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Gordon Duncan

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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.

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