Published: November 30, 1999

Milennium predictions

[Originally published as an Editorial]

Since this issue of the Piper & Drummer is the last of this century, it’s fitting that we should try to put things into some kind of perspective.

The 20th century, without doubt, was the greatest ever for piping and drumming. Never has so much been achieved for the bagpipe and pipe band drums by so many over the last hundred years.

And we owe almost all of it to technology. Technology has brought pipers and drummers together. Technology has made it possible for piping to thrive world wide. Technology has allowed there to be a world standard of excellence for our instruments. Technology has allowed the Piper & Drummer to be feasible.

Looking back to the 19th century we can see just how far we’ve come. When the great piper D.C. Mather immigrated to Montana at the turn of the century he found himself smack dab in a piping wasteland with hardly a decent piper to found for a thousand miles. A hundred years later even Montana boasts pipers capable of playing a good “Loch Carron.” If he were here today, Mather would be astounded at the world piping community.

In this issue we take a good look at the last hundred years and try to envision the future. We assembled a panel of five experts with unique insights on the history of piping and drumming. Through the power of the Internet, we also asked the world of pipers and drummers for their views at the end of the millennium.

Our predictions for piping and drumming in the 21st century:

  • By 2003 there will be an American Pipe Band Association, a Canadian Pipe Band Association, and a European Pipe Band Association. The RSPBA, however, is certain to throw up roadblocks to a World Pipe Band Association.
  • By 2005 pipers and pipe bands will bypass recording companies and put their music on the Internet in MP3 (or some other) format, free for anyone who likes it to access it and enjoy it.
  • By 2010 teaching by video conferencing will be commonplace. Just as the tape recorder made teaching transportable from Scotland to the dominions, video conferencing will allow great pipers – wherever they are – to teach students – wherever they may be.
  • By 2015 competition will be the secondary forum for piping and drumming performance. The great pipe bands and pipers will be more at home on the concert stage than the contest field.
  • By 2020 the bagpipe will be made of completely synthetic materials, from chanter to drones to bag to reeds. African blackwood and other hardwoods will be replaced, out of necessity, by suitable man-made materials. A synthetic chanter will have been developed and embraced by pipers everywhere.
  • By 2025 a World Pipe Band Association will finally have been created, comprising the major organizations around the world. The United States will have a major presence in that federation, since at least two US bands by then will have attained a World Championship.
  • Beyond 2025 is anyone’s guess as to how our little world will be even smaller. For all we know, the reader of 2026 will read this and guffaw.

    But there’s one thing we know for certain: the Piper & Drummer will continue to go from strength to strength, continuing to take advantage of new communications technologies, and continue to inspire trailing publications.

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