Bagpiper & Harpist, Marlow, UK
A composition for bagpipes, created in a collaborative effort by the facebook group Old Geezers Learning Bagpipes and arranged with the help of Matt Willis Bagpiper. Supporting the Scottish Wildcat one note at a time.
If you would like to support the efforts of the Old Geezers Learning Bagpipes in raising awareness (and funds) for the Scottish Wildcat, then please do play this tune. Make a recording and put it on your social media page with a link to our JustGiving page
The Story behind the tune
I had been watching a documentary on the Scottish Wildcat and in it the ecologist Dr David Hetherington said that one of the problems with the Scottish wildcat is that it isn't part of popular or folk culture. He said there are a lot of folk stories about wolves (for example Little Red Riding Hood), and even if our folklore awareness of wolves because of these stories isn't always good, what it does mean is that wolves are high in the consciousness of humans. Unlike the Scottish Wildcat, which has rarely been written about and as a result is non-existent in our conscious. The problem is, if we don't know of the animal if we don't 'love' the animal because of a cultural awareness then we won't do anything about it if it gets endangered.
I thought this was an excellent point and it made me put an entry in the book that I was writing 'Scottish Music Yearbook' for the date 5 March when I was writing about the song 'Sam the Skull' composed by Harry Hagan.
"We could probably do with more Scottish songs about cats. I am thinking specifically of the Scottish wild cat, those elusive wild felines that live in isolated pockets of the Highlands, with their stripy tails and thick weather proof coat of 30,000 hairs per square cm. In contrast, Sam the Skull, the subject of this humorous Glesga song is not so much of the wild species, more free and easy. Mind you, he is a bit of a rough dude. The song talks of his claws being as strong as crocodile jaws and that prison bars are there to keep Sam out rather than to keep the prisoners in."
extract from Scottish Music Yearbook, 5 March
A few months later, the thought re-emerged that we could do something in current culture to raise awareness for the Scottish wildcat and I posted a suggestion into a facebook group that I am a member of ... the Old Geezers Learning Bagpipes facebook group.
"Why don't we write a bagpipe tune to raise awareness for the plight of the Scottish Wildcat?"
The idea got a lot of thumbs up and comments of support, so we were off, composing a tune. Various members sent me in a few notes each and then I took their sequences and bagpipe embellishments and put them into a tune. We put it in 9/8 cos cats have 9 lives - or at least that is our hope for the Scottish Wildcat - that he/she isn't on her last 9 life :-( Together we all collaborated. 8 bars emerged at first and that spurred more people on to send me more notes for the next 8 bars, until eventually we had the 16 bars of a typical bagpipe tune.
The tune was done! Now the plan was for us all to record it and we would create a compilation video and share it out there to support the Scottish wildcat.
Whilst all the pipers had gone off to learn this tune, a couple of us thought it'd be a great idea to ask a well known bagpiper Matt Willis (also a moderator of our facebook group) if he would perform the tune for us all as encouragement. Matt agreed which was fantastic and so he set off to record the music. There was a problem though. I'd put together our tune in a pitch that didn't quite work on the bagpipes and so Matt had to arrange it one tone higher to make it work in our bagpipe tuning of A mixolydian with a flat 7th. After we'd done that, et voila we had a tune that worked perfectly (purrfectly).
Our next step is to get it out there into the world, so people become aware of the Scottish Wildcat. The world premiere of Matt playing our tune is below. Watch this space for more performances of MacMoggies Lament.
Supporting the Scottish Wildcat
run by Royal Zoological Society of Scotland
The Highland Tiger faces extinction in the wild. Can you help to support a future for the wildcat in Scotland?
Royal Zoological Society of Scotland
RZSS is a conservation charity with a mission to connect people with nature and safeguard species from extinction. We care for the animals in our own Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park, along with carrying out vital conservation work and research that saves endangered animals from extinction.
Charity Registration No. SC004064