City of Edinburgh puts different spin on annual piping contest

Published: February 9, 2014
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One of the world’s most creative solo piping competitions returns bigger and better for the Scottish off-season with the 2014 edition of the Pipe-Majors Wheel of Fortune on February 22nd at the Danderhall Miners’ Club, courtesy of the City of Edinburgh Pipe Band.

The event has perhaps its widest and deepest talent of competitors, with Callum Beaumont, William Geddes, Derek Graham, Finlay Johnston, Gordon McCready, Douglas Murray, Angus Nicholson and Gordon Walker accepting the unique challenge.

Unique because the competition calls for the usual traditional MSR, but then progresses to contestants having to spin the Golden Chanter on the Wheel of Fortune to determine which of five categories of tunes will have to played, ranging from:
  • 4/4 march
  • 9/8 march
  • Donald MacLeod tune
  • G.S McLennan tune
  • Gaelic or Irish slow air
  • Gordon Duncan tune
  • Ground of a piobaireachd
  • Hornpipe
  • Own composition
  • Polka
  • Two Irish jigs
  • Two Irish reels
Four of the five categories are decided by competitors spinning the wheel, and the fifth category is determined by a member of the audience. Each competitor has a “Joker” that they can use once to deselect a category, and then spin the wheel for an alternate.
Each competitor also has to tell a joke as part of their interaction with the audience, which collectively will act as one of four judges. The other three adjudicators are individuals “respected for their ability, experience and dedication to piping.”
The best joke, as decided by the audience, gains a ?50 prize, while the winner of the MSR receives ?150, and the prizes for the Wheel of Fortune section are ?500, ?300, and ?150.
The contest starts at 12:30 pm, with an auction and raffle also part of the fundraising. Tickets to the event can be reserved by email and are ?15 for adults and ?5 those younger than 16.
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To help with strathspey rhythm, think of the dance step, “STEP, together, step, hop.” for the four beats in the bar.
Anne Spalding, Broughty Ferry, Scotland