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Gordon Duncan - JPop.com
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Gordon Duncan

Gordon Duncan

Gordon Duncan


Gordon Duncan (1964-2005) was one of a young generation of Scottish pipers who opened up the piping scene to a more innovative approach. He began playing at the age of 8, taught initially by his father and his older brother Iain Duncan, himself a successful piper and Pipe Major. He was a highly successful junior competitor, but at the age of seventeen stopped competing regularly to focus on the folk scene. He recorded with a number of bands, including Wolfstone, The Tannahill Weavers, Ceolbeag, and the Dougie MacLean Band. Read more on Last.fm
Gordon Duncan (1964-2005) was one of a young generation of Scottish pipers who opened up the piping scene to a more innovative approach. He began playing at the age of 8, taught initially by his father and his older brother Iain Duncan, himself a successful piper and Pipe Major. He was a highly successful junior competitor, but at the age of seventeen stopped competing regularly to focus on the folk scene. He recorded with a number of bands, including Wolfstone, The Tannahill Weavers, Ceolbeag, and the Dougie MacLean Band. He continued to compete at local competitions and invitational competitions, such as the MacAllan competition in Brittany, where pipers are expected to showcase their mastery of different types of Celtic music and their virtuosity.

This came to a head in 1995 after a blistering display at a knockout competition (which he won) hosted by the College of Piping in Glasgow. The principal of the College, Seumas MacNeill stood up, and famously said 'If this is where piping is headed, I'm sticking to my fiddle'. A year later, Gordon released a solo album (his first widely available, although he had produced a self published album some years earlier), entitled Just for Seumas. It displayed the full range of Gordon's mastery of piping, opening with a tune from Seumas MacNeill's own collection of music, through traditional competition material, piobaireachd and music arranged with snare drum and guitar and bouzouki accompaniment, to an astonishing closing track consisting of a heavy dance beat accompanying Gordon's playing. This track included what was then seen as sacrilege - the first line of the piobaireachd Lament for Mary MacLeod was used as a harmony line for a reel.

Seumas's reaction to this album is not recorded. He followed up this album with the circular breath, with Gerry O'Connor on banjo. One of the most notable features of this album is that almost all Gordon's compositions played on the album are included as sheet music in the sleeve notes. Musically, Duncan was hugely innovative and his first 'hit' composition is a classic example. Although pipers have known for hundreds of years that it is possible to manipulate the bagpipe chanter to obtain accidentals outside the bagpipe's mixolydian scale, these were never used or their possibilities considered until the 1980s when a few pipers began to look into them. Gordon was the first piper to write a 'hit' tune using them, and the result Andy Renwick's Ferret, an astonishing reel in A minor swept the piping world in the late 1980s.

Gordon continued to look for inspiration from all sources and his last album, Thunderstruck released in 2003, continued this process. With the astonishing The Belly Dancer, a piece in the previously unheardof Phrygian mode and the title track, a development of an AC/DC riff, Gordon proved he was not standing still. Gordon was also famous for his support and encouragement of young pipers, often preferring to hear others play than to play himself. Gordon died on the 14th December, 2005 at his home in Edradour, Pitlochry, Perthshire. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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