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Alan Jones, enthusiastic collector of bagpipes, recollects the Collogue held in Jedburgh.

This first Collogue set the pattern - and the standard - for Peebles [see COMMON STOCK Vol 8 No.1] and Galashiels, where Alan Jones’ growing collection was once again displayed. One of his many sets is shown on the cover of this issue.

Before proceedings began I decided to go down to Mary Queen of Scots House and view the collection of Lowland pipes; and how impressive indeed were the old pipes thus displayed. Included were sets from modern makers like Colin Ross and Heriot and Allan -   depicting various stages of manufacture and assembly. There was the Pattison Pipes (that Gordon had explained came from the Yarrow Valley); and I took particular interest in one feature of the set - namely - the bellows, which was exactly the same in design and make as the bellows I have on my antique pastoral pipes - 18th century through to early 19th century, and I could see for myself in reality - what Sam Grier has explained to me on a number of occasions - that Pastoral pipes developed out of Border pipes, and Union/Irish pipes had definite influences from the Pastoral pipe. I personally feel it is something along the lines of the Northumbrian Smallpipe in that they originally developed out of the Scottish Smallpipe, and later had influences from the French court Musette. (Early sets had shuttle drones, and early keywork - such as on early Reid sets, were rectangular - as are those of the Musette. Later sets incorporated circular designs on keywork).

All the pipes were different in aesthetic appearance, yet there was the common theme of the traditional instrument - a conically bored chanter and three drones. One set I recall had one regulator and three very thinly turned drones. The thistle drone end design was also a significant common feature. The Border pipes had the thistle ends, whereas the smallpipes did not. There were photographs and historical texts to complement a superb exhibition, and full credit goes to Julian Goodacre and Gordon Mooney who worked so hard to get everything in order; and I truly felt that the setting of Mary Queen of Scots house was most fitting and appropriate.

I went back to the Town Hall just in time for the official introduction to the proceedings. Gordon Mooney - President of the Society - explained how the Society had been originated from the conversation and ideas of 5 persons in a pub; and the Society was thus formed with these 5 persons in 1981. It was when the Society eventually moved to the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh that things really started to happen. Since this time the Society has gone from strength to strength.

Ethnomusicologist Peter Cooke (formerly of the School of Scottish Studies) then got up to speak. Peter explained how people were looking for an alternative to the regimented traditions of Highland piping. He went on to describe how COMMON STOCK - the Society publication/journal, was the common denominator in disseminating information about Lowland Piping, and that the most important single factor was that the Society had been a catalyst in stimulating an interest in Border and Lowland piping. He informed the audience that it had taken two years to get the publication off the ground and that it was now imperative that this publication continue to be the prime mover in this catalytic process.

Peter continued to explain that there is no (surviving) manuscript on how the Border pipes were played (i.e. in the technique of articulation/gracing) and there was ten years of experimentation that went into determining what works and how best to express the music on the pipes. Later, Lowland piping competitions were instigated by the Society. A tape was then played of the 1985 competition winner + and it was very evident that the Scottish   smallpipes were at this time played in the style of the Highland pipe. The player was Iain MacInnes who was present and scheduled to give an illustrated talk shortly. Different examples followed on tape including beautiful recordings of Scottish smallpipes and vocals, and smallpipes and harp.

The Society continues to "chip away” at the scattered history of Lowland piping, and today there is certainly a demand and a need to provide courses in reedmaking, playing, music, and the competitions aimed at setting standards of playing. It was also important to record all the known Pipes that were being currently played - especially the older ones. He [Peter] made the point that inspiration does net come from a society, but from the determination, inspiration, enthusiasm and wisdom of individuals,

Closing on such a pertinent point, "centre stage” was given to Matt Seattle (publisher of much fine traditional music under the auspices of “Dragonfly Music”), who gave an illustrated talk entitled “Compiling a repertoire for the Border Bagpipe”.

Matt commenced by stating that one can use Highland pipe music, but that there is another repertoire e.g. in respect of what Gordon Mooney had done in researching the old Border music and publishing his tame books and tutor. As a very good Border tune he discussed the tune "Cuckold Come Out of the Amrey" - it’s musicological construction and that it was an original Lowland pipe tune that had been preserved in the Northumbrian piping tradition.

Matt continued, by using the Peacock Collection to show that a large number of tunes in this collection are actually Lowland tunes adapted to the Northumbrian pipes, and he     emphasised that this collection is the most important collection we have of Border music.

He finished his talk by demonstrating the air and variations of "Cuckold Come Out of the Amrey" on both fiddle and Scottish Smallpipes. An appropriate conclusion to the very enlightening and informed discussion/presentation.

Iain MacInnes - radio broadcaster and ex-piper with the Tannahill Weavers was the next presenter to enlighten the audience with a talk on Alex Campbell's "Border Journeys" - first published in 1816. In his book Campbell wrote about the state of Border piping in its heyday (approx 1600 - 1750), and it is one of our only contemporary records. From 1770 to 1850 Lowland piping "died a very real death."

Campbell makes specific references to playing scales and tunes of more than 9 notes, and numerous references to UNION pipes and Border pipes. He mentions 7 pipers as being the finest of the Border pipers. There were itinerant pipers who would play through the towns and at local functions for food and lodging. Pipers mentioned included John Hastie the town piper of Jedburgh - circa 1731; Geordie Sime of Dalkeith (“Geordie Sime he was a famous piper in his time”), and James Allen of Yeltholm, who was the piper employed in the services of the Duchess of Northumberland.

Along with the Union piper, there are references to the use of both large and small bellows, and the art of “pinching” the back (thumb) hole to obtain an extra note out of the chanter.

As rural life in the Borders changed due to the Industrial Revolution in agricultural techniques, patronage was lost when town Boroughs’ interest waned in having a town piper. However, this was not the case with the wealthy landowners in the Highlands, which certainly became a significant factor in the survival of the Great Highland pipe; as opposed to the course of history which the Lowland and Border pipes took.

...I was then invited to talk about my own collection [the display of which has become a feature of subsequent Collogues; Ed] - how I first got started into what [ would term "the insane art of bagpipe collecting!" (Maybe one day I’ll write on this very subject; "Alan Jones’ pocket companion guide to the insane art of ----!"). I displayed some of those sets that I had dutifully carried with me for over 3000 miles. 1 talked about the sets of antique Scottish smallpipes that 1 had been fortunate lo obtain in North America; the antique MacDonald Border pipe that I obtained in Canada, the Pastoral pipes, and one or two other sets I had brought with me (or even collected ‘en route’). I briefly took time to talk about Lowland piping in the U.S.A and Canada, and how the formation of the North American Association of Lowland and Border Pipers along with the marathon work the Brian McCandless and others had done in producing “The Journal” which had greatly influenced (as did Common Stock’ in the UK) the promotion of the instruments and their music on that Continent, and I then showed copies of “The Journal” such that attendees could see for themselves the level of enthusiasm, dedication and activity.

Pipers were then asked to play some of the various interesting sets they had brought along with them. Sets included - Gordon Mooney playing a sweet toned reproduction of the famous 1757 Montgomery set of Scottish smallpipes made by Julian Goodacre (the original set is the earliest known set of Scottish smallpipes we can date for certain ) [see COMMON STOCK Vol 6 No.1 Dec 1991, Ed.], Jon Swayne played a beautiful newly crafted set of Half longs in ebony and nickel silver with 4 drones (to be dutifully added to the Jones

Jones collection within days!) - which had a cutting but tonal sweetness that the attendees found most appealing. I personally consider this set (pitched in G) to be a cross between a Pastoral pipe and a French Musette Bechonnet. Pipemaker Ray Sloan then played an exquisitely toned Bb Scottish smallpipe of his own manufacture. Jim Gilchrist played a richly overtoned set of Colin Ross ‘D’ Scottish smallpipes, a reproduction set of Border pipes from an old set in the Edinburgh museum was also heard along with some other sets - all concluding with myself playing (a Breton Andro entitled Evit mont d’an Iliz) on my antique MacDonald (of Edinburgh) Border pipe.

The final speaker for the day was Mr. Hugh Cheape, Curator of the bagpipes in the Edinburgh Museum. He gave an illustrated talk by showing slides, and explaining how the Scottish Highland piping tradition had distorted the history of piping. He told his audience that he had tried to make his pipe collections in Edinburgh available to all parties, and an interesting observation had been made of the fact that there were many bagpipes in museums - but very few of them were Highland pipes. The slides shown were of various pipers and different aspects of the tradition. Hugh concluded by explaining that he felt piping was a tricky subject, and to say when specifically the pipes came to Scotland was not at all easy. However, he did confirm for us that piping in the Middle Ages was a universal art, and when surveyed, we can conclude that piping was often by patronage of the courts and gentry.

Gordon Mooney concluded the afternoons proceedings with a musical journey through the Borders - an illustrated slide presentation - augmented with history and music played by Gordon on the pipes as he showed the slides and explained the relevant topographical and historical data that he had researched and put together. A very effective conclusion to a wonderful seminar on Lowland and Border piping.