Published: November 09, 2006

Making a mark

The death of Bob Dunsire is sad, and I feel for his family. He was too young to go and obviously had much more to give to the piping and drumming world.

But the positive thing is everything that he contributed to our art. I don’t think he put together his piping and drumming websites or took photos for anything but the pursuit of his passion. He seemed to just want to do something positive for the scene by getting people together to discuss things in a civilized and constructive way.

That he affected so many people is remarkable, made more so by the fact that he was not a piper of world-class talent. Before the net came along, to become famous in the piping and drumming world you pretty much had to win big prizes, write great tunes, or teach great players.

I don’t think Bob Dunsire did any of that. Instead he made his mark by recognizing the power of the Internet to bring people together and, for this, I think his contribution is far more important to the art than winning a Silver Star or a Clasp. Those are great personal accomplishments, and a certain number of people get to enjoy the music, but they are not lasting contributions to the art overall.

Bob and I corresponded a lot in the late-1990s about the phenomenon of the net. We fell out for a time over some stupid copyright misunderstanding, but I actually learned a lot from him. He was well ahead of his time when it came to social networking. It’s remarkable that he recognized that a traditionally fractured and occasionally back-stabbing culture like competitive piping and drumming could use a place where people could speak positively and freely without fear of being ostracized by their peers or hammered by a judge. That his Forums sprang from the vitriolic and often insane world of the old rec.music.makers.bagpipe chat group (the social networking pioneer on the net) was further remarkable.

While no person can ever be replaced, there are more people like him out there who will make their positive and constructive mark in ways other than the competition platform. May they be inspired by Bob Dunsire’s passion.

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