Editor’s Notebook: Worlds Grade 1/ Worlds Tickets/ RSPBA Jubilee/ Duncan’s Forgotten Piobaireachd/ Brisbane Beers

So it is a fact that this year’s World G1 title will be decided over four competitions involving a total of 16 judges. No one will be able to gainsay the winner after that.

However I do not feel it necessary to go to such lengths. Eight judges stout and true can do the job perfectly well as they have shown in the past. Sixteen should not become the norm.

Two legs on the Saturday are ample, and the Friday contests, held this year because of contractual obligations, should be scrapped and only restored as a qualifier if numbers prove ridiculously unmanageable. The cash saved can be re-invested elsewhere in the championship.

On the ticket front I am grateful to the reader who forwarded this: ‘The following should be of interest to potential attendees at the Worlds.

‘I contacted Glasgow Life for clarification on advance in-person purchase of tickets.  Here is the response, which is not covered on the Worlds ticket website:

  • Tickets can be purchased in advance and in-person at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall box office, open 10-5pm Monday to Saturday, excluding holidays.  These tickets will be at the discounted advance purchase price.
  • In person purchase will avoid the online fee of £1.50 or the telephone fee of £1.75, and of course also avoid the postage charge of £1
  • The 12% booking fee (whatever this is) will still apply as does the ‘Environmental Levy’ of £1

‘There is also this curious statement on the Worlds website: ‘Prices are subject to change’.  I haven’t a clue what that signifies!’

Notwishstasnding all of the above, I hope every pipe band enthusiast who is able will get out and support the Worlds. It is vitally important that we bounce back from a two-year shut down and regain our forward progression.

Band numbers are down and so is enthusiasm. Everyone has to play his or her part in getting us back to where we were pre-pandemic. Tickets here.


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RSPBA Jubilee

Reader Jane Moffat: ‘I live in Sydney, Australia, but travelled to the UK including Scotland in 1980. I attended an amazing pipe band gathering and purchased some glasses as a memento. Are you able to tell me the name and location of the gathering? I believe it was a Golden Jubilee year and may be linked with the RSPBA.’

Mrs Moffat’s Jubilee glass

1980 was indeed the RSPBA’s Golden Jubilee year Mrs Moffat. From memory I believe there was a separate gathering to celebrate the occasion and that may have been what you attended. However, more likely it would have been the World Pipe Band Championships held that year in, I think, Bellahouston Park, Glasgow. Obliged if any reader can help out here. It was 42 years ago!

  • There was a tune composing competition held too and it was won by my old Pipe Major, Alex MacIver. A new book of his tunes has been published, more of which later.

Duncan’s Tune

Glen Thompson in California: ‘While going through my files of pipe music recently, I found an original copy of Salute to The Bell That Never Rang, a piobaireachd by Duncan Johnstone in his own handwriting.

‘I believe I received this from him during a lesson in the late 80s. A quick Google search does not show any record of this tune.

‘A tune by the same name is played by a Susan Dill and has no connection to this tune. I am sure Duncan told me the story, but I don’t remember it. I thought it would be of interest to your readers.’

It certainly will be Glen and hopefully someone will give us more details.

Lamp post outside Glasgow Cathedral depicting the tree, bird, fish and bell

The title refers to Glasgow’s Coat of Arms. All city schoolboys remember the symbols by the following short rhyme:

There’s the tree that never grew,
There’s the bird that never flew,
There’s the fish that never swam,
There’s the bell that never rang.

The council website tells us that the four symbols depicted refer to legends surrounding Saint Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow. He founded a monastery which is now Glasgow Cathedral and died in 603AD.

It is thought that the bell in question may have been given to St Mungo by the Pope. By the 15th century, the hand bell symbol had become synonymous with the city of Glasgow. A replacement bell, purchased in 1641, remains on display in the city.

That’s the history now here’s the challenge. Is there any former pupil of Duncan’s out there who would be prepared to have a go at recording the tune on the GHB for us? Star prize to anyone who delivers. Download the full score:


Brissy Beers

Andrew Gallagher: ‘For those with a love of bagpipes or beer (and especially those with a love of both), come on down to Brewdog in Brisbane for a laid-back Sunday (July 17) session of Scottish tunes and Scottish brews.

‘Pipers are encouraged to bring a set of pipes and put on your best performance (whether its before sampling what Brewdog have on tap or after).

‘For those that don’t play but love to listen, come along for bagpipes, beers, and watching the Brisbane river flow past as you soak up one of Brisbane’s best breweries!

‘For anyone interested in coming along, or wanting some more information, please contact Andrew Galloway via 0402 858 695 or ajh.galloway@hotmail.com.’


Tutor Books 1-3 (USA)

60 lessons in three outstanding tutor books taking the complete beginner to intermediate level and introducing the classical music of the pipes, piobaireachd. All books have free audio and/or video back-up fully explaining the exercises, tunes and the required expression. Since they first appeared in 2015 these books have sold hundreds of copies worldwide. Price includes mailing of £12.

£44.00


3 thoughts on “Editor’s Notebook: Worlds Grade 1/ Worlds Tickets/ RSPBA Jubilee/ Duncan’s Forgotten Piobaireachd/ Brisbane Beers

  1. Hi Rab, I was interested in Glen’s comment about Duncan’s piobaireachd. I was fortunate to learn all his skills from Duncan at an early age of 12 till 40 both the College of Piping and then his home in Moray place near Hampden Park. He would be so welcoming and say ‘come in laddie’. I was so keen I would turn up at eight in the morning for a lesson. Duncan did show me this tune and many others. My thought was that he entered it for a tune competition and it did not receive an award. His sense of humour, I think, was why he named it as he did. I’m sure it’s a fantastic musical tune and fitting
    of his understated ability. Jim Begg

    1. Thanks Jim, as my memory is rattling, I believe you are right that maybe he wrote it for the Glasgow City of Culture Celebration. He was a wonderful tutor, always and open door for everyone, and never never a timer on his desk saying “time is up”
      Thanks For the input

  2. Re the RSPBA jubilees. I believe the event was held on the Sunday at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, following the Worlds on the previous day.

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