This article states that that an organisation devoted to supporting traditional Scottish music raised almost TEN THOUSAND POUNDS to put together a book of sheet music detailing how to play AC/DC on bagpipes!
It is being put together in the memory of Scottish piper Gordon Duncan, a man described as an influence on the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and responsible for THIS incredible cover of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck:
Not sure if he was ever a Scottish weddingpiperbut thats the tune I want played at my wedding!
Gordon passed away in 2005 and this is the second such book put together since his death, commemorating 10 years. Amazingly the man played his tunes by ear so not a lot of them were written down.
Visit the Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust webpage here.
Do bagpipes come from Scotland or Ireland? There are a variety of instruments known as bagpipes throughout Europe and even in parts of Asia, but in the British Isles, there are two main types, the Irish (Uillean or Elbow) and the Scottish(Great Highland or Small Border).
Do the Irish play bagpipes? Bagpipes are a class of musical instrument, aerophones, using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. Though the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe and Irish uilleann pipes have the greatest international visibility, bagpipes have been played for centuries throughout large parts of Ireland.
What are the bagpipes made out of?
These are blown by mouth and the bags were traditionally made from the skin of a sheep; although currently leather, rubber or other synthetic materials are used. The pipes themselves were originally made of bone or ivory, but hardwood is the modern choice.
The bagpipes show up in a number of different films of all types of genres, be it comedy, drama, even sci-fi! Films as diverse as Braveheart, Army of Darkness, The Thirty Nine Steps and Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan at some point feature the pipes being blown. here are some of our favourite examples:
Braveheart (1995) Ooft, try being an English kid in a Scottish school in the mid to late 90s, everytime this Mel Gibson directed Oscar winner showed up on television the next day was pretty hard going. The bagpipes show up in the soundtrack and whilst the film is famously littered with historical inaccuracies (Primae Noctis? Not a real thing. Robert The Bruce? Good guy.) the pipers are not one of them.
Or maybe they are, I mean Mel Gibson was making up most of this as he was going right? Its still a pretty decent film though I’d say.
Hot Rod (2007) Hot Rod is a very funny, sadly mostly forgotten film starring two members of The Lonely Island and a few SNL alumni. Andy Samberg, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Will Arnett, Isla Fisher and Ian McShane all show up as part of a phenomenal cast in this comedy about a useless stuntman. One of the highlights of the movie occurs near the end where a riot breaks out to the tune of ‘You’re the Voice’ the 1986 John Farnham song. If you know the song you know it features bagpipes and a group of pipers show up in the scene! Its very funny and worth your time tracking down the film on Netflix.
Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness (1993) Considering the notorious nature of the first Evil Dead (one of the so called “video nasties” of the 1980s) Army of Darkness is a relatively light hearted adventure film. Directed by Spiderman director Sam Raimi the film sank without a trace at the box office upon its release before building a skid cult following over the years. The scene in question sees an army of the dead march towards battle with special effects reminiscent of the legendary special effects creator Ray Harryhausen. In it (possibly Scottish) skeletons can be seen playing bagpipes in a weird but striking visual. Check it out in the video below, another film well worth tracking down on Netflix:
Thats all for today but we’ll pop another blog up about bagpipes showing up in movies again over the next week or so.
It was in the press over a week ago but the story of London Mayor Boris Johnson’s introduction of a new “code of conduct” for those playing bagpipes could be seen as a the first step to getting them banned from London entirely! Street musicians that create “piercing sounds like bagpipes” will be forced to move regularly or move to locations with “no flats, offices, shops or hotels.”
The new rules classify bagpipe music as a “repetitive loud sound” that can become annoying quickly which is pretty insulting to the performers. Further many London buskers see this as the first step to introducing a licensing scheme for busking.
Interestingly Alastair Campbell, of all people, has revealed himself to have been a bagpiping busker in his younger days. The former communications director at 10 Downing Street, the man that was a least part of the inspiration for Malcolm Tucker from the Thick of It, came out in protest and stated that he was “a great supporter of buskers in towns and cities.”
To silence the sound of Scottish pipers in London would be a great shame for the atmosphere and culture of the city A spokeswoman for the mayor of London stated: “Bagpipers are very welcome in London and we have many fantastic players. We also welcome feedback on the code of conduct.” So we will have to wait and see where this goes long term.
Now on a lighter note lets leave you with some of Peter Capaldi’s best rants.
Remember the Unipiper? The viral video bagpiper with a panache for dressing up as characters such as Darth Vader, whilst playing bagpipes and riding a unicycle? We spoke about him a couple of weeks ago in a blog post that can be found here. He’s back again, keeping Portland weird, and taking advantage of the hype surrounding the upcoming ‘Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens’ (Christmas can’t come soon enough!) In this video he can be found dressed as the BB-8 Droid from the trailer, you know this guy:
Here the Unipiper is found in the same car park from previous videos, with “Keep Portland Weird” in the background. As ever he has flames coming out of his bagpipes which is as impressive as ever (how does he do that?) It’s also pretty impressive how he manages to keep balanced on a glorified beach ball for the entire video. Pretty sure most of us would end up falling over by the end of the minute long video.
Check it out here:
We would love to know if anyone does any videos like this a bit closer to home, a Scottish Piper doing something a wee bit creative like this feels like a viral video hit n the making! Let us know in the comments if you’ve seen anyone else perform a routine like this that you’ve enjoyed, till then #MayTheFourthBeWithYou.
So you’ve hired a piper for your wedding or event but you’re worried that you’re not going to know any of the music. You don’t mind a few classics but you’d like a few numbers with a bit more of a modern spin on them, worry not! Help is at hand as we offer an exhaustive exploration of modern(ish) chart hits covered on the bagpipes.
Taylor Swift – Shake it off
Not sure what makes this guy the “Official” Taylor Swift bagpipe cover artist (hint: his imagination) but here he is covering this insanely catchy hit from last year. Looking at the guys youtube page few pop starlets escape a cover, your mileage may vary to how successful you find it but theres no doubt he’s putting a unique spin on some of your favourite tracks. Such as…
Katy Perry- Dark Horse
What, no Firework?
Pharrell Williams – Happy
This guys Batman mask is giving us happy flashbacks to the unicycling, fire breathing, Darth Vader that was mentioned here a few weeks ago. You know, this guy:
(Happy #StarWarsDay everyone!)
Whilst visually he can’t compete with the guy keeping Portland weird he makes a good try of it and at least its a cover of the Pharrell hit from the last couple of years we actually like (i.e. not Blurred Lines.)
John Legend – All of Me
This guy wins points for performing this right next to the Clyde in the centre of Glasgow, we like a hometown boy. Big fans of the original and this cover is well worth a listen if you get the chance!
Metallica – Enter Sandman
Ok this one’s a bit of a cheat, being that the song is coming up to it’s 25th anniversary (way to make us feel old passage of time!) but this is pretty cool. The band are called Dudeldrum, they’re from Russia and their musical genre is described as Bagpipe Folk by Youtube, not the kind of band you come across everyday!
Of course if none of these acts are doing it for you maybe its best to stick with the classics. The Elite Bands piper Stuart is available for all sorts of events and functions and can be found here: http://www.elitebands.co.uk/scottish-piper
Whilst he may not cover Metallica or Taylor Swift he adds a touch of class whatever the occasion.
Spent a cold but very worthwhile Sunday wandering around the Garden of Cosmic Speculation in Dumfries, south of Glasgow. The garden is private but usually opens on one day each year through Scotland’s Gardens Scheme and raises money for Maggie’s Centres, a cancer care charity named for Maggie Keswick Jencks, the late wife of the gardens designer Charles Jencks. Yesterday hundreds of people braved a very wet and chilly Sunday afternoon to come down and have a wander around. Why is the place such a big deal? Check out some of these pictures:
Pretty incredible right?
It’s easily one of the most beautiful and unique places I’ve seen in Scotland (which is saying something) and the hours flew by exploring the 30 or so acres of the garden.
There was also some musical entertainment to be found including a local choir and (probably unsurprising based on the theme of the blog on Scottish wedding pipers) a group of young pipers entertaining the crowds of people that had come down for the day. It was a wonderful experience walking around the garden to the tune of Amazing Grace by the group of pipers, unfortunately I didn’t get a recording (although I noticed a few others in the crowd that were recording.) If I find a recording I’ll make sure to post it onto the blog sooner rather than later.
Rock music and bagpipes aren’t necessarily something you’d naturally associate with one another but heres a coupleof examples where the two distinctly different musical genres made great music together.
AC/DC – ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock N Roll)’
AC/DC always have a strong connection to Scotland, key members the Young brothers Angus and Malcolm were born in Glasgow before moving to Australia at a young age, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to see bagpipes sneaking into one of their biggest hits. ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock N Roll)’ featured original singer, the legendary Bon Scott on Bagpipes, producer George Young having heard that Scott had previously been in a pipe band asked him to add some to the track. The story goes that whilst it was true Scott had been in a pipe band in the past he had actually been a side drummer and never played bagpipes before! Check out the classic song and its video here:
Dropkick Murphys – ‘I’m Shipping Up To Boston’
Pretty much anything by the Dropkick Murphys will have a least a hint of bagpipes in it but for us this is the benchmark. The lyrics about a sailor that lost his leg and is heading to Boston to find a wooden leg were actually written years beforehand by country music legend Woody Guthrie and adapted into this classic. Probably their best known track thanks to its inclusion in the Martin Scorsese directed, Jack Nicholson staring classic ‘The Departed,’ ‘I’m Shipping Up To Boston’ kicks ass! It will probably live forever thanks to its ubiquity at sports games and St Patricks day celebrations. Listen to it here:
These are just two examples so what have we missed? You tell us in the comments section below.
Check out this piper, he’s the Elite Bands Pipe Major, Stuart! This Scottish wedding piper looks the part and is one of the best Pipers we’ve come across in Scotland and is available for weddings, functions and corporate events. Check out this video of Stuart performing solo here:
With a little bit of exploring on YouTube we also found this 10 piece pipe band also available through Elite Bands. This tartan wearing ensemble perform at weddings, functions and corporate events and give an amazingly traditional feel to any Scottish or Scottish themed day or evening. We’re big fans, can you imagine having this at your wedding? It would add a special, prestigious moment to your big day!
Both of the Pipe Major and the 10 piece pipe band can be booked through Elite Bands website, specifically through the band checker which allows the booker to know instantly whether or not the act will be available for the dates they are looking for! Elite Bands can be found here: http://elitebands.co.uk and more details about the Piper can be found here: http://elitebands.co.uk/scottish-piper
What do you guys think? Send us some videos of your favourite pipers in the comments section below.
People may just think booking a piper is just booking a piper, however there are more options than you might realise. If you are in the market for something a little different to a classic piper here are a few options you could take into consideration.
If you are looking for a little showmanship how about the self proclaimed “Badpiper?” This flame throwing, tattooed punk looks like he wandered off the set of Mad Max and has been delighting crowds around the world for over 15 years. He’s just maybe not one for your granny. Search YouTube and you’ll find The Badpiper performing his take on rock standards by AC/DC and Queen as well as his own signature tunes. His bagpipes spit fire in the process, resulting in some awesome visuals that your guests wouldn’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Looking for something a little more surreal? Portland’s Unipiper is the guy that looked at The Badpipers flaming bagpipes and said “I can do more with this.” This video of a man, dressed in Darth Vader cosplay, a kilt, on a unicycle playing the Star Wars theme on his set of fire spitting bagpipes is probably the best thing you’ll see on the internet today….
….unless that is, you’re more of a Game of Thrones fan.
Not sure if he’s available for bookings but he’d certainly bring a memorable amount of of weirdness to the day. Altthough, again, maybe not one for your gran.
Closer to home when speaking about pipers its hard not to mention The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, one of the highest profile pipe bands in the world. They made their name performing a combination of traditional pipe tunes and contemporary pieces, covering music an eclectic mix of music from Deep Purple to Snow Patrol to Gangnam Style (!?)
Would they play at your wedding? You never know, but you’d have to book early. These guys are in high demand having played around the world not to mention a few times at T in the Park too.
Of course if these ideas aren’t for you theres always Elite Bands’ handpicked piper, Stuart looks the part and is one of the best Scottish wedding pipers out there.
Stuart is the pipe major of the elite pipe band, the best sounding pipe band on the planet (if we do say so ourselves!) Depending on what you’re looking for the company Elite Bands can provide you a solo piper or the full pipe band, that will keep you (and your granny) happy. Head here for more details: http://elitebands.co.uk/band/elite-piper