Keydet Piper I'm thinking bagpipes

Monthly Archives: November 2008

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Random Piping Video

In August 2008, a new pipe band competed for the first time at the World Pipe Band Championships.  With Roddy MacLeod as pipe major, the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band boasted a very impressive lineup of pipers with something more than a dozen gold medals won by band members. 

This morning I found a video of the band warming up before the MSR contest (maybe the Grade 1 qualifier?) at the Worlds.  It’s interesting to watch, and they playing ain’t bad either.

Those crazy Canadians

After the Baltimore Colts became the Indianapolis Colts but before the Cleveland Browns became the Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore had a brief stint as the host city of a team in the Canadian Football League.  They were to be called, of course, the Baltimore Colts, but the NFL prevented that because there was already a team called the Colts.  Nevermind the fact that the two teams played a completely different sport in completely different leagues; the NFL didn’t see that.  The first season they played in Baltimore they were known as the CFLs, the second season they were the Baltimore Stallions, won the league championship (the Grey Cup), and the third season they moved to Montreal and became the Alouettes.  But I digress.  The point of this paragraph of Baltimore history is to emphasize that I know a little about Canadian football.  It’s similar enough that you can watch a game and have a good idea of what’s happening, but different enough that the details can be really confusing (can anyone explain the rouge to me?).

So anyway, another big difference (apparently) is the player celebration after scoring.  I stumbled across this one today, and it is without a doubt the most bizzare football scoring celebration I have ever seen.  Your thoughts?

Those crazy Canadians!

Random piping video

As I’ve noted before, there are a ton of piping videos on YouTube. The last post was not about one of the gems, but this one is.

Angus MacColl is one of the leading solo pipers on the competition circuit today, and is always near the prize list.  Many of the top players seem to have a specialty, and Angus’ is the 2/4 march.  There aren’t many who can really bring out the nuances of the “question and answer” phrasing while keeping the flow of the tune, and Angus has this down; it makes his marches really zing.  This video features Angus playing three marches, Arther Bignold of Lochrosque, Mrs. John MacColl, and The Highland Wedding.  As a note, the first two tunes were written by John MacColl, one of Angus’ relatives.

Angus MacColl (unable to embed, sorry)

2009 Competition Thoughts

The 2008 competition season has been over for barely a month, but I’m already gearing up for 2009.  I’ve decided to make 2009 my big push to try to get up to grade 1, which means in general a winter full of piping.  I’ve been rocking the practice chanter quite a bit and have already learned some new competition tunes, but I’ve only played the actual bagpipes once since my last competition.  They need a break and a bit of maintenance, and I’ll be firing them up again shortly after Thanksgiving.

My goal is to have four tunes of each category ready to play for every competition, so I’ll be practicing quite a bit more than I have been just to keep the tunes fresh.  I’ve learned a new MSR, and will have another on the way between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I was tooling around on my practice chanter last night and recorded the new MSR.  Through the magic of YouTube, you can enjoy it too.  The tunes are the march Mrs. John MacColl, the strathspey The Shepherd’s Crook, and the reel Major David Manson. 

This is the first time I’ve actually heard myself play, and it sounds better when I’m actually playing it!  The big thing I notice in the march is my doublings are a bit clunky, and playing Mrs. John MacColl they need to be much more refined to keep the tune from losing flow.  That’s one winter project.  I also need to clean up the strathspey and get the phrasing more consistent.  The reel is pretty good but I need to clean up the fourth part; it kind of loses the flow.  These are all really challenging tunes, and I’m impressed with myself for playing them this well so soon after learning them.

So, four tunes in each category.  Here are my selections, with tunes yet to be learned marked  *.
2/4 March
– Major Manson at Clachanstrushal
– Mrs. John MacColl
– Millbank Cottage

– The Shepherd’s Crook
– Maggie Cameron
– Cabar Feidh*
– Tulloch Castle

– Major David Manson
– Thompson’s Dirk
– Dr. MacPhail’s Reel*
– The Rejected Suitor

– The MacFarlane’s Gathering
– Black Donald’s March
– The Massacre of Glencoe
– Sir James MacDonald of the Isles’ Lament

6/8 March
– The Dundee City Police Pipers
– Cameron MacFadyen
– John D. Burgess*
– P/M Donald MacLean of Lewis

– Alex MacDonald
– Donella Beaton
– The Curlew
– Duncan the Gauger

– The Man From Skye
– Duncan Johnstone
– Bobbie Cuthbertson*

I have a lot a work ahead of me!


Happiness at the misfortune of others is the English translation of the title.  Ever watch someone hurting themselves or doing something stupid that just makes you laugh hysterically?  You feel bad doing it, but you can’t help it because it’s just so darn funny.

This is video that inspired this post.  I watched it about 7 or 8 times I think, and it only gets funnier.

This reminded me of another video that earned the same reaction from me.  I feel like a bad person for laughing, but I just can’t help it.

Random Piping Video

A search of YouTube for the word “bagpipes” turns up thousands of hits.  If you sort the results by date posted you’ll find dozens of new bagpipe videos posted just within the last few hours.  There’s a bunch of crap out there, but there are also some real gems.  This post is not about one of the gems. 

Below is a random piping video.  Watch it, then read below for my comments.

This guy is actually not a bad piper for a street musician.  There’s many who are terrible (like this one), but this guy’s technique is actually pretty good. I didn’t recognize the first tune, but the second tune (starts at 0:16) is a standard 6/8 march called The Piobaireachd of Donald Dubh.  He plays it pretty quick and his expression is a little round, but his technique is solid.  What bugs me about this particular piper is his transition between tunes.  It sounds like he stops the first tune in the middle of a part and plays some birls and stuff (with a big choke) before launching into the second tune.  I hate it (hate it, hate it, hate it) when pipers just stop in the middle of a tune; if you don’t know the tune, you shouldn’t be playing it in public!  That’s one of my primary  pet peeves about piping in public places: play passable passages between pieces (wow, that was alliterative).  If you’re playing in public, you should have enough foresight to pick a tune to play after the one you’re playing now, and you should be able to pick it a part or so in advance. 

So on the overall, nicely done piper fellow, just make sure you finish those tunes and work on decent transitions!

GPS is a cool gadget

Greetings from N 44 01.246 W 70 58.441!  That’s where the Garmin eTrex Legend HCx tells me I am right now, +/- 25 feet.  Somehow it can still pick up a signal indoors.  I’ve been using this gadget a lot lately for geocaching, which for those of you who don’t know is a terrible under use of resources: using a multi-billion dollar government satellite network to find tupperware containers hidden in the woods. 

Ain’t technology grand?

More funny things

You know I like funny things… here’s another one.  I can’t believe I didn’t think to put this in the last post about clean funny humor!

And the inflationary language is a classic as well!

The Mysteries of Piobaireachd Vol 2: Addendum

The last post in this category was about the story behind a few piobaireachd tunes, and I just heard another that I had to share.

A highland village near a loch relied heavily on the men of the village to catch enough fish to get through the winter.  In one particular year the old men were to old to fish and the young men devoted their efforts to catching young ladies instead of fish; the resulting tune of the hardships of the village is “Scarce of Fishing.”

What do you get…

When you combine a weekend in January, piping workshops with 10 gold medalist instructors, the North American gold and silver medal piping competitions, a sponsorship from Newcastle Ale, and a bunch of pipers from all over the country, include the Keydetpiper and Kaypiob?

Why, you get Winter Storm, of course!