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Listening

August 31, 2015

August break Day 29: ‘Listening’.

Our town held its annual Highland Games yesterday. One of the most hotly contested competitions is the piping, especially the piobaireachd (or ‘pibroch’ in the Anglicised spelling), which is the classic, centuries-old music of the great highland bagpipes. Here are two judges listening to a competitor playing his piobaireachd variations.

The piping competitions go on all day, with different tunes weaving across each other from the judges’ huts dotted around the edge of the Games field. I always make a point of listening to some of the playing, as does my other half: it was when I first him playing a haunting piobaireachd, one Hogmanay, that I began to fall in love with the man who is now my husband.

dancingbeastie.com, 30.8.15

You might enjoy Immortal memories: just an ordinary Burns’ Night (about piping) or Of cromachs, cabers and the Kiltie Dash (about the Highland Games).

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2015 12:08 am

    Can’t imagine a better way to spend an afternoon. (I need to go poke my neighbor and get him to play again once it cools off a bit)

    • August 31, 2015 6:54 pm

      It’s great; though I can understand your neighbour not being too keen on piping in boiling hot weather! (Not a problem we’ve had in Scotland this summer.)

  2. boyd permalink
    August 31, 2015 2:31 am

    i inherited my love of the pipes from my great grandfather i guess as did my father although neither of us knew him. he died before either of us were born of pneumonia caught while fighting a fire in 1911.

    • August 31, 2015 6:56 pm

      I’ve heard that there are more Scots in Canada than in Scotland – it wouldn’t surprise me. Now we have musicians bringing the traditions back from the U.S. and Canada to Scotland: the winner of the piobaireachd competition at our Games this year was a piper from America. 🙂

  3. hmunro permalink
    August 31, 2015 7:45 pm

    I don’t know what it is about bagpipes that makes me tear up, but they’re like the musical equivalent of chopping onions for me: waterworks every time! Had I been at this festival I surely would have become dehydrated. 🙂 Still, your description of the afternoon makes me wish I’d been there, if only to see whether I can discern the “winning” pipers from the rest.

  4. August 31, 2015 10:09 pm

    does your husband still play his bagpipes?

    • August 31, 2015 11:28 pm

      I’m glad to say (for he is really quite good) that he does – and that my younger son has now started to learn them too!

  5. September 3, 2015 5:11 pm

    A friend of mine who is from Italy doesn’t like pipes. He says they grate on his ears and ‘get under his skin’. I told him it’s because he’s genetically predisposed to fear the Scots. Lovely photo of the young piper here, and a sweet post.

    • September 9, 2015 5:15 pm

      Thank you. Funny, I do know what your friend means, and there can hardly be a worse sound than someone playing the pipes badly! The little bagpipes they play in Brittany sound like a swarm of angry wasps to me. 😀

  6. September 3, 2015 5:14 pm

    P.S. One of my favorite piobaireachds is ‘Lament for the Children’.

    • September 9, 2015 5:16 pm

      Just the name makes me choke up. I haven’t heard it for years and can’t remember it – I’ll ask my husband if he can play it for me.

  7. September 5, 2015 10:18 pm

    I do really love the pipes, and also piobaireachd. I was surprised to hear on Radio Scotland the other day (broadcast live from the Edinburgh Festival) that some people *don’t* like bagpipes. Well, it takes all kinds to make the world go round… Glad to see the old traditions continue. Lovely photo.

    • September 9, 2015 5:19 pm

      It would be such a shame to move to Scotland and not like the pipes! They are a bit ‘Marmite’ though – people either adore them or can’t stand them. Perhaps too many foreigners have heard clichéd tunes being played by indifferent pipers. They need to hear a good piper playing the piobaireachd in the open air – stirring stuff.

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