Review: ‘The Pipe Tunes of Pipe Major Alex M MacIver’

This recently published collection of tunes composed by the late P/M Alex M MacIver, has been compiled by one of his former pupils, namely Hector Russell. For those who may not be aware, Alex was Pipe Major of the renowned Glasgow 214th Company Boy’s Brigade Pipe Band. This band led by Alex during the 1950s, 60s and 70s dominated the juvenile pipe band scene winning countless championships as well as…

Pipe Band Workshop: A Closer Look at Medley Construction

When building a Medley, pipe majors should consider time constraints. Some of the most successful bands in Grade 1 in recent years have tended to limit their Medley to just over the five minutes. (The requirement in this grade is five to seven minutes.) These bands can still produce exciting music within the shorter time frame and have less likelihood of any slip up. Introductory Tunes: These can win or…

Pipe Band Workshop: Some Tips on Competition March, Strathspey and Reel Tune Selection

A general rule of thumb for tune selection in March Strathspey and Reel competitions, more especially in the lower grades, is to avoid six-parted tunes. With them you increase the potential for error and you will succeed just as easily with four-parters. Check on the most popular pieces – the RSPBA programmes from Major Championships are good source. There you will find all the tried and tested, quality tunes. Lower…

Pipe Band Workshop: Focussing on Melody and the Importance of Tune Selection in a Band’s Presentation

Within the pipe band idiom there are a number of different melodic disciplines to consider, viz. tunes for competition march, strathspey and reel, tunes for medley construction, tunes for concert performance, tunes for parade and ceremonial occasions, certain tunes that are more sympathetic for tuning the bagpipe. With bands at different levels of expertise, tune selection becomes an art in its self.   By Barry Donaldson Many pieces suitable for…

Some Reflections on My Time as an Instructor at the College of Piping

The airing last weekend of the online premiere of the film ‘Follow Me…I’m Right Behind You’ brought back a host of memories from my time as senior instructor at the former College of Piping in Glasgow. I retired from Strathclyde Police in December 2006 and during that first week of doing nothing I received a phone call; it was the College of Piping asking if I would come in and…