Gordon Duncan

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For the Scottish flying ace, see Gordon Duncan (aviator).
Gordon Duncan
Born (1964-05-14)May 14, 1964
Turriff, Aberdeenshire
Died December 14, 2005(2005-12-14) (aged 41)
Instruments Bagpipes

Gordon Duncan (May 14, 1964 – December 14, 2005) was a bagpiper and composer, born in Turriff, Aberdeenshire.

Early life[edit]

Duncan was born in Turriff on 14 May 1964 to tenant farmer Jock Duncan, well known as a bothy ballad singer, and his wife Frances.[1] Soon after Gordon's birth, Jock joined the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board and moved to Pitlochry after a brief spell in Thurso.[1] Initially taught by his father, he began his piping career at the age of 10, winning many junior competitions under the tuition of Walter Drysdale,[1] but started to lose interest in competition piping by the age of 18, at which point he was an apprentice joiner.[2]

Career[edit]

He attracted attention from folk bands, touring the US and Europe with the Tannahill Weavers, Wolfstone and Ceolbeg and became associated with Dougie MacLean, playing low whistle on his albums.[2][3] He began composing soon afterwards, having travelled across Europe and been exposed to other traditions, especially Breton music.[2]

He also performed with the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band and the Atholl Highlanders, as well as being signed by Greentrax as a solo artist.[2][4]

Duncan created a new style of idiosyncratic bagpipe music.[1] He also incorporated the bagpipes into a rendition of AC/DC's Thunderstruck.[2] His work was heard at T in the Park, Celtic Connections, Celtic Colours in Canada, the Lorient festival in Brittany, where he was the two-time winner of the MacAllan Trophy and the Fleadh Cheoil in Ireland.[5][6]

He worked as a refuse collector and was known to scribble compositions on cigarette packets whilst at work.[1]

Compositions[edit]

Duncan composed over one hundred tunes in his lifetime, with perhaps his most famous work, Andy Renwick's Ferret, being performed and recorded internationally.[2][4][5]

He arranged music for the Vale of Atholl and ScottishPower pipe bands.[7][8]

Death[edit]

In 2005, after a long struggle with alcoholism, Duncan committed suicide; his funeral was held at Pitlochry Church of Scotland and was attended by hundreds of pipers.[4][6] He is survived by his mother and father, brother and two sisters, as well as his son, Gordon, and his wife, Mary.[1]

Since 2007 an annual A National Treasure concert has been staged in Perth by the Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust, with the BBC airing the 2011 concert.[6][9][10][11]

Discography[edit]

He recorded three solo albums, and a further album was compiled after his death from previously recorded material.[7][12][13]

  • Just for Seumas (1994)
  • Circular Breath (1997)
  • Thunderstruck (2003)
  • Just for Gordon (2007)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Gilchrist, Jim (20 December 2005). "Obituary: Gordon Duncan". The Scotsman. p. 33. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Adams, Rob (22 December 2005). "Gordon Duncan; Renowned musician and composer". The Herald (Glasgow). p. 16. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Adams, Rob (13 December 1990). "THEATRE / Brand new bag; Rob Adams reports on attempts to breathe new life into an ancient tradition". The Independent (London). p. 14. 
  4. ^ a b c "Funeral of renowned piper who died at 41". Aberdeen Evening Express. 21 December 2005. p. 18. 
  5. ^ a b McDonald, Graham (20 June 2001). "Night with piper far from highland fling". Canberra Times (Australia). p. 8. 
  6. ^ a b c English, Spaul (31 December 2011). "Just for Gordon Sunday, BBC Alba, Pipers' Champion; Piper was Regarded as One of the Most Innovative Performers and Composers". Daily Record. pp. 16–17. 
  7. ^ a b "Gordon Duncan: 1964-2006.(Obituary)". Sing Out!. 22 March 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2014.  – via HighBeam (subscription required)
  8. ^ "Gordon Duncan". Allmusic. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  9. ^ Gilchrist, Jim (20 September 2012). "Review : Folk, Jazz, Etc : Blowing up a storm in celebration of piper Duncan's legacy". The Scotsman. p. 10. 
  10. ^ Adams, Rob (26 September 2011). "A National Treasure V, Perth Concert Hall". The Herald (Glasgow). p. 17. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "The Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust". The Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Just For Gordon (CD)". Foot Stompin' Celtic Music. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  13. ^ "Gordon Duncan". Retrieved 13 April 2013. 

External links[edit]