And yesterday and today and forever The bagpipes commit to the winds of Heaven The deepest emotions of the Scotman’s heart In joy and sorrow, in war and peace. ——Hugh MacDiarmid, “Lament for the Great Music”, in Complete Poems
Their sound is perhaps the only one I know that works in the stomach. It comes like a hard meat, stringy with gristle…More than the drab guads of Caledonia they still flaunt in for Burns suppers and tourism, it steams and twitches in the caulderon of belonging, the long vault of Celtic exile. Every man who hears it is a king in the blood, returned out of the foreign slime to renew his dead alliance. ——George MacBeth, My Scotland, London, MacMillan, 1973.
This is an interesting collection of music from the Scottish Border with England, primarily the areas south of Edinburgh. It is primarily bagpipe music with a considerable history that emerges from this region, which itself has a turbulent history. Bagpipes have been documented in this region during the Middle Ages. Town or villages in this region had town pipers who would wake the population or sound curfew with their bagpipes. The four types of Border Music are included such as gathering tunes that are town or village specific, historic ballads, dance music such as jigs and reels, and virtuoso pieces. The main feature of the Borders Bagpipe is the use of bellows to inflate the bag rather than lungs. This collection also demonstrates the Scottish Smallpipes, an instrument widely used in Southern Scotland and Northern England during the 18th and 19th centuries. This instrument derives from the Northumbrian Smallpipes which is also demonstrated on this CD. Each of the 15 tracks has significant historic documentation in the notes included in the CD and several of the tracks may be composites of 3 or 4 ballads strung together. This is a fascinating introduction to this music, these instruments, and the history that influenced the ballads, town music, and dances.
For those individuals curious about Lowland piping music, this is the CD to get. Various tunes are played on a wide-range of pipes from Lowland Border pipes to the unique northumbrian smallpipes. There are a few pieces which include singing from this region of the British Isles. If you are interested in bagpipe music that ventures outside the standard Great Highland Bagpipe repetoire, you will enjoy your visit here.
First set up by clan chiefs keen to bring more tourism into their areas, the Highland Games have flourished beyond all expectations. The first Games grew up around those activities traditionally enjoyed by crofters, to while away long winter evenings—piping, tug o’ war, pillow-fights…But some of these sports have been superseded in recent years by more contemporary pursuits, such as Spotting the Beer Tent and Trying to Find Somewhere to Park. ——Scotland For Beginners, 1314 an’ a’ that, by Rupert Besley, 2001