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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Full Concert: Live in Ireland 87 in HD (from Glasgow Royal Concert Hall)

June 4, 2022 on 8:22 am by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Video | Comments Off on Full Concert: Live in Ireland 87 in HD (from Glasgow Royal Concert Hall)

A recap here for context for people not aware of this project:

Reid Maxwell and I were judging, September 2013, at Canmore Games in Alberta, Canada. In between bands Reid spoke of an Eagles concert he’d recently seen on Netflix and in that, the thought was triggered: wouldn’t it be great to play that 1987 “Live in Ireland” recording again: reprised and live – a sort of tribute band thing, a celebration of the music.
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A grade one medley: looking back to 1997

March 23, 2022 on 8:08 am by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Video | Comments Off on A grade one medley: looking back to 1997

Here’s another from the bag of newly-digitised video: from the grade one contest at the Highland Games in Chatham, Ontario, Canada. Here in full flight is the band I led at the time, the Peel Regional Police Pipe Band. Geoff Neigh and Willie Connell can be seen among the judges (both now, sadly, no longer with us).
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Scenes from Cambridge Highland Games (1989!)

January 30, 2022 on 9:03 am by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories, Video | Comments Off on Scenes from Cambridge Highland Games (1989!)

I’ve just had a bag full of old VHS videos digitized. They’ve been kicking around collecting dust for years; after having sourced a place for a digitization job for The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, I thought I’d get my lot done at the same time.
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A Tune from John MacFadyen

November 13, 2021 on 5:13 pm by Michael Grey | In Solo Piping, Stories, Video | Comments Off on A Tune from John MacFadyen

The piobaireachd, Rory McLoude’s Lament has always been a favourite. The old Anglicized spelling of MacLeod is likely connected to its first appearance in the Campbell canntaireachd manuscripts. And, as this is the spelling chosen by the editors of book eleven of The Piobaireachd Society Collection (1966), this is how pipers generally spell the tune. But that’s enough on letters. It’s a fine piece; in fact, Joseph MacDonald, in his Compleat Theory (1762) described it as a “…very soft lament …”. This tune, too, was among the first I learned from the hands of Bill Livingstone. He, in turn, was taught this tune by John MacFadyen (1926-1979).
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Book Release Video! (with notes)

August 26, 2021 on 4:59 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Video | Comments Off on Book Release Video! (with notes)

Thanks to all who managed to tune in Facebook to the kick-off of the publication of my book, “Grey’s Notes on a life around Bagpipes”! Even as a (sadly) virtual part of this year’s Piping Live! festival in Glasgow it turned out to be fun to put together – and – I hope time well-spent for viewers.

The program is still available. Here you go:
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Imagining Three Greats: Animating Ross, McLennan & MacDonald

March 6, 2021 on 1:30 pm by Michael Grey | In Audio File, Photographs, Solo Piping, Video | Comments Off on Imagining Three Greats: Animating Ross, McLennan & MacDonald

There’s a famous photo generally available online and everywhere (I suppose that’s redundant) of three of the most famous pipers of the twentieth century – if not all time. The photo is a post-WWI study of Pipe Major William “Willie” Ross, George S McLennan and John MacDonald (Inverness). You’ll likely know, MacDonald almost always gets an “Inverness” plugged on to his name due to the popularity, to this day, of the combination of given and surnames. Though, truth be told, he isn’t the only John MacDonald to ever call Inverness his home. But to pipers everywhere, when the name appears with the marker “(Inverness)” we know precisely the man mentioned: one of the greatest exponents of piobaireachd, one who left a great musical legacy thanks to a hugely impactful lifelong teaching effort.
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