OT: 30 November 1912 – Mystic Minstrel [John Grant] “The Great Highland Bagpipe”

The Oban Times, 30 November, 1912

The Great Highland Bagpipe

23 November, 1912

Sir,–On reading the Highland News Notes in your columns of this date, I notice a remark made by the Russian Foreign Minister, M. Sazanoff, that an instrument similar to the Great Highland Bagpipe is used in the south of Russia.

There is a wide difference between the term bagpipe and the Great Highland Bagpipe. The bagpipe is used and known in many countries, but the Great Highland Bagpipe is purely Celtic. It was invented and perfected by the Highlanders of Scotland, and is peculiar to them alone. Many people from far countries have tried, but without success, to claim that the Highlander took the “piob mhor” from the pipe of some other nation. The Great Highland Bagpipe stood alone as the musical instrument of war used by the pipers of the Highland tribes or clans of Scotland in the earliest ages, and will to the end of the world.

Sir Alexander Mackenzie, who maintained that the fiddle was Scotland’s national instrument could not have been a Highlander. With all due respect for this timid instrument, which produces so many pleasing notes, where will it stand against the “piob mhor” as a national instrument? If ten to twenty fiddlers were to play at the head of an army, with their small wooden boxes and four catgut strings on the top of them, the enemy would think that they were on their way to the ballroom, and would devour them. When the Highland pipers lead the van, the foreign foe melts like snow in the summer sunshine. The powerful blast from their war pipes is the terror of the enemy and an emblem of the power of the army of a great nation.

Our King and country have reason to be proud of the Great Highland Bagpipe, our national instrument in war and peace. Our country owes a debt to the Great Highland Bagpipe that will be hard to repay. This instrument has stood written in good stead in many an hour of national danger, and long may she be able to boast of it as the ingenious invention of her own Celtic people.–I am, etc.,

Mystic Minstrel [John Grant]