What is Traditional Music? [hint: It’s big. It’s bouncy. And it’s spectacular.]

March 13, 2018 on 5:31 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Music, Random Thoughts | No Comments

I think it was this past January when it came to me. It was one of those crisp, cloudless and cold sunny days, a kind of winter’s day so familiar to those of us who live in my part of the world. The sky was screaming an indescribable deep blue. And why? Why blue? A short simple question – surely the archetypal young child’s question, one asked just as a glimmer of awareness of the world beyond the back garden begins to show itself. Blue sky? Something to do with refracting light, I thought. Why blue? And this blue? Um, the temperature. Yes, it is the cold temperature and the universal prism…
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Inspector Clueless of Gayfield

December 6, 2017 on 7:42 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, News | Comments Off on Inspector Clueless of Gayfield

There’s never any shortage of drama, indignancy or high dudgeon in the small world that is piping. I read Rab Wallace’s blog the other day and seriously LOL’d when I read his description of the officiant connected with a judge’s complaint: “Inspector Clueless of Gayfield”. I can’t say why, exactly, I just laughed. Maybe because it was a riff on a classic pipe tune naming convention, and, well, who knows. Gold, I say. Rab has a way with words, there is no doubt.
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Andrew Bonar (Boney’s Jig)

October 20, 2017 on 1:21 am by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories | Comments Off on Andrew Bonar (Boney’s Jig)


It was some sad day to learn of the passing of Andrew Bonar.
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Ten Years Later & Heavy Pigeons

October 13, 2017 on 4:54 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Random Thoughts, Stories | Comments Off on Ten Years Later & Heavy Pigeons

I’ve just discovered today that this is the ten year mark for this website. Rather than congratulate myself (done) I’ve scrambled for a quick and dirty way to mark the occasion – such as it is. What to post? What to post?
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Back to school(s) for a lesson in medley construction

March 15, 2017 on 5:49 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands | Comments Off on Back to school(s) for a lesson in medley construction

One of the most important, if not inspiring, events on the global piping calendar these days, surely, has to be the annual Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships. Yes, a Scottish-confined event – no Canadians need apply – but what a grand testament to the health of the bagpipe in the homeland of the instrument (and the pipe band, too, I don’t want to miss out drummers). For any hope of the bagpipe to thrive anywhere we need the instrument, and the pipe band, to flourish in Scotland. Of this I’m sure. And this event is both a barometer to the long-term vitality of the art and a hugely popular event if measured alone by sheer numbers of entrants and attendees.

All this is thanks to The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust. For anyone looking to get some ideas about how to replicate their good work locally, I encourage you to visit their website and learn more.
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Iain MacFarlane’s “Gallop to Callop”

October 18, 2016 on 6:18 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Reviews | Comments Off on Iain MacFarlane’s “Gallop to Callop”

Earlier this year – like, say, late January – Duncan Nicholson gifted a copy of Iain McFarlane’s (still) new record, “Gallop to Callop”. I was especially happy to get it – an old school CD (talking medium not music) – as I knew Iain’s playing a little – and was looking forward to having a listen. Well, as it turned out, the CD got lost in one of the super-secret zipper pockets of my pipe case and it wasn’t until early summer I found it along with a past-it’s-best-before-date energy bar. The Greek yoghurt cinnamon seaweed bar went to compost and “Gallop to Callop” to the top of my favourites playlist. Since then Iain’s music has kept me company and my blood pressure to reasonable levels on countless commutes from Dundas to work in Toronto – and home again.
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A Jig is a Jig

September 9, 2016 on 6:01 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Music, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on A Jig is a Jig

THERE was a time when I thought that one of the hardest things I’d ever done in my life was to play Peter MacLeod’s tune Donald MacLean, twice through in the jig final at the Northern Meeting.
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Piping Today: You’re the reason our kids are ugly

May 3, 2016 on 9:33 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Humour, Music, Solo Piping | Comments Off on Piping Today: You’re the reason our kids are ugly

The highland bagpipe can create some of the most rhythmically amazing music imaginable. A well-practised set of mitts can rattle off near endless streams of reels, jigs, strathspeys and hornpipes.

Highland dancers would be lost if not struck dead still without a piper’s tunes. The undulating groove inherent in any good-going reel has the power to move even the most rigid and uncompromising of feet. Dancing can reveal all the mystery that music conceals, wrote French poet, Charles Baudelaire. And on that, like drum and stick, wind and waves, bed and breakfast, music and dance are inextricably linked.
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Canntaireachd & The Prince’s Salute

October 4, 2015 on 3:06 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Solo Piping, Video | Comments Off on Canntaireachd & The Prince’s Salute

I was given the opportunity yesterday to lead four sessions at the annual Fall Fusion workshop. A great event staged each year by the management of the Paris Port Dover Pipe Band (special call-out to Darlene Carreiro here). With well over 100 participants the day, if nothing else, was jam-packed with boundless enthusiasm. And, oh, to bottle “boundless enthusiasm”, a fortune would be made.
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Jane Campbell: An Early Look at a Tune [Drum Score]

July 20, 2015 on 8:21 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Photographs, Pipe Bands, Stories | Comments Off on Jane Campbell: An Early Look at a Tune [Drum Score]

You may know I’ve been working a little these days to help make the January 30, 2016, “Live in Ireland 87” concert happen. In doing that I’ve found myself going through my (many) boxes of scores, letters and other assorted ephemera. I can say with hand on heart that, over the years, I really have saved a lot of paper.
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