100 Years of Pipe Band Music (Survey)

November 28, 2019 on 2:02 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Pipe Bands | Comments Off on 100 Years of Pipe Band Music (Survey)

In listening to a recording of the 1947 World Champion, Bowhill Colliery Pipe Band, I got to thinking about the many, often dynamic, changes that have come to pipe band music over the last 100 years. From music to pitch and overall sound the transformation of the art form over a relatively short period has been remarkable. You can hear Bowhill Colliery here.

Bowhill’s march, strathspey and reel is interesting – if not the easiest listening – in part, because parts of tunes have not been repeated to fit the 3 minute and 30 second recording limit of the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) 78 RPM record. This is from a Beltona production recorded their winning year. Their tunes: Highland Wedding, Athole Cummers and Mrs MacPherson of Inveran.
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The Walking Dead of Qualifier Friday

February 23, 2019 on 9:49 am by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts | Comments Off on The Walking Dead of Qualifier Friday

With less than a score of grade one bands projected to attend the 2019 World Pipe Band Championships (and quite possibly an entry closer to ten than twenty) any case to be made for a Friday qualifier, or play-off, may likely come across as pretty weak. That the grade 4B contest in 2018 featured 18 bands in each run-off suggests that organizers have a perspective on optimum numbers for any contest (grade 4 is the less-experienced end of the grading spectrum, with grade one, the highest).

For those who aren’t dialled-in to the world pipe band thing – especially as it applies to the idiom’s premier grade – here’s context:
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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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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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The Worlds: Fish Suppers all ‘Round!

March 8, 2015 on 6:20 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Pipe Bands, Stories | 2 Comments

Here’s a curiosity: a long-ago-redeemed copy of a cheque. Usually such a thing isn’t much interest except maybe for keen auditors (redundant, I know; of course, all auditors are keen), but this image is one for the few pipe band historians around: this is a copy of the cheque that paid out first prize to the 78th Fraser Highlanders at the World Pipe Band Championships in 1987.
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Piping Today Magazine – “Grey’s Notes”: A band, a team, is not a thing. It’s people.

October 26, 2014 on 2:05 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Pipe Bands, Tips | Comments Off on Piping Today Magazine – “Grey’s Notes”: A band, a team, is not a thing. It’s people.

If you want to make a fast million, forget trying to invent the perfect set of drones or never-fail chanter reed, like, say, a possible brand like the SkweelAway or, maybe, the NaySkirl2000. If you’re looking for fast coin to roll in hard and fast, figure out a way to build the perfect team — and sell it. The business world is reeking with countless people, companies and websites touting answers-for-a-fee to the forever-old question: how to create a great team. Now that’s where the money is.
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Piping Today Magazine – “Grey’s Notes”: Dear Old Glasgow Town

August 19, 2014 on 5:17 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Humour, Music, Pipe Bands, Stories | Comments Off on Piping Today Magazine – “Grey’s Notes”: Dear Old Glasgow Town

You know you’re a seriously regular visitor to Glasgow when someone stops you on the street, asks for directions and you can help — and with mostly reliable info. It’s the last Friday of the Commonwealth Games and thanks to years (and years) of tramping the streets of the city, I did my bit as a sort of on-again off-again local and helped two ladies from London find their way to the bowls. I was tempted to ask them why they were interested in lawn bowling — a snoozefest to me — but then, had they known I was something of a keen piper, they’d been in their rights to ask the same: “Piping! What’s That For?” When it comes to human colour the place is unconditionally iridescent.
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MyVote: Cool App or Seriously Seditious?

August 30, 2012 on 5:07 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, News, Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts | Comments Off on MyVote: Cool App or Seriously Seditious?

Earlier in the summer pipes|drums was one of the first news outlets to announce the launch of Kenny Constable‘s free MyVote app. Since then the app is getting loads of play – and use – from keeners around the pipe band world.
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The Blog’s Fifth Anniversary

March 26, 2012 on 6:10 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Random Thoughts | Comments Off on The Blog’s Fifth Anniversary

April will mark the fifth anniversary of this blog. I never planned to “blog”, or write about stuff and post it online, but Yoann Le Goff, the technical brains behind dunaber.com, pitched me the idea, then built the site and, well, the rest just happened. I came across an online study the other day (so definitely not scientific) and it seems something like 60-80% of all blogs that are started are abandoned after one month. Whatever. I’m surprised I’ve lasted five years doing this.
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Gimme Shelter

August 9, 2010 on 8:08 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands, Whinges | 3 Comments

This is Worlds week and as usual the city of Glasgow is thronging with pipers and drummers and all kinds of related Piping Live! events. It’s looking like a damp week (to put it mildly) is in store for pipers and drummers. Between “heavy rain showers”, “light rain showers” and “light rain” the cape carriers of the pipe band world will be sure to be under-employed. A good thing a lot of the Piping Live! events are either indoors or under cover.
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