For centuries, there has been a long-held belief that bagpipes were classified as an instrument of war and were banned in the Act of Proscription of 1746.
The story goes that in the aftermath of the Jacobite Rising of 1745, culminating in the now infamous Battle of Culloden, possessing a set of pipes or playing bagpipes them was banned.
Unfortunately, history is always far more complicated than we think...
In my part of the world, “The Green Hills of Tyrol” is a staple of massed band performances. You can count on hearing it at some point at the beginning and end of each games day. It’s also used frequently for pipe band tuning—the second part is quite effective, since you are basically playing down the scale from High A. But this little workhorse of a tune is one of the oldest pipe band tunes in our repertoire today, and has quite an amazing story.
From its origin in Scottish clans and culture, the Great Highland Bagpipe has long been associated with the military.
Especially in more recent history, the Highland Regiments of the British Armed Forces, and some of the Lowland Regiments as well, have had bagpipers since their first formation.
The United States Armed Forces has historically had a very close relationship with the British – so the spread of the bagpipes was inevitable.
The Victoria Cross is the highest military award for members of the armed forces of the Commonwealth countries. This award is given for valor in the face of the enemy of the “most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valor or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.” We are going to look at three bagpipers who have won this award.