Roddy (R.S.) MacDonald

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R. S. MacDonald
Also known as Roddy
Born (1956-07-27) July 27, 1956 (age 60)
Inverness, Scotland
Occupation(s) Piper, composer
Instruments Bagpipes

Roderick 'Roddy' (R.S.) MacDonald (born 1956) is a pipe major, living in Brisbane, Australia, and a renowned composer of tunes for the bagpipes.

MacDonald originally hails from the Scottish town of Inverness. His father is the renowned player, judge and composer of music, William MacDonald (of Gaelic-speaking Benbecula) and his grandfather, Donald MacDonald, was the pipe major of the 1st Battalion the Highland Light Infantry.[1]

MacDonald’s music has been recorded by a variety of artists and bands, including The Vale of Atholl Pipe Band, The Black Watch, The 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, The Scots Guards, Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, Shooglenifty, The Tannahill Weavers, MacUmba, Ceolbeg, Slainte Mhath, Martyn Bennett, Gordon Duncan and many more like The Finlay MacDonald Band.

He was originally taught by John Hunter, tutor with the Inverness Boys Brigade Pipe Band, an ex-Cameron Highlander and veteran of the Somme. He was also influenced by George Gershwin through his school's music teacher.[2] After the Boys Brigade, MacDonald played with the Inverness British Legion, Invergordon Distillery and British Caledonian Airways Pipe Bands. He also played for many years with the Balmoral Highlanders showband in London and toured extensively with them under the direction of his lifelong friend and pipe major, Willie Cochrane. The piper in Scot Machine by Voyage, the song made the Top 20 UK list in 1978.

MacDonald has had outstanding success as a composer of music with inclusions in over fifty recordings to date. These have been performed by bands of Coldstream Guards and Black Watch, Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. In 1986 he published the Clanranald Collection of bagpipe music and in 2003 released his debut album Good Drying which has received a considerable number of rave reviews in the international music press.[3]

In 2001 MacDonald left London after a 26-year stopover and currently resides in Australia and Japan where he is employed as a professional musician.

In 2001 MacDonald was commissioned by the Piper and Drummer magazine and GHB Communications of Toronto to compose a modern piobaireachd. The piece was entitled Lament for Kenneth Alexander MacLennan of Connon Bridge and was published later that year.

He commenced employment in February 2003 as the pipe major and music director of the Queensland Police Pipes and Drums,[4] and went on to compose the tune named for the organisation's motto, With Honour We Serve.[2] On 15 March 2006 at Government House, the Governor of Queensland appointed MacDonald as ‘The Governor’s Piper’ and presented him with her personal standard, to be flown from his bagpipes during vice-regal occasions.[5]

As part of Homecoming Scotland 2009, two musical compositions were commissioned for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Salute to Australia by MacDonald was also played at the Tattoo's 2010 Australian tour.[6] McDonald has also been the only Australian to have been Lone Piper at the Tattoo in both Scotland and Australia. The year 2009 also saw the publication of sixty tunes, R S MacDonald: The collection.[7]

MacDonald is also a captain in the Australian Army and part of their reserve army band and the 1 RAR Pipes and Drums in Brisbane, Queensland.[4]


  1. ^ "R. S. MacDonald (1955 - )". McGillivray Piping. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Curnow, Stuart (18 May 2014). "RS Macdonald: The Return of the King...". Retrieved 4 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "Roddy 'R S' MacDonald - Good Drying". Music Scotland. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Roddy S Macdonald". LinkedIn. Retrieved 4 January 2016. 
  5. ^ MacDonald, Malcolm (2007). "Pipe Major Roddy MacDonald Appointed as Piper to the Governor of Queensland". Clan Donald Magazine Online. Archived from the original on 6 Aug 2007. Retrieved 10 Sep 2012. 
  6. ^ "Tattoo celebrates Homecoming". The Scottish Government. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  7. ^ "RS MacDonald – The Collection". Kingdom Thistle Pipe Band Supplies. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 

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