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A resume by Jock Agnew

The number of participants and audience was down this year but, with one exception, the number of entries was healthy. The exception was the Novice class - not a single entry. Are there no novices left?

On the last occasion (See COMMON STOCK Vol 12.1) I chose to draw attention to the                     tuning of the pipes. This year, although I was unable to listen to every entry, the standard of tuning was noticeably better - with the exception of one pipe duet where the two chanters clashed. No amount of nimble fingering nor artful harmonies can make up for such lack of preparation.

What, then. of the sights and sounds. As usual there were pipes made of native hard-wood; exotic hardwood, some dark, some light in colour. We heard a set of smalipipes tuned with a minor third (flattened ‘C’), and Border pipes achieving the same effect by cross-fingering. There were smallpipes AND Border pipes being played with covered fingering (similar to Northumbrian smallpipe fingering) instead of the more generally accepted half open (i.e. Highland) fingering. The rash of Scottish chanters fitted with keys seems to grow, with high ’B’ the most used. Sets in’A’ and 'D’ were played together in harmony. Two competitors started with stopped drones, bringing them in with great effect as the set progressed. The

Montgomery copy smallpipe set (its tiny chanter pitched in ’E’, with the sharp upper seventh and flat lower lead note) was played on two different occasions by two different pipers.

Drones were, for the most part, positioned across the chest, although one player preferred his over the shoulder - Highland style - while another dropped his beneath the bellows arm - Uilleann style.

There was a fair amount of ‘dangling’ to be seen amongst the competitors; and I don't mean those ludicrous ‘draft-excluders’ that hang off the drones on some pipes. I refer rather to the practice of letting the chanter dangle while plugging in the bellows and generally making ready. It surely must bring joy to every pipe-makers heart when he sees this happening -       potential business! I have lost count of the number of occasions when pipers have ‘thrown’ loose-fitting chanters this way.

The introduction of tunes was good, and several mentioned how nervous they felt. Others, while they may not have mentioned nervousness, certainly displayed some by their unconscious actions: speeding up their play; squeezing too hard so that the chanter died; blowpipe separating from the bellows. Indeed anyone who has performed will know that sinking feeling when fingers, which work impeccably in the living room at home, refuse to function  in front of an audience.

As ever the atmosphere was good humoured as befits a competition which is as much a measure of development as it is of performance. It is also an occasion when the public can look and listen and learn about bellows pipes and the music we make with them. So it was good that both the winner of the Open smallpipes and of the Open Border pipes (as well as several other competitors) featured Lowland/Border music in their repertoire. And several tunes in the New Composition class had a Lowland sound to them. Let us hope it inspires more pipers to work with this type of music (which lies at the heart of the Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society) together with the playing techniques which it favours.

I was surprised more audience didn’t at least turn up for the tea and home-made cakes (courtesy of Rona and Jeannie) which have become such a welcome feature of competition day. However with hardly any persuasion those present managed to do them ample justice!

Quotes from the day itself: “You've heard this tune played by the Composer, now you're        going to hear it played by the decomposer!” and “The air in here has passed through so many pipes it is starting to get confused!”


NOVICE - No entries

INTERMEDIATE. Julian Goodacre Trophy. 5 entries.

First            Jim Buchanan

                    Hector the Hero; Lindisfarne.

Second        Alistair Wilson

                    Teribus Ye Terioden; Roxburgh Castle; High Reel; Brenda Roberts.

Third          Ian Murray                                                                                                                        

                   Jack’s Gone a Shearing; Drink the Worts & Spill the Beer. 

NEW COMPOSITIONS. London Trophy. 7 entries.

First            Pete Stewart

                    The Liberation of Tynemount.

 Second        John Saunders                         The Dockyard Reel.

Third          Volker Dellwo 



DUET FOR PIPES & OTHER INSTRUMENTS. Dunfermline Tassies. 4 entries.

First           Volker Dellwo and Steve Byrne: smallpipes and bouzouki.

                    Seagull/Kesh Jig; Cape Breton Fiddler’s Welcome; Moving Cloud.

Second        Jim Eaton & Bob McColl: smallpipes & accordion.

                    Bonnie Dundee. Highland Laddie; Nut Brown Maiden; Barren Rocks of Aden;


Third          Ian Murray & Jim Buchanan: smallpipes & whistle.                     Lonely Loch Nan Enan; Monks March.

PIPE AND SONG. Jimmy Wilson Memorial Cup. 3 entries.

First            David Robertson                     Clerk Collville.

Second        Alistair Wilson

                    Flower of Northumberland.

Third         David Stevenson                                                                                                                                    O' the Shearin’s No for You.

DUET FOR PIPES. Mains Castle Medals. 4 entries.

First            John Saunders and Rona MacDonald

                    Callanish; Keelman O’er the Land; The Duck.

Second        John Goodacre and Julian Goodacre                     Beard On The Chin.


 Third          Ian Murray & Jim Buchanan

                    Song For The Smallpipes; Beard On The Chin.

OPEN SMALLPIPES. Colin Ross Trophy. 8 entries.

First           Volker Dellwo

                    Barbara Allan; Border Reel; The Mute of Mark; Itchy Fingers.

Second        John Saunders

                    South Georgia Whaling Song; Jimmy Wood's Jig; Asleep at the Wheel; The                      High Drive.

Third          Pete Stewart

                    Mr Weston’s Hornpipe.

OPEN BORDER PIPE. Hamish Moore Cup. 6 entries

First            Jock Agnew

                    Lasses Make Your Tails Toddle; Young & Lusty Was I (W. Dixon Settings).

Second        John Saunders

                    Last Tango In Harris; Sands of Kuwait; Asleep at the Wheel; The                      High Drive.

Third          Christian Tewordt

                    The Gallowglass; Hughie Gallagitch March; Welcome Home Grainne (march,                      jig and reel); Hag at the Churn.