There are two types of people in this world: those who love the music of bagpipes and those who think a bagpipe sounds like a dying cat. Fortunately, I belong to the former category and so don’t mind if I come across bagpipe music on just about every corner where tourists congregate in Scotland.
Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.
We encountered pipers every day in Edinburgh and a few times in Glasgow. The piper with the most seniority in Edinburgh must be the guy we saw every time we walked to the Scott Monument on Princes Street. Another favorite place is in front of the General Register Office where Leith Street meets Princes Street. And you can hear the pipes up and down the Royal Mile. We also came across pipers in Glasgow on both Argyle and Buchanan Streets, the two streets in the central city that have been pedestrianized for shoppers and tourists. We also heard the pipes a few times on our bus trips to the highlands.
It is thought that the Roman army brought the bagpipe to Great Britain two thousand years ago. Variations of bagpipes have been around Europe and the Middle East for a long time. The most popular bagpipe today is the Scottish Great Highlands pipe because of its use by the military in the two world wars of the last century.
The most popular song by far for street musicians is Scotland the Brave followed by Flower of Scotland, a song written by Roy Williamson of the Corries about 50 years ago. It’s the song sung by fans of the Scottish national rugby team whenever and wherever the team plays. Another favorite is The Gael, the theme song from the film “The Last of the Mohicans.”
The bagpipes we heard in Scotland are usually played by solitary pipers but occasionally they will be accompanied by a drummer or two. Clanadonia is a wild pipe and drum band consisting of one set of pipes and three to six drums. We saw them performing one day on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street. The pipe was loud but was often drowned out by the noise of the drums.
OK, are you ready for some music? Click here to see a video of Scotland scenery while listening to Scotland the Brave by The Pipes and Drums of the Royal Tank Regiment.
Here is The Flower of Scotland by David Methven and The Munros with another video of Scotland scenes.
Finally, click here to listen to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards play The Gael from “The Last of the Mohicans.” The Dragoon Guards became famous about 50 years ago with their rendition of Amazing Grace. That song seems to be reserved these days for religious and memorial ceremonies. I never heard a busker play it.
All right, one more if you insist: Here are those crazy Clanadonia drummers (and one piper) on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street with their version of The Gael.