John McDougall 1936-2016

Jjohn-playing-1ohn was born in Aberdeen in 1936, and started piping in the Boys Brigade aged 10. He joined the Bucksburn band where he was first taught by Pipe Major Davie Duncan, before being introduced to Bob Brown, Balmoral. The rest, as they say, is history.

As John was laid to rest today I thought back on happy memories and great piping occasions. I first recall my father, Jimmy Anderson, telling me that when he was up North, at a ‘games’, he was lying in the sun, (probably in a fashionable string vest), listening to the solo piping when an unknown young piper came onto the boards. “I don’t know who that is playing but he is going to be a force to be reckoned with” Yes it was John MacDougall.

My second and probably favorite story about John is back in the early 70s when we all


Fierce competitors-best of friends

headed up to Dingwall for a summer school. Donald MacPherson was the lead instructor and there were some great characters teaching, including Jimmy McGregor and of course John. Anyway the summer school was held in the local school and they were somewhat precious about the type of footwear that was to be worn in the gym hall. Absolutely no ghillie brogues was the decree. This was a bit of a problem as there were evening recitals by the instructors. Always up for a laugh John was not to be thwarted and on he went, in the full highland dress, wearing a pair of basketball shoes laced up with ghillie laces supplied by Colin (MacLellan). Up and down he strode. We, the kids, howled with delight.

I also recall being in John’s house at a wee party when he asked if I would like to feed the owl? Despite my suspicions I followed John into the bathroom. He opened the window and there was a huge owl perched in the garden tree. It was duly fed.

John MacDougall 2I have many memories of John playing round the games and coming down to Edinburgh to play at the Edinburgh City Police and Eagle Pipers’ Society contests. John was briefly in the police and played in the band for just over a year with my uncle Chris Anderson. When I told Chris about John’s passing he said, “You know John was in the police for a while? Too nice to be a policeman. A gentleman.”

Rest in peace John. The piping world will be a sadder place without you.

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M


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Match report Tuesday 16th February 2016

Hibs 1 Hearts 0

Rangers 2 Kilmarnock 1

Dundee United 0 Motherwell 3

Eagle Pipers’ 10 Weather and football- Plenty

IMG_3275A rather inclement evening saw a drop in attendance but where there is a will there is away. Matt Fraser was the evenings guest piper and he had travelled down during the day from Skye to make the evening. Fresh from lessons with Dr Angus MacDonald he was keen to give one of his new tunes a run through. He was accompanied by his fiancé, April Sinclair and two young Kiwi wing men to watch his back. Thankfully no one mentioned rugby and the current 6 Nations table.

The P/M got the evening under way with a selection of light music before handing the baton over to Iain Dewar. Iain’s pipe was in great nick and the drones were locked in from the start. Iain trotted out some Rabbie Burns favourites and he clearly has not yet had his fill of haggis.IMG_3273

A pie and a pint were most welcome while we caught up with the half time scores.

Matt Fraser took to the floor and he was immaculately turned out. In his warn up tunes he included a couple that were unfamiliar to the audience, a 2/4 march, Angus MacKinnon of Eigg, composed by Iain MacDonald and a jig, The Big Move by Ryan Canning. Tricky fingering and very well played. Matt then composed himself and went into The Pipers Warning to His Master. There are quite a few authorities to be found regarding this tune, but in the main pipers tend to play one of the two more accepted versions. Below is one story regarding the tunes background,


Matt Fraser

The piper landed with a party on Islay, In advance of the expedition from Ireland with instructions to take the Castle of…(Dunyveg) by surprise, should he find the Campbells off their guard, and that this might be attempted with the prospect of success.

The Campbells, however, were apprised of the expedition, and on the alert, and drew the unfortunate piper and his party into an ambush and made them prisoners…the whole party, excepting the piper, being hung up off hand.

The piper asked leave to play a lament over the fate of his companions, and the chieftain, who commanded the Campbells, being himself enthusiastically fond of pipe-music, and anxious to hear so celebrated a musician, granted the boon: but in the meantime, he caused some cattle to be put in the way of the approaching birlins, while he posted a strong party in ambush to fall upon them should they land another party to take the cattle, as the piob-reac [sic] instructs.

The piper, watchful of these movements adapted his piob-reac to the situation with the most consummate art. The warning notes are poured forth in separate strains, having all the appearance of unmeaning unconnected vagaries; but they breathe a melancholy spirit, and the warning and lamenting notes could not fail to be understood by those who knew the style of the musician so intimately…The chieftain understood the meaning of the sixth verse or part of the piob-reac, and on finding himself over-reached by the piper, he plunged his dirk into him; and tradition states that the devoted minstrel smiled proudly in death, on seeing by the deviating course of the birlins, that his warning was understood, and saved his friends.

IMG_3276Matt produced a very musical performance, considering it is fresh off the page to him and I am sure by the time the season starts this will be a strong competition piece for him. Great tune and what a tremendous effort to make the night. Many thanks Matt.

And that was that. A sharp finish that gave the P/M time to catch up with wine impresario George Lumsden Jnr. George says that his dad, in his 89th year, is well and in good form.

The next Eagles meeting is on Tuesday 1st March. There is a round of the Scots Guards KO competition this Sunday 21st at 16.00hrs, where Craig Sutherland will be up against Callum Moffat.


Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

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Match Report Tuesday 2nd February 2016

The Eagles gathering on 2nd February was small but most enjoyable.


On Stage

With the Hon P/M living it up in London for his younger son’s 21st birthday celebrations, and the Hon President sick in his bed, it was left to me to open proceedings.  Fresh from the Live in Ireland in Scotland performance at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall the previous Saturday – my pipes still bedecked with orange tartan ribbons, a rather-too-green bag cover, and my very own Live in Ireland pipe banner – I played a few more selections from the concert.  This included the Argyllshire Gathering/ Cameronian Rant/ John Morrison set (no mistakes!) and the big finale comprising the Fair Maid of Barra, the Gold Ring, and the Clumsy Lover – perhaps not as impressive without the harmonies, drums and crowd, but still fun to play.


P/M Bill Livingstone sporting said bag.banner and ribbons

Next up was Craig Martin, who brilliantly continued the theme by knocking out the entire Walking the Plank medley from the 78th Fraser Highlanders repertoire around 1998-99, and an excellent rendition of the piobaireachd A Flame of Wrath for Patrick Caogach.  Many will remember this was also played by the Frasers around the same era, and gave the title to one of their albums.



Eddie Gaul was the post-pie-piper, and had been invited to play the evening’s piobaireachd.  Eddie settled his pipes with some good strong light music, before delivering one of the great masterpieces – Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon.  Eddie did an excellent job of this challenging tune, on a very well-tuned and steady instrument.  It was great to hear, Eddie, many thanks for making the effort to get along to the Eagles and we hope you’ll come back often.


Eddie Gaul 

The final offering for the evening was from regular Eagle, Tom Peterkin.  Tom has been struggling for practice time and space, what with a small baby at home and his house being renovated.  So the Eagles nights provide a great chance to get the pipes out and run through some tunes.  There was no evidence of lack of playing time, as Tom played some very good traditional 6/8 marches, a few 2/4 marches including the Highland Wedding, and a first-rate rendition of the ground of another great MacCrimmon piobaireachd, Lament for Donald of Laggan.

So – a small crowd, but one treated to not one, not two, but 2.2 piobaireachds – all very much enjoyed by me and I’m sure the others in attendance.

Thank you everyone for coming out on a bit of a dark, miserable February night.

Next meeting is Tuesday, 16th of February and Gordon Walker is giving a recital this Sunday, 14th February 2016, at the Scots Guards Club, Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh, kick off 16.00hrs. What finer way to start your valentine celebrations?

Jenny Hazzard


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Never go back……

IMG_3167Some say there a few golden rules in life, don’t go on holidays with friends, never go back, leave well alone and the like, but then again, there is always the exception that proves the rule.

The 78th Fraser Highlanders reprise of their Live in Ireland concert is one such exception.

New chanters, new reeds, new players, old players, no time, everything to lose, nothing to gain? Perhaps. What could possibly go wrong? Potentially everything. But it didn’t.

This is not a review of the concert but merely a few words of thanks. I doff my cap to everyone involved. I salute the immense talent that was on show and the effort that went into producing an outstanding show. It was well presented by Jack and Victor and another landmark in pipe band history was made.

People will ask was it as good as the first time? Well we were all a lot younger when this seminal recording was made and of course it made a huge impact at that time.

IMG_3147This time thoughts were filled more with sentiment, as we cast our minds back all these years and we were charged with pride, as we saw good friends strut their stuff one more time. It must have been a real treat for the newbies to be on that stage. To one and all..


Thanks guys.

Euan Anderson


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Match report Tuesday 19th January 2016

UnknownWith all the festive fun behind us ( yes there were a few high jinx-not least the poker night) and Rabbie Burns waiting in the wings, it was time to get the 2016 season under way. While this is generally a quite time of year for competition and hard practice, some have had to hit the ground running. Jenny is due to play in the reprise of the 78th Fraser Highlanders concert this Saturday in Glasgow and Colin has just returned from the Winter Storm work shop in Kansas.

The P/M got the evening under way with some small light music tunes. Included in his selection was the Neil Dickie classic, The Haunting. Having played the slow air the P/M broke into a 4 parted 4/4 arrangement of the tune.

IMG_3109Next up was Colin MacLellan who settled the pipe down with Caber Feidh followed by 2 x 2/4 marches, The Knightswood Ceilidh and the little heard, The 74th’s Farewell to Edinburgh. After a strathspey and reel he gave us the evenings treat, the piobaireachd, Gun ainm-Cumha (Nameless- a Lament) that can be found in book 13 of the Piobaireachd Society books. You will find three settings there, The MacArthur, the Mackay and the ‘edited’ version. Although this could be described as a short tune the fingering is challenging and the structure difficult to grasp. However it is worth the effort and if you are looking for something different to add to your repertoire you could do a lot worse than this wee gem.Untitled

Colin was in great form and the pipe was of the usual high calibre. A lovely opening tune to start the year. Hopefully we will get a chance to hear this again later in the year?

The pies were delivered and for those on a New Years resolution detox had to be avoided. (The P/M had two!)

IMG_3116Jenny Hazzard was the post pie ‘piperette’ and she didn’t take long to tune the pipe and hammer out some of the 78th concert repertoire. Although challenging to learn this Live in Ireland music is exactly that. Good music that has stood the test of time. The Up to the line and Masons Apron medleys-classics. If you don’t have a ticket you should have. It has to be said that when Jenny had finished one of our relatively younger members said that he had never heard the Live in Ireland album. “ Before my time”.  I don’t suppose you have heard of Elvis Presley either then?”, was the retort….

The final player of the night was Tom Peterkin. Tom declared that he had not done much playing but after a quick tune of the drones and a couple of 6/8s he was into the big stuff starting with the technically challenging 2/4 march, Inveran. Great stuff Tom.IMG_3121

And that was the evenings evening, a gentle but excellent night.

The next meeting is on Tuesday 2nd February when Eddie Gaul will be coming along to play a few tunes and the evenings piobaireachd.

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

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1st Meeting of 2016

P1010483The 2016 season of the Eagle Pipers’ starts tonight, Tuesday 19th January, 20.00hrs Scots Guards Club, Edinburgh. Blow the cobwebs away and come along for a bit of craic and a tune.

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Piping Societies-Music just for fun?


Rob Cowie on the left

This week I had the pleasure of playing a few tunes in the Royal Scottish Pipers Society rooms in Rose Street, Edinburgh, at the kind invitation of the Chevaliers. The Chevaliers were hosting the Trinity Occasional Piping Society (TOPS) for their annual soiree.

You will be forgiven if you have raised an eyebrow and said, who? The Chevaliers are a small body of amateur piping enthusiasts who formed circa 1972 under the leadership of Brigadier Frank Coutts.


Frank Coutts

Frank was an interesting man who started life as a London Policeman before becoming a career soldier and war hero with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. He played as a second-row forward for Scotland at Murrayfield and Twickenham, as well as for the Barbarians, before being elected president of the Scottish Rugby Union in the late 1970s. He has also written a couple of books. Frank passed away in 2008 at the age of 90.

10497045_800135756693636_893297873606490513_oTOPS have been in existence for about 20 years and are currently under the helm of David Black and have a practice every Monday night in the Boys Brigade hall in Ferry Road, Edinburgh. They also commit time, energy and money to the annual Falkirk Tryst Piping Recital, where the overall prize is a set of bagpipes. They have a Facebook page if you would like more information.


Davy Black and George Brown

So a few tunes, a pie and a dram or two were taken on the night and I met a couple of people I had not seen for years, not least George Brown, who I played with in the Heriots School band back in the early 70’s.

IMG_2970As we played together as a group I cast my eyes around the circle and felt strangely at ease. No one was aiming to be world-beaters and there was only one purpose for being there. Enjoyment. The pleasure you get from playing bagpipes, no matter what standard you are at. There is a unique bond between us. I dare say other musicians will say the same thing, but for me when you meet another piper you don’t have to say anything. The music speaks for itself.

Thanks to Sandy MacFarlane and Chris Anderson for the kind invitation.

Euan Anderson




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