D R MacLennan: Solo piping innovation in 1928!

December 31, 2022 on 2:18 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Video | No Comments

On the last day of the calendar year I offer a genuine curiosity: a recording of what is likely among the earliest recordings of the Great Highland Bagpipe played alongside other (non-bagpipe or percussion) instruments. This 78 RPM shellac (pre-vinyl) recording from 1928 stars a luminary from one of the great piping families of the last 200 years in Donald Ross (“D R”) MacLennan.
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John MacFadyen plays “A Flame of Wrath for Squinting Patrick”

November 28, 2022 on 4:58 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Solo Piping, Video | Comments Off on John MacFadyen plays “A Flame of Wrath for Squinting Patrick”

Here’s another tune offering from the late John MacFadyen, the Donald Mòr MacCrimmon composition, Lasan Padruig Coagach, known to so many of us as, A Flame of Wrath for Squinting Patrick. A singularly wild tune with nothing quite like it in our current repertoire.
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Great Piping: P/M William “Billy” Gilmour

October 29, 2022 on 6:47 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Solo Piping, Stories, Video | Comments Off on Great Piping: P/M William “Billy” Gilmour

I’ve known about Billy Gilmour and his marvellous musical abilities for almost as long as I’ve been piping. Early on in my musical education I luckily found myself in the orbit of The 48th Highlanders of Canada. Through my lessons with my great first teacher, George Walker, I landed in the band – yes, for a little while, but a great while.
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Angus MacPherson, Invershin: A 1957 visit with a great tradition-bearer

July 15, 2022 on 8:52 am by Michael Grey | In Delightful Data of the Day, Music, Solo Piping, Video | Comments Off on Angus MacPherson, Invershin: A 1957 visit with a great tradition-bearer

An interesting recording found me not so long ago. A buzzy interview (as in sound distortion) with Angus MacPherson, Invershin from 1957. I thought the near-half hour talk inspiring. This surprised me. On reflection: Here was a man in his ninth decade talking about life – and piping (of course) – imbued with the earliest echoes of the piobaireachd and the culture of that time.
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New Book: More Music for Everyone

August 8, 2018 on 6:38 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, News | Comments Off on New Book: More Music for Everyone

It’s been five years since my last book of music and so hoping the time is about right for another effort. I’m kicking off the release of the book – or “launching” – as is said, as a small part of Piping Live! at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow next week: Wednesday, August 15 – 2:30 pm.
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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, Shout Outs! | 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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