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Jock Agnew


There was a question mark hanging over this year’s competition. Two in fact.We were in a new hall, and the annual Edinburgh Easter Folk Festival did not take place. Either of these could have adversely affected attendance, but the new Chairman need not have worried (and he’d been doing a lot of that recently): the day was well attended and a great success.

The new location - The Society of Friends (Quaker) Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace - proved itself to be nearly all one might have hoped. It was closer to the general public (being near the top of the Royal Mile) and indeed we had several non-piping visitors come and pay their entrance fee and, what is more important, stay to hear the day out. There were practice rooms, and a useful waiting area with a kitchen (where Rona and Jeannie once again dispensed theirexcellent home-baked cakes, coffee and tea). The hall in which the pipers competed did the pipes full justice. The acoustics were great, and the shape andlay- out helped encourage the informal atmosphere of these events: as John Saunders wrote in his newsletter .... “if a competitor is nervous, a more sympathetic  audience would be hard to find.”

But it was less easy for those with cars to find nearby parking, and at one point, in the early part of the proceedings, one competitor’s pipes were all but drowned out by a nearby vehi- cle tipping (it sounded like) an entire load of scrap metal onto the street outside.

The music: now, that’s what it is all about. The standard was as good as I’ve heard, and we had Irish, English, and Foreignese type tunes as well as the morecommon Highland, Low- land and Border music: and this year there seemed to be fewer pipe-band numbers with the competitor’s heel crashing out a rhythm on the parquet floor. There were a lot more Border tunes and Border techniques, though many of the tunes would, in my view, have sounded better (if I’m not sticking my neck out too far!) for being played on a conical bore chanter with its strong right hand and less dominant high tonic.

It was interesting to watch the different postures and attitudes the competitors took up. Most sat down to play, but whether sitting or standing there was a strong tendency amongst some to hunch over the pipes as if to prevent any attempt at escape. Some looked up to the ceiling, others down at the floor, oneor two had their eyes shut. There was a clutch of dan- gling chanters (on which I’ve commented before; see Common Stock Vol 13 No 1 June 1998) which, besides being fool-hardy, looks untidy as if the player were grappling with an


unfamiliar beast. To the casual visitor it must also have looked inept, ridiculouseven.

There seems also to have been a hatch of music stands (must be the warm weather). Now a music stand may provide a psychological barrier behind which the player can hide, and give him or her the extra confidence of being able to check the dots at any given moment (although my neighbour whispered that it must mean a classical music background), but it leaves the audience with a less than enticing spectacle and must surely make that audience wonder if the piper has taken the trouble to put in any practice for the event. The need for music might be justified if two duet players (that get me off the hook!) are meeting, per- haps, for the first time that day, but surely should be unnecessary for someone playing their own composition.

All that said, it was nice listening to set after sweet sounding set concentrating on expres- sion, accurate finger work and well-tuned drones. As I said earlier, it was a good competi- tion even by LBPS standards, and a great day out.



Jim Buchanan and Matt Seattle - Duet for Pipes Photo: Bill Sutherland


RESULTS (record 51 entries)


Open Solo for Smallpipes (9 entries)

1st Rona MacDonald Stool of Repentance; Shore Line of Lewis; March of the King of Laois; Moving Cloud.

2nd Glyn Morris Galician Tune; The Boys of Ballymote; Uip Pass; Green Groves of Erin; Road to Benderloch; The Smith of Culliechassie.

3rd=Pete Stewart Selection of tunes called Cuddies Courtship.

3rd= Robin Beck The Mermaid: The Seagull; The Jig of Slurs..



Intermediate Smallpipes (record 13 entries)

1st Nigel Bridges    The Red Red Rose; O’er The Border

2nd   Ian MacKay   Beocad Doris; O’Farrell’s Welcome to Limerick; Lord Ramsay’s Reel

3rd    Bill Bennett   Rose of Allandale; The Duck; Sam Scott.




Duet for Pipes (4 entries)

1st   Stuart Letford & Bill Bennett (both smallpipes) The Girl from Dungannon; The Mason’s Apron; The Hag At The Churn; Galacian Jig; Rocking The Baby.

2nd   Matt Seattle and Jim Buchanan (Border Pipes) The Bonnie Braes of Elcho

3rd    John Easdale and George McKeand (both smallpipes) MacKay’s Farewell, O’er The Bows; Bonnie Lad; Jock Wilson’s Ball; High Road to Linton.




Duet for Pipes & other instrument (9 entries)

1st    Vicki Swan & Johnny Dyer (guitar) Electric Chopsticks; Pressed For Time

2nd Glyn Morris & Karen Jones Selection of Hornpipes and Reels incl The Train Journey North

3rd=   Donald Lindsay and Cheryl Norquay Craig’s Pipes; Soldier’s Joy.

3rd= Andrew Warren and Nail Lee ground to Struan Robertson’s Salute; Rocking The Baby; The Kesh Jig; The Journey (a reel by A. Warren; The Brolum.


New Compositions (11 entries)


1st Vicki Swan                Roadworks Rant 2nd Donald Lindsay   Clutch of Hopes 3rd Pete Stewart   Carifran Wood


Pipe and Song (4 entries)


1st   Davie Robertson       The Twa Brithers 2nd Donald Lindsay        Shades In The Glass 3rd Alister Wilson  Bogie’s Bonnie Bell



Open Border (3 entries)


1st     Matt Seattle          The Bonnie Hills of Galloway & variations

2nd   Nigel Richard       ground to Old Woman’s Lullaby

3rd    David Stevenson  Hector the Hero; Letkandenkaa; The Poetry Library Jig 2; The Water is Wide; Cutting Bracken; Salmon Tails Up The Water.