I seriously don’t understand why people hate bagpipes so much, or any of their cousins like Uilleann pipes. I find their melodies entrancing, and consider them instruments that can be haunting, lively, majestic, and downright intimidating all at the same time. Try saying that about a euphonium.
Imagine, if you will, that you are a poor English regular, called into service because, well, the King said so. You’re pulled out of the dirt-farming life in Gloucester or something and you’re brought into the King’s Army with barely a smattering of training, a long pike, and orders to kill the other guy. You’re just a normal man, you’re no soldier. You’re not battle-hardened, you’re not tough, you’re just a guy who’s here because he’d be thrown in a terrible English prison if he didn’t.
Then suddenly…you hear it.
It’s a sound unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. A keening, piercing noise that is still strangely melodic and seems to carry for miles on the breeze. The fog on the moors is so thick that you can’t see anything, but you can hear the pipes, the pipes your fellow infantrymen have told you to beware of, because you hear the pipes and you know…they’re here. You can’t see them, but you can hear them, and the bagpipes on the early morning breeze strike you straight to the bone and set both your knees and teeth to chattering. That sound is the sound of your impending doom, of thousands of berserk, powerful Scotsman willing to die for their home and country. You’re not here for home and country, you’re here because you have no other choice, and that isn’t helping your feet stay in the ground. Those pipes, those wailing pipes, so beautiful, so haunting…why won’t they end and bring the battle that will kill you? Just make it swift, make it painless, and hope that the last thing you hear are those beautiful pipes singing you to Heaven.
That’s why bagpipes rule. They can be used at a battle in the morning to strike fear, and at a dance that night to kick up your heels. They sound like almost nothing in the world, and have a power that can stir the souls of your friends and chill the hearts of your enemies. People say that bagpipes are too strident, and they can’t stand to listen to them for very long…I say it’s just because they’re afraid.
Look for new, and eventually final, Doctor Who stories coming soon!