Roddy S. MacDonald
(1955 - )
Roddy MacDonald was born in Inverness of a piping family. His grandfather, Donald MacDonald, was Pipe Major of the 1st Battalion Highland Light Infantry. His father, William MacDonald of Benbecula, was a noted composer, piping judge and player, who won the Gold Medals at Oban and Inverness in the same year (1955) and two Clasps at Inverness (1956, 1967).
Roddy was first taught by John Hunter, a tutor of the Inverness Boys Brigade Pipe Band, ex-Cameron Highlander and a veteran of the Battle of the Somme. He later played with the Inverness British Legion, Invergordon Distillery and the British Caledonian Airways pipe bands.
He has lived most of his adult life outside of Scotland, spending 26 years in London starting in 1975. It was there that he met his Japanese wife, Makiko, which led to a move with their son to Osaka, Japan, in 2000. In 2003 the family moved to Queensland, Australia, where he is now pipe major of the Queensland Police Pipes and Dums and lives as a professional musician.
Though he competed quite successfully until he was 21, Roddy decided young not to devote his piping life to competition. It is as a composer that he has excelled. In 1987 he published “The Clanranald Collection,” a book of bagpipe music consisting mostly of tunes written by himself and his father. His tunes sparkle with originality reminiscent of the late Gordon Duncan – whom Roddy counted as a good friend and strong influence – and have been played by countless Grade 1 bands, folk bands and leading pipers.
His musicaltour de force to date though has been his 2003 CD, Good Drying, produced by Murray Blair and released by Greentrax Recordings. This brilliantly produced recording provides a showcase of more than 30 years of R. S. MacDonald compositions as well as a powerful display of Roddy’s fiery, effortless playing.
JM, July 2007
-with notes courtesy of Greentrax Recordings and Mike Paterson’s article “Meanwhile, on the Queensland Coast…” from ‘Piping Today’, Issue 25, 2006.