The playing of bagpipes has been around for thousands of years. The Highland bagpipe and its music has existed for mere hundred. The unique style of playing and its’ associated traditions could have been lost without the standardization and writing down of the tunes. One of the unknown heroes in keeping the music alive was Donald MacDonald.
During the later part of the 1800’s there was a belief among many bagpipers that Piobaireachd, or classical bagpipe music, was close to being lost. One of the music's greatest supporters, and one of the founding members of the Piobaireachd Society, was Major-General C.S. Thomason. He spent much of his life studying, collecting, and finally publishing a major work on piobaireachd, Ceol Mor.
Iain Dall MacKay holds an important place in the history of piping. Considered one of bagpiping's greatest composers, he is known to have authored at least 30 piobaireachds. Iain Dall had the distinction of being both piper and bard to the chief of the MacKenzies, an astonishing feat for the time.
The next tune in our continuing series on Tunes of the First World War is “H.R.H. Princess Mary March.” This is another tune memorializing a happy moment in the course of the war. This tune, written by the Pipe Major of the Royal Scot (the Royal Regiment) celebrates the appointment of Princess Mary as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment.
In this part of the continuing series about bagpipe tunes of the First World War we are going to discuss the tune the “1/5th Seaforth Highlanders Welcome to France.” This is a jaunty, 2/4 tune written by Corporal H. Gammock of the 1/5 Seaforth Highlanders. This tune gives us a great opportunity to discus the role of the Territorial Forces in the First World War.
In this part of the ongoing series on bagpipe tunes of the First World War we are going to discuss “Major MacRae’s Farewell to the 72nd Highlanders.” This celebrates the great Brevet-Major John MacRae, D.S.O. of the 1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders.
Next in the series of tunes of the First World War we have the great tune, “The Cellars of Authuille,” written by the great Pipe Major William Lawrie of the 1/8th Battalion (The Argyllshire) Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It is a bit difficult to find the inspiration for this tune, so an educated guess has to be made. When first published, the tune was titled “The Cellars of Authuille, 1915,” which gives us a hint. In 1915 the 8th battalion, part of the 51st Highland Division, was stationed on the Western Front.
As much as we would like to, we can’t practice all the time. Working to improve your playing everyday is important. With only so many hours in the day time on the practice chanter and bagpipes can be limited. However, there are things you can do to help improve your playing and pick up other skills at the same time.