Bring on the Giraffes: Blair Drummond

July 5, 2010 on 8:28 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories | 2 Comments

Have you ever considered, thought about, reflected on, what pipe tune you may’ve have played the most in your life? What melody you, as a piper – or, as an accompanist, a drummer – have played more than any other? Have wiggled your fingers, twisted your wrists, and aimed to be true to the score of more than any other that was ever written? I have. And my burned-on-the-brain, firmly committed-to-muscle-memory, impaled-on-the-hard-drive? Well, here’s a hint: it’s the name of a Scottish “safari park”.

Yes, a “wild day out for all the family”, my tune is, “Blair Drummond”.

From my earliest piping years its been Blair Drummond: A tune that’s both a perennial pipe band March, Strathspey and Reel favourite and a tune at the top of any top solo piper’s competing strategy.

I’ve always thought of BD as a great tune and yet if you’re to google “Blair Drummond” there is zippo bagpipe-pipe band-drum reference until around about the one hundred and tenth entry. Eek. And that reference is a year 2000 world’s CD.

Anyway, I’ll say now that Blair Drummond hasn’t found it’s way on my list by design. It’s been by chance. The tune is not one of my solo favourites. Yet, due to its six-part nature (and, therefore, part of a small and select group of pipe band repertoire) it’s the trophy wife [husband? Blair is a bit of a masculine given name, to my mind] of untold competing pipe band’s competition sets. In my many years playing in grade one pipe bands, there are few where BD wasn’t a featured strathspey. In fact, the 78th Fraser Highlanders of the olden days won a worlds with BD.

Anyway, a just a thought for the day – a hot day if you are in my neck of the woods.

I hope that the tune at the top of your own most-played list merits its place.



  1. I would have guessed “Sandy Cameron” for your most-played. I’ve often wondered what to call, or how to describe, the C-doubling-to-E-gracenote-on-low-A combination that features so prominently and is so often butchered in part five of “BD.” A tachum-doubling? A doubling-tachum? Maybe it should from this point forward be called a “drummond,” which has a bit of canntaireachd, or anamatopea, to it. Fifth part, sing it now: “Drummond, drummond, drummond, blaireeeeee. Drummond, drummond, drummond, blairaaa, drummond . . .”

    Comment by aberthoff — July 9, 2010 #

  2. John MacLellan called them “double cuttings” – I’m sure you’ll now recall! Your take on them is way more interesting

    Taking in to account pipe band practice and solo practice BD takes the cake … if I considered solo practice only, you may be right with SC being the most played tune … such trivia. M.

    Comment by Michael Grey — July 9, 2010 #

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