Starting Drone


Well there was an interesting story in the Croatian Times (and lots of other places on the internet, all using the same text but this one having several photos with it as well) about the boss of ‘Third Man Tours’, Peter Ryborg, in

the sewers under Austria’s capital Vienna. Apparently

the tours had been closed down on health and safety

grounds because of the enormous numbers of sewer

rats. But now they’re on again because of “the squeal

of Scots bagpipes from a kilted piper” who

accompanies the tour parties. It would appear that the noise of the pipes is enough to scare away all the rats and you can hear the progress of the tour by the music wafting up out of the drains! Fair enough, but although the accompanying picture clearly shows a guy in a kilt, he’s not playing Scottish pipes at all, but a set from central France. Five out of ten for effort I would say, Marija Andric…

The Bagpipe Society, along with the Northumbrian Pipers’ Society and the Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society, have made a substantial (£500 each) donation to Matt Seattle to help him produce a new edition of ‘The Master Piper’, his publication of the 1733 William Dixon manuscript of bagpipe music. Matt has been gathering a lot of additional material on the tunes since the last edition of

2002 and envisions a re-writing rather than a simple re-printing of the work. As it is the oldest example of a collection of bagpipe music from the British Isles, supporting its re- publication is well within the remit of the Bagpipe Society and we will be receiving 10 copies from Matt in any case which will cover part at least of our donation.

The committee is currently discussing what to do with our funds resting in our US bank account - which is more or less redundant since we introduced membership fee payment via Paypal, but which is subject to the ongoing bank charges this type of account attracts in the States. We are looking at making a donation of possibly all the funds to the Van Jackman Memorial Fund which is administered by the Pipers’ Gathering Inc. and which is being set up to assist young people wishing to learn Scottish and Northumbrian smallpipes, by hiring instruments and assisting them in attending workshops etc. This seems to be well within the purpose of the Bagpipe Society and as the money in the account was generated in the USA it seems fitting to use it there…

On Saturday the 15th of January the Widders Border Morris hosted a get together on the English / Welsh border half way across the bridge over the river

Wye in Chepstow. Once again I had the pleasure

of leading the Welsh contingent of a trio of Mari

Lwyds and a crowd of Welsh Morris teams,

playing ‘Meillionen’ on the pipes but this time

accompanied by clarinet and several drummers.

The English side consisted of wassailers and

Morris dancers. A fine time was had by all, but

during the proceedings I was approached by an

old chap who must have been in his seventies

who told me his grandfather had told him that

his (the grandfather’s) uncle used to play the

Welsh bagpipe on the Gower in the late 1800s.

Unfortunately in the heat of the moment I didn’t

get any names, but this, if true, delays the disappearance of traditional Welsh piping by several decades. It’s worth noting that the Gower is only a short distance from the Neath valley where piping is said to have lasted until round about 1850, and like it, is a fairly self-contained community.

Incidentally, the event celebrates ‘Hen Galan’, Old New Year which takes place officially on the 13th. This is because it is a hang-over from the days of the Julian calendar which changed to the Gregorian in 1752, and is still celebrated in a few places in Wales such as Cwm Gwaun in Pembrokeshire.

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