Surrey piper shares top 10 most popular tunes played on bagpipes

Looking to learn to play the bagpipes or pipe band drumming? Check out Surrey's Cedar Hills Caledonian Pipe Band.

Garth Newlands

Here is a list of some of the most popular tunes played on the bagpipes, how many do you recognize?

10. AC/DC – Thunderstruck: Following up on the success with their number seven song on this list, Thunderstruck brought back the bagpipes in 1990. Today, Stuart Liddell from Inveraray, Scotland is considered one of the premier pipers of our time and plays an amazing version of Thunderstruck on the bagpipes that just has to be heard. Expect to be impressed with his finger work.

 

9. Steve Earle – Cooper Head Road: This song begins with an eerie introduction and continues on throughout the song being played on an electric keyboard set to mimic the sounds of the bagpipes.

 

8. Paul McCartney – Mull of Kintyre: This song was written in 1977 about the love McCartney’s home in Scotland in an area known as the Mull of Kintyre. Most concert-goers will be treated to this song now a days (joined by a local pipe band during the performance of this song).

 

7. AC/DC – Long Way to the Top (If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll): Written by Angus and Malcolm Young and Bon Scott, this song is among the first to use bagpipes as part of a rock ‘n’ roll song in 1975. Long Way to the Top was released on the album TNT featuring Bon Scott on the bagpipes.

 

6. Theme song from Braveheart: The 1995 motion picture directing and starring Mel Gibson treated audience goers to a harmonious song played on what many consider to be the Scottish bagpipes. Though, they are in fact played on the Uilleann pipes, the national bagpipe of Ireland.

 

The top five tunes in this list are now traditional bagpipe tunes that almost every piper has played some time – if not all the time – during their careers.

 

5. Theme song from The Dark Island: This song was in a 1962 British television miniseries set in Benbecula off the North Coast of Scotland. It was then turned into a radio series. All known copies of the original television tapes were lost in the 1970s but the song continues to be a favourite and the radio series can still be found online.

 

4. Black Bear: Although not familiar to most non-players, those that hear this tune are treated to an uncommon occurrence in bagpipe playing – a strong war cry of “oooooyyy” is yelled out by the drummers when pipe bands play this tune.

 

3. Auld Lang Syne: This song was written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788 as a poem. It was later set to music of a traditional folk song and is most commonly heard played at midnight of each New Year’s Eve.

 

2. Amazing Grace: Written in 1779 by the English Clergyman John Newton, this song is now one of the most frequently requested tunes played on the bagpipes. Most commonly heard played on November 11th by a solo piper at Remembrance Day Services and at many funerals and other solemn occasions throughout the year.

 

1. Scotland the Brave: This is a Scottish patriot tune first thought to have appeared around the turn of the 20th century and is played by pipers and pipe bands all over the world. This is arguably the most requested tune for any piper to play by those who don’t play the bagpipes.

 

This top 10 listed was created by Garth Newlands, Pipe Major of the Cedar Hills Caledonian Pipe Band of Surrey, BC.

Looking to learn to play the bagpipes or pipe band drumming? Check out the Cedar Hills Caledonian Pipe Band who gives group lessons on Thursday evenings at the Whalley Legion in their Learning Piping and Drumming Program.

You may have seen them perform at such events as Remembrance Day at the Whalley Legion, BC Lions Half Time Salute to Veterans, Canada Day in Cloverdale or Surrey Fusion Fest to name a few.

Check out more about the band and there offers at www.chcpb.ca/learning.htm.

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