The pipes, the pipes, aren't calling.
April 9, 2012 6:45 AM   Subscribe

The City of Vancouver has banned bagpipes.

More precisely, the Engineering Department now refuses to issue $10 busking permits for pipers after a review determined that four instruments were responsible for too many noise complaints — bagpipes, bongos, drums and tambourines.

This is not the first time bagpipes have erupted into controversy in Canada. According to TFA, Rob MacNeil, president of the B.C. Pipers Association, recalls an incident in 1943 where a piping busker was arrested by a Vancouver police officer over opposition to his playing, and then jailed for six months until he was cleared by a court ruling that also brought about $150 in compensation.

And in Ottawa, bagpiper George Muggleton successfully fought off an attempt to prevent him playing at a public market.
posted by unSane (102 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
First they came for the bagpipes, and I... too soon?
posted by delfin at 6:51 AM on April 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


First they came for the bagpipes and I said "Thank God!"
posted by double block and bleed at 6:53 AM on April 9, 2012 [21 favorites]


a review determined that four instruments were responsible for too many noise complaints — bagpipes, bongos, drums and tambourines.

Bongos? BONGOS? Wait a minute... are these people of that particular cultural shade of ignorant who say "bongos" when they really mean "conga"? Or possible "djembe"? Cause, really, I mean, singling out bongos is just... weird.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:54 AM on April 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


Definition of a gentleman: a man who know how to play bagpipes, but refrains from doing so.
posted by shecky57 at 6:54 AM on April 9, 2012 [25 favorites]


Why do bagpipers walk when they play?

To get away from the noise.
posted by The White Hat at 6:55 AM on April 9, 2012 [23 favorites]


The City of Vancouver has banned bagpipes.

As well they should...

Not Bagpipest
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:56 AM on April 9, 2012


Why do bagpipers walk when they play?
Makes them harder to hit.
posted by plinth at 6:59 AM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Clan's are marching 'gainst the Law
Bagpipers play the tunes of war
Death or glory I will find
Rebellion on my mind!

posted by Pyrogenesis at 7:01 AM on April 9, 2012


Cause, really, I mean, singling out bongos is just... weird.

On the other hand, singling out people who want to play bongos is perfectly sensible, especially if you are trapped in a movie set in the late 50s or early 60s and are forced to go to a "bohemian" party. There will also be smoking.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:02 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Vancouver obviously has the worst. hipsters. evar.
posted by bardic at 7:02 AM on April 9, 2012


Last time I heard bagpipes in New York was in front of a firehouse on the anniversary of 9/11. (Also, I kind of like bagpipes)
posted by jonmc at 7:04 AM on April 9, 2012


The street mimes are going to make out like bandits.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:06 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


THEN ONLY CRIMINALS WILL HAVE BAGPI'm sorry. It's some sort of reflex.

I'll let myself out.
posted by mhoye at 7:08 AM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


On the other hand, singling out people who want to play bongos is perfectly sensible, especially if you are trapped in a movie set in the late 50s or early 60s and are forced to go to a "bohemian" party.

That sounds pretty cool; Jack and Jake might even be there!

You can also count me among those who like bagpipes, although like everything else they should be used in moderation.
posted by TedW at 7:08 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I dunno, man, I like bagpipes.

What I'd like to get rid of are dudes blasting their car audio systems super loud. It's like, c'mon, man, are you that sure everyone around you is going to be as into your jams as you are?
posted by pts at 7:09 AM on April 9, 2012 [16 favorites]


For two straight summers, the 22-year-old has been playing on city sidewalks, earning spending money, trying out his own compositions...

I know 22-year-olds who try out their own compositions and all I can think is this.

But the unusually specific ban, which hit a few bagpiping buskers in Vancouver, has run into opposition from one of the city’s top Scots.

We've got top Scots opposing this right now.

Top... Scots.
posted by griphus at 7:09 AM on April 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


Meanwhile, in Portland
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:10 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


My understanding may be off, but there are a few "free fire zones" in the city (around the Museum, Science Center, a few blocks near the Public Library) where no public performance permit is required... they should congregate there until the city relents.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:10 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


The street mimes are going to make out like bandits.

You mean with lots of tongue and groping, screaming down the highway with a half dozen cop cars in pursuit?
posted by TheRedArmy at 7:10 AM on April 9, 2012 [17 favorites]


Top Scots and the LA Express?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:11 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is what Vancouver will miss out on from now on.

(Disclaimer: self-link, I actually play the drums and the shaman drum in this video.)
posted by Pyrogenesis at 7:11 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thelma & Marcel
posted by griphus at 7:11 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, singling out people who want to play bongos is perfectly sensible, especially if you are trapped in a movie set in the late 50s or early 60s and are forced to go to a "bohemian" party. There will also be smoking.

Cool. I'm game. Is this going to be listed in IRL?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:12 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I live in Edinburgh. There's always at least a couple of bagpipers floating around the city centre - far more during the peak tourist months. The real irritation isn't so much when you're walking through the city, but when you have to be near them constantly. Last summer someone took up busking right outside my office window. Trying to work with the same three tunes endlessly droned out all day is quite frustrating.
posted by leo_r at 7:15 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bagpipes are a great instrument to hear off in the distance, or as a part of a much larger (marching-type) band. Solo, and right up in your grill as you are walking to work? Yeah, that's a bannin'.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:16 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here in my town of 10,000, I live across the street from the Methodist church.

For some reason that is unknown to me, a couple of times a month during non-winter seasons, a bagpiper comes and stands outside the church to practice.

He doesn't seem to be playing anything particularly religious. In fact, his presence doesn't seem to correlate at all with any activities at the church. He just comes there to practice. He plays for about an hour or maybe a bit more and then he leaves.

It's one of the more amusing things I've ever encountered anywhere I've lived, and it happens right across the street from me.
posted by hippybear at 7:16 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


So this one time, there was a bagpiper in the restaurant that we had to pay to leave us alone. We did not stay for dessert.
posted by willF at 7:23 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to work in a building next to where the bagpipers would practice (because of course bagpiping was a major at CMU, home to 2009's only bagpipe major). At the time, it got a bit annoying day after day. Now I kinda miss it.
posted by inigo2 at 7:23 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dig bagpipes. But I don't dig the same, small rotation of songs. However, being vindicated with a piper doing, "Do you think I'm sexy" while the husband was eating a fried haggis while walking the streets of Edinburgh was priceless.
posted by jadepearl at 7:24 AM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Bagpipes are an essential part of Scottish-Canadian culture - banning them would be like banning street vegetable vendors in Chinatown or the fish out on the street (which is just as offensive to my nose as bagpipes are to other people's ears - but I would never ban them).
posted by jb at 7:25 AM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


I tell you, though, don't mess with pipers. They'll fight for their right to party, for sure. And fans can get pretty, well... fanatical about the pipes. Here's an example, from personal experience:

Back in '93, the New York City club and record label The Knitting Factory was contracted by Dewar's brand scotch to put together an album of material using bagpipes. Then owner Michael Dorf asked me to take part, and I put together some solo electronic music that used bagpipe samples. Only bagpipe samples. There were NYC performances (at the Knitting Factory) and an east coast tour (about 5 or 6 dates, IIRC). Everyone else on the tour was playing actual bagpipes, of course, except for me, with my sampler and percussion trigger pads, triggering an array of bagpipe samples, all mashed up and turned inside out and doing things that no bagpipe could do. Still, all the samples, as sound sources, were all pretty recognizable, you know, as bagpipes. I didn't monkey with the actual sound material that much, so that it would be obvious it was all from bagpipes.

Anyway, the pipers on the tour were good sports, they put up with me, and I think one or two of them even liked what I was doing. Ah, but the serious bagpipe fans, that was another matter... When we played in Boston, for example, and it came time for my part of the show (we did about 20 minutes each) one guy in the audience, right in the middle of the room, stood up, just a couple minutes into my set, and very slowly and theatrically gave me the finger, then walked out. Aside from that rather extreme reaction, though, there were plenty of folks along the way who just seemed really perplexed as to what I was doing, and it seemed obvious that many of them weren't all that happy with this weird electronic stuff going on. BRING ON THE PIPES! GET THIS WEIRDO OFF THE STAGE! Haha!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:26 AM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Top... Scots.

I am eagerly awaiting the reality show Vancouver's Top Scot!
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:27 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


For heaven's sake, let's ban subwoofers as the evil scourge they are. Bagpipes are a minor distraction by comparison.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:32 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


As a Scottish person, and a Canadian person too, I say: thank fuck for that. I used to work two blocks and thirteen floors away from the piper that plays at Queen & University. I could hear him all the fucking time. Above the traffic sounds from one of the busiest intersections in the city, too. I may have taken a vow of non-violence, but if looks could kill, that deedling twat would have been a red mist long ago, I tell ya.
posted by scruss at 7:39 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can they ban the ukulele next? In fact, can everywhere do that?
posted by Decani at 7:44 AM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Vuvuzela Rally outside the Engineering Department offices. Who's in?
posted by radwolf76 at 7:50 AM on April 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


So is it just those Scottish pipes, or have they banned the Uilleann pipes as well?

There's nothing bothersome about these, IMO.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:50 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bagpipes should only ever be allowed if the piper is at least 200 metres away from another person. Until someone invents electric bagpipes, with a volume control.
posted by dickasso at 7:51 AM on April 9, 2012


For some, tears of joy
Others, tears of rage

I like bagpipes, but it probably has something to do with spock dying.
posted by roboton666 at 7:55 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


A few weeks ago, Kyle Banta was eager to pick up his bagpipes and go busking again in central Vancouver.

TRIGGER WARNING, please!
posted by mrgrimm at 7:55 AM on April 9, 2012


I hate to tell you Vancouver but a bunch of barely musical bagpipe players taking up the banjo or pan pipes at short notice is no picnic either.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:02 AM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


At the Scotland Run in Central Park the other day, they had a piper at every mile of the run. It was fantastically encouraging, hearing the skirl, knowing you were close to one more mile down.

At the end of the run, though, they just had big speakers set up, playing some kind of Jock Jams compilation. I think it's the only time I've been forced to segue from the beautiful drone of the pipes to Maroon 5 informing me that they have the moves like Jagger.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:04 AM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Heh. 'BC pipers'.
posted by biochemicle at 8:07 AM on April 9, 2012


As an American, I the last line of the article strongly implies a key difference I've experienced between my fellow Americans and Canadians.

Canadian bagpipe player:

"For me, the mature and responsible thing to do is wait and hope the bylaw is changed, and the ban is lifted because I do believe it was a wrong move for the city,” he said. “All I can really do is wait."

Typical American:

I'll play my bagpipes wherever and whenever I want. Fuck you and your stupid law. You can peel my bagpipes out of my cold dead hands.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:07 AM on April 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


PeterMcDermott: "So is it just those Scottish pipes, or have they banned the Uilleann pipes as well?"

Is it weird that I came here to ask the same question? Because there really is something a bit off about busting out a set of aptly named war pipes in an urban setting. Small pipes are available without even leaving the Scottish tradition and are much more sociable.
posted by stet at 8:08 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fuck all a y'all. Your favorite instrument sucks.
posted by gwint at 8:12 AM on April 9, 2012


Do you guys know the definition of a gentleman?



Someone who knows how to play the bagpipes, but doesn't.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:12 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I dunno, man, I like bagpipes.

What I'd like to get rid of are dudes blasting their car audio systems super loud.


The solution here is to ban car stereos and legalize dashboard-mounted bagpipe-playing robots.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:12 AM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


A couple of years ago, after having a party that went pretty late into Saturday night, my partner and I were woken up at 7am by bagpipes being played a block or so away, which did not go over well with our hangovers and sparsity of sleep. Plus, in Ottawa, noise bylaws are in effect on Sundays until 9am, so my boyfriend rolled over to call the city to file a noise complaint. The person on the phone assured him that they would deal with it. 15 minutes later, it was still going on. Finally, my boyfriend got out of bed, got dressed, and wandered over to where the music was coming from... only to discover it was a parking lot full of police officers, with pipers practicing in the middle.

It turns out they were preparing for the annual Canadian Police and Peace Officer Memorial Service, which was happening on Parliament Hill later that morning. The same thing happened again the following year (minus the party/hangover part).

We got smart and now plan a trip out of town that weekend, expressly to avoid the 7am bagpipes.
posted by urbanlenny at 8:13 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's perfect pitch with the bagpipes?


When you toss them in the dumpster & they land right on the accordion.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:13 AM on April 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


I love pipe, but I have to at least admit they're loud. OTOH I'm trying to imagine how one plays a tambourine loudly enough to create a noise issue.
posted by tyllwin at 8:15 AM on April 9, 2012


A guy walks into a bar with an octopus under his arm. He sets the octopus on a stool next to him and announces: "This is an amazing octopus. I'll bet anyone in this bar that this octopus can play any instrument set in front of it."

None of the people could believe this, so one guy brought up a guitar. The octopus took hold of the guitar and started wailing away, better than Jimi Hendrix. The man took $50 from the guitarist. Next someone brings up a trumpet. The octopus started playing the trumpet, better than Dizzy Gillespie. The man won another $50 from the trumpeter. Then some guy brought up some bagpipes. The octopus picked up the bagpipes for a minute and, looking a little puzzled, set them down again.

"Can't you play the bagpipes?" asked the man. "Play it?" said the octopus, "I'm gonna fuck it as soon as I figure out how to get its pajamas off."
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:16 AM on April 9, 2012 [31 favorites]


Bit of an FYI for non-Canadians in this thread: You know how lots of cities have slightly snarky, self-deprecating nicknames? Like L.A. is La-la-land and Boston's Beantown? For a great many years, Vancouver's snarky nickname has been "No Fun City."

Because of, you know, this kind of thing.
posted by gompa at 8:21 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do you guys know the definition of a gentleman?

Someone who knows how to tell this joke but decides we don't need it a third time in the same thread.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:23 AM on April 9, 2012 [17 favorites]


During one crazy summer where I toured around the country with a group of jugglers doing Renaissance Fairs (tm), there would inevitably be a bagpiper or three who would play a revelry of sorts. Oh the fun we'd have, throwing things at them.
posted by dejah420 at 8:27 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


You guys are looking at this as a glass half full kind of thing. Realize that this has now created a fantastic opportunity to be branded an 'outlaw bagpiper'. If that's not cool, I don't know what is.

I'm all for the bagpipes but yeah all day is annoying as hell. How about a piping time window and designated piping zones?
posted by jimmythefish at 8:28 AM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


argh...glass half empty
posted by jimmythefish at 8:30 AM on April 9, 2012


I'm all in favor of busking bagpipers (I've enjoyed them everywhere I've run across them, from Edinburgh to San Antonio) but I can see why people would want them to move on after a few songs, particularly if their repertoire is limited to the four songs that come programmed in.

Banning them is overkill, and I can see why Vancouver is called No-Fun City.
posted by immlass at 8:35 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


MARKED

BAGPIPE ZONE
Tu-Tu 2:00p-2:01p

VIOLATORS WILL
BE PANTSED
posted by MysticMCJ at 8:37 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Top Scots and the
A) No-Fun Express
B) Bagpipe Robots
C) Outlaw Pipers

All of these are now going into my "random band name generator" website, if I ever decide to get off my ass and steal the code from the half dozen or so that already exist.

Also, I just checked, Nova Scotia is still part of Canadia. Perhaps this should be filed under "it seems as though you've forgotten where you came from, son."
posted by Blue_Villain at 8:59 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


AEROPHONES UNITE! OCCUPY VANCOUVER AIRWAVES!
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:05 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pyrogenesis - that Metsatöll clip is amazing! Maybe we need a posting about Estonian folk metal.

Also - bagpipes are a great instrument, banning them is silly. Haters, stop hatin'!

(If there are going to be noise ordinances, it only makes sense to enforce certain volume limits. Picking out particular instruments is not reasonable. In my opinion, loud car stereos, and car alarms that go on for hours, are really the worst. Again, a general volume-based noise ordinance would cover these cases.)
posted by crazy_yeti at 9:14 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


If there are going to be noise ordinances, it only makes sense to enforce certain volume limits.

Bagpipes are essentially too loud at any volume.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:17 AM on April 9, 2012


dickasso:Until someone invents electric bagpipes, with a volume control.

So already done. This is early 1990s tech. Would you like one of the many MIDI chanters or full pipe sets?

If they want to really get some loud music, we should arrange a visit by some Breton Talabarders to visit.

It's where my favorite local bagpiper went when his great pipes weren't loud enough...
posted by Mad_Carew at 9:30 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Canada really does sound like utopia doesn't it? I mean, imagine what the US would be like if communities could just decide what they thought were Good Ideas based on Common Sense and general consensus without some wing nut showing up with a gun complaining that it's time to overthrow the government for oppressing his right to engage in behavior that his fellow citizens find objectionable.

I mean bagpipes, whatever. I suspect there will be some backlash and conceivably Vancouver's Top Scot might have lessened his party's chance of staying in power if it's truly this unpopular. But at its heart this seems to be about reasonable limits on noise in public places. Its what I admire most about Canadians. The ability to engage in reasonable public debate.

I'm sure dozens of Canadians will jump in with comments about Harper, etc., but seriously dudes, compare yourselves to the US, where we are one Romney intern-groping scandal away from President Rick Santorum.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:31 AM on April 9, 2012


Also, I could go either take or leave bagpipe busking, but I will say one bagpipe solo on "It's a Long Way to the Top If You Want to Rock and Roll" it probably worth 10,000 bagpipe Amazing Graces on 9/11, so it kind of balances out for me.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:39 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


You guys are looking at this as a glass half full kind of thing. Realize that this has now created a fantastic opportunity to be branded an 'outlaw bagpiper'. If that's not cool, I don't know what is.

Outlaw Bagpiper? Will there be a magazine dedicated to this phenomena ala Outlaw Biker magazine? Will it feature tattooed half-naked women posed seductively with custom bagpipes and editorial features on why Noise Bans still suck? If so, sign me up for Outlaw Piper magazine right now!
posted by KingEdRa at 9:40 AM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Englishman living in Edinburgh here. With very few exceptions (the Canadians are in there) people other than the Scots should resist any impulse to play the bagpipes, although an exception can be made for funeral purposes.

Well played, and en masse, like at the Queen Mothers funeral (skip to about 1:10) the bagpipes can be very stirring. Playing solo requires great levels of skill to carry it off, no busker will have this level of skill. Oh, and you need drums too.
posted by epo at 9:45 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


VIOLATORS WILL
BE PANTSED


The wily bagpipers have got you fooled! They are all wearing kilts!

also, they have no shame to begin with.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:02 AM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


So this one time, there was a bagpiper in the restaurant that we had to pay to leave us alone.

Pfft. When I was a young child in Southern Rhode Island, there was a restaurant called "The Bagpiper". And it was not just a clever name. Permanently scarred at the age of 3 by that son-of-a-bitch popping out of the kitchen and opening up as he strolled the aisles. I hates 'em, I do.
posted by yerfatma at 10:08 AM on April 9, 2012


A semi-derail...

Years ago, when I was in SCA, I remember going to Jubilee, a camping event at Jubilee College State Park.

One of the nights I was there, near midnight, my comrades in arms (and alcoholism) and I were getting as thouroughly tanked on dark nutty beer (brewed by a neighbor at the campsite and provided as thanks for some of us helping him set up camp), when, coming from the nearby tiny graveyard right acorss the path, we hear bagpipes. They were playing Amazing Grace.

A bunch of us never do wells scrambled to go congratulate the player on his skills. We ended up combing the entire lichyard from one end to the other, but never even saw the player or spoor thereof.

Is a favorite memory.
posted by Samizdata at 10:10 AM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


are these people of that particular cultural shade of ignorant who say "bongos" when they really mean "conga"? Or possible "djembe"?

All of the above and anything in between. I know exactly what they are talking about; a friend of a friend has been organizing drum circles on various beaches for a couple of years now and every year he runs into problems with bylaw and the police. It is pretty loud. My friend asked me to go once, it is hours of ceaseless drumming with 20 or more people until it gets dark. Not really my cup of tea. I could see how it would be annoying to nearby houses, but...you moved to a multi million dollar home across from a public park by the ocean, and now you're going to complain about the public using it? It's like the people who buy condos in a building right next to BC Place and complain about concerts and football games.
posted by Hoopo at 10:17 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Realize that this has now created a fantastic opportunity to be branded an 'outlaw bagpiper'. If that's not cool, I don't know what is.

Fantastic outlaw bagpiping: AC/DC's Bon Scott Plays the Bagpipes
posted by KokuRyu at 10:21 AM on April 9, 2012


The BadPiper - ThunderStruck
posted by KokuRyu at 10:22 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I quite like the bagpipe version of Style.
posted by winna at 10:24 AM on April 9, 2012


Man, they would hate the bagpiping African drummers that used to show up at the Edmonton Fringe every summer. (They started out as two separate groups, doing their thing busking during the festival. One day, their time slots overlapped or something, and suddenly we've got bagpipers and an African drum group playing together and making surprisingly awesome music.)
posted by asnider at 10:24 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


pts: "I dunno, man, I like bagpipes.

What I'd like to get rid of are dudes blasting their car audio systems super loud.
"

Yesterday I saw a guy in a pickup truck cruising down my street, windows rolled down, blasting recorded bagpipe music at top volume. Not kidding. What would you do there, pts?

Also for the record, while the Scottish pipes seem to get all the glory, I like Irish pipes better.

Actually, damn - there are a shit-ton of countries with bagpiping traditions.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:28 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


are these people of that particular cultural shade of ignorant who say "bongos" when they really mean "conga"? Or possible "djembe"?

I would assume that the Engineering Department is just trying to prevent drumming on the street. I'm not sure what it's like in other parts of the world, but Vancouver and Victoria tend to attract a lot of granola types, and some of these folks like to sit on the sidewalk and tap on the drums. It's not particularly artistic - it's just a random thumping sound that can get annoying, I suppose, if there are several drum players sitting along the same city block, all tapping out different random rhythms.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:45 AM on April 9, 2012


Sorry, Vancouver? Is this the same city where I saw a guy using amplification to freestyle rap in front of the Future Shop on Granville and Robson every single day for ten days in a row? Glad they have their priorities in order there.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:21 AM on April 9, 2012


That's sad! I love hearing the pipes, and drums are fun too. I'm sure glad I don't live there... there must be a less crummy way to deal with people having fun than just banning them.
posted by windykites at 11:24 AM on April 9, 2012


I'm trying to imagine how one plays a tambourine loudly enough to create a noise issue.

I think volume might be less of an issue than the unbearable relentlessness with which the tambourine is usually played.
posted by elizardbits at 11:25 AM on April 9, 2012


Metafilter: It's not particularly artistic - it's just a random thumping sound that can get annoying
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:25 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


(as anyone who has ever cruelly given them as gifts to the small children of their friends and relatives will know quite well)
posted by elizardbits at 11:26 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this the same city where I saw a guy using amplification to freestyle rap in front of the Future Shop on Granville and Robson every single day for ten days in a row?

Yep! That guy is impressive; I don't know how you can freestyle constantly for months and never manage to get any better.
posted by Hoopo at 11:30 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Loud pipes save lives, dude. You ever see a bagpiper run over by a truck? Me neither.
posted by orme at 11:34 AM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ok, time for a bit of learning for everyone here. 'Bagpipes' is a catch-all and kind of like saying woodwinds or stringed instruments. There are hundreds of different types of bagpipes in the world. The Great Highland Pipes are the main Scottish version of the pipes. They are loud and they are what you think of when you think of bagpipes. Not all bagpipes are loud. I play the Uilleann pipes also known as the Irish bagpipes. They are quiet - about as loud as a fiddle. They are played sitting down, there are no kilts and and you play dance music on them. Many, many bagpipes are very quiet. Here are just a few varieties:

The Uilleann Pipes
Bulgarian Kada Gaida
The Galician Gaita
The Swedish Säckpipa
La Cornemuse Bretonne
The massive Italian Zampogna
North Umbrian Smallpipes
Bohemian Dudy
posted by misterpatrick at 11:36 AM on April 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


Outlaw Bagpiper? Will there be a magazine dedicated to this phenomena ala Outlaw Biker magazine? Will it feature tattooed half-naked women posed seductively with custom bagpipes and editorial features on why Noise Bans still suck? If so, sign me up for Outlaw Piper magazine right now!

This is the cover shot of the first edition.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:44 AM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Actually, damn - there are a shit-ton of countries with bagpiping traditions.

There's also a metric shit tonne of regional variations and cross polination.

One eg: Breton folk didn't have binioù bras (the big pipes) until they were brought across from Scotland in the nineteenth century, and they're pretty much the same as kick arse highland great pipes. These days it's not uncommon for Breton players to buy their pipes in Scotland.

As for the "bongos", where would dancing to the pipes (in any country) be without some serious drumming? Something like a djembe has always been there - even if it's just in the sense of a bass drum carried and played by a single musician. It's the drone the flute and the drum that make for one of the original truly wild dance (and perhaps also fighting) combos.

One might argue it still is..

Surely Quebec should secede over this outrage or something, no?
posted by Ahab at 11:44 AM on April 9, 2012


I would really like to know what makes one person hate bagpipes and what makes others love them. Because I love bagpipes, I think there are few sounds better; yet at the same time, I can fully understand why they grate on people, even from the way that they sound. In theory, I feel that I shouldn't like them. But they don't grate on me in the least, and elicit exactly the opposite reaction, and I don't know why that should be the case.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:56 AM on April 9, 2012


SpacemanStix,

I had a music theory-esque discussion with a friend a few years ago about why certain notes are 'pleasant' and if that is a cultural or genetic/physical thing (wooo, fun times right?) and one of the things that came to light was that bagpipes ARE one of the few instruments that "jumped all over the place" with regards to it's tone/pitch/something. The didgeridoo was one of the few others ones that exhibited this type of behavior.

I'm not musically inclined or into the nomenclature of music theory so perhaps someone else can explain this a bit better than I have but there's that anyway. Take what I've said with a grain of salt and forgive my, surely incorrect/misleading, verbiage.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:05 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ironically, I was smack in the middle of this thread when the class in the aerobics room around the corner from my office opened up with some ghastly dancepop song at a volume that'd tear the needle off an airport's decibel meter...

Vancouver, I'll take your bagpipes if you'll take our aerobics classes.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 1:29 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the cover shot of the first edition.

That needs a whole lot more chrome.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:08 PM on April 9, 2012


This guy goes into a pub in Scotland with a pet octopus. The barmen says "That's an unusual pet you've got there." and the guy says "Unusual? You don't know the half of it. Watch this.".
The guy sets the octopus down at the pub piano and the octopus starts to play. He's got all eight tentacles going, and the music is amazing.

The barmen asks "Can he play any other instruments?", and the guy says "He can play everything I've tried so far.".

The barmen pulls some decorative bagpipes down off the wall and puts them on the bar, and says "I bet you ten pounds your octopus can't play the bagpipes." and they agree to the bet.

So they put the octopus on the bar with the bagpipes. The octopus wraps itself around the bagpipes and it's rolling around puffing on one end, but it's not getting a note out of the instrument.

The barmen says "See? I knew you he couldn't play the bagpipes." and the guy says "Well wait til he's finished shagging it.".
posted by w0mbat at 2:23 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bagpipes in urban settings? They are like Prozac to me. Prozac that works. Plus kittens, corgi puppies, and sugar gliders. Plus Peter Dinklage reading my favorite T.S. Eliot poems to me over shots of Colorado Whiskey. When I hear the pipes downtown, I can feel my whole body perking up. And if I'm not on my way to work or an important appointment, I will dart after the sound, find the piper, and then listen to the WHOLE SET, screaming like a teen Elvis fan between songs.

This track by the Victoria Police Pipe Band captures some of the joy this instrument makes me feel.

Vancouver, I love you for your skyscrapers of soaring, transparent Lego, your used bookstores, and the hot pot restaurants of your suburbs, but you are really bumming me out right now.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:24 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Non-Scot bagpipes, previously.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:42 PM on April 9, 2012


The massive Italian Zampogna

Holy shit. That is a serious goddamn bagpipe.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:49 PM on April 9, 2012


When I lived across the street from a city park, there was an older man who would play the bagpipes there on weekend mornings. I loved hearing them as I was drinking my coffee or walking my dog. He was sitting on the bench taking a break one Sunday and I decided to say hi and tell him how much I enjoyed hearing him play.

At one point I mentioned how nice it must be to come out to the park to play, with the grass and morning sunshine and all that. He was just like "Eh. Yeah I guess. My wife actually won't let me play in the house. Or the yard."
posted by troublewithwolves at 4:26 PM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pipes that are useful for summoning clans across empty, foggy and soggy mountains and valleys should be reserved for that use. As mentioned above, there's plenty of other pipes suitable for use around people.
posted by amorphatist at 4:35 PM on April 9, 2012


Hahahaha, they think that the 'Clans' remark was a joke, eh? They obviously haven't been keeping up to date with the ethnic composition of Point Grey and the West End.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:52 PM on April 9, 2012


Until someone invents electric bagpipes, with a volume control.

Coincidentally, someone gave me one of these yesterday. It's essentially an oscillator board in a plastic box with some volume and tone controls. Sadly, the chanter (controller) is missing, but everything else is there. I'm sure it will work with a little TLC!

Let me know where you want me to Fedex it.

This is my favourite bagpipe joke.
posted by sneebler at 6:15 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know the definition of a gentleman?

Yeah, I do. First lemme take some money off of this octopus.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:53 PM on April 9, 2012


Well I lived in a neighborhood with way loud music. My son's uber-loud speaker and Makedonian bagpipe music usually shutbit down FAST!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:08 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


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