Lidl £12.99 Bagpipes

Bagpipes, Music, Piper

These have apparently been a thing since at least the start of the year! The supermarket Lidl has been selling inexpensive bagpipes for over half a year and in the Daily Record article I’m shamelessly taking a lot of my information from (an article that can be found here.) the director of the National Piping Centre, Alisdair McLaren, had positive things to say about them! He said;

“A basic set of pipes costs around £700 so at £12.99 they are definitely worth the money, even though the sound is more like what you would get from a practice chanter.

“They are a bit of fun and if a young person then wants to learn the pipes properly that can only be a positive thing.”

Can’t argue with that, the price of a basic set could scare off a lot of people before they’ve even begun to take up the pastime. Hopefully the introduction of a cheaper alternative will help a few people to pick the bagpipes up, keep piping alive and well and maybe introduce us to some new Scottish wedding pipers down the road.

The video below see’s the Scottish National Youth Pipe Band try them out and have fun in the process:

What do you think about the Lidl pipes? Have you had an opportunity to play them yourselves? Are they any good or a bit rubbish? As ever feel free to let us know in the comments below.

 

Wedding entertainment: Some statistics.

Bagpipes, Music, Piper, Wedding, Wedding music

I was looking at wedding music statistics today (as you do) and found these one’s to be pretty shocking. Statistics I found on the St. Louis Bride and Groom website, taken from sources such as USA Today and The Knot suggest that almost 100% of brides they spoke to would, if they could do things again, spend more money when it came to choosing the entertainment for their wedding. 72% of those brides said they would spend a significantly larger amount of time choosing their musical performers. Finally 81% said that the main thing they remembered about their reception was the entertainment they chose.

Choosing a Scottish wedding piper for your wedding can be a time consuming business but these statistics definitely show that it will be time well spent. Don;t leave it until the last minute and don’t underestimate the importance of getting a really good piper to play. We can recommend Stuart (who can be found here: http://elitebands.co.uk/scottish-piper ) however if you have anyone you’d like to recommend make sure to do so below in the comments!

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More famous songs covered on bagpipes.

Bagpipes, Music, Musical Covers, Piper, the Flinstones, Wedding, Wedding music

Here’s another collection of songs you are probably familiar with that you wouldn’t expect to see covered on bagpipes and certainly wouldn’t expect to see on a blog about Scottish wedding pipers!

The Flintstones theme song

Do they still show the Flintstones on TV? I have vivid memories of watching it as a kid along with about fifty other Hanna-Barbera shows that used to cheaply fill up kids television.

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I’m also old enough to have begged my dad to take me to see the 1994 movie complete with Agent Dale Cooper as the villian and the terrible B-52s cover of the theme. It doesn’t take much but the video below is certainly a more enjoyable cover than that one ever was:

(And for comparisons sake here’s the B-52s version. I’m very sorry.)

If I can make some requests I’d like to hear some more kids TV show themes covered, in particular Thundercats, The Pink Panther and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. MAKE IT HAPPEN INTERNET!

Game of Thrones theme

I’d like to do some research and see if any Scottish pipers actually show up in the show. Living in Glasgow I’ve seen half the cast out drinking over the years, I’ve seen the actor that plays Sandor Clegane on a few occasions, he’s intimidating looking man!

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Game of Thrones is a good show to do a bagpipe video for, the theme fits and the success of the show means that you can rack up the youtube hit count. This is a pretty cool video in my opinion so be sure to check it out!

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah 

We’ll finish with one I never thought I would see, a cover of a song that depending on your vintage you may know from Leonard Cohen (the writer of the song,) Jeff Buckley or Alexandra Burke. Or from 5 years of terrible X-Factor auditions.

Hopefully Leonard got a nice retirement check out of it all.

Personally I’m a big fan of the original Cohen version without all the historic of the X-Factor cover but your mileage may vary. I think the band covering it are from Russia but I’m not 100% sure but, well, it’s something different right?

Have you seen any cool cover versions done on bagpipes? Let me know in the comments below! Also check out the Elite Bands pipe major here: http://elitebands.co.uk/scottish-piper

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Common questions about Bagpipes

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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).

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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.
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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.

Don’t silence the pipers!

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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.

The Unipiper returns!

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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:

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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.

5 modern(ish) songs covered on Bagpipes

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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:

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(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.

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Bagpipes in Rock Music

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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)’

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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’

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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.

Alternative ideas for Wedding Pipers

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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.

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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

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