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History, Tradition, Heritage As related to the subjects of piping, drumming and pipe bands.

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Old 10-16-2012, 01:50 PM   #11
Rob MacDonald
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Default Re: Painting of the "Mole at Tangiers"

Pardon me if this point has aleady been raised, but isn't there considerable doubt as to the authenticity of the pipers in this particular painting?

I recall that David Murray was quite sceptical because the pipers are the only figures in the entire painting not 'done to scale', and he wondered if the pipers were added at a later date.
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:17 AM   #12
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Painting of the "Mole at Tangiers"

Yes Rob, that's one of the major reasons why several of us would love the opportunity to have a detailed examination of the painting.
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Old 10-21-2012, 11:41 PM   #13
JP Cahill
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Default Re: Painting of the "Mole at Tangiers"

Anyone who has a copy of the Royal Scots collection of tunes and still wondering what this painting looks like can find a greatly reduced black and white copy of it on page vii. But don't run out and buy a copy for the painting; it's so small as to be useless for any practical purpose. Even finding the alleged pipers in this copy is difficult, never mind determining what they're wearing.

The text does mention, though, that the painting is only on loan to the Maritime Museum but actually belongs to the Earl of Dartmouth. Could he have taken it back and that's why no one in the museum seems to know of it?

Cheers,

-John-
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Old 10-22-2012, 05:49 AM   #14
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Default Re: Painting of the "Mole at Tangiers"

If you open your copy of The Highland Bagpipe and its Music by Roderick D Cannon to the group of plates between page 36 and 37 you'll see a closeup of the pipers in the Mole at Tangier.

There are four pipers. They are clearly pipers in Highland Dress. Three of the four have their drones sort of bundled together so that the number of drones is unclear. These possibly could be common-stock pipes.

One piper has three drones clearly visible splayed across his shoulder.

At least in that b&w photo the pipers look like they "belong" in the painting, and seem to be painted in the same scale and style as the other figures.

About having the painting examined, that would only be as meaningful as the experience and knowledge of the person doing the examining. For example, it was common in the old days to varnish paintings and if the pipers were added later they might be on top of a layer of varnish, but it would take sophisticated analysis to determine that.
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Last edited by pancelticpiper; 10-22-2012 at 05:57 AM.
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:21 AM   #15
K Sanger
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Default Re: Painting of the "Mole at Tangiers"

Although Roderick Cannon used that picture in his book that was done sometime ago and he shares my doubts, which is why we have been trying to firstly get a good modern scan of that picture and ideally have it subjected to a full modern painting analysis including X-ray. But even if contact could be established with the museum cost would need to covered.

The fact that the pipers were clearly in highland dress and that the drones were on their left shoulders is, apart from the fact mentioned earlier in this thread that the accounts for the only Scottish regiment there only show one piper, none of the 'regular' regiments of the Scottish Armed forces at that time wore kilts.

Regarding the drones all the pictures from Grants piper in 1714 to 1800 of Scottish pipers show them with the drones on the right shoulder and the finger wear pattern of both the Ian Dall chanter and the MacIntyre Chanter, from 1674 close to the date of the Mole picture show that the pipers were playing on the right shoulder.

The piper or pipers in Tangeirs at that may have worn kilts and played in the 'modern' or at least post 1800 left shoulder style but as that picture goes against this evidence it does need to be properly examined.

It is just one more piece of established piping history where on close examination the 'facts' turn out to be far less certain. For example a few years ago I took a look at the muster rolls for Campbell of Glenlyon's company which survive for the year prior to Glencoe. Interestingly he was the only one with a Campbell surname in it and few of the other names were within the 'Campbell' areas. Further more that company did not have a piper which also goes against tradition re a warning.

Keith
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Old 10-24-2012, 03:27 AM   #16
paul roberts
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Default Re: Painting of the "Mole at Tangiers"

Personally I’ve never been convinced these pipers are wearing Highland dress. Given the lack of detail they could just as easily be wearing the brimmed hats and long “justacorps” coats that were standard military dress of the time. I suspect people have looked at this picture from a modern perspective where they expect army pipers to wear a particular type of clothing and have read that backwards into the picture

Nor am I convinced these have to be “Highland” pipers. This is 1683: bagpipes were still widely played in most of Europe at this time, including England (where most of the soldiers at Tangiers came from) and Lowland Scotland (where most of the Scots stationed there came from).

I am of course making these observations on the basis of the image in Rod Cannon's book - we really do need to see the original!

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Old 10-24-2012, 04:43 AM   #17
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Painting of the "Mole at Tangiers"

Quote:
Originally Posted by K Sanger View Post
the 'modern' or at least post 1800 left shoulder style
If you're saying that all pipers prior to 1800 played on the right shoulder, then switched to the left after that date, I don't buy it... the "sample size" of the pre-1800 evidence is too small to draw such a sweeping conclusion in my opinion. It's long been a regional and personal thing, and I suspect that it was back then, too.
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Old 10-24-2012, 06:48 AM   #18
K Sanger
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Default Re: Painting of the "Mole at Tangiers"

Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
If you're saying that all pipers prior to 1800 played on the right shoulder, then switched to the left after that date, I don't buy it... and I suspect that it was back then, too.
Based on what exactly?

You are of course welcome to 'buy' whatever you like but what I said in that post was that prior to 1800 all the evidence indicated the bag was under the right arm. So for the record and full references can be supplied;-

circa 15th century, Angel playing bagpipes in Roslin Chapel
circa 1714 Grants piper Wm Cumming
circa 1748 Highland piper mural at Louvestien Castle Holland
1760 Joseph MacDonald
circa 1760-70 The Highland family, painting by David Allan
circa 1770 Allan MacDonald Eglintons piper
170 Geordy Sim town piper of Dalkeith
circa 1774, painting The Mitred Minuet, (see Gibson page xii)
circa 1780 A Highland Dance by David Allan, has two pipers shown both with
bag under right arm
circa 1784, Neil MacLean with prize pipe
circa 1790 A Highland Wedding by David Allan

All the above with bags under right arm
[B]------------------------------[B]

circa 1810 Archibald MacArthur, Bag under left arm
1812 John MacDonald Glenaladale Bag under right arm
1821 Death of Red Deer by David Wilkie, Bag under right arm
circa 1822, series of pencil sketches of pipers made by David Dighton, Five pipers two with bag under right arm
circa 1830 John Campbell, (of Netherlorn) at Bowmore Fair Bag under right arm

Yes a small sample but remarkably consistent for all that.

Keith
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:29 AM   #19
John Dally
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Default Re: Painting of the "Mole at Tangiers"

I agree with Paul above. It's not certain the pipers in the "Mole" painting are wearing Highland dress, although any certainty is impossible.
The pipers are helping the soldiers with their labor, not playing in battle, so it is speculation that this particular unit, Scottish Lowland or English, would have used pipers in battle, and so might not be listed in their records. Music has long been used to aid in the process of labor, especially work that is made more efficient by having many people work in rhythm with each other, like reaping, shoveling, lifting, passing things fire brigade style.
English units fighting Irish Kernes in Ireland in the 16th and 17th centuries made special note of pipers being essential to Irish tactics in battle. It was unusual to the English, even though or perhaps because piping in a civilian context was familiar to them. When, if ever, did playing pipes in battle become normal for Lowlanders? There were Lowland regiments at Culloden on both sides, for example, none of whom had pipers, afaik.
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:36 AM   #20
John Dally
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Default Re: Painting of the "Mole at Tangiers"

Also, it appears from the paintings listed by Keith above that there was a lot less difference overall in size between Highland and Lowland bagpipes during the period under discussion. The main take-away I had from Cheape's book is that what we think of as the "ancient" Highland bagpipe is a modern design.
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