Ian P. Duncan

(1934 - 2014 )

Ian Duncan was born in Motherwell, Lanarkshire, in 1934. He began piping at Dalziel High School where the janitor, a former Black Watch Pipe Sergeant, was Pipe Major of the school band. The band never competed but this was good experience for a young piper, and Ian became Pipe Sergeant in 1952 at the age of 18.

Around the same time, Ian joined Wishaw Highland Pipe Band who were a Grade 2 competing band and during his time there the band won a number of prizes on the games circuit.

It was here that he had his first real attempt at composing pipe tunes, entering a tune competition held in Ibrox in 1953 and gaining second prize.

This 1974 collection of Shotts and Dykehead notables includes, back row, Pipe Major Thomas MacAllister Jnr, left, with Ian P. Duncan beside him. Pipe Sergeant John Barclay is on the right. The kilted man in the front is band president Duncan MacLean, the subject of a fine Tom Muirhead 6/8 march.
This 1974 collection of Shotts and Dykehead notables includes, back row, Pipe Major Thomas MacAllister Jnr, left, with Ian P. Duncan beside him. Pipe Sergeant John Barclay is on the right. The kilted man in the front is band president Duncan MacLean, the subject of a fine Tom Muirhead 6/8 march.

Ian joined Clyde Alloy Works as a young apprentice and in 1958 did his National Service in the RAMC. Being in the medical corps prevented him from pursuing his piping experience within the army.

Returning to work after his National Service, he was given a job in the steel works at the famous Ravenscraig site located between Motherwell and Wishaw. He became a Training Officer there, a post he held until the closure of the works.

In 1966, he joined Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band under P/M J.K. McAllister. In 1968 Tom McAllister Jnr. became P/M and Ian was with the band when they won 3 Grade 1 World Championships under Tom. During this time they also won 3 Scottish, 4 British, 3 European, 3 Cowal and 3 Champion of Champions titles. He played in the band when it won the Intercontinental Competition in Toronto in 1978. He left Shotts at the end of that season and was asked to become P/M of the Larkhall British Legion Pipe Band, a Grade 3 band with lots of young up-and-coming players.

Four years later, he became P/M of Tennant Caledonian Brewers Pipe Band based in Glasgow, his final pipe and involvement.

During this whole period Ian became famous for his compositions of light music for pipes. Some of these are now well established classics. The strong melodies of such greats as “Cullen Bay,” “Flora Duncan,” and “Pipe/Sgt. John Barclay” have found favour with folk groups, pipers, and pipe bands alike.

Ian published his first book of tunes in 1998. The “Cullen Bay Collection,” contains many of his own compositions as well as contributions from piping friends.

He continued to compose during his lengthy retirement from active playing right up until his passing in March of 2014.

January, 2014
-with thanks to Sandy Bell and Ian P. Duncan