SCOTTISH MELODIES

A bit of history
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The Official Flag of Scotland
     The Scottish flag is the Cross of St. Andrew.  It is said to be one of the oldest national flags of any country, dating back at least to the 12th century.  Tradition suggests that an apostle of Jesus in the Christian religion was put to death by the Romans in Greece by being pinned to a cross of this shape. 
    
  
 
The Rampant Griffon
     There is a second flag associated with Scotland, the "Rampant Griffon", or Royal Flag of Scotland.  Although based on an older Scottish flag than the St. Andrew's Cross, it should, strictly speaking, now only be used by the monarch in relation to her capacity as Queen of Scotland.  However, it is widely used as a second national flag.  Also incorrectly known as the Rampant Lion, since the figure is of a mythical Griffon.

 
 
 
The Flag of the United Kingdom
     The flag of the United Kingdom - known as the Union Flag or Union Jack - is made up from the flags of Scotland (the Cross of St. Andrew), England (the Cross of Saint George) and Ireland (the Cross of Saint Patrick)
 
 
 

The Bagpipes in History
(2,000 years in 3 paragraphs)
     Bagpipes existed in many forms in many places around the world. In each country the basic instrument was the same, a bag with a chanter and one or more drones. Some of these were mouth blown while others used a bellows attachment to supply the air. The bag provided a sustained tone while the musician took a breath and allowed several tones to be played at once. The origins of the pipes in Scotland is uncertain. Some say it was a Roman import. Others believe that the instrument came from Ireland as the result of colonization. Another theory is that they were developed there independently. Historians can only speculate on the origins of the Scottish clans' piob mhor, or great Highland bagpipe, but the Highlanders were the ones to develop the instrument to its fullest extent and make it, both in peace and war, their national instrument. The original pipes in Scotland probably had, at the most, a single drone. The second drone was added to the pipes in the mid to late 1500s. The first written mention of the "Great Pipes" was in 1623 when a piper from Perth was prosecuted for playing on the Sabbath. The third drone, or the great drone, came into use early in the 1700s.

In the Lowlands of Scotland, pipers occupied well-defined positions as town pipers, performers for weddings, feasts and fairs. There was no recorded "master piper" nor were there any pipe schools. Lowland pipers played songs and dance music, as was expected by their audience. Over the mountains and glens, however, Highland pipers were strongly influenced by their background of the Celtic legends and the wild nature of the Highlands. The Highland piper occupied a high and honored position within the Clan system. To be a piper was sufficient and, if he could play well, nothing else would be asked of him. As bagpipe use faded throughout most of Europe, a new form of music was starting in the Highlands. Beginning with Iain Odhar, who lived in the mid-1500s, the MacCrimmon family was responsible for elevating Highland pipe music to a new level, according to historians. This music is called piobaireachd (pronounced 'pea-bar-ock). This classical music is an art form which cannot compare to the music of any other country and much of it was composed 100 years before the piano and without written notation.

Dynasties of pipers emerged, such as MacCrimmons, MacKays, MacGregors, and Cummings, who performed the duties of official piper for their patrons through successive generations, and who sustained and generated the music of the bagpipe until the collapse of the society which nurtured them in the wake of the Jacobite wars of the 18th century. As a musical instrument of war, the Great Pipes of the Highlands were without equal, according to historians. The shrill and penetrating notes worked well in the roar and din of battle and pipes could be heard at distances up to 10 miles. Because of the importance of the bagpipes to any Highland army, they were classified as an instrument of war by the Loyalist government during the Highland uprising in the 1700s. After the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745, kilts and (some historians claim) bagpipes were outlawed, the pipes being classified as instruments of war, although there are no written records that mention the bagpipes specifically.   

 
 
 

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