One of the most inspiring sounds that can reach deep into a Scotsman’s or Brit’s soul, whether he or she is from the Old Country or are descendants living around the globe, is that of the massed bagpipes and drums playing together some of the most recognizable music in the bagpipe repertoire. For centuries the sound of the pipes was used to instill pride and glory among highland clan warriors and fear in the hearts of the enemy. The music of the pipes have helped drive Commonwealth soldiers “over the top” in WW I trenches, revived spirits on long marches to and from battle in many wars since and relaxed weary soldiers with the classical music (Pibroch) as the sun set. The passage of time has not diminished the impact of a musical instrument that was once classified as an instrument of war.
This martial sound still can be found at modern highland games around the world, during the end-of-day massed pipes display. Marching on to the field with 100’s of pipers and drummers may not be as inspiring to the tired and thirsty competitors who have been playing their pipes all day, but for the attentive crowd, it is one of the most thrilling moments of the day. Few people are not moved by this swelling of patriotic music that builds up, swarms onto and then engulfs a field. Everything stops when the massed pipe bands march on.
We usually play the same, recognizable tunes that have been played for years; tunes that continue to inspire today as they have for generations. Years ago, this fervor was captured by military leaders and funneled towards victory. The same can be used to help the English capture victory on the football field. This is inspiration that cannot, and never will be generated by a plastic mini-foghorn (vuvuzela) that moans and groans one miserable and annoying note.
So, here’s my list of what I believe is the 10 pipe tunes that can inspire courage, fervor and hopefully fear in the enemy.
- Scotland the Brave (overplayed, yes, but still inspirational to many) Traditional.
- Flower of Scotland – Scotland’s unofficial national anthem – Roy Williamson
- We’re no’ awa’ tae bide awa – George Campbell
- Green Hills of Tyrol – PM John McLeod
- When the Battle’s O’er – William Robb
- Pipe Major Donald MacLean of Lewis – PM Donald MacLeod
- Caber Feidh – Traditional
- Cockney Jocks – John Haynes
- The Bonnie Lass O’ Fyvie – Traditional
- Sound the Pibroch (not really a pipe tune, but sounds great on the pipes) Mrs. Norman MacLeod
OK, that’s my list. I can already feel my heart starting to pound and the growing urge to grab a big sword and rush headlong into something armed and nasty. Maybe I’ll have a glass of milk and some toast instead. Feel free to share your list.