Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year from Ray

New Year's Eve.

Ray is home from hospital and doing very well, with Helen fussing over him as usual !!!!

He sends New Year's greetings to all.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

"The Sound"

Hi all

It's Andy T. Just a quick response to Y Angus comments on the sound of the Pipes. I must say that at the pitch here, 468, possibly a couple of hertz less, they are definitely louder, with a full nice sound. I have left my drone reeds, but they are tuning extremely high. I think if I was here longer I would re-adjust them, but they sound fine so why fiddle!

What I will say is, for wet blowers, it's a must to have a canister. I have played for about 3 hours since I have arrived, and have nuked the granules as they were soaking. So far it's been a great experience to play them in a totally different environment. I think it can only help with the whole learning process.

Angus's can I have the 300 tunes pdf to me on, just to practice some of the new tunes. I didn't have enough room to carry my music book!

To Andy Tina & Lochie I hope the moving process is going well, keep in touch.

Well I'm off to another evening of drink and ale......ah holidays
For those of you who know me well, this is a photo of me at the Worlds oldest Football (soccer) ground. It wouldnt be interesting to most people.

Regards Andy T

Friday, December 26, 2008

Xmas Photos

Piping up to Norton Hall!

That's what i call a Turkey.

Piping at the front of Norton Hall. Kate's parents' apartments, are the top 5 windows, to the left of the photo. It truly is a scene from Agatha Christie. I'll constantly update.

Regards Andy T

Merry Xmas All

Hi all, it's Andy T.
We arrived in the UK Tues morning, very cold, still trying not to wake up in the middle of the night. Had a wonderful Xmas day, trad Turkey and plenty of ale consumed.
I will add some photos in the next couple of days. I Piped yesterday for the residents of Norton Hall Sheffield, the place where Kate's parents live. It is a big old Manor building converted into apartments. Tuning up here is quite different. I let my pipes stay in the landing for a day to acclimatise themselves. Yesterday I was tuning at 468. They sounded fine after half hour or so. I must say the older Yorkshire men love the pipes - they even knew Leaving Liverpool!
Like I say I'll get some pics up soon.
Aye for noo
Andy T

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Duty of Care

A comment on the uniform discussion attracted my notice, and think this needs to be brought out as a separate issue --- and that's the Duty of Care the band has to its members.

The wording in question is "9. Sunglasses- this should really be looked at as a band. Cannot understand why not allowed to wear. I struggle in direct sunlight. I am told prescription glasses only. "

I hope that this is simply a misunderstanding and that we don't have anyone in the band who would be archaic enough in their thinking to instruct someone not to wear sunglasses, since this is a very simple safety issue and the current OH&S legislation means that we need to take our Duty of Care to all members seriously (ie anyone saying 'no sunglasses' would be opening themselves and the band to legal action).

The official message can be found on the cancer council Australia web page, but the important parts are that the cancer council says we all should

  1. Slip on some sun-protective clothing – that covers as much skin as possible
  2. Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  3. Slap on a hat – that protects your face, head, neck and ears
  4. Seek shade
  5. Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards
And then they go on with more detail on sunglasses to speak about not using the fashion glasses (they provide no protection) but to make sure sun glasses meet the Australian Standards 1067:2003 with at least category 2, and preferably 3 protection. Clearly to ignore this advice is to put people at risk. And to add a private note to this ---- at a recent visit to the opticians I was told I have bad sunburn damage to the top of my eyes from ground reflected sunlight and told to wear sunglasses when driving or if outside for more than a few minutes. I fully intend to follow this advice from now on.

Having said all that ... there in one exception that I would ask. About once a year we take a formal group photo, and really would ask everyone to remove sunglasses for that photo so we can see all the faces!

Also you may have noticed that I wear a broadbrimmed hat when not playing, that there is always sunscreen for general use in the back of my car ... and that I stick to the shade in warm weather. These are simple matters, but would recommend all to follow the guidance as much as possible.


On a related issue there is the question of playing in hot weather. The official stance is from Sports Medicine Australia and the important table is

Temperature Risk of Heat illness Recommended management
15 - 20 Low Heat illness can occur in running. Caution over-motivation
21 - 25 Low - moderate Increase vigilance. Caution over-motivation
26 - 30 Moderate - high Moderate early pre-season training
Reduce intensity and duration of play/training
Take more breaks
31 - 35 High - very high Uncomfortable for most people
Limit intensity, take more breaks
Limit duration to less than 60 minutes
36 + Extreme Very stressful for most people
Postpone to cooler conditions /cooler part of the day/cancel

Now these are general guidance for adult males, and they say children, woman, folk over 65, or folks with certain complaints such as asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, overweight etc are even worse effected by the heat. Also they say that the guidelines are general (for amateur sport), and of course don't deal with the specifics of a Pipe Band (they recommend getting a specialist to provide an analysis for each specific sport/ activity).
So what do we do? Well the carrying of water is essential (they say need to drink 500mm per hour) and over the last couple of years I've used as my guage the TOTAL TIME we can tune up and play in a day is determined by the temperature. Below about 30C the real issue is simply the fitness of our players ---- but there is no duty of care issue other than looking for any signs of stress on the players. At 31-35C the sports medicine folk suggest it's an hour for fit men but given we have some members in the higher risk groups I try to keep this to 45 minutes. At above 35 the best advice is to cancel, but this isn't always possible ... so within the band will try to keep below 30 minutes total, and below 15 minutes total for a temperate at 40C. I believe that these rules of thumb should be enough to meet our duty of care.

Now I am aware that in the past this band (in common with most organisations) didn't worry about these things and has done some strange things --- eg we used to have our sleeves rolled up in hot weather, which is totally against modern thinking due to our understanding of the skin cancer risk. We clearly can't undo the errors on the past, but we do need to abide with the rules and guidance available for the future.

Any comments?


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Update on Ray

Ray continues to make good progress, and sends his regards and best wishes for Christmas to all our members.

This bedside shot was taken on Saturday (20th Dec) .

Old Angus

Saturday, December 20, 2008


To All,

Tina, Lachie and I would just like to pass on our thanks to everyone for making our time in the Band a memorable and enjoyable time.
Angus Snr, I'd like to say thankyou so much for teaching me, thanks for your patience and time, you are definitely an excellent teacher. I wish both you and Flora well.
To Angus Jnr, Peter and Willie, thankyou all for teaching me, and assisting me with my Pipes and taking the time to pass on your knowledge and skills. It is greatly appreciated.
When I left my Squadron my Senior Engineering Officer gave me a lot of praise regarding my Piping over in the Middle East and here at home at the Dining in Nights we have here. He said that I introduced something new to the squadron that they had never seen before and commented on how uplifting, and morale boosting it was.
I would not have been able to achieve this if it wasn't for all you people teaching me.

Tina wanted to say to David, Ray, Marshall, Isobel, Steve, Liz, Deanne & Ted (who hopefully will read this!) thank you. I've learnt so much from you all, but more important to me has been the friendships - I wouldn't have enjoyed my time in the band as much if not for the very people who made it welcoming, and I'm sure that all new members will feel the same way I felt - that being part of the drum corps was like being part of family. I can only hope that the next band will be half as good as the CEPB.

So in closing, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year. Also we wish you all the best for next year's competitions and engagements.
We will stay in contact and let you all know how we are progressing in our new band, via the Blog.

All the best,

Tina, Lachie and Andy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ray's progress

Ray, our veteran bass drummer, is now out of intensive care after his five hour operation to remove a pancreatic cancer.

Helen reports that he is cheery and doing very well. He will probably be in the Lyell McEwin Hospital for another two or three weeks.

Old Angus

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More on our proposed uniform

There is a proposition that we should perhaps have a look at what the City of Adelaide are wearing.

This might help members to remember what that particular uniform looks like.

What should our uniform look like?

As some of you may know, a small group of our members is working up a proposal for how the band's uniform should evolve. They are planning to develop a proposal to put to the band in the new year, but I think this is far too important to be left to a few people.

Given this I’ve decided to let everyone know that the future uniform is being considered, and to open up the Blog as a forum to gather opinions.

In order to get the discussions started I thought it would be good to remind everyone of how our uniform has altered over the years, and to give some thoughts as to the future. However this is mainly a call for input from everyone --- so please let us know what you think.


History of our uniform

I don’t intend to go through every variation we have used, but will use our band's archive pages as a quick way to show that we do keep changing things -- and that there is nothing ‘special’ about what we have right now.

Lets start off with the band in 1973. This pictures shows the pipers have dark diced sock with barrel flashes, buckles on the shoes, Balmoral Hats with hackles, and that we have dress jackets, tartan pipe bags, dark ties and the Royal Stewart kilts. The drummers wore Glengarry hats, pink half hose and gaiters … and the Bass Drummer had a ‘leopard skin’ rather than a jacket since the drum was slung high in those days and you couldn’t swing the sticks high enough with those jackets

Then in 1975 we moved over to a full dress
. Here we have all the band in plaids, cross belts, full jacket and Glengarrys. The pipers wear cock-feathers and black Glengarrys whilst the drummers wear red hackles in diced Glengarry.

However the full uniform was usually too much too wear and usually dropped the plaids giving us a look closer to what we had in 1973 …

And even that was quite hot, so we introduced the shirts ---pipers did retain the cock feathers and cross belts, but we didn't wear ties, and the shirts sleeves were often folded up

In 1977 we had a very relaxed uniform for a while … but somehow don't think we really should go back to it. Or there again, I can think of a couple of pipers in the band who might favour this look ;-)

Then for the 1981 Adelaide Highland Games we added the Stewart ties and the epaulettes, dropped the cross belts and you have something very close to the current street march look.

Then the band went to sleep for a while …. And nothing really changed until 2005 when we introduced the blue pipe bags, leather sporrans, white socks and red flashes

In 2006 we updated the shirts (keeping the same look --- really the old shirts were just worn out -- though we did have strong lobby to move over to blue shirts), and since then we did change the socks.

The final minor change is that a few months back we added the water bottle and that brings us up to date


As for the future direction -- well that’s a question that needs to be discussed.

Think that the starting point would be should we keep the pipe and drum corps dressed differently (ie hats etc) … and must admit that I lean towards having everyone dressed the same.

However the most expensive question is likely to be a jacket. Truth is that we don’t play outside in the cold that much , and as such we have been getting away without one … but I do remember that freezing Anzac Day in Kapunda and that makes me lean towards having something warmer to wear. The current international trend is towards a waistcoat To me this looks very neat from the front and it is very comfortable to play in … but must admit that from the back it looks a bit half dressed. A simple jumper could be OK, or could return to the full heavy jackets, something along the lines of a dinner jacket, or perhaps could simply go for Inverness Capes (ie loosely the pipe band raincoat). They do keep out the wind and cold well enough for Australian conditions and are more traditional.

Hats are another interesting issue … I find that the Glengarry is too thin on top meaning I keep getting a sun burnt head. Ideally would like to argue for a broad brimmed hat (ie Akubra or even a slouch hat so doesn’t hit the drones) but they don’t really look right on a pipe band (ie not traditional Scottish) . Given this I lean towards the Balmoral (ie the flat bonnet we wore in the early 70s) as perhaps the better compromise, even though I know that they are very inclined to look a bit scruffy in a band.

Ties -- well the real question is whether we need them at all. I know that keeping the top button done up on a shirt can be a hassle for pipers, and the size variety within our band means that they can't all look the same. As such I could easily be convinced to dumping the ties, but don’t really have any strong feelings.

After that come the ‘jewellery’ such as cap badges, lanyards, kilt pins, tie pins, skean dhus, flashes etc and though I know most of the band like these things (ie many add bits and pieces to the uniform) I must admit to being a minimalist and as such would prefer not to have any of them. However getting back to reality, we currently have at least 4 different cap badges in use and think it would be a good idea to standardise on one type.


But think that’s enough said for the moment. Could go on about other items, but think you have enough to get an idea of the type of input that's needed.

The real question is what type of look does the band favour, and as such would appreciate comments. Can be verbal or via the Blog, named or anonymous.

Lets hear from you all -- after all its got to be the decision of all the playing members of the band.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Band's Constitution

Gather there has been some confusion within the band on some of our rules – and as such thought it would be appropriate to add a copy to the Blogg site as a reference.

The main points of confusion seem to be on membership (section 5), how the band is run (section 6) and the roles of the office holders (section 9)

I know that the 'pics' above are too small to be readable, but if you click on an individual page it will jump up to full size so you can read the writing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Greeting

It's been a while since I last logged in. Only a wee Christmas greeting fae us here in Tea Gardens.The weather here has been unpredictable, steamy hot one day and buckets the next. Still the tourists will be getting ready to invade, which will boost our local economy.

On behalf of Hilary and I we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Guid New Year

Bill & Hilary Gall

Sunday, November 30, 2008

City of Elizabeth Pipe Band in the Northern Argus Nov 26

Hi All
Here we are appearing in the Northern Argus Wed 26th Nov, Clare region newspaper, advertising this coming Friday's Clare Pageant.
Thanks to Carmela Mosey for sending this to me.
My workplace has some very strong family connections in the Clare region, so I encourage our continued support in this pageant, and it means I always get time off work to attend!
Andy T

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

At the risk of boring the audience ................

Drummond Castle Laundry.

This ancient castle is situated near Crieff in Perthshire. This polka was Composed by Ronald Meldrum and appeared in the Logan Collection of Pipe Music. Whatever was going on in the laundry we might never know, but it is a catchy and well-loved addition to the piper’s repertoire.

The Fairy Dance

This Reel was composed by the famous fiddler Natheniel Gow for the Fife Hunt Ball of 1802. The Fairy Dance is found under many names, including Rustic Dance (US), La Ronde des Vieux (Canada), Rinnce Na Sideoga (Eire), Daunse ny Farishyn (Isle of Man) and many other guises.

Gin I Were A Baron's Heir

This is a traditional air made more popular by the words added by Joseph William Holder (1764 - 1832).

Going Home.

This is a small extract from Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” which has proved irresistible to pipers because it works so well in our scale. It is often played at funerals and also as an element in the final bracket to be played at a band engagement.

Green Hills of Tyrol.

A popular tune among pipers and non-pipers alike, but strangely enough its origins were not as a pipe tune at all, but part of the opera “William Tell” by Rossini in 1829. It is not hard to imagine the catchy phrases of the overture appealing to a piper’s ear, and the resulting transcription has been universally
popular ever since. The composition for the pipes is normally attributed to Pipe Major J. MacLeod. In more recent times, Andy Stewart, the popular Scottish singer and comedian, put his own words to the tune, called it “The Scottish Soldier”, and consequently sat on top of the popular charts for months.

Lord Dunmore.

This traditional Jig is also known as “The Bride’s Jig”. The late Donald MacLeod added the third and fourth measures thus increasing the appeal to pipers and bands.

Marie's Wedding

This is another reasonably recent popular song which has become entrenched in the piper’s repertoire. Known also as the “Lewis Bridal Song” it was written by Sir Hugh Roberton.

Mary Darroch.

Composed by John MacLellan of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
This tune has not been published in any major collection to my knowledge but did appear in the little known “8th Argylls” book many years ago. A lovely waltz-tempo tune that can sound quite magical with seconds.

Miss Ishabell T. MacDonald

This tune is from Donald MacLeod’s Book 8, and was an instant hit with our pipers when we first introduced it in the 1980’s.

Mist Covered Mountains

A Gaelic song to a traditional melody called “Johnny Stays Long at the Fair“. The words were by Iain Cameron in 1856 and translated from the Gaelic by Malcolm MacFarlane.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And still a few more to go ................

A Man’s a Man For A’ That.

Here we have a traditional tune being touched by the magical pen of Robert Burns to become one of the best loved songs in the Scottish genre. A great poem and a memorable tune which has proved very popular with pipers. It is normally played as a 2/4 but we choose to play it as a 4/4.

Aspen Bank.

This tune appears in some of the earliest collections of pipe music (sometimes under the title “Aspin Bank”, and also in such prestigious collections as Queens Own, Scots Guards, and Gordon Highlanders. A delightful tune from which to appreciate the structure of the traditional strathspey.

The Black Bear.

This enormously popular and catchy tune has traditionally been used, in the Highland regiments, to march troops “back to barracks” at the end of the soldiers’ day. Consequently it very often appears in the final “marching off” bracket for pipes bands the world over.

The Blackberry Bush.

The first two measures of this reel are traditional, and the third and fourth were added by the brilliant composer the late Pipe Major Donald MacLeod. The transformation into four parts has focused a lot more attention on this tune by pipe bands looking for this element of the competition MSR.

Bonnie Dundee.

Words by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) Music by Dr. E.E. Rimbault.

John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount of Dundee, led the Jacobites in the Rising of 1689 and was killed at the end of the Battle of Killiecrankie, just as his forces were carrying the day.

Bonnie Galloway (strictly Bonnie Gallowa’)

A popular song from the Scottish Borders, extolling the beauty of one of Scotland’s border counties. It is now accepted by pipers as their very own – a simple tune to finger, and a pleasure to march to.

Brown Haired Maiden.

A traditional and ever-popular song which pipers the world over have happily embraced.

Horo, my nut brown maiden

Hiri, my nut brown maiden

Horo, ro maiden

For she's the maid for me.

Her eye so mildly beaming

Her look so frank and free

In waking and in dreaming

Is evermore with me.

Campsie Hills.

Composed by Drum Major Robert Bruce of the Gordon Highlanders.

This delightful tune was written in memory of the composer’s father-in-law who lies buried below these lovely hills which lie north of Glasgow and between Killearn and Kilsyth. Drum Major Bruce now lies buried in the same spot.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ploughing on through our repertoire.

Haughs o' Cromdale

A battle took place in 1690, in which a Jacobite force was routed on the low ground (haughs) at Cromdale in Morayshire by government forces. The tune has long been a favourite with Highland Regiments and is often played as a four-parter.

The High Road to Linton.

A classic reel, originally of only two parts. The additional two measures cropped up from goodness knows where round about 1975 as I recall. Linton is a small community near Kelso in Scotland.

Highland Cathedral.

This is a very recent tune, with instant appeal to the Scottish piper’s ear, even though it was composed by a German !! I have a fear that this tune might become a bit hackneyed in the way that Amazing Grace has, and fall out of favour with pipers as a result.

Highland Laddie.

An ancient and evergreen tune, the earliest written record of which goes back to the 1650’s. It has a checkered history in terms of the innumerable sets of words attached to it; some outrageously bawdy, other highly topical or political. However, it is now firmly entrenched as a favourite bagpipe march, and it would be rare to hear it sung.

Itchy Fingers.

This is an example of a genre that has made big inroads into the piping scene, particularly with younger players. The tunes are fast, catchy, and a challenge for the performer. This particular tune enjoyed huge popularity for a few years after it first appeared, but would appear to have faded gracefully into obscurity of late.

Jock Wilson’s Ball.

An excellent little traditional reel, the origins of which are unknown. It is a good example of the “question and reply” construction of the bagpipe reel.

Killiecrankie (strictly The Braes o’ Killiecrankie)

The Battle of Killiecrankie was fought in 1689 in the first Jacobite Uprising in 1689 (those in 1715 and 1745 are more well known). Casualties on both sides were considerable. John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee (Clavers), led the charge against General Hugh MacKay and won the day, but died in the battle.

Lady MacKenzie of Fairburn.

Fairburn is located near the village of Marybank, about 35 minutes drive from Inverness. It is certainly right in the heart of MacKenzie country, but we have no information on this particular Lady. A great little tune by any measure.

Leaving Liverpool.

This song is also know as “Farewell to You My Own True Love” and is an emigrant’s farewell as he prepares to sail to California. Bob Dylan popularized this traditional slow air, and pipers have adapted the melody into a popular march.

Liberton Polka.

Liberton is on the outskirts of Edinburgh, and close to Craigmillar Castle -another well-known pipe tune. But I suspect that this has nothing to do with this tune – which is almost certainly Irish in origin. It is sung under the title "Let's Have a Ceilidh" in Scottish circles, but it goes under other disguises, such as :

"The Caubeen", "The Auld Caubeen", "The Caubeen Trimmed With Blue", "The Liberton Polka", "The Liberton Boys", "The Liberton Pipe Band", "The Maids of Ardagh" and "The Back of the Hazard"

So take your pick. It is a punchy and pleasant little tune no matter what you decide to name it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Australian Pipe Band Championships

The Australian Pipe Band Championships were held in Castle Hill, NSW yesterday.
Congratulation to City of Adelaide who won Grade 2!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tanunda 2008


In reality the band played well ---- by which I mean that it sounded much better than I expected on such a hot day. However Ringwood and SA are both currently stronger bands than we are, and as such I am happy to come 3rd to them this year -- but we are improving and if things go as I hope then I think we should be a truly competitive Grade 4 band by this time next year. So Tanunda 2009 should see us hunting for a higher placing, and as such we need to look at where we can improve.

So what were the main points for us the remember from the weekend?

Well, on the positive side strengthening some key chanter reeds allowed us to get much better tone than last year, the expression in the main tunes has improved a lot , the drone sound is much more solid and we had pretty clean finishes. The time we spent on setting the chanters (truer and flatter) on Tuesday really paid off .. … don’t believe we would’ve been able to keep going if the 35C temperature had been allowed to pull up the pitch any higher. (so, thanks Dad for this effort ). I also think that water bottles will soon be seen as essential for all street marches in the future and suspect will see other band using them by next summer! And of course getting Jason, Gordon and Steve blooded on the contest arena was also a worthwhile investment into our future.

On the negative side there are still far too many slips and errors in the tunes (need to concentrate more – and watch fingers more closely), and we had a couple of bad starts. Will let you hear the recording later, but it's interesting that the biggest issues seem to be when we are marking time (perhaps meaning that we don’t do that often enough - or could just be initial nerves) and with the more heavily pointed tunes (eg Dark Island and Liberton Polka) still not together, and that in general the playing got more solid as each set proceeded. And unfortunately this may well be Gordon's last engagement with us --- his work contract finishes at the end of the month so he is heading home to Geelong.

So what should we focus on next? Well for the pipers it comes down to
  • MAKE LESS ERRORS !!!!!!!!!
  • More accurate expression --- we need to have every dot and cut exactly together. To do this it's essential we all watch fingers. In a circle I try to get a pair of strong pipers at the heart and at the two ends -- they stare at each others fingers and everyone else needs to lock into those 4.
  • Better attacks. In particular need to get the first E coming in accurately and together.
  • Tighter embellishments. Need to get gracenotes and doublings being played together
  • Better blowing. In particular we are getting too much variation in the sound of B, D and high A (and sometimes other notes). Listen to those around you and try to lock in.

Having said that, I think that the attacks are probably the best thing to target now since this shouldn't be too hard to get right --- so think will focus on this for the rest of this year :>


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sherryl was out and about yesterday and took quite a few photos. I've included a selection here for your enjoyment.

Scotch College performance at the Tanunda Rotunda

Our Mini Band

Full Band

Massed Bands

The Street March - 2nd Place Our best result for the day

Scotch and Elizabeth Bands march together

Barossa Band Festival Results

For those that didn't see the master sheet from yesterday, here it is. I'll bring all the comment sheets to practice next week. Overall I think we did pretty much as expected. Even though there were a few problems I thought we sounded better than we have before, but then the other bands are improving also. I'm sure Angus will give you the run down next week.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A sad loss

I have just had word that Murry Montgomery, Mt Barkers Pipe Band Drum Major for many many years has passed on this morning. I will post details of funeral as they are known. Murry was a very close friend of mine and was the MC at Davids and my wedding. He was always a very friendly and welcoming man and had a very hard time over the last couple of years. We will miss him greatly.

Also for those who know him... Jimmy Stevenson from Queensland passed on last week. He ws a member of the Queensland Highland Pipers' Society.

Sue & David Kempster

***Wednesday 22 Oct 2pm Carr & Kleeman, 1 Morphett St Mt Barker

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Funerals through Scottish eyes

To continue on the cheery subject of funerals, it is a fact that the Scots have a worldwide reputation for being the only race that can generate humour from such occasions.

A couple of my favourites:

Conversation overheard at the graveside: "It came as a terrible shock ....... I thought he died years ago!"

And another: "He didn't die of anything really; he was a hypochondriac !"

I'm sure there are plenty more you can add.

Old Angus

Symbolism at Military Funerals

There is some remarkable symbolism attached to service funerals. You may have seen this on film, television or even experienced it at a service.This is only a small brief explanation of some of the more notable features of funerals.

Reverse Arms (Rifles - when the rifle is placed under the left arm pit on an angle with the butt of the rifle level with the left eye). The reverse arms are an acknowledgment of the shame of killing and was first used at the funeral of the Duke of Marlborough in 1722. Death puts the rifle to shame and the reversal of the barrel is a fitting sign of reverence.

The National Flag on the Casket. In token that the person died in the service of his country and that the nation takes the responsibility for what it ordered him or her to do.The Australia Flag is the appropriate flag for covering coffins of all Navy, Army and Air Force personnel.

The Three Volleys (The firing of blank rounds/bullets). These have been traced back as far as the funeral of Sir Phillip Sydney as being fired in the name of the Holy Trinity. An old superstition has it that the doors of men's hearts stand ajar at such a time and the volleys are fired into the air to ward off imaginary devils/evil spirits. The firing of volleys appeared in orders of 1573 where it was stated that matlocks (type of musket/rifle) would be fired over the graves.

The Last Post (Bugle Call). This call is well remembered during ANZAC and Armistice Days. It is also used in the military as the closing of the day. This call is the "Junc Dimittus" of the dead soldier, sailor or airman. The significance of the high ascending note with which it ends is one of hope and expectancy. It is the last bugle call, but it gives promise of reveille which ultimately the Archangel Gabriel will blow.

Most of this information can be found through the Australian War Memorial. Military Customs and Traditions were part of a Warrant Officers Class Two's Course in my day. I believe it's optional reading if the individual is interested these days.

Tea Gardens Bill

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Books of Interest

During my career serving under the Queen's and Regimental Colours I have read and collected some interesting reference books which I used at the Pipes and Drums School, School of Infantry, Singleton, NSW. I would like to share some of the titles with you should you be interested to purchase. The books are;

"The Highland Bagpipe and its Music", (new edition), by Roderick D. Cannon;
"Pipers", (a guide to the players and music of the Highland Bagpipe), by William Donaldson;
"The Piper in Peace and War", by C.A. Malcolm;
"Uniforms and History of Scottish Regiments", by Major R.M. Barnes.

And if you fancy tales of Jacobites, Clans and Pipers then , Stuart McHardy has a fine collection worth reading these are;
"The Silver Chanter", (pipers' tales); "The Well of Heads", (tales of Scottish Clans); and "The White Cockade", (Jacobite tales).

In Roderick Cannon's book "The Highland Bagpipe" he mentions that some years ago (1973), Thomas Pearston, a well-known piper and teacher, put forward an interesting list of the feelings associated with different notes. These are;

low G the loudest note;the note of the Gathering;
low A the piper's note;
B the chiming note, or note of challenge,
C the most musical note,
D the angry note, the note of battle,
E the echoing note,
F the note of love. Look out ladies, if he plays around the house playing only the F note,
high G the note of sorrow or lament, and
high A like low A, the piper's note.

I have experimented using this list when writing music. Angus (Snr) can comment on that. It's worth trying.

From the coast of NSW, Tea Gardens Bill

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

History of the Bagpipe.

"Counterpoint" on ABC Radio National this week featured an item on the history of the bagpipe.

If you have ten minutes to spare you may find it interesting.

Click here to hear the broadcast.

Old Angus

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Notes: From Military Customs & Traditions 2

The Military Funeral: In the time of King Henry VIII bands were not on establishment, but every body of fighting men boasted a party of "Drummers". King Henry directed that these instruments should be employed in funeral ceremonies for high ranking officers.

The coffin or cask was carried to the place of burial on a wagon normally used to move the heavy cannon of the period, because of the size and weight, and drawn by draught horses. The pace was scarcely above a crawl.

Behind the wagon marched a party of "Drummers" playing what was then called 'Dede Sounde' to a pace beat in keeping with the extremely slow rate of progress, of the wagon ahead.

Thus was born the 'Slow March' and 'Dead March' of the present time. Even over time as speedier vehicles were introduced, the original slow step was retained as more befitting the dignity of the occasion.

Next series,number 3 will cover, 'Symbolism at Funerals'.

Tea Gardens Bill WO1 P/D ceremonial (ret)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Notes from Military Customs and Traditions

Tune: "Dumbarton's Drums". During the period 1678 to 1704 pipers were officially placed on establishment in the Army and the Regimental March of Charles 1, known as "Dumbarton's Drums" was played. This tune dates back from the Colonelcy of Colonel Dumbarton, Earl of Dartmouton, during 1678 to 1684. It's interesting to note that the Seventeenth Century version is still played today and is the Regimental Quick March of Britain's Senior Infantry Regiment, "The Royal Scots" (The Royal Regiment).

Tiger and Leopard skins, so beloved by bass and tenor drummers had their origin among coloured performers of the day. The Drum Major also was adorned, and at one period something of a dancing devil in the centre of tremendous percussion din. I couldn't see Marshall as a period boot scooter.

Tea Gardens Bill

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A few more notes on our tunes.

Wae’s me for Prince Charlie

The song was a apparently a great favourite of Queen Victoria.

An interesting angle on the song is given by Alistair Hulett, the well-known Scottish folk singer. According to his belief -“Wae’s Me For Prince Charlie”, written by a Glasgow weaver called William Glen in the early 19th century, tells us much more about the plight of the labouring poor than it does about Bonnie Prince Charlie. It goes, “On hills that are by right his own he roams a lonely stranger/On ilka hand he’s pressed by want, on ilka side by danger.”

William Glen’s song can only be understood as a declaration of the misery that spurred weavers such as him to take on the capitalist class.

Willy-nilly, it is a pleasant little tune, and sits well on the pipes.

Waltzing Matilda.

In truth, this tune does not fit comfortably within the range of the bagpipe scale, so there is a little “cheating” going on to make it sound presentable. However, there is no tune more Australian, and it is a worthy addition to the local piper’s repertoire. It might be mentioned that the original melody was
Scottish, under the name “The Bonnie Woods O’ Craigielea” – but we should probably keep that quiet in the “Big Brown Land”. !

Westering Home.

This traditional song (sometimes known as “The Islay Song”) evokes the wistful longing of homesick sailors returning to Scotland perhaps from long voyages around the world. The tune is ancient and variations are found in “Bonnie Strathyre” and the more fast and furious “Muckin’ o’ Geordie’s Byre”.

When the Battle’s O’er.

Over the years this lovely retreat has almost become married to what is probably the most popular of all retreats – The Green Hills of Tyrol. They are, more often than not, played together. Sadly, the composer is unknown.

Wi’ a Hundred Pipers.

Traditional melody with words added by Lady Nairne (1766-1845) recounting an incident from the 1745 Jacobite Rising, when Scotland's Bonnie Prince Charlie led his army, accompanied by a hundred pipers, into Edinburgh and occupied the Castle.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More on our tunes.

Colin’s Cattle (Crodh Chaillean).

A haunting traditional Gaelic song, the words of which have been translated by Dr Alexander Stewart, allowing it to become firmly established in the folk singers’ repertoire. It has for a long time been played by discerning pipers and pipe bands.

Comin' Through the Rye.

The words are commonly associated with Robert Burns, but the tune is much older – in fact the original was probably a strathspey titled “The Miller’s Daughter”. Whatever its misty origins, the tune is now enormously popular with singers and pipers alike.

Corn Rigs.

A traditional melody with words by Robert Burns.

“Rigs” in this context simply means “fields”. Lammas is a period in August. The first verse is:

It was upon a Lammas night
When corn rigs are bonnie, O!
Beneath the moon's unclouded light
I held awa' to Annie, O!

The Crags of Tumbledown Mountain.

Composed by PipeMajor James Riddell of the Scots Guards to commemorate the battle that took place there during the Falklands War in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands.

The Danish Knifegrinder’s Spring Song.

This lovely air came into the piper’s repertoire in the 1970’s as I recall. Nobody can accuse the piping fraternity of not grabbing suitable material from any source !! I am sure the Danes would approve.

The Day We Went to Arran.

Composer – D. McPhedran.

It is easy to imagine that a trip to this beautiful island could inspire a piper to commemorate the visit with a lovely tune. Arran is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde, with a population of around 5,000. It is a very popular destination for tourists from the Glasgow area, and boasts spectacular scenery.

Old Angus

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree

Christmas isn't that far away, and there has been some pressure within the band to add something to our repertoire for use in the pageants. Well the most common tune locally is Jingle Bells but its been overplayed for many years and I don't really think it sounds that good on the Pipes anyway.

So, instead of that I have scribbled out "Oh Christmas Tree". We tried it out last week and sounds good, but for those who aren't around at the moment you can download the music from this link


PS and of course should give the background. O Tannenbaum is an old German tune, and the first version of the lyrics goes back to 1550. The tune is also used by the UK Labor party for their song -- in this version its called the Red Flag and uses words penned in 1889 by Jim Connell

Friday, September 26, 2008

A tune from a rare collection.

Back in late 1940's Capt Doug Thoreson, ex Pipe Major 4 RAR and 2/4 RAR was taught by Don Sergent of New Zealand. Doug produced the "Don Sergent Collection of Bagpipe Music" in the 1980's at the expense of the Army Band Corps.

Over time I would like to share some of Don's tunes, in memory of his talent, as the collection is quite rare.

Don has tunes from 1943 to the mid 80's.

Here is a small taste - "John Glengarry's Farewell" a 6/8 march.

(Click on the image to enlarge).

Bill Gall

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More background to our band tunes.

The Piper o' Dundee.

Traveling musicians were very popular before the proliferation of theatres and concert halls, and the piper in this case was most likely one of that ilk. It is nice to hear in the song that “he played bonnilie”, because I am sure he would have had a discerning audience.

The Road to the Isles.

Most Scots can sing along to this one, but the alternative title is little known – “The Burning Sands of Egypt”, which appears in an old collection called “The Piper’s Delight”. I guess we should consider the melody “Traditional”. The chorus of the well-known song says in part:

“Sure by Tummel and Loch Rannoch
And Lochaber I will go
By heather tracks wi' heaven in their wiles.”

The Rowan Tree.

An old air immortalised by the nostalgic memories of childhood added by Baroness Nairne in the early 1800’s. It is commonly played as a march, but it has a special appeal when played at its original tempo as a slow air.

Scotland the Brave.

Probably the best-known pipe tune with modern audiences, and an essential and early part of every piper’s repertoire. Very few listeners would fail to recognise this stirring march. The melody is traditional but the words are quite recent - by Cliff Hanley (1923-1999).

Skye Boat Song.

Another traditional air from the misty past, but the well-known words were written by Sir Harold Boulton (1859-1935). The song refers to the flight of Bonnie Prince Charlie after the disaster at Culloden that ended the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

Old Angus

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pipe Band at Beijing

Greetings to all. This is probably old hat.

I found an article at Evening Telegraph UK about the Band at the Olympics 08. The now famous Fintry Pipe Band, Dundee.The article tells about their invite and raising the funds !!!! to get to Beijing.

Tea Gardens Bill.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ramp Ceremonies

Hi All,

Well I've only got 28 days left of my deployment over here in the Middle East. Thus far I have been absolutely flat out Piping at Ramp Ceremonies for the Canadians. I've actually lost count of how many I've done. These ceremonies get quite depressing.

Anyway I've attached a couple of pics. Angus I thought you might be interested in what I've been up to Piping wise. I'm very sorry but I haven't done much band stuff - have been to busy with these Ramps.

Look forward to seeing you all when I return home.

Take care,


Sunday, September 14, 2008

After the Drill practice

There are various styles of Pipe Band Drill, and for us it's really as simple as what Marshall decides is what we do.

Today he focused on the most common mace signals, countermarching, getting into 2's, reforming the band formation and gate wheels. Am sure he will introduce other elements in due course, but think that was all the band could cope with in one day :>

However, the real point of this entry is to say that so far Marshall is sticking to the normal Australian Pipe Band Association drill manual, and if anyone would like to see a copy it's available on the web at . Looking at this may remind you of the mace signals and some people prefer to see things written in order to understand what we are trying to do.

There are also various other manuals available from the same web site, but to see them you can either go to or you can go exploring via the links on the band's web page


Friday, September 12, 2008

Some more of our Band tunes.

Let me know if this is boring stuff ......

Amazing Grace.

This simple and beautiful hymn was catapulted into the popular music charts in the 1960's when it was arranged and played superbly by the pipe band of the Scottish Dragoon Guards as one track on an otherwise fairly ordinary long-playing record. It has endured as a favourite wherever pipe bands appear, and pipers know that format they are required to present must be as near as possible to the original popular setting. The unaccompanied piper at the start and the finish, with the contrasting augmentation of the full band in between, is a powerful emotion-stirring technique.

Auld Lang Syne.

An international favourite, the words of which are popularly ascribed to robert Burns. The original air is much older, and was called "I Fee'd (hired) a Lad at Michaelmass". On the world stage, this would have to be the most well known of all Scottish tunes. Sadly, it is another example of a tune that is constantly demanded of pipers, but which does not quite fit into the pipe scale. So we must make do with a wee bit of "cheating".

Cock O' the North.

The Regimental March of the Gordon Highlanders. The title of this traditional 6/8 was the nickname of the 4th Duke of Gordon, founder (in 1794) of the famous infantry regiment The Gordon Highlanders. Sadly, the regiment was disbanded in 2004 to become part of The Highlanders.

The Dark Island.

Many pipers are surprised to learn that this traditional-sounding air is a fairly modern tune (1960's) written for a film of the same name by Ian MacLaughlan. The Dark Island refers to the outer Hebridean island of Benbecula.

Farewell to the Creeks.

Composed by Piper Major James Robertson of The Gordon Highlanders.

The title extols the creeks and inlets of the Banff-Portsoy coastline of north-east Scotland where the composer came from. The tune was written in Limerick in 1919 when pipe Major Robertson had just rejoined his regiment after his experience as a prisoner of war from 1914-1918.

Old Angus

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Another recipe for Tablet !!!!

This came via Email from Bill. Old Angus.

My ISP is not the greatest. Will soon change. I couldn't
get into the CEPB Blog so here's my Info for the lover of sweet

Traditional toffee:
1/2 lbs (225g) Butter or Marg;
1 pint (1/2 Ltr) of water;
4 lbs (1.8 kg) of caster sugar;
1 lb (450g) of sweetened condensed milk
Put the butter or marg and water into a non-stick saucepan and melt on
low heat. When the mixture is melted add the sugar and bring to the boil,
stirring all the time to avoid sugar catching.
When boiling add the condensed milk and simmer for 20min, stirring to
prevent sticking, then take off the heat and beat vigorously for 5 min
adding whatever flavouring you wish.
Pour into a greased tin and when partly cooled, divide into bars 5" X 1/12",(12.5X3.8 cm)
When cold, wrap each bar in waxed paper and store in an airtight tin. Makes
about 4 lbs (1.8 kg) of toffee.

This recipe came from my Aunty Nell (Lic grocer - Lang Stracht, Aberdeen).

Bill Gall

Monday, September 8, 2008

Guess the Mug.

Answers at the bottom. Guess the Face.
H: I:


See Willy I (Jason) told you id get you. Its wonderful what i can do with a computer.