Match Report Tuesday 16th April 2019

IMG_0680Tonight saw the start of our youth guest program for 2019 and breaking the ice the Society was delighted to welcome John Dew into the fold. John is currently studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and at the ripe old age of 21 is establishing himself in the solo and pipeband scene.

Originally from Crieff he was initially taught by Anne Spalding. He went to Strathallan school in Perthshire where he came under the wing of Cameron Drummond and latterly Craig Muirhead. He now receives guidance from Finlay MacDonald and Willie McCallum and is member of the Inveraray and District Pipe Band.

John has done a fair bit of damage in the B grade competitions recently and has won some significant prizes, including the overall B grade at last years Captain John Maclellan Memorial contest.

He is no stranger to the Scots Guards Association Club having competed in the Sunday Knock out completion run by P/M Jimmy Banks. 

The band had a few tunes while John warmed the pipe up the stairs. John came down around 8.30 and in an informal but knowledgable audience he started off with some 6/8 marches. The pipe was first class the music flowed. Those in the audience who were not that familiar with John realised that they were in for a treat.IMG_0685

Included in the marches were Dominic McGowen by Duncan Johnston and Duncan McGillivrey Chief Steward by Jim McGillivrey, who wrote the tune for his father who was long-time Chief Steward for the Pipers’ and Pipe Band Society of Ontario.

The hornpipe Duncan Johnston by Donald MacLeod was followed by 3 jigs, that included one of John’s own compositions. The Moonlight on the Heather by William MacDonald, Benbecula, The Follow-On by John Dew and Alex MacDonald by Norman MacDonald

John is a student of music and while comfortable with established tunes and settings he is a enthusiast and promoter of modern tunes and ones not in the main stream. His MSR was MacLean of Pennycross, The Doune of Invernochty by William Grant and a tune new to most, if not all the audience, The Merry Men of Mey by Brian Birse, that I think you will find in Seumas MacNeill Book 2 .

What a first half and there was quite a buzz during the pie break.

IMG_0684During the second half John played some lovely 3/4 marches including his own tune The Roses of Upper Inverroy, 42nd Parallel by Ryan Canning and A Nusa Wedding by Rory Campbell.

His performance included wee strathspeys and reels and showed off Johns musical ability and finger dexterity to the full. He threw the old stagers in the audience a bone with 3 great big 2/4/ marches Pipe Major Roddy MacLeod MSB by Chris Armstrong, Dugald MacColl’s Farewell to France by John MacColl and The Duke of Roxburgh’s Farewell to the Blackmount Forrest. Full of swing and music. First class stuff.

John concluded his recital with one of this years silver medal tunes, The Marquis of Argyll’s Salute. This is an attractive tune that can be played boldly and while one of the shorter tunes it is very musical. John got the very best from it and what great end to a fantastic evenings entertainment. 

Note: Archibald the eighth Earl of Argyle, succeeded his father in 1638, and was created Marquis of Argyle in 1641. Between 1640 and 1650, as head of the Coventanting party, he became the most powerful noble in Scotland.  Angus MacKay tells us that, after the decapitation of King Charles, he had the honour to place the crown on the head of his son when he retreated to Scotland; but on the restoration he was attainted of high treason, for corresponding with Cromwell, and was executed at Edinburgh on 27th May 1661. The composer is not known. IMG_0681

John certainly made his mark, not just with his immaculate playing, but in the manner he presented himself and the music he was going to play. There is no doubt that this young man will be a force to be reckoned with. He is one of the new breed of composers and his music can be found on YouTube and facebook where you can listen to the tune of the month.

Many thanks John for taking the time and effort. It was greatly appreciated.

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M


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Match Report Tuesday 2nd April 2019

IMG_0655A smaller turnout saw around 10 pipers take to the floor and this gave little bit time to work on the sound. The chanters, set to a lower pitch of 478, allows a nice balance to be achieved when playing different makes.

The band had a solid run through a number of tunes before the pies. The post pie piper was Andrew Yu who, due to band commitments, has not been with us for some time. Andrew settled the pipe with a few light music tunes before giving us a lovely Lament for Captain MacDougall. Andrew is in practice for the SPA contest that is coming up this weekend and he has a very good grasp of this tune which should stand him in good stead.

‘This Lament was composed for one of the Chiefs of the MacDougall’s of Dunolly by the hereditary piper of the Clan, Ronald MacDougall, who also composed a Salute known as ‘Captain MacDougall’s Salute.’IMG_0658

“The MacDougall’s had hereditary pipers up to the time of Admiral Sir John MacDougall, K.C.B., who died in 1864, when his piper Ronald—Raonull Mór—left for some reason or other, and was afterwards appointed Pipe-Major to the local Militia. These Clan pipers lived at Moleigh, near Oban, where they had a portion of land called ‘Croit nam pìobairean,’ or the Pipers’ Croft. They were all MacDougalls; the last who kept a school of pipers there being Ronald Bàn. Ronald Mór, who was grandson of Ronald Bàn, was the last hereditary piper of the Clan.” 

The folklorist and translator, Katherine Whyte Grant of Oban, author of Myth, Tradition and Story from Western Argyll (Oban, 1925), responding in the Oban Times, 30/01/1926,  to a query from Sheriff J. P. Grant, thought the dedicatee of this piobaireachd was probably Captain Duncan MacDougall (b. 1744), although she did not know the circumstances of his death.’

IMG_0663The final player of the evening was George Campbell who was quickly into his stride with some unusual 3/4 marches. It transpired that George had composed the first one himself, (that has yet to be named), followed by the The Merse Piper composed by Stephen Small. 

The ‘Merse piper’ is the late Timothy Ainslie. He served with the Black Watch during the 2nd world war and subsequently settled in the Borders focusing his piping with the Duns Pipe band and teaching in local schools. Stephen Small was one of his pupils.

The final tune was The Dunkirk Boatman, composed by John Balloch. Balloch spent his retirement years living in Port Bannatyne, Isle of Bute where he died in 1949. He was known by the locals simply as ‘the Pipe Major’.

The tune ‘The Boatman’ was composed for Alistair MacMillan of Port Bannatyne who was a sailor with the Caledonian Steam Packet Company and who took part in the Dunkirk evacuation rescuing British and French forces in 1940 under constant attack from the Luftwaffe. When informed of the tune Alistair told the Pipe Major that he had not been alone and therefore the title should refer to ‘Boatmen’, not ‘Boatman’. Great stuff George and many thanks for the tune info.IMG_0660

George then played competition MSR that finished with the great GS tune The Little Cascade. With the pipe well and truly settled he gave us Corrienessan’s Salute. George got all the music from this and it was great end to the night.

Interestingly Corrienessan’s Salute was the tune with which pipe maker R. G. Hardie won the Gold Medal at Oban in 1947. Archibald Campbell described the occasion in a letter to Seton Gordon.

‘The piping at Oban was not very satisfactory, and there was not a single decent performance in either piob. competition. All the players of any repute had entered, but Archie MacNab, Donald MacLeod, PM. Donald Maclean, Malcolm MacPherson and Roderick MacDonald did not appear and Brown and Nicol could not get leave. 

A joiner in Glasgow called Hardie was given [the medal] for a not inspiring rendering of Corrienessan. [Robert] Reid was placed first in the open with Craigellachie, a tune which is completely beyond him. D. Maclean was second with an indifferent performance of Antrim. I thought Robertson should have been first with the Children, not that he played it well, but he was about the most local.’ 


‘Archibald Campbell was born and brought up at Kilberry, Argyll. He entered the Indian Civil Service in 1900 and served in India until 1927, latterly as a judge of the High Court in Lahore.

He retired in 1927, and thereafter until his death in 1963, he was secretary of the Music Committee of the Piobaireachd Society. As such he was responsible for the Society’s publications and he was active in the production of the first ten books of the present series.

In 1948 he published his own collection, the Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor. He made numerous contributions to the Oban Times and to other piping journals, and he was widely recognised as a leading authority on all aspects of Highland bagpipe music.’

And with that we were done.The next meeting will be on Tuesday 16th April where the band will start work on the great Peter R.MacLeod 2/4 march, The Conundrum.

JD piccieIt will be short band session as we have guest piper John Dew as out guest piper. Please make the effort to come along and hear one of Scotlands top young musicians.


Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

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Match Report Tuesday 19th March 2019

20190319_200939The Eagle Pipers’ Society welcomed the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society for their annual get together and the evening did not disappoint. Some 25 pipers took to the floor in the Scots Guards Association Club in Edinburgh. After a few communal tunes the Royal Scottish boys, led by their current Pipe Major Iain MacDonald, played a few selections that included an MSR.

After that it was the turn of the Eagles and in time honoured tradition they opened with the Society 6/8 march, The Eagle Pipers’ Society, composed by Ronnie Ackroyd. After their selection the company were ready for a famous Eagles pie and a pint.IMG_0442

The post pie piper was Gordon Hislop who, having settled the pipe with a few light music tunes, played the piobaireachd,  The Kings Taxes. Interestingly this piece was the first tune to win one of the new Piobaireachd Society competitions at Oban in 1904, gaining for the winner, John MacDonald of Inverness, the unheard of sum of £20.00 at a time when the Gold Medals at Oban and Inverness brought their winners a mere £8.00.


Gordon Hislop

While a relatively new tune to Gordon he made a grand job of this tricky piece.

The final player of the evening was John Fraser who is the RSPS tutor. John is ex Scots Guards, ex Lothian and Borders and famous for having a wide and unusual repertoire. John started with a few tunes from his ex L and B days in tribute to David Brown, also an ex band member, who sadly passed away recently. Davy, a native of South Africa, was quite a character and originally came to Scotland to join the Police and play in the band.


David Brown

Amongst the other tunes John played was the Royal Scottish Pipers Society march but in 4/4 time signature. Very nice indeed.


John Fraser

And that was the evenings evening 🙂 A fantastic night and long may the tradition of the two Edinburgh Societies getting together for a bash through some old favourites continue. Until the next time.


Pictures from the evening



Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

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Match Report Tuesday 5th March 2019


Lachie and his wing man

What the difference a day makes-well more like 48hrs but you get the drift.

With the band having completed a full hours practice (in preparation for our visit from the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society in 2 weeks time-March 19th) Lachie Dick was to be the post pie piper.

Last Saturday Lachie, not surprisingly, fell victim to the tradition of the ‘stag’ having an early bath. Unfortunately for him it was at the start of the Indian meal, circa 19.30hrs. He awoke around 21.30 to a round of applause from the patrons but it was a taxi for Dick under with watchful eye of wing man Andrew Gray.

However, now fully recovered, like the Phoenix from the ashes, he took to the floor for a tune and trotted through a wide variety of tunes in preparation for this weekends Duncan Johnstone competition in Glasgow.IMG_0405

Included in his spot was the 6/8 march Domhnail Ban of Kyle’s Flodda, composed by Alex Muir. Domhnail Ban is the local piping instructor in the Uist schools and Alex Muir was a minister from Harris.  Interestingly he was a musician who composed tunes for the pipes but never learnt to play. As can be seen from an excerpt from his memorial he was quite a character.

‘Alex continued to teach until 1977, when he felt called to the Ministry of the Word. He returned to Glasgow University to study for a Bachelor of Divinity degree, after being accepted as a candidate for the Church of Scotland Ministry. He graduated in 1980. He did short assistantships in Largs, on the island of Barra and occasional ministry in Sutherland and Wester Ross, before being called to the parish of Canisbay with Keiss in 1982.


Alex Muir

Alex had a fruitful ministry in Caithness, where his preaching and pastoral care of the parishioners were greatly appreciated. He also had the privilege of being Minister to the Queen Mother when she was on holiday at the Castle of Mey. Not long after arriving at the manse in Cansibay, he and Catriona had the honour of being invited to the castle for dinner.

 This was to be the first of many visits and Alex was able to offer pastoral support to the Queen Mother during his ministry. Alex never divulged any confidences to anyone, including the press, who would sometimes pester him for information about his times at the castle – and the Queen Mother clearly respected him greatly for this.

The dinner parties were not sombre affairs. On learning of Alex’ musical abilities, she invited him to sing Scottish songs and ballads in the drawing room after dinner. This became a regular event. Alex was asked to take his guitar along and had the songs copied out for everyone to join in.

IMG_0417Perhaps the greatest memory of these occasions, which Alex and Catriona greatly enjoyed, was the evening when, to their surprise, the Queen joined her mother for dinner at the castle from the Royal Yacht. There was a memorable, if surreal, moment, when the Queen Mother asked for Alex to lead them all in the singing of “The Jeely Piece” song and the IMG_0402Queen seemed to enjoy the humour immensely! ‘

Alex also composed The Bays of Harris that is often heard in Uist.

And with that the evening was done. Great stuff Lachie and good luck at the Duncan Johnstone.

Duncan Johnstone, 1925 – 1999, was a prolific composer of many excellent pieces and many of his tunes are part of the standard folk and piping repertoire. Helen Urquhart from the National Piping Centre says there is an unprecedented entry this year. The competition run by the CPA is this Saturday and starts at 09.00hrs at the McPhater Street venue.

Dates for the diary are

16th March     Duncan Johnstone

19th March     Eagle Pipers welcome the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society

Untitled 1

23rd March     Piobaireachd Society conference and AGM

16th April        Eagle Pipers welcome John Dew as their guest player.


The 2019 annual conference will be held in the National Piping Centre on Saturday 23rd March. There will be an informal ceilidh in the Pipers Tryst on Friday evening 22nd March. The conference will conclude with a dinner in the National Piping Centre on Saturday evening.

A preferential rate for room booking per night of £109.00 per room single occupancy £119.00 per room double occupancy for the nights of 22nd and 23rd March has been obtained at the Holiday Inn, Glasgow, Theatreland, 161 West Nile Street, Glasgow G1 2RL – This hotel is just across the road from the Piping Centre. Delegates should book directly with the hotel, quoting DOCTORS, Reservation Office working hours, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. Telephone 0141 352 8300 / Email

The conference rate including dinner is £55; day rate including lunch, teas and coffees £35.


  • New evidence about the Old Competitions – talk by Jack Taylor with tunes by Iain Speirs and John Dew. Featuring a replica Donald MacDonald bagpipe, and tunes selected from the 1844 list.
  • My piping life and times – panel discussion led by Gary West.
  • MacCrimmons’ Gold – a film premier.
  • Dinner

For further information contact Roderick Livingstone, Treasurer:
Telephone: 07801 014885

See you next Tuesday 19th March. Highland dress required to play in the band.

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M




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Guest Piper, 16th April – John Dew

We are very pleased to announce that John Dew will be our guest piper on Tuesday 16th April.
JD piccie

21 year old John is a rising star on the band and solo scene.  Originally from Crieff he was taught by Cameron Drummond and latterly Craig Muirhead at Strathallan School in Perthshire. He is now a student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

When not playing with World Champions, Inveraray and District Pipe Band, he is scooping up top solo prizes such as the B Grade Piobaireachd at the Captain John MacLellan contest.  He was a Pipe Idol finalist in 2017.

He is also a prolific composer creating suites and arranging material for folk and classical ensembles.  His latest project includes an orchestral arrangement of the piobaireachd ‘The Blind Pipers Obstinacy’ as a symphonic poem.

Please join us for a truly superb night.

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Match Report Tuesday19th February 2019

IMG_0358With the band of around 16 pipers having gone through their paces the second half was a chance for Alan Harper to have a run through his tune for the Archie Kenneth Quaich.

Alan warmed up with some unusual tunes that included a slow air, Cruachan composed by Seumas Johnston, ex Pipe Major of the Argylls, a 3/4 march, The Heroes of Oosterbeek and a 12/8 march, Brigadier Snow.IMG_0355

Commanded by Brigadier A. E. Snow OBE, Force 135 conducted Operation “Nest Egg,” the peaceful and unopposed liberation of the Channel Islands, after negotiating the surrender of the 25,500-man German garrison on 9 May 1945. Three days later, German Vice-Admiral Hüffmeier surrendered personally to Brigadier Snow on Guernsey.


Mr and Mrs Wilson

With that Alan played the piobaireachd MacLeod’s Short Tune on a pipe that held well. If Alan can hold his nerve you never know…

With that we were done and the next meeting will be on Tuesday 5th March 19.


Euan AndersonBrigadierSnow.
Hon P/M


26 pipers took part in the Archie Kenneth Quaich amateur piobaireachd contest that was judged Patricia Henderson and Donald MacPhee.
The winner (for the 4th time) was Tom Peterkin playing Melbank’s Salute.
2nd prize: Andrew Park playing Battle of Auldearn No. 2
3rd prize: John Forbes playing The Lament for Sir James MacDonald of the Isles
4th prize: Gill Cairns playing Caber Feidh Gu Brath
5th prize: Stuart Letford playing The Desperate Battle of the Birds


Congratulations Tom and the gang

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Match Report Tuesday 5th February 2019

Another good turnout despite the wintery conditions saw about a dozen players take to the floor. After a solid hour of good practice the pies and a beer were very welcome.

IMG_0176Tom Peterkin, who is back in harness with his eye on a tilt at the Archie Kenneth Quaich later on this month, played the evening’s piobaireachd. He gave us The Lament for Mary Macleod. On a quiet but rock steady set of Glens, Tom got the best from this musical tune. Tom played the high G version and the note stood up to the test.

Mary MacLeod, 1615- c.1707 was one of the foremost women songwriters and poets in vernacular Scottish Gaelic of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Most of her output concerns the praise of the house of Dunvegan.IMG_0182

However in mid life the English influence had taken hold. She composed a poem to honour the Chieftain’s uncle, Sir Norman of Bernera, but in doing so she neglected the mandatory praise of the Chieftain, Roderick MacLeod of Harris and Dunvegan, a grandson of Sir Ruaridh Mor. This oversight was deemed to be a monstrous insult in the culture of the time and was banished for years to Scarba, a small island off Mull.

After several years in exile, she composed a poem praising the Chieftain, even though she despised his anglicising ways. She was allowed to return to Skye but she always regretted her poem of praise for the Chieftain.


Archie Kenneth

When she died she asked to be buried face down by way of atoning for her error. She is buried in St. Clement’s Church at Rodel where the restorer himself, Alasdair Crotach, VIIIth Chieftain, is also buried.

The tune was composed by Padruig Og MacCrimmon

Excellent stuff Tom and with that the evening was done. The next meeting on Tuesday 19thFebruary will focus on the MSR.

See you then

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

Archie Kenneth Quaich 2019

The twenty-seventh annual amateur Piobaireachd competition for the Archie Kenneth Quaich will take place on Saturday, 23rd February 2019, in the rooms of The Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society, 127 Rose Street Lane South, Edinburgh, starting at 09.30 a.m. Note that the date is a week earlier than previous years’ contests.Unknown

Competitors should submit two tunes  one of which they will be asked to play on the day. Players will receive the name of the tune selected by the judges in the final tuning room. Competitors may not submit any tune with which they have previously won first prize in the competition.

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