There.  I’ve said it.  I’ve put it out there.  I’ve gone for it.

I love the sound of bagpipes.  Just as well, living as we do in Scotland’s capital city.

I cannot imagine what better sound there could be to accompany an army into battle than the magnificent skirl of a pipe band.  Here is a link to the opening of the 2012 Royal Edinburgh Tattoo held on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.  The massed bands perform in all their glory.

I’m not Paul McCartney’s biggest fan, I must admit, but I can happily listen to Mull of Kintyre all day waiting for the bagpipes to arrive.  I was only ten years old when this single was released, but I have never forgotten those pipers on the beach.

I tell you all of this, dear friends, so that you might appreciate and understand why a single minute of massed bagpipe playing on a whole album is a big deal for me.

Mike Oldfield is described by Wiki as “an English multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, working a style that blends progressive rock, folk, ethnic or world music, classical music, electronic music, New Age, and more recently, dance.”  He is most famous for his 1973 album Tubular Bells.  But I know him through his follow up album Tubular Bells II, released in 1992.

It is one long piece of music, albeit with different ‘movements’. Oldfield played most of the many instruments himself, laying down each track before producing the final version.  There are beautiful melodies, interesting rhythms, and, yes a single minute of bagpipes.  This minute comes within one of my favourite tracks – nicely called Tattoo – which you can hear here (you need to get to about 2.42mins into the clip but it is SO worth it).

But wait!  While I was looking out that clip for you, I found this clip.  The same track, but performed live at Edinburgh Castle.  Have a watch – I won’t say what happens because it will spoil it.

Isn’t life grand when your favourite thing gets better.  Like finding a £10 note in the pocket of a coat you hadn’t worn for ages.

My other favourite track on this album is called The Bell.  This was released as a single and is simply just a great testament to Oldfield’s musicianship as a composer and performer.  No bagpipes in sight for anyone of a nervous disposition.  Go on – have a listen – here‘s a live clip for you.  What it really shows is that even though the music being produced is electronic-sounding for much of the time, you actually have real people playing real instruments with heart and passion.

Meanwhile, I’m off to get the DVD of the concert.  From what I’ve seen already, I just know that I’ll be very pleased with it. 🙂



7 thoughts on “Sometimes I’m easily pleased

  1. I loved hearing bagpipes as I walked the streets of Edinburgh and from my hotel room; never got tired of it during my weeklong stay.

    The live concert from the castle you provided was great – would have been so wonderful to be there and experience that!

  2. First of all – I adore Tubular Bells! And my son is a bagpiper so have the joy of listening to the bagpipes quite often. Vancouver has a huge bagpiper community. In fact, many go to Scotland to compete and have received top honours. Our university is called Simon Fraser so naturally there is a Simon Fraser Pipe Band. Have you heard about Piobaireachd music It is the ancient bagpipe music.It is unlike anything that I have ever heard before. To me, it is close to meditation music. The first time I heard it, I just closed my eyes and went into another world. Most people don’t understand it, but there is such depth in the complicated phrasing. It starts out slow and then continues to add notes. Check out this link:

    1. Piobairdreachd music is so beautiful – thank you for putting me on to that. As you say it is deceptively intricate and hypnotic. I hope I may get the chance to hear your son play one day, by the way.

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