John MacKenzie’s Book Now Available in Digital Edition

Fifty plus years after it was first offered to the public, the P/M John MacKenzie collection of bagpipe music is now once more available as a digital download.

John composed tunes all of his life, but it was in 1973, a time when new publications were infrequent to say the least, that he produced his ‘Collection of Bagpipe Music’.

By Iain Duncan

It was very well received, containing as it did outstanding music for the pipes. Now 51 years on and 28 years after John’s death, the book has been re-issued in digital format.

Thanks must go to Piping Press editor Robert Wallace and John’s daughters, Elizabeth and Kate, who agreed that it should be offered to the piping public once more, with the aim of preserving their father’s musical legacy.

Born in Campbeltown, Argyll, in 1922, John MacKenzie BEM, FSA (Scot), received his first piping lesson from one, Neil Campbell, and later from a plethora of local talent. However his main solo instruction came from Robert Reid, multiple prizewinner, and one of the outstanding figures of 20th century piping.

From an early age it was clear John’s career path lay in piping, and in 1936 he joined the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders as a boy piper, aged 16. He served the regiment for 14 years, six as Pipe Major of the 2nd and 8th Battalions respectively. This service also included fulfilling the position of Instructor at the Scottish Command School of Piping in Edinburgh.

In addition to solo successes at both the Northern Meeting and the Argyllshire Gathering, John led his Argylls Battalion Pipe Band to a first prize at Cowal Games in the days when there was a separate contest for Army pipe bands.


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On his return to Campbeltown, he took charge of the local 1405 Squadron Air Training Corps Pipe Band which saw the band placing in Grade 3 at both Cowal and Bute Highland Games, and during the same period of his life he formed the Kintyre Piping Society – still going strong today.

The year 1953 saw him take a new career path and John emigrated to Northern Rhodesia to work for the Anglo American Corporation’s Copper Mines. No escape from the military though; former members of the Northern Rhodesian Regiment approached him and asked him to compose a march to commemorate the WWII Battle of Tug Argan and so a lively and inspired 6|8, Tug Argan Gap, was born. It is included in this book.

In 1964 an offer of becoming Pipe Major / Instructor to the Queen Victoria School, Dunblane, saw him return to Scotland. The band became SPBA World Juvenile Champions, but became better known and synonymous with Scottish rugby, performing regularly at international matches at Murrayfield in Edinburgh (27 times).

It is well documented that brothers, Dr Angus, Allan and Iain MacDonald, all noted pipers, were products of the QVS system.


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