Editor’s Notebook: Campsie Book/ Piping Times/ NZ Drumming/ Argyllshire Gathering/ Uist & Barra/ Balmoral Camps

Anybody take a look at the blurb for Alistair Campsie’s ‘Madness of Angus MacKay’ book currently on sale at Amazon and mentioned here a couple of weeks ago? Someone needs to write to them.

I think the late Alistair, never short of hyperbole where piping was concerned, must have written it himself and the gullible at the retail giant have swallowed it whole.

Here’s a taster…‘This book, which hit the world of piping like the H-bomb, stamped a final R.I.P. notice on one of the great legends of musical history. The MacCrimmons, who lived on the Isle of Skye, had long been considered the gods of pipers…

In this spell-binding musical investigation, the author exposed it as nothing but a hoax…. Campsie revealed the damning truth that almost all the so-called ‘MacCrimmon’ pibrochs had earlier and different names, indicating they had been stolen and renamed ….

The writer and piper Alistair Campsie

Angus [MacKay], Queen Victoria’s first piper, did more than anyone to build up and perpetuate the myth of the MacCrimmons….The propagandists concealed the truth that he was certified insane in Bedlam in 1854, when he insisted he was also married to Queen Victoria, the Royal children were his, and he was going to murder Prince Albert…. Now all this revelatory material was unique and the product of original research, no matter how inconvenient…… turned the MacCrimmon book into the most controversial Scottish book of the century.

I paraphrase for brevity. Read the full thing here. Angus MacKay’s sad demise has been well documented in these pages. His seminal work of 1838 was completed many years before the onset of mental illness induced by tertiary syphilis. Chronology can be inconvenient when you have a bee in your bonnet and a book to sell.

MacRaeBanner ’19
Ayrshire Bagpipes Nov 2020
shepherd banner ’22

Piping Times

I have four extra copies of old editions of the PT. They are March ’66, July ’79, June ’79 and May ’79. If like me you enjoy the occasional trawl through piping history, you will find them interesting.

If any UK reader wants them please donate £10 to PP funds and we’ll get them off to you. The donate button is top left on the home page

NZ Drumming

The RSPBA Oceania Solo Drumming Championship will be held at St Andrew’s College in Christchurch, NZ on 29 June 2024. ‘This is a huge opportunity for New Zealand,’ RNZPBA President Iain Blakeley said. ‘We have world-class drummers in New Zealand and around the Pacific.’

Competitors submit two x MSRs at the time of entry. They play one drawn immediately before playing.

The winner will be announced as the RSPBA Oceania Adult Solo Drumming Champion, and the first two placings gain automatic qualification to the 2024 RSPBA World Solo Drumming Championship semi-final in Glasgow in October.

Argyllshire Gathering

You will have noticed Arthur Gillies on the front of one of the PTs above. Here is Arthur again in a picture from an Oban Times report on the Argyllshire Gathering possibly early ’70s.

It dates from the time when there was a roll call of pipers at the station before the march to the games on the second day of the Gathering.

The caption reads: ‘Taking the morning roll-call in drenching rain, the gathering secretary Mr Kenneth MacKinnon and Mr Alan Campbell of Glenfeochan.’

I hope I am not tempting providence in saying that in recent times the march to the games has been fortunate in having more pleasant weather. Don’t forget this year’s dates – August 21/22.

Uist & Barra

Reminder that the U&B, the first major professional contest of the year, is at the old College of Piping building in Otago Street, Glasgow, from 9am tomorrow (March 9).

There’s always a great atmosphere enhanced by the Gaelic singing as the pipers tune up. Check PP for the results tomorrow evening and my subsequent critique.

Balmoral Camps

Elaine Lee reports on the popular Balmoral Summer Camps to be held in the US in July: In small group classes, 1-on-1 lessons, and camp-wide seminars, students will receive instruction on the Great Highland Bagpipe and Scottish Snare Drum. Guest instructors for Balmoral’s Summer and Winter programs have all won major awards have incomparable records in the teaching and promotion of solo piping and pipe band music around the world.

Instructors Bruce Gandy, Andrew Carlisle and Derek Midgley

July 7-12, 2024 at Kutztown University, Kutztown, PA.
July 14-19, 2024 at PennWest-Edinboro University, Edinboro, PA.

Balmoral staff piping instructors Sean Patrick Regan and Richmond Johnston, and Balmoral Pipes & Drums drumming instructor Ian McLeod, will join our 2024 guest instructors at both summer camps. More information here.


1 thought on “Editor’s Notebook: Campsie Book/ Piping Times/ NZ Drumming/ Argyllshire Gathering/ Uist & Barra/ Balmoral Camps

  1. Campsie’s book ended up in Bargain Books at 50p per copy. I bought several copies and passed them on to others.

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