Recommendations for Solo Piping

January 6, 2018 on 4:53 pm by Michael Grey | In Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on Recommendations for Solo Piping

A little while ago I received a note from Jim McGillivray asking if I had a copy of the solo piping report we had (diligently) worked on together with Bob Worrall – over 20 years ago. “Word Processing” was still newish then and stuff was saved on 3.5 inch “floppy discs” and, well, no – the report was long lost, as far as I knew. Until last week. I found a paper copy while going through boxes of stuff – ephemera. Now there’s a great word.

So for all administrative wonks and lovers of arcane piping history, I pass it along here.
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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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Canada @150: A baker’s dozen of tunes

June 28, 2017 on 6:09 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping | Comments Off on Canada @150: A baker’s dozen of tunes

This year, as some might know, is Canada’s 150th anniversary of “confederation”, as we Canadian-types say. It was in 1864 that politicians of the day met in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and started to agree to something called Canada. By July 1, 1867, we had Canada – and – our first Prime Minister, John A MacDonald, Glasgow born – in the Merchant City area, quite possibly – set the stage for a Canada where the pipes are never too far away from earshot. In fact, one Colin Roy MacLellan made a prize-winning pibroch in honour of the great man, “Salute to Sir John A MacDonald”, published (2016) in his father’s, Captain John A’s, “Complete Compositions of Ceol Mor”. An excellent tune.

And so a compositional seque to now: in honour of Canada’s 150 (and seizing an excuse as good as any), a “top” 13 tunes list made up of Canadians. I list them here, with the composer’s surname in alphabetical order.

Nothing too serious here, all in the name of Canada’s anniversary now – I reflected on tunes that were (a) composed by Canadians, or (suspected) naturalized Canucks and (b) tunes that I had a sense are – or at one time were – quite popular. I know there’re loads of good and great tunes of real merit around. This is just a list. One list in a moment in time. And yes, most of these people built many more than one excellent tune.
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A Musician’s Struggle: Rehearsal Space

January 9, 2016 on 7:51 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Whinges | Comments Off on A Musician’s Struggle: Rehearsal Space

When you’re a musician it’s never easy finding practice or rehearsal space. In big cities especially, high density and thin walls make snagging the right reliable place tricky in the extreme. But when you’re a piper – or group, like a pipe band – the challenge is layered with bias, barriers and brutal complication. I’ve found myself “practicing” tunes in some seriously ropey places: the B3, or third sub-level, of an underground parking lot on Bay Street across from Toronto City Hall, pretty much every men’s WC of any indoor contest or event I have ever participated in and the reclined front passenger seat of a Renault 5 (in the pouring rain while parked on Dunollie Terrace, Oban).
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Piping Fetishist

November 22, 2015 on 7:18 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, Photographs, Solo Piping, Stories | Comments Off on Piping Fetishist

There’s an attention-grabber: bagpipe fetishist. Thinking here more drones than dominatrix. And fetishist in the context of “excessive attachment or regard”.
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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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The Balmoralist (Life Imitates Art)

September 28, 2015 on 3:45 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on The Balmoralist (Life Imitates Art)

A couple of years ago I asked John Slavin, MGD (Master Graphic Designer) if he would work up a logo for me, for Dunaber Music. And so, after a little quick consult, he did. What John came back with, with his first sketches, is what I use today. As I have said time and again (usually to an open-mouthed gathering of rolled eyes): you just can’t beat the impressive presence of a piper wearing a Balmoral bonnet.
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Clachantrushal [say that three times fast]

September 13, 2015 on 6:56 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Whinges | Comments Off on Clachantrushal [say that three times fast]

There are a couple of instances where people might talk and, so, where I find myself more riled up than other times: those that get me going more than almost any other: the first, the georgebushian “nucular”, for nuclear (as in war and bombs) and the second related to the pipe tune, “Pipe Major Manson’s Farewell to Clachantrushal” for “Major David Manson AT Clachantrushal”, the later being the accurate and right name for this bagpipe 2/4-timed march – played always and often in bagpipe circles.
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Cowal Games 1929

March 15, 2015 on 7:07 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips, Video | Comments Off on Cowal Games 1929

Say what you like, but I’ve always liked Cowal Games. Of those I recall, my memories are nothing but the happiest – or – at least – really good. OK. Not always, “really good”, but memorable. Yes. Memorable. Well, mostly memorable, but usually fun. Cowal, as much, if not more, than other contests, has given me some stuff to remember. I’ve socked it all away and stand today with a good few stories to regale the unsuspecting at the drop of a hat. Cowal Games: you rock.
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Rare Photo and Video: G S McLennan

October 29, 2014 on 6:02 pm by Michael Grey | In Delightful Data of the Day, Music, News, Photographs, Solo Piping, Stories, Video | 1 Comment

Back in June I wrote a little about the recently posted Pathé film footage of the great Highland dancer, Mary Aitken. Among many other good things, she was the namesake for a fine bagpipe tune, the jig “Mary Aitken”.
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