Notes Upon the Landscape

Pipe Major Willie Ross recorded circa 1910 – 1939.
James MacDonald of Glencoe, Captain Jack Murray, Reel of Tulloch

An early Scottish Pipe Band. Inspiration for us all!

An early Scottish Pipe Band. Inspiration for us all!

The Leader of the Band

The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument
And his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy
To the leader of the band

(Daniel Grayling Fogelberg, 1981)

In 1981 the Dan Fogelberg album “The Innocent Age”, was released. From one album a few lettered lines sung along with the strings of a Martin D41 guitar remind me of the passage of time, youth inspired by an older generation, unwilling perhaps to accept that they themselves have become master too.

It speaks of humility, recognizing those that have gone before and the traditions of passing on knowledge from one to the next. Always searching for connections I look across our pipe band and can only help but wonder…

The magnifying glass is out and I pass it horizontally, drifting across the image. Seven fine lads of various ages and girth stand near a wood. With pipes in arm they stand posed and waiting for the photographer to say “Aye all is well!” and at that moment they nod to the photographer, break ranks, and return to their own company of banter, chatter and chanter.

I cannot help but wonder who these lads are – with no known names – no hint as to location and wonder, as well, that our photographer too is anonymous. Still there are clues, two pipers with awards probably indicative of their piping abilities proudly worn upon their chests. Badges too – one of the Cameron Highlanders on a kilt (third from left) and another of the Gordon Highlanders worn upon a Glengarry (fifth from left).

As well I like to wander into this field and place myself in the day. Have they just finished playing or are they about to begin? Are all members of the band present or did one, maybe two forget the time, the date, and missed the chance to be shown with their fellows? What tunes did they play, what tunes did they like or balk at playing. How did they speak, from whence were their accents borne? When they sat or stood together did they speak of the tools of their trade, the pipes, was it one manufacturer they favoured or were their pipes handed down to them from one generation to another? Another moment in time captured in an instant and now many years later, new technology sends it upon the trail for others to cast their gentle gaze.

As the strings of the Martin D41 ring true I listen to those familiar musical lines circling within my memory all the while looking over these pipers. When the guitar fades away and the pipes are tuned, the drones begin their melody and the notes find their way upon the landscape.

The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are getting old, but we are all legacies of that older person, those that inspire, those at the helm and by our side.

Have a listen to Mr. Fogelberg too. Happy guitar playing and happy piping to all! Traditions alike!

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


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