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Scottish Quotations about Scottish Bagpipes

To those who know not the pipes, the feel of the bag in the oxter (armpit) is a gaiety lost. The sweet round curve is like a girl’s waist; it is friendly and warm in the crook of the elbow and against a man’s side, and to press it is to bring laughing or tears. The march came first to the chanter, the old tune, the fine tune that Kintail has heard before, when the wild men in their red tartan came over hill and moor; the tune with the river in it, the fast river and the courageous that kens not stop nor tarry, that runs round rock and over fall with a good humour, yet no mood for anything but the way before it. The tune of the heroes, the tune of the pinelands and the broad straths, the tune that the eagles of Loch Duich crack their beaks together when they hear, and the crows of that countryside would as soon listen to as the squeal of their babies.
Neil Munro

I will nae priests for me shall sing,
Nor yet nae bells for me to ring,
But ae Bagpipe to play a spring.

Walter Kennedy

I passed a piper in the street as I went to the Dean’s and could not help giving him a shilling to play ‘Pibroch a
Donuil Dhu’ for luck’s sake.
What a child I am!
Sir Walter Scott

Experts have been puzzled by a new record of bagpipe
music played by Pipe Major lain McLeod. Now it turns
out that the tapes were recorded backwards. More than
1000 records went out without anyone realizing the
mistake. And 400 were sold without complaint.

There was a legend long current in Glasgow, that about a
hundred years ago (1780), as a citizen was passing at
midnight through the churchyard which surrounds the
Cathedral, he saw a neighbour of his own, lately buried,
rise out of his grave, and dance a jig with the devil, who
played the air called ‘Whistle o’er the lave o’t’, upon the
bagpipe, which struck the whole city with so much horror, that the town-drummer was sent through the streets next morning, to forbid any one to play, sing, or whistle, the nefarious tune in question.
Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe

The great war-pipes of Caledonia. A sheep’s bladder, some ebony tubes, a bit of silver, carved ivory, a tassel or two, and a fringe of tartan. And terror in the hearts of the enemy. The greatest laxative in the world. To have an army led by a piper is like going into a cup final two goals up. Nero did not fiddle while Rome burned. He sat back and skirled a tune or two on the tibia utricularis. And, of course, they couldn’t hear the lire alarm for the noise he was making. A musical instrument that became a weapon of war. A weapon of war that became Lord of the Dance. To play the pipes well is to belong to the most exclusive and privileged and thirsty Mafia in the world.

Nae instrument, however sweet,
Can wi’ the Highland pipes compete;
For tho’ its notes are only nine,
It’s warbling voice is so divine
That when evoked with skill and art
It moves all feelings of the heart,
And Rage and Love, and Joy and Grief
Thro’ it find utterance and relief.

In Kintyre, Islay, Colonsay, Mull, and Cape Wrath they
tell a story about a piper. Always he is thwarted in love.
Always he pipes himself into a deep cave in search of hell. Always he is accompanied by his dog. The piper never returns. The dog always returns. Always badly burned.

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