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Helen Ross

We met for the Collogue at about 9.30 at The Original Hotel. Roslin has lots of drinking places, being 6 miles distant from Edinburgh, and thus benefitting from the old licencing laws concerning bona fide travellers on Sundays. There were about 40 enthusiasts at the meeting, including two Japanese, an Alaskan, and several from the south of England. All pipe performers, and most of the audience, were men. (I understand that this happens in or- der to counterbalance clarsach collogues, which are manned entirely by women).

Julian Goodacre talked about the use of the Baritone Drone (repeating much of what he had written in Common Stock, Vol. 14(1), June 1999, pp. 6-9, because he claimed to have lost the copy and no longer knew what was in it). He demonstrated the beauty of an E drone with an A tune, and the clash of the same drone with a D tune, but failed to offer any practi- cal solution as to how to switch this drone on and off when playing a set of tunes in differ- ent keys (so I shall continue to leave mine off).

We then had a workshop on Tullochgorum and the Reel of Stumpie, with examples of vari- ants from Rab Wallace and Matt Seattle on pipes, and Mairi Campbell on fiddle. These tunes have many names and versions. They are to die for (and also for playing, for dancing, for listening, and for singing). Tullochgorum gives rise to “What the Deil ails ye?”; Stumpie gives rise to various wedding-related activities, such as “Hap and row”, and “Jack’s be the Daddy on’t”. Mairi recommends playing Stumpie as a fast reel for the Dash- ing White Sergeant (but I like it as a march for the Gay Gordons).

Next came the AGM, which produced some argument about whether performers should be required to play without music at the competition. We voted against the use of dots. Good hot lunch. Then some tunes on modal chanters from Nigel Richard and Fraser Fifield.

This was followed by a discussion on teaching pipes, with a forum of Gary West, Davie Taylor, Jock Agnew and Barnaby Brown. Barnaby, who studied music at Cambridge and wrote a thesis on pibroch, made a passionate speech about how ne- glected our own traditional British music was in official music circles - apparently there is nothing about it in Grove’s diction- ary, though other minority cultures are rep- resented. Barnaby explained about the modes in pibroch: there are various bi- modal systems, which are pitch collections and not chords, and these are arranged in patterns of alternation or repetition.


Davie Taylor advised using E rather than G grace-notes on the small pipes, because E is not as loud and discordant as G. Pete Stewart played an interesting 5/4 tune, “The Dalkeith Bagpipe Tune”. We finished with some tunes from Davie Taylor, Gary West, Iain MacInnes and Nigel Richard - quite unrehearsed as they were substituting for Vicki Swan and Jonny (who failed to arrive owing to car trouble). Had some soup at the other pub, the Roslin Glen, and then went round to Rosslyn Chapel at 6.45 p.m. By that time it was dark, and raining hard.

The concert was brilliant and the atmosphere superb. It was sold out, and people were packed in. The performers sat under the candle lights, looking like the angels in the carv- ings, while the Green Man grinned down. Jim Gilchrist presided admirably. Nigel Richard played cittern and Matt Seattle the Border pipes. Barnaby Brown played Highland pipes, Montgomery Small pipes, and Pictish triple pipes [Launeddas? Ed.]. Simon McKerrell, John Saunders, Fraser Fifield and Fraser Macdonald played various instruments together. John Saunders’ new baby slept through it all. In the interval I chatted to a well-dressed mid- dle-aged woman, who looked a cut above the average piping punter. “Do you stay round here?”, I asked. “Oh yes,” she said, with justifiable pride in her voice, “I’m Barnaby's mother.”

Afterwards we went back to the Roslin Glen hotel, where the music was slow to start. Jock Agnew and I eventually started things off by playing duets on concertinas (Jimmy Allen and The Herd on the Hill). After that some pipers got going, and wouldn’t stop. The locals were amazed, and gathered round to listen. We were the last to leave the hotel. We then went round to Jim Buchanan’s, where we had some more to drink and a good crack till the small hours.