Dick Hensold, Great Highland Bagpipes

Dick Hensold, piper

Normally known as an early musician and Northumbrian smallpipes expert, Dick Hensold has a secret life as an artist on the Great Highland Bagpipes. And since the Highland pipes are the perfect social distancing instrument, he will play an entire program on them on Saturday, Sept 26 at 1:00pm.

Note: reservations for this concert are slightly different. With the way our social distancing layout works in the yard, we’re allowing reservations for 25 spaces in the yard. Each space can hold either one or two people. If you need space for more than two people, contact us directly to discuss!

Online registration for this event is closed

Dick’s experience on the Highland pipes is atypical in the piping world—in addition to early music influences, he has studied the piping tradition of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, where thousands of Scottish Highlanders emigrated over 200 years ago. He has also become something of a specialist in piping for dancing. So in addition to your favorite pipe tunes, you can expect lively Cape Breton dance piping tunes, as well as Dick’s evocative original compositions.

Program & Notes

Download a PDF of the Program

1. Pavan for GHB / Drunken Piper / Gay Gordon’s. The first tune was written by me several years ago, I forget when. A Pavan is a style of stately court processional dance popular in the 16th C. The following tunes were originally written as marches, but are commonly played as reels, as they are here today. Drunken Piper composed by A. McLeod, 1862, and Gay Gordons by J.S. Skinner, 1915. Originally titled, “The Gordon Highlanders March”, it later became associated with the country dance “Gay Gordons”, to which it is ironically almost never played anymore!

2. My Home. A popular traditional tune on pipes from an old Gaelic air, “Mo Dhachaidh”.

3. Hills of Glenorchy / River Bend / Redford Cottage. Between 2007 and 2013 I went to Nova Scotia to study the piping from Cape Breton Island with John MacLean, a traditional piper who learned the tradition from his grandfather Paddy Currie. Cape Breton piping is somewhat different than Scottish piping, even though the Cape Bretoners emigrated from Scotland in the late 18th and early 19th C. The Cape Breton style is based on dance, mainly the traditional step dance which has died out in Scotland but was preserved in Cape Breton. This is one reason Cape Breton musicians sit when they play—to feel the beat more acutely, and to tap their feet like the stepdancers. The first tune is very old and traditional, River Bend is by the Cape Breton composer Dan R. MacDonald, and Redford Cottage is a Scottish march by William Sinclair Sr., played by my Cape Breton piping teacher as a jig.

4. Skye Boat Song. A melody collected and adapted in the 1870s by Miss Annie MacLeod from memory as she was being rowed over Loch Coruisk. This tune is one of the currently most-requested tunes, owing to its being used as theme music for the TV show “Outlanders”. Or that’s what I’ve been told—I don’t have a TV.

5. Currie strathspey/Reel #1/Reel #2/Scotsville. The strathspey and first two reels are all traditional untitled Cape Breton piping tunes learned by John MacLean from his grandfather Paddy Currie. The second reel has not been published or recorded anywhere. The Scotsville reel, named after a small village on Cape Breton Island, was written early in the 20th-C by fiddler Alan MacFarlane. The pipe version is from Barry Shears’ volume 1.

6. Untitled slow jig. My Cape Breton piping teacher, John MacLean, told me that 6/8 marches were unknown in Cape Breton, but that there were similar tunes about the same tempo that he called “slow jigs”. This is one such that he learned from his grandfather Paddy Currie, and has not heard elsewhere.

7. Price of the Pig / Joys of Wedlock/ Stool of Repentance. More jigs from Cape Breton, mostly from Barry Shears’ 3 volumes of Cape Breton pipe music.

8. McNaught’s Favor. (Dick Hensold, © 2012) I was reluctant to take on my first long-distance student, since I thought it would be logistically too bothersome, until he offered to maintain my website at no charge. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I wrote this tune for him in gratitude. It is based on the GHB tune “Dark Island”, which he admired (and so do I), but is different enough to be a completely different tune. Colin McNaught started learning Northumbrian smallpipes at age 62, and now at 75 is a VERY good player. And now all my students are Skype students, most based on the East coast.

9. Teribus ye Teri Odin. OK, this is complicated. There is a tune by this name in the 1954 Scots Guards tunebook, but it bears little resemblance to this version, and no one has been able to verify its source. This present version of Teribus ye Teri Odin (actually two versions) is from two Youtube sources. The first is a recording of the tune traditionally played for the annual Hawick Common Riding by the local fife and drum corps. They have played this tune every year since the late 18th-C, when it was previously played by the town piper, Walter Ballantyne. The second version is the literal 1777 transcription of Ballantyne’s playing, the manuscript of which still exists in the Hawick Museum. A very old tune!

10. Dennis Skrade. (Dick Hensold, © 2005) Another tune written for and named after an old friend.

11. Atholl Highlanders / Jig of Slurs. Atholl Highlanders is a common pipe march, here played as a jig and paired with Jig of Slurs, as is commonly played in Irish sessions.

12. Amazing Grace. One of the most-requested tunes of Highland pipers. I’ll try not to break into my Chicago blues version.

13. I Love the Lass for Loving Me / Elizabeth’s Big Coat/ High Road to Linton / The Kilt is my Delight. Another set of tunes from Cape Breton sources. The first is an untitled step-dance strathspey from the playing of fiddler Buddy MacMaster—the tune is also known as a pipe reel. The second tune is known primarily as a traditional Cape Breton fiddle tune, with obvious pipe roots, and the last two are common Scottish reels with a Cape Breton accent.

14. Highland Cathedral (composed in 1982 by Ulrich Roever and Michael Korb). Another one of the most-requested tunes of Highland pipers.

15. Broken Rudder / David Greenberg / John MacLean (all Dick Hensold, © 2005) More jigs! The second and third tunes are named after my Cape Breton music teachers.