The annual gathering of the Society was this year held in the Town House in Haddington, East Lothian. We invited two of those attending to tell us of their impression.

First up is Franco Zampogna, a long-term member of the society living in France. As well as asking him to report on the day I offered him the opportunity to make suggestions on how the event might be enhanced. Here’s his reply:

“Although I was not present the whole day (due to practical problems) I highly appreciated attending this year’s meeting and this is very motivating for future years' collogues. I would propose you a "patchwork" of reactions, ideas, opinions regarding the LBPS collogue and its content, which might be either considered or abandoned; I wouldn't be worried!
This is my list:
- Nice place Haddington, the choice of the place is important and helps creating a good atmosphere;
- Certainly LBPS already considered the idea having younger people involved in its activities, for instance with a reduced membership fee and other facilities but therefore advertising and communicating is of utmost importance;
- Why not contacting schools, universities and other places (music schools, conservatories, cultural bodies, etc.) where young people may have been attracted?
- What to me is of utmost importance is to make the difference between the GHB and the other Scottish pipes (mainly bellows' blown); the later are very specific and why not considering people directly interested in playing cauld wind pipes without having never touched a GHB? (this is my case, although GHB has its own beauty).
- While most of the Members are Scots, why not considering also the interest foreigners might have in "cauld wind" pipes; not only people having Scottish ancestors but also, other musicians all over the world? Indeed the GHB is played by plenty of nationalities (which is a very efficient "carte de visite" for Scotland even if in most of the cases foreigners wrongly mixed with the UK). Linking the smallpipes family with Scotland would be an asset for Scottish culture when exported abroad and advertised as such. Specific advertising could be organised during events as St Chartier (attended by Julian Goodacre, for instance...).
- Linked to my aforesaid statement, I would underline how much the current LBPS should insist on the big differences between the way of playing cauld wind pipes and GHB, for instance, mainly on the field of ornamentation firstly and secondly the very purpose of the cauld wind répertoire: the traditional Scottish dances! Therefore the tuition of Hamish Saturday morning was very valuable because it goes exactly with this spirit.
- At this year’s collogue, I also appreciated the books (history and tunes) available: very valuable and interesting to understand the roots of this specific field of Scottish musical culture. I am very grateful to the authors, writers and researchers who allow this precious history is somewhere written, fixed and made available to understand the roots of this part of the Scottish culture.
- During the afternoon there was an interesting presentation on new possibilities offered by improved smallpipes; I personally regret not having attending it but according to what I heard, this was a very good "modern" contribution to show how new tools and instruments' improvements could affect positively the evolution of the cauld wind pipes; indeed, we are in a dynamic process, after blowing dust, one has to go forward developing new ways of putting additional value to the authenticity of this nice legacy of the past.
I hope this modest contribution of a "non-Scot" could be useful.

With my best regards,

David Hannay has been attending LBPS annual gatherings for as long as anybody, having been the Society’s first treasurer in 1983. Here are his impressions of this year’s collogue.

Haddington is a very attractive market town especially when bathed in late-autumn sunshine.
The day started with an entertaining talk by Pete Stewart on town pipers who were an important part of local communities, in spite of early records documenting missdeeds such as ‘incestuous adultery’.
This was followed by an illustrated talk by Pete Shepheard on Tom Hughes, a self-taught  border fiddler, with tunes played in the same style by his grandson Jimmy Nagle.  Pete illustrated the use of recording equipment with the ‘Transcribe!’ Software [see the footnote on page 10]. This enabled a clear demonstration of the use of ornament and bowing that Tom developed, as well as his use of ‘double stopping’, a technique quite different to that of Scottish players of his day from other areas of the country. In the afternoon the Pete and Jimmy  gave an enjoyable recital of border tunes and song on melodeon and fiddle.
Before lunch Hamish Moore gave a workshop for smallpipes using “All the Blue Bonnets are over the  Border”  to demonstrate the use of even timing for dancing rather than the  “scotch snap”, and ‘Tail Toddle’ to demonstrate alternative rhythms and ornaments. At the AGM Judy Barker , who had done so much to organise the day, was elected Chair to replace Hamish Moore who was standing down.
During the lunch break Pete Stewart showed us the newly refurbished local archive where he had set up a fascinating display about town pipers.  He then took us to the large parish church of St Mary’s by the [East Lothian] River Tyne to view, carved on a buttress at the east end, overlooking the river, what may well be the oldest representation of a bagpipe in Scotland, though now very worn..  On the way we passed the bridge over the Tyne where John Martine, in his late-nineteenth century Reminiscences, recounted that groups of local lads would gather for “bickerings”.1
In the afternoon Davie Robertson, with his dry sense of humour, gave renditions of border ballads accompanied on his set of smallpipes, a copy, made by Julian Goodacre, of the Montgomery 1757 pipes now in the Museum of Scotland. Davie was followed by Barbara Dymock who sang some well-known songs with a clear, carrying voice. Hamish had suggested she include songs about pipers and piping and she duly obliged with rousing versions of ‘Tail Toddle’ and ‘Maggie Lauder’, as well as a memorable ‘Fair Helen of Kirconnell Lea’
The collogue ended with a talk from Callum Armstrong  showing, with the aid of cleverly animated diagrams, how he had extended the range of the bellows blown pipe chanter, and how he developed the technique for the double chanter. He followed  this with a virtuoso performance on both extended range pipes  and double pipes made to his specification by Julian Goodacre. This was an insight into an entirely new development in bellows piping, with the ethereal sounds of his composition  ‘Butterflies’ being particularly memorable, although a pair of soft-soled shoes would have made the performance even more effective.
During the day, the smiling face of Jim Buchanan was greatly missed. His widow Anne had arranged for his collection of recordings and music books to be sold with funds going to the LBPS fund for the purchase of smallpipes for hire. We were later told that the sale had raised over £200 - a fitting tribute to someone whose cheerful enthusiasm had given so much to the music of the bellows pipes and those who play them.


1  ‘Bickerings’ were described by Robert Chambers in his Traditions of Edinburgh’ “A bicker would always involve… parties accustomed to regard  themselves as natural enemies. They would meet on some common ground, and simply fall to pelting each other” [chiefly with stones]. Such things were by no means a recent development. Chambers quotes an act of Edoinburgh Town-council made in 1529; “Bikkyrringis betwix Barnis ; it is statut and ordaint be the proust ballies and counsall forsamekle as ther has been gret bikkyrringis betwix barnis and followis in tymes past and diverse thar throw hurt in perell of ther lyffis and gif sik thingis be usit thar man diverse barnis and innocentis be slane and divisione ryse amang nychtbouris…”