Iain MacInnes: Sealbh
A rich inheritance
That Iain MacInnes is a consummate musician would have been reason enough to encourage him to produce this CD of bagpipe and whistle music. But with this he combines a sensitive appreciation of how to accompany his preferred instruments with others to produce beautiful music. He also has an intimate knowledge of the nation’s traditional music collections and a deep understanding of Scottish culture in general. As if that were not enough Iain has an uncommon talent when it comes to composing new music. In Sealbh, we have the happy result of Iain’s abundant talents being brought to bear. Sealbh is inspired, full of novelty, and simply beautiful.
Currently producer of BBC Radio Scotland’s Pipeline programme, Iain’s musical pedigree is impressive, being a former member of the famous combines, the Tannahill Weavers, Smalltalk and Ossian. His CD, Tryst, published in 1999 received critical acclaim and was hugely popular (I recently spoke to a Canadian piper whose copy of Tryst he claimed was worn through, having being played so often).
The Gaelic word Sealbh (pronounced shall-av) incorporates the idea of inheritance and good fortune, an appropriate sentiment in a CD that draws from the well of musical tradition; a rich inheritance, indeed.
The cover photograph depicts a hut in Airidh a’ Bhruaich on the Isle of Lewis (the hut, by the way, is not part of Iain’s sealbh) which is just a few miles across the hill from Iain’s parents’ home village of Gravir.
As a musician and broadcaster Iain has been involved in the revival of bellows-blown bagpipes in Scotland since the early 1980s. He also plays Highland pipes and whistles, and, together, these instruments are at the heart of his new recording project Sealbh. In this he is joined by David McGuinness playing keyboards (including harpsichord and harmonium), Mairi Cambell and John Martin on fiddles, Ross Kennedy and Iain MacLeod on strings and Simon Thoumire on concertina. The repertoire is drawn mainly from traditional sources, both Highland and Lowland, with a few contemporary tunes thrown in for good measure.
Iain learnt his piping from Pipe Major Jimmy MacGregor, a former Queen’s piper on the Balmoral estate who was a huge source of musical knowledge and inspiration. In the mid-’80s he joined the Tannahill Weavers, following in the footsteps of the band’s original piper, Alan MacLeod, and in the early-’90s he teamed up with Billy Ross and Stuart Morison to form the acclaimed trio Smalltalk. His first solo album Tryst (produced by Billy Jackson) was released in 1999.
Iain also has an interest in piping history. In 1988 he completed a thesis exploring the development of the Highland bagpipe from the 1740s to 1840s, a period of cultural transition within Scotland, and he has written widely on the subject of Scotland’s ‘alternative’ piping culture, that of the bellows-blown or ‘cauld wind’ bagpipe (including a piece in Josh Dickson’s recent publication The Highland Bagpipe, published by Ashgate). As a music producer at BBC Scotland he has helped nurture emerging talent for almost 20 years, as well as finding time to perform and lecture.
Iain MacInnes: Sealbh
- Spark’s Rant [5:07]
- Go To Berwick [4:55]
- Karuna [5:22]
- Cow Hill [4:54]
- Quicksteps [4:23]
- Nighean na Cailliche [4:17]
- MacDonald of the Isles [5:05]
- Rusty Gully [3:56]
- Castle Stalker [3:17]
- Loudon [3:35]
- Loch Bee [5:27]