‘Donald Blair OAM,’ a brilliant new eight-part jig by R.S. MacDonald
Roderick S. “R.S.” MacDonald is one of the greatest composers of Highland bagpipe music ever, and pipes|drums is pleased to bring readers another exclusive composition debut: “Donald Blair OAM.”
The prodigious eight-part jig features MacDonald’s trademark creativity, with alternating endings, irregular construction and even a surprise time-signature change as the second timing to the final part.
The tune is named for bagpipe innovator Murray Blair‘s 82-year-old father, who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2018 for his service to the community and to pipe bands. The elder Blair was inducted into the Pipe Bands Australia Hall of Fame that same year, one of 12 inaugural honourees.
Donald Blair has taught hundreds of pipers throughout his life, committing nearly 30 hours a week to teaching. Beginning in 1982, he served as pipe-major of Warrnambool & District, near Melbourne.
Several of R.S. MacDonald’s compositions are already modern classics: “Good Drying,” “The Trip to Ballymena,” and “The College of Piping at Summerside, PEI” are heard regularly live and on recordings. His 2009 music book – The Collection – is one of the best published in the last 50 years. His solo recording, Good Drying, of 2003, is a tour de force of creativity.
R.S. is originally from Inverness, Scotland, and is the son of the great William MacDonald, Benbecula. Not really thought of as a competitor (he stopped competing when he was 21), he has nonetheless made his mark as a composer and a player of the highest order.
At age 26, he moved to London, and later moved to Osaka, Japan, in 2000, and in 2003 to Queensland, Australia, where he is was pipe-major of the Queensland Police Pipes & Drums until only recently. He’s now back in Osaka.
Here’s a recording of R.S. MacDonald playing “Donald Blair OAM.”
Willie MacDonald (Benbecula), 1927-2010
May 31, 2010
Celebration of Willie MacDonald, Benbecula’s 80th
November 30, 2007
November 30, 2009
Queensland Police Service pulls plug on competition
January 31, 2004