Monday, June 30, 2008

Scotch and Beltane

Here are some links that may be of interest to some

First this one will take you to the Scotch College European trip where you can see what they are up to.

And then there is Karina. Think that most of the band knows that she plays in an alternative music group. It's called Beltane and this link gets you to their web page. You can find some examples of their music to listen to --- and though I am too old fashioned (aka too old) to really appreciate it I must say it's professionally done and has an interesting sound. Also if you look at the news section on the web page you will find that a couple of Karina's songs have ended up on a commercial CD in Europe.

12-April-2008 Karina Eames Featured on the new Sin Masters CD. Sin Masters from Finland have a new CD out 'Innocence Lost'. The two songs Crashing Down, and Whiplash, are songs Karina wrote the lyrics for. For more information go to


Sunday, June 29, 2008

band practice photos

thought should add some pictures from band practice .... let everyone know that we normally arent wearing kilts etc. The long time exposure does make the Bass section look "interesting"


Friday, June 27, 2008

Thanks Everyone

Thanks to everyone who played Thursday night, helping me get anther A for my bagpipe playing. Thanks Angus for getting the tunes and everything as well. I bet if you were marking me, I would probably only get 13 out of 100.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Welcome to Sue Kempster

Sue was inducted as a member into the band tonight. I hope she has a great time with us and that we see her boys in the band soon!

Sue's also the Secretary of the RU Brown Piobaireachd Society, so if you want to know more about the Society or Piobaireachd in general have a word with her.

- Peter

My A

Look at this! I told everyone I got an A for my piping.

What's your favourite ?

There are 84 tunes currently in our band repertoire. If you had to choose one as your favourite, what would it be?

Leave a Comment with your choice.

Old Angus

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Value for money

I came across some papers I inherited from my dad before he passed away and I'd like to share this wee advert I found with you all. Angus (snr) would remember this.

ALEX SCOTT & COMPANY, 58, St Nicholas Street, Aberdeen, the 50/- Tailor, offer the best value in, BOY'S CLOTHING, just the thing for hard school wear. Made from strong all-wool fabric in, browns, fawns and grays, single or double breasted style. Sizes 3 to 8 fit boys six to fifteen. All sizes same price of 21/-.

I can remember getting a suit made there.

Get this one lads!!! AN EXTRA PAIR OF KNICKERS WITH EVERY SUIT!!! So that's two pair!! Good value eh!!! This could be a new trend. Hang on!!! It was!! ACDC, the head bagging guitarist.
Oh, the suit was not long trousers but shorties.

I only wore my suit on Sundays with my second hand shoes my dad had repaired.

Angus, that was a lot of tattie pickin' to get my first suit.

Well I hope you get a little enjoyment out of past trivia fae Aberdeen.

Guid blawin' and bashin' tae ya' aal.

Bill Gall.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lachie's Drum Salute

This is evidence that anyone can bang on a piece of pig skin!

Tina reckons the talent runs in the family!

Angus, I've tried everything, but Tina keeps influencing him!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wedding Day

May 17th 2008 was an important day for our family as Jared our eldest son married his sweetheart of 5 years, Sarah. The day was cool and cloudy but fortunately not too wet as they were married on the boardwalk at the giraffe enclosure at Monarto Zoo.
The wedding ceremony was followed by the reception at The Waterhole function centre which has been built recently at the Zoo.
We are obviously proud of them both and wish them every happiness for their lives together.
David and Lesley Pound

How far can you go with a pipe band ?

The band we march with on ANZAC Day and in the Adelaide Christmas Pageant is currently in Scotland, and the following shot was taken a couple of days ago in Aberdeen (Malcolm's birthplace). This time they are combining their efforts with the Robert Gordon's College Pipe Band. The massive building in the background is Marischal College - alleged to be the biggest granite building in the world.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Who am I ???

It was always my destiny, to be part of a Pipe Band, even at this early age, my unhappy face is because my Mum has just informed me they are Drummers!
The year is 1971- maybe the Angus's can inform us which band they belong to.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Jim's Funeral

It was standing room only at the service, and our band was well represented with old and current members.

Liam, Angus, Peter and Andrew brought an important nostalgic Scottish atmosphere to the day - and needless to say, "Blairbegg" was played in Jim's memory.

Well done. You did Jim proud.

Old Angus

Monday, June 16, 2008

Jim's Funeral Arrangements

It has now been confirmed that Jim Cottnam's funeral service will be held in the Funeral Parlour at the junction of Womma Road and Main North Road, Elizabeth, at 10am on Thursday 19th June.

Old Angus

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tuning the Pipers

In one of my many reference books and letters I came across a tale from P/Major Angus MacDonald MBE, Scots Guards, It reads;


Once whilst on tour, in a country which shall remain anonymous, I was approached by a fellow who played in a pipe band. He asked me how I tuned my band and I explained that the pipers blew individually for five minutes and then blew collectively for another five or ten minutes. I would then make minor adjustments to drones and chanters after which we would play again collectively, re-tuning once more before a performance.

The fellow replied, "That sounds a complicated system of tuning to me". So I asked him how his band was tuned up - to which he replied, "We just congregate in the band hut and drink until we sound good".


Electronics have made many a band sound good but when pipers rely on the magic box, the age-long skill of pitch and tone that the ear produces may become only a memory. The Box is only an instrument and good for collective tuning, but the piper must not lose the skill of the ear.

A good reference/history book that all pipers should read is, "The Piper in Peace and War" by C.A. Malcolm. It's an excellent book and it will stir your very soul.


Vale Jim Cottnam

Sunday evening 15th June.

Sad news.

I have just received a call (5pm) from David Cottnam telling me of the death of his father Jim - an old stalwart piper and bass drummer in our band, and composer of the tune "Blairbegg" which has been continuously in our repertoire for many years.

He died on Saturday morning at 2.45 am. He was 66 years old.

The above picture shows Jim in 1983 with his wife (Pat) and family.

Jim was a native of Ayrshire in Scotland. His sons, Colin and David, played pipes in our band, and his other son, Robert, played drums.

He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. I have passed on the condolences of our band members, and we will have at least a couple of pipers at the funeral on Thursday.

Old Angus

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

City of Elizabeth & Scotch College Pipe Bands

With the last picture of both bands together, now could be the appropriate time for Angus Snr or Jnr, to explain to those in our band, who do not know the connection.
I'm sure some of our younger brigade wonder why on ANZAC Day and the Christmas Pageant, both bands join ranks.
Take it away Angus's.

Andy T

A cutting from "MacFarlane's Lantern"

Jason's Grandad - Malcolm - the author of the following piece.

The City of Elizabeth & Scotch College Pipe Bands, South Australia, join forces for the ANZAC Day Parade in Adelaide, 2008 ~ Photo by Steve Moore.

Our front page feature this month is dedicated to the lads and lassies of the City of Elizabeth Pipe Band, South Australia, who help to keep alive the proud music of Auld Scotia here in the Southern Hemisphere. The band was formed early in 1965 by a small group of dedicated musicians from the Citizens Military Forces (CMF), and used to turn out on ANZAC parades wearing dark trousers, white shirts and tartan ties. Nowadays, however, they wear the Royal Stewart tartan. When asked why this particular tartan was chosen, Pipe-Major Angus Massie (Snr.) responded: “Aye, well it’s cheaper an’ easier tae come by!” which highlights the on-going problem for many bands of this ilk, the constant struggle to maintain sufficient funding.

Pipe-Major Massie has led the band since 1975, during which time it has progressed, having competed with distinction both locally and interstate, winning many prizes, including the State Championship several times in Grades II and III categories. Probably more importantly the band has remained a worthwhile training ground for local youngsters, who receive tuition from scratch, thereby producing many strong players in piping and drumming. The band is now led by old Angus’s son, Pipe-Major Angus Massie (Jnr.) who, with the support of Pipe-Sergeant Peter Whitehead and Drum-Sergeant David Pound, continues to maintain that proud tradition.

As is the case in Scotland, there are no truly full-time professional pipe bands in Australia. It has to be admitted that the piping and drumming skills of ancient Gaeldom have always been ~ and still are ~ kept alive mainly by the hard work and dedication of countless talented and skilled ‘amateurs’. Even the many regimental pipes and drums in the UK and elsewhere are made up of ‘part-timers’ i.e. service men and women with other more warlike duties to perform. Many people have also wondered why Scotland ~ which boasts so much about its Celtic heritage ~ does not have a National pipe band, financed by public funds. Now there is a thought for Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Elizabeth Birthday Celebration's 1977

I found this photo, in the same book mentioned in the earlier post. I am sure this is not in the archives.

For those of us brought up in Elizabeth, it was always a big highlight on the calender, something I looked forward to each year. I'm not sure if there are any celebrations anymore.

Can we all see our P/M in the photo?

Andy T

The Band's Official Crest

Click image to enlarge

I found this in a book I have at home. Occasionally there is a discussion at Band about the crest on the bass drum, well here is the official wording, from a book called "Elizabeth Garden City".

I am pretty sure we would be the sole custodians using this crest representing the area of Elizabeth.

The piping world is full of tradition, so I feel we should hang on to this unique piece of Elizabeth history, by continuing to use it.

Andy T

Great oaks from little acorns grow.

It is probably not common knowledge in our current membership, but our band has nurtured two outstanding contributors to the Pipe Band world - one in Scotland and one in Australia.

Peter Toole was taught to play the side drum within our ranks as a boy in the early seventies, and was a valued member of our fledgling competition band. He left as a young man to serve the rest of his working life in the British Army and rose to the rank of Senior Drum Major of the Scottish Regiments. He wrote the drum scores and led the massed bands at the famous Edinburgh Tattoo for many years.

Peter is kneeling front right in the following 1973 picture taken at Mount Barker.

(If you look carefully you might also notice the three Massie's !!!)


Bill Gall was also a member of our band in the seventies, and left to follow a career with the Australian Army, where he progressed through the ranks to become the Senior Pipe Major. He is now retired and lives in Tea Gardens on the northern NSW coast, from where he happily keeps in touch.

Here is a fairly recent picture of Bill.

Two good examples of the pursuit of excellence in our hobby.

(N.B. Click on either image to enlarge)

Old Angus

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Going Home -- a case of the boomerang tune

We play "Going Home" in the same set as the Black Bear --- which was discussed earlier in this Blog, and again this is a tune with an interesting story since despite what many might think it's really one of the rare cases of a Pipe Tune that left us, and then came back. But let's trace the history.

"Going Home" is really the name of a song that's commonly accepted as an American Negro Spiritual Song ... and its words are (in part)

Goin' home, goin' home, I'm a goin' home;
Quiet-like, some still day, I'm jes' goin' home.

It's not far, jes' close by,
Through an open door;
Work all done, care laid by,
Goin' to fear no more.

Mother's there 'spectin' me,
Father's waitin' too;
Lots o' folks gather'd there,
All the friends I knew,
All the friends I knew.
Home, I'm goin' home!

The full words can be found here

There are lots of great versions of this song around, but Paul Robeson probably sings it better than any of the others. If you don't know his voice, you can hear an extract by hitting the relevant link from here It's a slow sad tune often used to say farewell, and in particular in particular is a common lament at funerals

As for the song, well it was written in 1922 by William Arms Fisher, who was a student of the great Czech composer Dvorak.

But the tune is a little older --- since Fisher actually took the tune from the opening movement of Dvorak's 9th Symphony, generally known as the New World Symphony, or "From the new world" which he wrote in early 1893 while he was in New York.

However the important point here though is that Dvorak calls this a symphony of tunes he heard in the new world, and though he is a bit vague on which theme is which, it seems that that this particular theme may be the one he called an Old Scottish Folk Tune that he heard a piper play. A good clue is that the composers notes describe the closing chords with the French Horns sounding like the drones on bagpipes ... but is there any real evidence that this is the Scottish folk tune?

Well, let's slip back about another 50 years (to 1840) when Angus McKay (Queen Victoria's piper) wrote out a manuscript of pibroch that we still have --- and in particular we find that one of the tunes he sketched out is "The Old Womans Lullaby" Yes, the tune doesn't flow quite as well, but it's certainly the same tune and that gets us back to where we started ---- meaning that it was a pipe tune at least 50 years before Dvorak borrowed it :>

The basic idea of a Pibroch is that you start with a theme, develop it and eventually return to the start again.

In this case the tune itself has morphed slowly over time but has kept true to its form. We don't really know its start, but in 1840 Angus McKay wrote down the Pibroch as the Old Woman's Lullaby, and in the early 1890s it seems that a piper was heard playing it in America where a Czech composer put it into a symphony that he was writing. An American student of his added words and then one of the best Negro singers made it his own. But pipers liked the tune and took it back .. restoring the theme in time and harmony.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Be prood tae be a drummer

In my 34 years service under the Queens and Regimental Colours I have sometimes observed the treatment that some drummers received from their fellow muso's. One must remember that the corps of drums was the communications of the day and any drummer who is not proud to be part of that history shouldn't be a drummer. Here's a few verses from a poem dated 1600's.

What price glory! Heaven knows!,
We're just a bunch of chums,
Marching on to God knows
where -
Until we here the Drums.
Thoughts are scattered, minds confused,
We dream of homes and mums,
But none of us will falter now,
When we hear the bleeding Drums.
Death or Glory? Heroes? Us?
The truth is dawning, Crumbs!
What inspires us on? What winds us up?


That's something to be proud of. In the annals of my books I found drummers that have displayed the highest form of valour. These are Drummers,
M.Ryan. VC, 1st European Bengal Fusiliers, Indian Mutiny, 14 Sept 1857,
T Flinn VC, 64th Regiment Indian Mutiny, 28 Nov 1857,
D Stagpole VC, 57 Regiment, NZ, 2 Oct 1863,
W Kenny VC, 2nd Bn Gordon Highlanders, 23 Nov 1914,
W Ritchie VC, 2nd Bn Seaforth Highlanders,1 July 1916.

We even have a VC winner that served with the 42nd Highlanders, Rockhampton, Queensland,Australia.

So! Head up, chest out and uphold their memory.

Note: the date of the award-winning deed, not the date of gazette. The VC was instituted in 1856, but made retrospective to the Autumn of 1854. Now put that in the Piper's Pipe.

The book, "The Drum" by Hugh Barty-King. A tribute to the Military Drum, Royal Tournament.1988.

Bill Gall.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Waltzing Matilda / Craigielea

Think that the following link may be of interest ... it's from the National Library of Australia and traces the origins of Waltzing Matilda (and have copies of the old music)

The key words are

"The song came into being as part of the after-dinner musical entertainment at Dagworth. Based on musical and documentary evidence, the tune which Christina Macpherson heard played by the band at the Warrnambool steeplechase was almost certainly the Scottish song ‘Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielea’. Robert Tannahill wrote the words in 1805 and in 1818 James Barr set them to music—music that, in turn, was possibly based on the old melody of ‘Go to the Devil and Shake Yourself’ . Thomas Bulch arranged James Barr’s effort for brass band in 1893 with the alternate spelling, ‘Craigielee’. There is also speculation about the relationship it bears to ‘The Bold Fusilier’, a song dated, in some sources, back to the eighteenth century."

So whether it's about stealing sheep / a Scottish Wood / the devil / a bold soldier ... ... or perhaps is even older. However our use of the title "Woods of Craigielea" and claiming it as a 200 year old Scottish song has more merit than using the more popular Australian title :>