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From Jeannie Campbell


Ref Common Stock page 27 [Vol 14 No 2 concerning the maker of the pipes in the cover picture] Jn McK is the famous John Ban Mackenzie 1796-1864, piper to the Marquis of Breadalbane for many years, and a pipe maker.

We have pipes made by him in the College of Piping museum and the chanter is marked Jn McK several times. An article on John Ban appeared in the pipe makers series in the Piping Times Vol 50 No 12.

The same series included the MacDougalls in Vol 50 Nos 6 & 7, and we have a set of Lowland pipes by Duncan MacDougall in the museum.



From Dick Edie


Matt Seattle’s ‘Out Of The Flames’ CD was commented on in the last issue of Common Stock by a reviewer who stated at the outset that he had heard very few sets of Border pipes which he likes. This seems to be a very odd statement from a reviewer. I would have thought that it would have been more sensible to accept that he did not like the instrument and therefore was not qualified to comment on a CD of Border music.

The CD is a very unusual blend of very old Border music dating from the time of William Dixon or before and modern tunes and arrangements. The result is a very inter- esting production which without doubt adds to the spectrum of music of which make up the music of the Border pipe.

Matt Seattle is inextricably linked to the works of William Dixon and has devoted a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to bring- ing the work to the public.

Contrary to the views of the previous re- viewer, the Border pipes played on the CD by Matt, have an incredibly rich quality and al- though there is some evidence on parts of

the CD of electronic manipulation of the sound, the end result is by no means unpleas- ant. Matt seems to be totally at home playing the Border pipes and in particular the works of Dixon, demonstrating a very close affinity with a man and an instrument from the distant past. Matt Seattle’s arrangements illustrate beautifully that the tradition to which he belongs is very much a living tradition where each generation can add it’s own interpretation.


I was troubled by the comments about Matt Seattle’s gracing, as this type of sniping about gracing has little or no place in the LBPS and should be left in the realms of the GHB competition circuit.

Two of the most notable tracks are ‘An Thou Were My Ain Thing’ and ‘Lindisfarne’. Matt arranges neither of these in a very ‘traditional’ way. The former is overlaid with a very upmarket beat, and the latter is played in a waltz time. They make you think! They are very different and strikingly so. Surely that is exactly what is needed today. Diversity and experi- mentation will help our tradition to survive to future generations - destructive criticism will only serve to make the music as sterile and stylised as the competitive highland bagpipe music is. ‘Lindisfarne’ is a remark- able tune which Matt wrote and surely no- one on earth has more right to experiment with the arrangement than the original composer.

‘Out of The Flames’ is like an Islay whisky, not to everyone's taste but try it and decide yourself - you will probably be pleasantly surprised.

[By their very nature any review written for COMMON STOCK can only reflect the opinions of that reviewer. The fact that the review in CS 14.2 has prompted Dick Edie to write (above) suggests that Matt’s CD will generate strongly different re- sponses from different listeners. This is further reinforced by a member’s letter which asked me, “What do you think of Matt’s CD? I think it’s wonderful and an inspiration to us all”. The only real test, (as Dick Edie says), is to listen and judge for yourself. Ed.]


From Nigel Bridges

St Boswells

Linkumdoddie: What’s in a name?

Gary West's article (Common  stock Vol.14 No. 2 Dec 99) on tune titles was very inter- esting. Since getting the tune Linkumdoddie from him (As an aside Gary is a great teacher) at one of the ALPs lessons in Edin- burgh last year I have wondered about this tune title.

Like many players I get a lot of satisfaction from knowing a tale or two behind a tune and I personally find it helps in getting inspi- ration for expression. Here is what I have learnt since concerning Linkumdoddie.

First I use the title as a single word as the Burns version that I have shows it this way. I am sure there are hyphenated versions as well and I suppose it does not matter a but- ton either way. I had assumed that the place was a figment of Burns imagination until I came across a reference to it in the book Companion to Tweed by George Burnett (published in 1938 by Methuen). If we take as our starting point Crook Inn (on the A701 Moffat to Broughton road) and travel north about 1 1/2 miles the Kingledores Burn runs into the Tweed.

To the right of Kingledores is the site of a reputed weaving hamlet called Linkumdod- die. The place is marked by a weather- beaten board, though it looked in danger of falling down when I last saw it. Whether the name existed before Burns wrote Willie Wastle is in doubt. I found this interesting enough to get out a map and find the spot. The Kingledores Bum runs past two hills.

Upper Oliver Dod and Nether Oliver Dod. Pure coincidence? but enough to make me look up Dod in both Chambers and

Jamiesons Scots Dictionaries.


Dod is listed as a bare round hill. Doddie is listed as without horns and bald (Doddie mittens are gloves without fin- gers!) Linkum is listed in Jamiesons (Linkum-Twine) as packthread (originally from Lincoln).

My fanciful supposition (lacking in any academic merit - but hey! we are talking folk music here) is that Linkumdoddie could conceivably be a term for smooth yarn (i.e. bald of little hairy bits sticking out from the main thread). A superior product for a wabster gude to manufac- ture. (Stown a clue I take to mean that he could outshine in the production of a ball of thread and nothing to do with theft)

So what! Well if the great bard could manufacture place names then what about meanings and the ramifications. As a highland piper getting         to      grips           with smallpipes (no pun intended as they do sound strange sometimes) it intrigues me to understand for the first time that much highland music is over graced (sharp in- take    of      breath.                 Commandment       No1. Thou shalt play everything that is written, even obvious mistakes).

Linkumdoddie played without any grac- ing except that required to separate two similar notes sounds (to my ears) great and I come back to a lot of highland tunes to think how cluttered up they are. So the smooth yam also refers to the playing of the tune itself (Smooth without those hairy highland bits).

Gary also gave us a sheet of music with Flett from Flotta written out with- out any gracenotes. I looked it up in Bains Directory to find the tune is in Donald Macleods Book 4: It had to be. This holy grail of books with so many good tunes but can you get a copy? So I just played it through without any gra- cenotes and it is just lovely with a jaunty smooth flow. Before a lynching party is assembled I will have some more whisky (a smooth or doddie-yin) and reflect that not even Bums could have imagined such havering.

Doddie-graced: n. to leave out unnecessary ornamentation. Allowing the melody out.


From Ann Sessoms

Whitley Bay

I would like to comment on some aspects of reed making in response to“Chanter Reeds for Scottish Smallpipes” by Anita Evans, as somewhat different methods work better for me.

I find that cane improves rather than deteriorates with storage, and I order cane up to a year before I expect to use it. I store it in a cardboard box in the room where I make reeds.

I gouge cane to a thickness of just under 0.5 mm (0.020 in). A very useful tool for the final stages of gouging is a bassoon cane scraper (illustrated), available from Howarth’s of London, 31-35 Chiltern Street, London W1M 1HG.

  sessoms_reed_71476.jpgsessoms reed 7405d

The scraper is far easier to control than sandpaper on a broom shank or dowel and permits very precise gouging.

Instead of a craft knife I use end cutters for trimming the ends of the cane slips to a point and for trimming the end of the assembled reed. I attach the prepared slip to the staple • with Goodwoods CA Thick/Slow, a slow-acting super glue.


From Julian Goodacre



I was pleased that Richard Evans put in print the dimensions of ‘the Euro-taper’. He is correct that I got the measurements from Jon Swayne. I believe he took them from a set of French pipes made

by Bernard Blanc. I guess that Bernard may have got them from one of the last of the old cabrette makers, Joseph Ruols. I think  Ruols  learnt  from                        his father and so these hallowed measure- ments may have been the accepted stan- dard for centuries! It would be interest- ing to see if it is the same taper used by the makers of the musette de cour- perhaps one could trace its date back to the 16th century? ( It is possible, however, that Bernard may have chosen these measurements 20 years ago.    !)

Richard is quite correct- making the actual taper 60mm long is a bit exces- sive. To maintain compatibility, what- ever the length, one should make the socket with a maximum internal diameter of 17mm.

To restate the dimensions- 17mm max diam. Length 60mm. 13mm min diam.

Does anyone have any thoughts as to why British -bellows pipe makers always fitted the transfer pipes onto the bellows? It has always seemed a cumbrous and ungainly solution to the problem. Having the transfer pipe fitted to the pipes seems logical and as Richard says it makes the bellows far easier to stow in your pipe case.



Julian Goodacre



When The Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society was formed there was no public aware- ness that bellows pipes had ever been played in Scotland and the Border. Some pipers and historians knew of references to them being in use in earlier times. Hardly any of the sets of bellows pipes that had survived in museums or private ownership would have then been in playable condition. When I first became aware of bellows pipes in about 1983 only two recordings of Border and smallpipes were available. (Who remembers the cassettes ‘Sting in the Tail’ by ‘Bee And The Drones’ and ‘The Border Reiver’?)

18 years later the situation is very different. Bellows blown Scottishsmallpipes and Border pipes are part of the musical scene here in Scotland, the UK and elsewhere in the world. There are professional makers, playersand plenty of recordings to choose from. These pipes are regularly played, heard, recorded and accepted as part of the musical scene by the general public. The situation is very healthy.

I believe that The Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society has played a considerable part in this revival by being a focus for those enthusiastic about these pipes and the music.

And I am very pleased to have been elected as thecurrent Chairman and to help as part of the Committee to continue this work.

We have an enthusiastic Committee and our evening meetings are enjoyable events.

Most of us live in the Edinburgh - Glasgow area so everymeeting involves some of us driving over, but it also involves scones, cakesand good humour. We organise four main events each year: The Burns’ Supper, the Competition, a teaching weekend in Melrose, and a Collogue.

But happily other events appear on our calendar. The highly successful annualteaching week in Galloway is not actually organised by the Society, but we warmly endorse it and it fits very neatly into a blank space in our summer calendar.

This year we co-operated with BBC Radio Scotland to hold a high profile concert of Border and smallpiping in Neidpath Castle, Peebles as partof the BBC ‘Music Live’ week at the end of May. This concert will be broadcast later on Radio Scotland.

We are very conscious that a sizeable proportion of our membership is from overseas and unable to attend these events and sadly well out of reach of Radio Scotland! For over- seas members, Common Stock, the very journal that you currently hold in your hands, must be a lifeline. And the Society is incredibly fortunate to have Jock Agnew as its Editor. Jock beavers away at Common Stock requesting, reminding and tactfully cajoling contributions from members and produces a biannual journal that we should be justly proud of. It is an enormous relief for the committee to know that Common Stock is being taken care of. Common Stock is ‘sorted’- by Jock!

Another way we plan to keep a link with overseas members is to sendthem an edited tape of the last two years competitions. I know we have been promising this for a while, but it has proved rather time-consuming listening, editing, compiling and obtaining permission from all the pipers. Do not fear - it is on its way!


This year’s Collogue is on November llth in The Original Hotel, Roslin, (a few miles south of Edinburgh). During the day there will be talks, short recitals and a Forum and discussion on Teaching and Education for smallpipes. There also will be a discussion on a few chosen tunes and we hope to send these out to all members with our next newsletter so we can all be familiar with them before the day. We will also be holding the Society’s AGM- it’s an important time for members and Committee to meet and discuss past and proposed events. And hopefully there will be new volunteers for the Committee. We are currently looking for someone to take over as membership secretary. This could be your chance to get involved with those scones and cakes        !

We now have gained nearly a year’s experience of organising a regularevening class for smallpiping in Edinburgh in conjunction with ALP- The Adult Learning Project. This was the brainchild of the Society’s secretary, Jim Buchanan. For the 20 or more people who attend it, some completely new to piping, it has proved very popular. For Jim and the others involved in organising this class there has been a steep learning curve - lessons learnt about approaches to teaching small piping. The Society now hires out five student smallpipes to members of this class and the administration and maintenance required even for this number of pipes has been quite considerable.

Two other current projects occupy the Committee. There were so manyexcellent papers presented at the November 1997 Peebles Collogue on William Dixon and 18th century piping that it was agreed that we should publish these proceedings in book form. We are extremely fortunate that Roderick Cannon has agreed to edit this into a book, which we hope will be published for this year’s Collogue.

Our previous chairman, Andy Hunter proposed that the Society produce a teaching video for bellows pipes. We all agreed that it was an important and worthwhile project, but with so many other events to organise each year it is easy for a major undertaking such as this to keep slipping downthe list of priorities. It became a self ‘shelving’ project! I think the time is now right to go for it!

Iain Maclnnes has agreed to help oversee the project and we have just started planning how this video might be structured. If anyone in the Society has any experience in this field, or can steer us to anyone who might be able to assist us then please get in touch. It is a major task and production costs forsuch a venture could be quite high, so we are all agreed it must be done to a standard that brings the Society some credit. None of us has had any previousexperience in this field and all are acutely aware that we will be using Societyfunds, so it must be financially viable, it must be good, and it must pay for itself. It will take a while to come to fruition, but we feel it is a very worth while project- as it would reach out to pipers world-wide. And improving bellows pipers’ playing and enjoyment of their music and pipes is surely whatthe Society is all about!

So 2000 is a busy year! For me there never seems quite enough time topractice the pipes, but that is just my excuse!! What is yours?!