Adam Sanderson tells the story

I will begin with a quick confession. I joined the LBPS in 2010, simply because I like bagpipes and I like reading about bagpipes and bagpipe music. I joined the LBPS in 2010 after reading an issue of Common Stock. I thought it was a great wee magazine, and it coincided with a time when I was beginning to question the realities of the bagpipe history I had been taught, which was all “winds blawin’ through the misty glens in an unbroken tradition since the dawn of time” type stuff. I joined the LBPS for the sole reason of getting a Common Stock subscription, that was all. It would be another 8 years or so before I eventually bought a set of bellows-driven pipes, and even longer until I got going on them.
However, joining in 2010 was fortuitous, because all issues of Common Stock from 2010 onwards are also available to paid up LBPS members in digital download format, and I kept digital copies of every issue from then onwards. Through the late Jock Agnew, I received two CD-Roms containing all the back issues of Common Stock prior to 2010. These were scanned photocopies of the originals. I was grateful for them, but of course as Common Stock began in 1983, some of them had been scanned when technology was fairly primitive and the scans were of poor quality, some of the text barely legible and the images often hard to discern. This, I felt, was a great pity, as there was an absolute goldmine of history, articles and some great music contained within.
I began to wish that the pre-2010 issues were also available as PDF downloads, and were as easy to read. I had attended several concerts where the musicians had iPads placed on their music stands instead of the usual books or sheets of paper I was used to seeing. I had bought a tablet myself, with a 10 HD inch screen, and the post 2009 digital issues of Common Stock looked great on it. I also knew many people who were using tablets to read magazines and music.
When I joined the LBPS committee last year, my two priorities were to get an up-to-date LBPS YouTube channel running and to digitise the pre 2010 issues of Common Stock. At first I tried using OCR technology to read the text of the old scanned copies, but it many cases it just couldn’t, which meant typing them out by hand. I used GIMP (Graphic Image Manipulation Program) to clean up old images where I could, but this couldn’t be used all the time as some of the original images were just too low in resolution to improve. I contacted both the National Museums of Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland and explained the digitisation project and my problem with degraded images. Both institutions were extremely helpful and allowed me to use hi resolution images from their collections as they considered Common Stock “educational”, and I thanked them profusely.

I knew it would be a long project, 45 issues, some of them very lengthy, but I have learned so much through doing it. We all take bellows driven bagpipes for granted nowadays, but through reading through the early back issues it takes you right back to when the number of players of bellows driven Scottish smallpipes or Border pipes could be counted on one hand. We owe a lot to the original LBPS committee members and those that followed who worked so hard to form our society, to keep it going through ups and downs, and popularise our bellows blown instruments. We also owe a lot to the pipemakers who experimented and kept refining their pipes and reeds until we reached the high-quality instruments we can buy today.

common stock vol1 no 2 1984 uillean pipes before and after2 smaller 6a0ec

I have attempted to keep the feel of the earlier issues as best as I can, including the original adverts, cartoons, crosswords and the letters pages, (which were sometimes quite incendiary, but due to the passage of time they are now more amusing in a “light blue touch paper and stand well back” kind of way). There’s even the excitement of the Dixon manuscript being unearthed. All tunes originally included with these issues of Common Stock are in there too, some cleaned up with GIMP, some rewritten in a modern format as the originals were too far gone.
The entire history of the LBPS contained within Common Stock is now available for download in clear PDF format. The files have been tested on PC, Mac, 10” Kindle HD, Chromebook, iPad. If you use an app such as PerfectView on a 10” Kindle or Amazon Fire, or any Android operated system, the text is also searchable. If you want to see them on a really big screen, it’s possible to open the PDF files on your smartphone, and use screen mirroring to project them onto any compatible smart TV. I hope you enjoy them.

 common stock vol23 no 2 compare small 86cc3

[Ed: inspired by Adam’s heroic work your editor used the texts he had produced to add them to the pre-2010 issues, making the entire archive fully text-searchable.]


Session in Dunkeld

LBPS Convenor Stuart Letford tells me there’s a weekly Thursday night session that takes place in Dunkeld at the Royal Dunkeld Hotel