A fantastic story in a song by Mairi Campbell and Hamish Moore. So much wonderful imagery, and who can resist a song about a piper?!
The Piper and the Maker
I could hear the music playing as I came up to the door
And once inside I felt the beat of feet upon the floor
Had Gow himself been there that night he wouldn’t have disapproved
As sets of reels got settled in a most insistent groove.
The fiddlers fired the music to each corner of the bar
And the rhythms swung like Basie on piano and guitar
Keening bright above the rest the small pipes led the splore [party, spree]
The call went up for dancers, Frank and Maggie took the floor.
The players stopped to catch their breath, the dancers gasped for air
The piper stood and loosed his straps and stowed his pipes with care
And as he made towards the bar a voice was heard to say
“You look to me the kind of man could play a sweet strathspey.”
“I have that reputation and it’s kind of you to say
But I’ve got a demon thirst on me, I haven’t got all day.”
“Well, hold that drink a minute now and look at what I’ve here –
A set of pipes worth more of your time than any pint of beer.”
“The drones are turned from boxwood and the chanter’s bound with gold
There’s finest beeswax, hemp and leather – here, I’ll give you them to hold.”
The piper looked in wonder as those pipes came out the case
He strapped them on and closed his eyes and quiet filled the place.
The Devil in the Kitchen and The Rothiemurchus Rant,
George the Fourth and Stumpie and the Bob o Fettercairn
As each strathspey outshone the last he swore he knew no more
But still the tunes came tumbling out from some forgotten store.
He played strathspeys and reels and jigs he never though he knew
And when at last the outpour stopped, the silence round him grew
Until the shock of what they’d heard from everyone did burst
In cheers and yells and shrieks and stamps which by and by dispersed.
And as they did the piper turned and to the maker said
“What enchantment is there here, and was it really me who played?
There’s fearful stories of these things – I’ve heard the old folk tell
I fear the hands that made these pipes were guided straight from Hell!”
The maker smiled at him and said, “I understand your fear
But the wood and leather’s of this Earth – no magic is there here.
I will admit these pipes could be the finest ever made
But that would count for not one thing if they were never played.”
“For there’s music in them right enough, but there’s music in you too,
And the one requires the other for that music to come through.
The pipes unlocked the music that was waiting in your soul,
And you unlocked the instrument and made the circle whole.”