Hector MacLean’s winning tune rediscovered
This month’s Piping Times carries the story of Pipe Major Hector MacLean’s winning tune, The Knightswood Highlanders. MacLean, who died in 1974, submitted his tune to a composing contest that had been organised by the Knightswood Highlanders of Glasgow Association in 1949 but the tune subsequently disappeared unlike, of course, Knightswood Ceilidh and Allan Rowan of Port Appin, both of which went on to become standards in the repertoire of many pipers.
For years, the College of Piping and Hector’s family had been searching for the tune. Eventually, a couple of months ago, Jeannie Campbell stumbled across the tune in the Museum of Piping whilst undertaking some research. The tune has now been professionally typeset and is reproduced in the March Piping Times.
Around 40 tunes had been submitted to the composing competition with the standard of music being high.
Hector MacLean was well known in piping circles in Glasgow and the west of Scotland at the time. A native of Argyll (Oban) he left school and became piper to the Captain of Dunstaffnage. He served with the Scottish Horse and later The Black Watch during the First World War.
During the Second World War, he led the Dumbartonshire Home Guard Pipe Band. At the time of the composing competition, Hector was Pipe Major of Babcock & Wilcox Pipe Band.
At a later piobaireachd composing contest, one organised by the BBC in 1964, Hector’s tune, The MacLean’s Salute came second. The tune can be found in the Piobaireachd Society’s publication of 1980, A Collection of Ceol Mor.
Hector was a pupil of Pipe Major William MacLean, Kilcreggan and Pipe Major John MacDonald, M.B.E. of Inverness. Hector was one of the ten pipers selected to attend the Glasgow piobaireachd class taught in 1938 by MacDonald.
A number of Hector’s piping memorabilia were donated to the College in late 2014. A report was carried in the February 2015 Piping Times.