The BBC Are Right to Change the Piping Programme Say Most Readers

BBC Radio Scotland’s pledge to continue with their piping programme and outside broadcasts such as the World Pipe Band Championships has been welcomed by Piping Press readers. However, most agreed with our correspondent Duncan Watson that the current ‘Pipeline’ show had lost its way and needed to ‘get back to basics’.

James Fraser: ‘Thank you for your work in getting a resolution to this matter. I agree with all the comments suggesting that piping programmes should contain only piping and that folk instruments should continue to be aired on their dedicated channels.

‘If folk groups have bagpipes as an instrument in their bands, then that is fine, but the great Highland bagpipe has not traditionally been connected to any other musical instruments other than the drums. I hope the BBC take all these worthy comments on board [D Watson’s] and support the different preferences of all licence payers.’


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An unnamed correspondent who describes himself as ‘Angus’ took the opposite view: ‘The beauty of ‘Pipeline’ is that it’s all things piping not just MSR/ competition Medley/ Piobaireachd played solo or band. If it were, it would die [sic].

‘Some episodes will go heavy on the solo traditional playing (such as after Glenfiddich) and other times (around Celtic Connections) it branches out. That’s why it’s such a great 50mins! As a piper myself, and the father of a teenager learning to play pipes, it’s essential to find all forms of inspiration from this show.’

Professional piper Allan Russell, Kelty, Fife: ‘I one hundred per cent agree with Duncan Watson.’

Dave Rischmiller: ‘I agree with Duncan Watson; ‘Pipeline’ has moved too far away from pure Highland piping and pipe bands. There is (for me) too much folk band content; it seems that as long as there is some form of bagpipe from anywhere in the world at some stage in the music it’s okay to feature it.

‘I do enjoy a lot of this music but it can be seen and heard well enough elsewhere on other radio programmes, and certainly on the TV. ‘Pipeline’ was only 50 minutes (after the news, weather and sport headlines had eaten into its allotted hour), and given a piobaireachd can be 10-15 minutes that doesn’t leave much time for other pure piping, relevant interviews and news if there is ten to twenty minutes of folk band performance.

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‘My preferred piping listen in recent years has been KKRN’s ‘The Piping Hour’ from California which provides a wealth of historical recordings of pure piping and pipe bands. The BBC must have a treasure trove of historical recordings but featuring these was very rare on ‘Pipeline’.’

Bob Ash: ‘I often wished that ‘Pipeline’ was more like the original ‘Chanter’ programme had been: pure Highland piping, solo and pipe bands, as Duncan Watson and Dave Rischmiller also prefer. I was 13 in 1962, when I discovered the ‘Chanter’ broadcast on the Scottish Home Service on medium wave on my parents’ old Bush radio.

‘I lived in London and the reception was pretty awful at times, but every second was a jewel to me: I even cried one Wednesday evening when my mother wouldn’t let me listen in because I had homework to do; and, from then on, I would tape record each programme on my father’s old Philips tape recorder. The piping programme was a lifeline for me; it meant so much, especially in those early years before I found a piping tutor.’


5 thoughts on “The BBC Are Right to Change the Piping Programme Say Most Readers

  1. Thanks for the comments on my radio program The Piping Hour; however, I do play Gaelic folk content and occasionally dip into folk music in Scots too. My intention is to place piping in a wider context of influence, and I think Pipeline does much the same. One or two songs, two or three piobaireachds, a couple solo pipe tunes, and one pipe band recording are enough for a pleasant hour. Since I’m an older fella, I air mostly what I grew up on and the eras before. Glad you’re listening. –steve

  2. I completely agree with Duncan Watson and others with regard to the content of ‘Pipeline’ in recent times.

  3. Hi folks, I’d like to say I respectfully disagree. In my opinion, Iain MacInnes and Gary West have done a wonderful job of sharing our pipe music with the world.
    I don’t have any facts and data, but I do seem to recall various live recordings from various major solo piping competitions, the worlds and a few of the majors each year.

    It’s my view a little variety is a good thing.

  4. As Dave Rischmiller mentioned in today’s post, it is time for the BBC to open the treasure trove of historically valuable recordings they have. Again, I wonder if the BBC should have exclusive access to these recordings… Surely something could be done to make them more available and, more importantly, preserve them for the future.

    1. Agree absolutely. They should air these recordings. I’m sure any issues regarding rights can be overcome.

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