tunes are required in all categories for P/A and B grade, and three of each in C grade. Contrary to previous practice, tunes will be given at the judge’s table. Enter here.

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Joyce McIntosh in the US: ‘I read with interest John Shone’s article describing the beginnings of using tape to alter notes on the chanter. Hard to imagine using melted wax to try to fill the holes to ‘true’ the pitch. We have it so easy these days! 

‘It is true that our chanter pitch has risen gradually over the years, but one statement that caught my eye was that “it was Donald MacPherson and Les Cowell at David Naill who independently set the current pitch of our pipe”.  

‘While it may be true that Donald and Les had discussions about pitch, it was my late husband Jimmy McIntosh MBE, who developed the Naill chanter and its higher pitch with Les Cowell in the late 70s.

‘Jimmy, and his prominent pupil at the time, Murray Henderson, played the newly developed chanters in an Eagle Piper’s Society competition soon after they were produced by the D Naill company.  

‘The results were J McIntosh first, and M Henderson second. It was then revealed that each had been playing the new chanter designed by Jimmy and produced by Les.

‘The story is described in Jimmy’s ‘Memoirs of My Life as a Piper‘ on pages 98 and 99, and I’m sure many readers know about this as the Naill chanter became competitors’ chanter of choice for many years after.

‘I heard Donald MacPherson play in person on several occasions, and marvelled at the perfect tone from his instrument. He certainly derived a sweetness from his Hardie chanter.’

Logan Tannock, SPA President, on the 50th Anniversary of the release of Amazing Grace by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards: ‘How well I remember this as a young boy.

‘I was piping at a local hotel four nights a week to coach loads of tourists sampling the Highland scenery.

‘It fairly built up the stamina and kept the repertoire polished. I used to play to call the tourists to dinner, then in the good (read dry) weather I piped up and down outside the dining room windows.

‘If I was asked once a night to play Amazing Grace I was asked ten times. I was so sick of the tune I probably never played it again unless under duress. That was until the SFU recording of it which I scored and then played at council music concerts with the kids I teach.’

2 thoughts on “Inveraray Games Announcement and Letters on the Modern Pitch of the Bagpipe and on the Popularity of Amazing Grace

  1. I take it that was a typo error in Logan Tannoch’s article about where he spoke about SFU’s performance of Amazing Grace, I take it he meant SDG !!

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