Alistair Hanning was born in Wellington into a piping family. His father, John, is well known as a top soloist and pipe bandsman and it was therefore no surprise that Alistair would learn the same instrument, but it almost did not happen. Alistair started learning early at the age of 6 or 7 but quickly lost interest. By about the age of 10, his father reminded him that a musical education was important, and he was strongly encouraged to learn to play any musical instrument. He then decided that under such ‘encouragement’ the bagpipe would be his instrument of choice and his father became his teacher.
His older brother Ross was also playing the pipes and from the mid-1970s, both Ross and Alistair were frequently heard at solo competitions, band competitions and above all, at the regular monthly meetings of the Wellington Pipers’ Club. It was apparent to anyone present at the time that these two pipers were going to make their mark in the world of bagpipe music.
Although his father was his prime tutor, he came under the influence of a number of other leaders in the piping world in the 1970s and 80s. Sir Ian McKay conducted piobaireachd lessons through the winter months and Alistair took advantage of these to further his education. He also received tuition from Donald Bain and in 1983 when Lewis Turrell took over the position of Pipe Major in the City of Wellington Pipe Band, Alistair was able to get private lessons from the master.
Alistair was encouraged to play in solo piping competitions and worked his way through the grades and in 1977 was playing in A Grade. His pipe band experiences started with the Scot’s College Pipe Band during his teenage years under the musical direction of Colin Addison and he stayed with the band and also joined the City of Wellington No 2 Pipe Band. Very soon after in 1978 he was invited to play in the City of Wellington Pipe Band No 1.
Perhaps as a measure of the confidence the band had in his abilities, in 1980 he became pipe sergeant under Frank MacKinnon and Lewis Turrell - a position he held for four years. For some years during the early 1980s, John Hanning was musical director of the Wellington Police Pipe Band (now the New Zealand Police Pipe Band) and in 1986 Alistair left the City of Wellington for the Police.
The band was quite different to other band models and John had introduced subcommittees that dealt with management issues, two of which were the Sound Committee and the Music Committee. Alistair was appointed to the Sound Committee soon after joining the band and later ran the Music Committee.
In 1990 Alistair became pipe major and two years later the band had their first win at the New Zealand Pipe Band Championships. They were first again in 1994 and from 1996-1999. For some years Alistair lived in Palmerston North and found that he could adequately carry out his duties as pipe major despite the regular commuting. However, in 2004 he transferred to Auckland and then took up an appointment in Melbourne, Australia, thus ending his playing relationship with the band. Recent health issues have prevented him from playing but a few months before New Year 2011 he decided to get his pipes out and have a few tunes. He played at the Waipu Caledonian Society’s competitions on New Years day and those who heard him play believe that it won’t be long before he is playing as well as he was seven years ago.
Alistair has also involved himself in bands by becoming pipe tutor of the Auckland Police Pipe Band. Although the band does not aspire to Grade 1 status, they all have a desire to improve and under Alistair’s direction there is little doubt we will see considerable progress. Already I have heard through the piping grapevine that members of the band have expressed their satisfaction at the input from Alistair.
Composing is not something Alistair did in his early years, and it was in 1988 whilst the Police band were in Australia after having won the Australian Pipe Band Championships that his first composition emerged. Quite suddenly, almost out of the blue, he had a two-parted 12/8 march and it is called Wellington Police Pipers in Australia. At first Alistair did not rate his tune but the following year he played it in front of the great Canadian composer Michael Grey who liked it and took it back to Canada and played it to the enjoyment of many of his countrymen. Bruce Gandy was putting together a collection of tunes in 1989 called Contemporary and Traditional Music for the Highland Bagpipe and requested to include it. This was granted and as a result many bands have played the tune including Simon Fraser University Pipe Band under Terry Lee who played it as their opening medley tune at the World Championships. Interestingly Terry thought the tune needed a third part and so had well-known Canadian composer Robert MacNeill pen the extra part. Alistair was only too happy to give his seal of approval.
Alistair says that top grade medley’s have become so complex and there are few yet to be discovered gems in the older books. So, it is to the modern composer that many pipe majors look to ‘wow’ the audiences with new material. He freely admits a number of his tunes were composed to fill the gaps. This may have exploded over the last few years as the increase of modern compositions in the medleys at national and international level has almost reached plague proportions, and although it might excite the players to air new material, on occasion it has not do so for the discerning listener.
The second tune Alistair composed was a ‘futuristic’ hornpipe called Max-a-million that the band played at their first appearance at the World Championships. One of the features is that it has an extra bar in each part that makes it stand out. Most modern bagpipe tunes are composed in a strict format whereby the number of bars in each part is divisible by two and to suddenly have an uneven number certainly alerts the aural senses!
The circumstances of the naming of the tune are also worthy of comment. At a National Contest one of the judges used his point allocation in such a manner that his judging alone decided the results. This did not please some of the competing bands and Alistair perhaps reflected his feelings on the matter by commenting ‘Thanks a million’. It is a play on the name Maximilian 1 of Habsburg who was the Holy Roman Emperor from 1493-1519.
Alistair has composed in excess of 20 tunes but some of them he regards as inferior and does not wish they be aired in public. However, there are nine tunes that he plays regularly because he likes them.
The jig Apuka is named after the street in Wellington where Alistair and his wife Stephanie first lived after they got married. Getting There is two-part 2/4 march that has breaks in the time signature that causes a slightly irregular rhythm and the title almost expresses the relief of having arrived at the end of the tune!
Alistair’s daughter Gracie is known to have certain ‘attitudes’ and to maintain certain ‘positions’ in life and when an unusual, almost piobaireachd-like, air was composed it seemed natural to call the tune The Position. Wake Thee in the Morning is a jig and the title just seemed to fit for no particular reason. Slurs of a Jig is a melody that borrows heavily from that very famous Jig of Slurs by George S McLennan.
Alistair had in mind the responsibilities and duties of a pipe major when he composed a new tune some years ago and these sentiments were captured when he called it Duty Hornpipe. A tune called Risky Exercise alludes to the fact that it could just as easily be played as a 4/4 march as well as an air.
Some composers find that naming tunes can be more difficult than composing them but one of his reels greatly impressed his father and therefore became John Hanning's Rant.
Alistair’s compositions have been, and still are being, played by bands here in New Zealand as well as overseas and this attests to his ability as a composer. With his renewed interest in piping, it is quite possible that we will see more tunes in the near future.
One of the biggest problems the writer has encountered during this series of articles on New Zealand Composers is the shyness or reluctance some have displayed. Many of the featured composers have happily displayed their piping prowess at the highest levels of the Pipe Band movement and also on the solo boards. They appear to do this with comparative ease and of course, we all know it is a voluntary activity.
However, when pressed to talk about any tunes they might have composed there is often a change in attitude with many who admit to having composed only one or two mediocre tunes. With a little careful prodding, the interviewer eventually finds that suddenly these one or two tunes becomes a dozen or more. In some cases, the number of tunes exceeds 20 or 30.
If we are fortunate to get a copy of these tunes, we are frequently surprised at the quality of some of them. If only we could pry these away from the locked cupboards and drawers, there is no doubt that a number of eminently playable tunes are yet to be found.
One piper and composer who falls into this category is Barry Brougham of Auckland. Barry has led one of the best bands this country has produced and has also competed and won many of the top prizes in solo competitions. Yet when discussing his compositions, it becomes apparent that he has little regard for his efforts. However, the writer has heard two of his tunes and is in no doubt that Barry has a talent for composing.
Barry was born in Wellington in 1940 into a family of Irish/Scottish ancestry. His father, Joe, was not a piper but loved the music. He was involved in the horse racing industry and in 1946 he took the family to Masterton and then three years later they moved to Hastings, and it is there that Barry got most of his schooling. At the age of 26 he qualified as a chartered account.
In his early teens Barry had no interest in piping but at 15 he met the late Geoff Dagg who was a piper in the Hawkes Bay Scottish. Largely at his father’s insistence, Barry received his first lessons and was offered a set of pipes if he could play Scotland the Brave in 6 months.
This was achieved and he was duly awarded his ‘prize’. The catch was that his father only paid the deposit and Barry had to pay them off. He spent many hours mowing lawns 5 shillings (50 cents) a pop to earn the money to keep his brand-new set of Hardie bagpipes.
In 1958 Barry joined the Hawkes Bay Scottish under P/M Bill Budge and D/S Gordon McArthur. The following year he competed at his first contest in Timaru. In 1960 and for the next three years Barry travelled to Wellington to get piobaireachd lessons from Sir Ian McKay.
1965 was an auspicious year for Barry as that was the year Willie Reid, brother of the more famous Robert Reid, migrated from Scotland and settled in Hastings. Barry was mentored by Willie and credits him as being a very influential piper as far as small music was concerned.
Willie’s older brother, Robert who died in 1965, is considered one of the greatest 20th century exponents of piobaireachd. Willie brought Robert’s MacDougall bagpipes to New Zealand and Barry purchased them from Willie and plays them to this day.
Barry moved to Auckland in 1969 and in 1970 joined the Pipes and Drums of Innes Tartan (now Auckland and District). He played with the band until 1985 and was Pipe Major of the band in 1975 and 1976. After leaving Auckland and District he was Pipe Major of the Papakura and District Pipe Band.
During the 1970s Barry frequently travelled overseas on business particularly to the United Kingdom. Whenever there Barry travelled to Scotland and received piobaireachd tuition from Pipe Major Donald MacLeod.
Barry competed in many solo competitions throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s. One of his frequent competitions was the Comunn Na Piobaireachd Gold Medal Competition at his hometown of Hastings held at Easter each year. He also competed and played at piping seminars overseas.
Barry had one of the most unenviable records in the Gold Medal as having been placed 2nd more than any other player. That record came to a welcome end in 1992 when he deservedly won the Gold Medal. He was also placed a number of times in the Comunn Na Piobaireachd Open and Clasp Competition.
Barry has been on the Piping and Dancing Association judges’ list for many years and has been asked to judge in many of the foremost competitions throughout New Zealand. He has also judged many pipe band competitions and has been a regular at the Royal New Zealand Pipe Band Association contests over the last few years.
Like many pipers, Barry tried his hand at composing early on in his piping career, but it was not until 1960 that any tune came to him that he considered any good. He always had a penchant for 6/8 marches and the first two tunes he composed were in this genre. These are called Robert Riddell after his grandfather and Katherine Johnstonafter a friend with whom he worked.
Since then, there have been another 15-20 tunes. He has not had any of his compositions published but the 4/4 march A Parting Glass he arranged for Innes Tartan appears in The Glasgow Collection of Bagpipe Music by Robert Wallace, albeit with credit going to Stuart Finlayson.
A Lifetime of Compositions by William and James Barrie has a superb 6/8 march called Collaboration. This tune was primarily composed by Jim, but he gives credit to Barry and Hughie Smith for their input.
In 1992 Barry composed a 4 parted 6/8 march called Balding Davey. This is named for David Philip who is a piper in the Auckland and District Pipe Band.
In 2004 one of the previous editors of this magazine, Allan Cameron was admitted to Life Membership of the Royal New Zealand Pipe Band Association and as a tribute Barry composed a 6/8 march in his honour. There is no doubt that it is a fine example of Barry’s composing prowess. I know Allan is indeed proud to have his name above such a fine tune.
Barry has tried his hand at piobaireachd composition and is currently working on a tune that needs the finishing touches to the variations. We look forward to the finished product.
Any student of the history of our noble instrument will quickly become acquainted with one of the characters of early 20th century piping in Scotland. There are many anecdotes attributed to George Cruickshank, a pipe major in the Gordon Highlanders.
Many of these piping parables were recorded in The International Piper in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were written by one of George’s contemporaries, Bill Maitland, and called ‘Cruickies’ One story concerned an occasion when an officer addressed him as Pipe Major Cruickshanks. George quickly reminded this unfortunate soul that his infirmity was in one leg only! Those who know his son Bill, will be acutely aware that this sense of humour has certainly passed from father to son.
George was a fine player, particularly of marches, and had a brother William who was just as good a player. William unfortunately died of pneumonia in the mid-1920s at the age of 29. Both proved their worth as composers and have tunes published.
In 1935 George and his wife Jean, who already had one son and two daughters, had a second son and to carry on the family name he too was named William. With such a strong family piping background in is not surprising that Bill would take up the bagpipes and it was at the age of seven that he first learned.
Bill received all his tuition in light music from his father and from him acquired a style of march playing that has been his forte for over 60 years. Bill first competed at the age of 12; in those days in Scotland the competitions were not graded and if you competed solo you had to play in the same competitions as the well-known masters of the day. However, it was not long before Bill was picking up prizes throughout Scotland.
When he was 14 years old, he learned piobaireachd from the famous Bob Brown, one of the King’s pipers at Balmoral. He had numerous successes playing this branch of Highland music but perhaps the most telling was at the Northern Meeting at Inverness in 1955. That was Bill’s one and only appearance in the Gold Medal and playing MacLeod of Raasay’s Salute was placed second.
At the age of 15 he was apprenticed to a carpenter and joiner. At the completion of his training in 1956 he was conscripted into National Service in the Gordon Highlanders. For two years he was based in his hometown of Aberdeen and Bill was lucky to get piobaireachd lessons from another famous player, Donald MacLeod.
In those post war years most, able bodied men had to serve two years in one of the armed services. Many of these conscripts stayed in and made a career of their enforced vocation. However, Bill had other ideas.
In 1960 Bill, his wife Nancy and 3-year-old daughter emigrated to New Plymouth in New Zealand. A second daughter arrived the following year. Bill admits that he had no intention of playing the pipes in his new home, but this was not to last.
The locals had heard this well-known piper from Scotland was in their midst and very soon were knocking upon his door; as Bill says, at a weak moment be agreed to get involved.
His success as Pipe Major of the City of New Plymouth Pipe Band was immediate when the following year, they won the B Grade. For the next twenty years whilst Bill was in charge the band was usually in the top third of the field in the A Grade and in 1965 at Palmerston North were placed third in the aggregate.
Bill also competed in solo competitions with many successes and in 1975 won the Comunn Na Piobaireachd New Zealand Gold Medal at Hastings. He has judged at the top level of band and solo competitions.
Bill became convinced that many of the reeds that came out to New Zealand were inferior; they had been well picked over long before leaving Scotland. About ten years ago tried his hand at reed making.
By this time, he had acquired his father’s reed making tools and was surprised how many of his father’s skills he had taken in merely by watching; Bill had never had any instruction from his father. His reeds have been played by a number of top soloists in New Zealand and some bands.
Bill’s composing stretches back to his early years in piping, but he is the first to admit that most of those attempts were inferior and confined to the rubbish bin. He quotes his father who believed that most of the good tunes had already been composed.
Bill usually has a pen or pencil handy and if a snatch of music comes to his head, he writes it down. Although there have been many of these fragments throughout his 63 years of piping, few of them have found their way into a tune that Bill considers worthy of retaining. In fact, he numbers his successful tunes in single figures.
Bill has not had any tunes published although he has added 3rdand 4th parts to one of his father’s 2/4 marches, Stoneywood Brae and it has been published in The Gordon Highlanders Pipe Music Collection Vol II. This tune was played in hid band for some years in the 1960s and 70s.
Other tunes played by those close to Bill are a pair of 2 parted 6/8 marches William J. Maitland of Aberdeen and The 70+ Hamilton Highlanders. The first of these is named after one of his father’s piping contemporaries and brother-in-law; the second is named after a group of septuagenarian pipers and drummers in the Hamilton area who meet regularly for the enjoyment of playing a few tunes without the stress of competing. They regard this as their signature tune.
Bill has an innate shyness about his compositions and has a reluctance push them. The writer has had a chance to play two of them and believes they have musical merit. One must wonder how many more Bill has hidden away. We can only hope that one day we may be given the chance to determine how good they are ourselves.
The writer would like to thank Allan Cameron, Jim Shepherd and Bill Cruickshank for their help in producing this article.
Forty years ago, Donald Bowman was very much part of the piping folk lore in New Zealand and even today is held in high esteem by those who knew him. He was one of the pre-eminent names in piping in the 19360s, 40s and 50s.
His father’s family were Gaelic speakers who had lived in Co Down in Ireland in the late 18th century and later Stranraer in Scotland. Donald’s father Samuel was born in New Zealand and was fluent in Gaelic; in fact, on his deathbed was speaking the language. Donald was not fluent in Gaelic but understood it well enough when spoken by those around him.
The family migrated to the new Scottish settlement in the Otago province in the late 1850s and settled in the Shag Valley area. Most of the earlier generations of Bowman’s (sometimes spelt Beauman) appear to have been farmers and that is what many of them did when they arrived in New Zealand.
Donald’s father, however, was involved in the dairy industry and was managing a dairy factory in Toko in the Taranaki province in the early 20thcentury; it was in 1902 in Toko that Donald was born. When he was about 7 years old the family moved back to the South Island.
Donald’s maternal grandfather had died years before Donald was born and his grandmother had remarried. His step-grandfather was a Gaelic speaking Scot called Robert Campbell and it was he who was the main driving force behind Donald learning the pipes.
Robert Campbell gave young Donald much support to the extent of gifting him a kilt and other piping accessories. It is thought that Campbell also gave Donald his first set of bagpipes; the Bowman family have a photograph taken in 1913 of Donald playing the pipes on the steps of the Temuka Cheese factory. Another photograph taken in 1909 at the Pleasant Point Highland Games includes Donald although he was not playing the pipes at this time.
Donald’s first teacher was George Munro who served in the Black Watch and spent many years in India. When he migrated to New Zealand, he joined the New Zealand Police and spent a number of years in Dunedin. Donald learned piobaireachd from one of Scotland’s most famous piping migrants, George Yardley.
Donald always had a love of the sea and wanted to pursue a career on board ships, however his parents wanted him to go into farming. It appears that a compromise was struck and like his father before him entered the dairy industry.
He was initially apprenticed as a butter maker at the factory his father managed in Edendale in Southland. He rose through the ranks and eventually became a manager of the Waitaki Dairy Company in Oamaru in early 1930s.
Donald stayed in Oamaru until the outbreak of the Second World War, and he tried to enlist in the Royal New Zealand Navy. He was married and at 37 years of age was considered too old and was declined. In 1941 he enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Airforce as a wireless operator and was based at Wigram and involved in coastal surveillance.
In early 1945 he was demobbed and went back into the dairy industry as a farm dairy instructor and herd tester. During this time, he lived in Waimate in South Canterbury.
In the mid-1950s when he was about 57, Donald finally decided to pursue his boyhood dreams and get involved in things maritime. He went to Wellington for training to enable him to get a coastal and river masters’ ticket.
When he succeeded, he moved to Lake Te Anau and was launch master for the Tourist Hotel Corporation. Later he was in the same position in Milford Sound. He did this until about 1968 and then eventually moved back to Waimate.
Donald was married in 1927 and had two sons and a daughter. He wanted all his children to learn the bagpipes, but his daughter Donah was the only one to do so.
It was early 1952 as a 5-year-old the writer first met Donah (now Buckland) when she was teaching at Glenavy Primary School in South Canterbury. It was a memorable day when she once played her pipes at school, but it would be another 40 years before he was to hear Donah play again; it was whilst she was playing in the B Grade at the Waipu Highland Gathering.
Donald was a regular competitor around the many solo competitions throughout the South Island. He won many New Zealand and Provincial Championships; the last time he competed was 1984 at the age of 82 at the Waimate Boxing Day sports.
It is not known exactly when Donald started composing but we do know that by 1930 he had composed a Hornpipe called Eight Bells. There have been many tunes over the years and Donald was known to give away the original copy of many of them to anyone wishing to play them. They possibly survive in many private collections, and it is to be hoped they come to light.
Almost a dozen have been tracked down by Donald’s family and these include three jigs Daisy Horrell, Orma Ford and Doreen Wheeler named after highland dancers; Jack Cooney is a jig composed in 1939; and in 1946 he composed a hornpipe and called it HMNZS Canterbury.
Around 1950 he had a fearful experience that many of us dread; his doctor advised him to stop drinking whisky! He took the advice to heart and changed to drinking rum. His daughter Donah purchased a bottle of Captain Morgan Rum and to mark the occasion Donald composed a hornpipe and called it Captain Morgan Rum. It was apparently one of his own favourites and competed successfully with it.
Other tunes known to have been composed by Donald are The Cutty Sark, a hornpipe, two Irish Jigs Mr McKenna and Mr McAteer; slow air John Campbell of South Uist; and 2/4 march Jock McKie’s Farewell tae Bonny Gallowa’.
Donald was also well known for the number of recordings he made. This was not a simple matter in the 1950s and he was perhaps a pioneer in this field and led the way for many other well-known pipers. In the early 1950s he cut a 78-rpm record at the Timaru Recording Studios. One side has three of the tunes mentioned above and on the other is the well-known 2/4 march Dr MacLeod of Alnwick composed by P/M Alexander Ross.
In the mid/late 1950s he released two EP recordings of 17 tunes. Most of the tunes on these two records are well known traditional tunes but the real value is that they both have tunes composed by Donald. It is only from these recordings that we know that Donald composed them.
Donald was still playing the pipes up until his death at age 85 in 1987. Throughout his long life be kept up correspondence with many of New Zealand’s older pipers. He knew the Cameron’s of Mataura and received many of the tunes composed by that family of pipers.
Donah has carried out considerable research into the history of Donald’s family and the writer wishes to express his gratitude for the assistance she has given. This article would have been impossible to produce with this help.
Thanks, are also extended to Donah for copies of those tunes of her father’s that are extant and also those of the many other composers with whom her father came in contact. They are an invaluable addition to any archive.
When one speaks to Jim they might be forgiven if they assume he is a Kiwi. It is only when one digs a little deeper, they will learn that he has lived in New Zealand for a mere 60 years. That is probably enough time to learn the Kiwi accent and habits.
However, Jim was born in Hong Kong in 1939. His Scottish father, Jim Snr, was a member of the Hong Kong Police in the 1930s and young Jim was born just at the outbreak of the war. To those in Hong Kong the European war seemed quite a long way off but this all changed in December 1941.
Japan launched its surprise attacked on the United States of America at Pearl Harbour on 7 December in that year and as part of the general Pacific campaign they invaded Hong Kong on 8 December. Although the locals were outnumbered, they defended furiously until they were forced to surrender on 25 December.
Early in the war many women and children were evacuated and at 10 months old Jim Jnr and his mother left to spend the duration of the war in Brisbane, Australia. However, his father was not so lucky. He was obliged to stay in Hong Kong and after the surrender was interned, along with nearly 3000 others, at Stanley Internment Camp at the southern end of Hong Kong Island.
He spent three years and eight months until released in August 1945. Jim Snr suffered badly as a result of his internment and was repatriated to UK with his family. They returned to Hong Kong in 1946 and remained there until his he retirement from the police in late 1948.
Post war conditions in UK were not encouraging and reports reached the Shepherd family that prospects were better in New Zealand and so in January 1949 they arrived in Auckland.
Jim had always felt Scottish at heart and at the age of 11 in 1951 started learning the bagpipes with Bob Buchan who was Pipe Major of the Auckland and District Pipe Band.
Within three years he was playing in the band and for the next nine years came under the influence of some memorable names in New Zealand piping. Len Amor took over as tutor of the band when Buchan stepped aside in 1955. In 1958 the larger-than-life Scotsman, Charlie Cochrane became Pipe Major; a position be held until 1960 when the late Keith Laird assumed the position.
Jim Snr had learned the pipes as a boy but never played them in adult life and when his son joined the A & D Pipe Band, he also became involved in an administrative capacity and eventually became a Life Member.
From 1958-63 Jim Jnr attended the University of Auckland and although he did not acquire a full degree, he did qualify as an Associate Chartered Accountant. This was all he needed to go into his own business in those days and in 1963 left Auckland and the A & D Pipe Band to seek his fortune. He says has not found it yet but is still actively looking.
His first move was to Wanganui and while there joined the 5thBattalion Wellington, West Coast, Taranaki Regiment Pipe Band under Pipe Major John Allan Magee. Six months later he moved to Waitara and joined the City of New Plymouth Pipe Band under Pipe Major Bill Cruickshank.
At around the same time he was able to buy into an accountancy business down the road in Inglewood and ten years later decided to live there. For 44 years he has been a member of the New Plymouth band and has been Pipe Major on three occasions and currently holds that position.
Jim has preferred playing in pipe bands and has not done much solo competing. He does have a love of piobaireachd and has received lessons from Bill Cruickshank to help him acquire a better understanding of the music.
Composing came early and his first tune was Granny Douglas, a slow air in 6/8 time which came to him in 1963. Like many composers he gets a few ideas and puts them down on paper and if they are any good, he keeps them, if not they go into the rubbish bin.
He has probably been his own harshest critic and does not allow tunes to get into the public arena unless he is completely happy with them. This, no doubt, explains why he has only seven tunes that he acknowledges.
Granny Douglas was a relative of Jim’s and because of this he wears the Muted or Weathered Douglas tartan. A family friend has connections in Plockton on the west coast of Scotland and when he composed a delightfully simple 2 parted hornpipe he named it Duncraig Castle, which is near Plockton.
His old teacher Bob Buchan is remembered in the 2/4 march Pipe Major Bob Buchan and Keith Laird’s Birl is a two parted strathspey that extols the virtue of Keith’s ability to play that movement.
In 2002 the band split some logs for firewood as a fundraising venture and Jim says that no fingers were lost in the process, but he did compose a two parted jig after the occasion which he named The Woodsplitter. He has also composed a slow air in 4/4 time that is yet to be named.
In 1958 the City of Wellington Pipe Band were the first New Zealand band to travel the huge distance to Scotland and compete in the World Championships. In 2008 the surviving members held a 50th anniversary get-together and when Jim heard of this, he composed what he believes to be his best tune, a 6/8 march called The 1958er’s 50th Jubilee March.
As well as his music Jim has had significant involvement in the management of in the Royal New Zealand Pipe Band Association. In 1990 he was a member of the review panel (along with Nigel Foster and Lester Flockton) who were involved with the restructuring of the administrative format. He is also a long term and current member of the Management Board.
Jim’s involvement with bagpipes and pipe bands has spanned 57 years and his involvement has included playing, teaching, composing and administration at the local and National levels. There are few people who have had such a high level of involvement and it appears this is going to continue for years to come.
The writer would like to thank Allan Cameron for his assistance in producing this article.
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