Highland Bagpipes Resurgent in the US?

February 14th, 2008


ABC News has a short piece and video on the “resurgence” of Highland bagpipes.

It’s the typical piece where the journalist expresses shock and amazement when confronted with the notion that Highland bagpipes are anything but a novelty. Good focus on the Army school of piping and the Dragoon Guards, who just secured a $2 million contract for an album that has hit the top of the British classical charts. Not a bad deal for a pipe band. Although to anyone “in the know,” bagpipes have been resurgent for a while. I mean, why do the lazy journalists not bother to contact the National Youth Pipe Band if they want a glimpse into the health of the art? Plus, a lazy walk doon the street from the castle and our correspondent takes the word of Kilberry bagpipes as an example of demand? Cool pic of Stuart Cassells though.




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Winter Issue of The Voice!

February 5th, 2008

The Winter issue of The Voice is due to hit the international mails. Highlights of this issue:

• “Speaking the Same Language” Giving tenor drummers a universal language.

• “Blackwood Down, Part II” Further explorations into the wood that drives the art of Highland bagpiping.

• “Workshop: The Happy Piper and Drummer” Make 2008 the year you are most pleased with your music.

Controversy of Composers contest winners announced (finally!) with appearance of the first winning tune.

Plus reviews of Dastirum by Allan MacDonald, a new Pipehacker, and more! Download a sample at right.

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Controversy of Composers

January 25th, 2008

It is with great pleasure that we announce the winners of the Controversy of Composers contest (at last)!

Many thanks to those musicians who submitted tunes. We were quite unprepared for, and impressed by, the volume of submissions – and each was given their due. In between preparing content for each issue of the magazine (and our regular, piping and nonpiping lives), we now had the daunting task of organizing and giving consideration to all submissions.

We appreciate everyone’s patience to reach this point, nearly a full year since the deadline, but only two issues from the desired announcement of winners. Look for the first of each top tune to appear in the upcoming Winter issue of The Voice.

One thing is clear: The impulse to compose pipe music is a lot more common among pipers than one might realize. The submissions reflect a variety of taste and style that should be given greater exposure. Only one tune could be at the top of each list, but the rest were fun, clever, and enjoyable in their own way. Pipers have always tried to create music for the instrument they love. Here’s to hoping it continues.

Congratulations to the following winners:

2/4 March—”The Village Sprinter” by J.C. Allioux
Strathspey—”Waldo Kahler” by Daniel Pisowloski
Reel—”The Big Apple Heist” by Iain MacHarg
Slow Air—”The Angel’s Share” by Iain MacHarg
Hornpipe—”Matt Smith’s Revenge” by Steven Knox
Jig—”Ramparts of Glencoe” by D.P. Keenan
6/8 March—”Michael Rogers” by Steven Knox
4/4 March—”Manchester Regional Police and Fire Pipe Band” by Iain MacHarg
Retreat—”Barre Street” by Iain MacHarg

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Improve your bagpiping by improving yourself.

December 22nd, 2007

Over at Hack Yourself, there is a list of solid tips to help you improve yourself. As the new year approaches, it is a good place to start. My favorite:

Stop assigning blame. This is the first step. Stop assigning blame and leave the past behind you.

Improving as a bagpiper, drummer, or pipe band begins with improving yourself. The new year is also a good time to repeat our list of “Ten piping and drumming things to plan and do” for the new year. Happy 2008!

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Merry Midwinter!

December 20th, 2007


all hail the sun god
Originally uploaded by peppermint.patty


And a Happy Yuletide to all from The Voice.

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Pipe in the Winter Solstice

December 18th, 2007


For those wishing to dig deep and touch their druid heritage, the Heritage Ireland website will be streaming a live webcast of the Winter Solstice celebrations at Newgrange. The 5,000-year-old tomb in Co. Meath is the mythical birthplace of Cúchulainn and is one of many fairy mounds where the Tuatha Dé Dannan lived. Perfect! No word on whether there will be druid pipers, but I bet you’ll see a few if you watch…








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Copyright and Copyfraud

December 14th, 2007

The Social Science Research Network has a paper by Jason Mazzone of Brooklyn Law School on copyright fraud, or “copyfraud.” Sounds like an interesting read for anyone interested in the topic. From the abstract:

Copyfraud is everywhere. False copyright notices appear on modern reprints of Shakespeare’s plays, Beethoven’s piano scores, greeting card versions of Monet’s Water Lilies, and even the U.S. Constitution. Archives claim blanket copyright in everything in their collections. Vendors of microfilmed versions of historical newspapers assert copyright ownership. These false copyright claims, which are often accompanied by threatened litigation for reproducing a work without the owner’s permission, result in users seeking licenses and paying fees to reproduce works that are free for everyone to use.

Copyright law itself creates strong incentives for copyfraud. The Copyright Act provides for no civil penalty for falsely claiming ownership of public domain materials. There is also no remedy under the Act for individuals who wrongly refrain from legal copying or who make payment for permission to copy something they are in fact entitled to use for free. While falsely claiming copyright is technically a criminal offense under the Act, prosecutions are extremely rare. These circumstances have produced fraud on an untold scale, with millions of works in the public domain deemed copyrighted, and countless dollars paid out every year in licensing fees to make copies that could be made for free. Copyfraud stifles valid forms of reproduction and undermines free speech.

Copyright law is one of the most misunderstood topics among creative artists and professionals everywhere. In bagpiping circles, the ignorance is almost epidemic. I would argue that copyright not only encourages stifling copyfraud, but in itself also stifles the the creation of new works in the process.

“Reproduction” and “use” are two distinct things and are often confused when the topic of copyright is raised. Use is also often dictated by business models and commerce, not copyright. It gets a bit more confusing when use depends on some form of reproduction, but the distinctions between the two remains. Anyway, the article seems like a good way to get solid info on the topic.

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Plant a tree for bagpipes.

December 13th, 2007

A Christmas gift for the pipers in your life. For a bit more than $85, you can plant 60 mpingo (African blackwood) saplings for the future good of Highland bagpipers (and, one assumes, luxury phone users and builders looking for unique flooring and toilet seats).

Good Gifts, a website providing value-based holiday gifts, is extending the offer for concerned folks to fund the sustainable planting of blackwood trees in Tanzania via the African Blackwood Conservation Project. Given the fact that the trees will not be mature until 70 to 100 years from now, your piping grandkids will be the ones who feel direct benefit.

As covered in the Fall issue of The Voice, mpingo trees are a crucial part of the lifestyle and livelihood of the local population in Tanzania and Mozambique. Although legitimate supplies of harvestable timber are more than ample to supply pipe makers for many years, commercial viability of the timber is in question. Illegal harvesting and clear-cutting threaten the local ecology so much so, that the changing land use to other forms of agriculture is also threatened. Blackwood may not disappear from the landscape, but it is in real danger of disappearing from the marketplace.

Supporting sustainable timber harvesting offers an insurance policy of sorts. Far from making you a “tree-hugger,” spending 80 bucks for the long-term good of the “tree of music” seems a small price to pay to give back for all the pleasure you derive from playing Highland bagpipes.

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Bagpipe Photo of the Week

December 3rd, 2007


Clan Clause
Originally uploaded by Eye Captain


And so begins the season…

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The Great Highland Electro Pipes

November 8th, 2007

Modern technology has not left bagpipes behind. The Faegerstrom chanter and Deger Pipes have been around for ages but that does not prevent clever musicians the world over from hacking their own.

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