of getting something. Later when the prizes came out I got nothing.One of the judges was P/M Donald MacLeod and he came up to me afterwards and said ‘Do you know why you didn’t get a prize?’No, I said, and I was surprised because I thought I had played pretty well.‘You did play well; very well,’ said Donald,‘but DR MacLennan,my fellow judge, did not like the way you played the second time to the last part. It was not the way his brother GS had written the tune.You cut a note that should have been held, and he was adamant that you should get nothing.’ I had actually got the tune from
Andrew Pitkeathly and there was no note change as such but Andrew phrased it differently to the music and I thought his interpretation was brilliant and that is why I adopted it. DR could be dogmatic that way. I was a wee bit perturbed at the time and I didn’t put the tune in for competition ever again. Things were better in the Strathspey and Reel where I got second and second in the jig to Donald MacPherson. The next time I went back it was
either 1970 or ’71 and I won the Marches with JohnWilson second to me that day. I won it with the Highland Wedding. Hugh Kennedy was another of my favourites and the other was Major Manson at Clachantrushal. I won a lot of prizes playing that. If I look at competitions like the Eagle Pipers, Edinburgh Police, Uist and Barra and Scottish Pipers, the march that I was most successful with was Highland Wedding. In fact it got to the stage that I stopped putting it in.
15 In NZ with Bill Boyle, 1980
How did you approach your march playing?Was it the strong, weak rhythm and two bar phrasing? Yes, that was about it but I always liked a march to sound like a march. You hear some people playing and they are so much into the phrasing of the tune that they forget to keep it flowing. It happens in the big competitions. They are all out there playing their cards close to the chest; no mistakes. But I think I was the opposite. I used to say ‘to hell with it; I’m going for it; if something happens so be it’.
You did get piobaireachd from Andrew Pitkeathly. When I started competing in the solos I did play in the piobaireachd competitions but as time went on I