Tripping into Parallel Realities Via Bagpipes
And why not? As Andy Lechter, in an article from Vice.com, says about bagpipes: “They’re a trance instrument, playing simple, barbaric, repetitive tunes until everyone is in a frenzy and falling to the floor and frothing at the mouth.” That about covers the Highland bagpiping scene. Anyone who has been to the Worlds and then to the beer tent after can attest to the “falling to the floor” bit. I can vouch for the trance-like state a good piobaireachd can induce, so he’s on to something there.
The article about Andy Lechter and his neo-pagan group Wod, as well as his philosophy regarding psychedelic states is worth a read. I’ve always thought that Highland pipers are neo-pagans, let’s just be honest. We clothe ourselves with the trappings of formality but in reality all we really want is to alter our consciousness and hear some good tunes. For all of us who play Highland pipes and love bagpipe music, there is something special about its effect. It is indeed trance-like and it is interesting to think about this aspect of the music when we discuss its origins and history. Perhaps bagpipe music, particularly the Highland variety, had other functions aside from commemorating battles and important events and people. The emotional impact of piobaireachd could have been a doorway to altered states of perception designed to enhance meaning and experience. The same approach is clearly on display in Christian cathedrals. Many of the trappings of religious devotion (incense, music, chanting, large echoey spaces) were designed to bring about an altered state of awareness.
You can hear a few tracks by Wod at their blog page here. Their music definitely has an English country feel and the repertoire seems to span all of the Celtic countries. But certainly, the trio have a unique take on traditional music. I wonder how piobaireachd would sound if you took some psychedelic mushrooms?